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Presidential Race Too Close to Call; Democrat Bob Holden Takes Missouri Governorship; European Presidents, Prime Ministers Await Outcome

Aired November 8, 2000 - 6:46 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, this just in to the CNN Center. CNN is calling the Missouri governor's race and giving it to Democrat Bob Holden, who defeats Jim Talent, Republican in that state.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And with that in mind, our political analyst, Stuart Rothenberg, joins us here on the set.

And after having spent the -- all night looking at all of these races, today, you know that Missouri governor seat was open because the former governor, Mel Carnahan, is moving on to run for the Senate seat, and he passed away during the campaign. And now, Bob Holden's got that open seat. And now, it appears, as though, Mel Carnahan's wife may be going to the Senate.

STUART ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: A lot of unusual developments in Missouri, as you know. First of all, for the past 30 years or so, the party that's won the White House -- won the presidency in Missouri has also earned the governership the same year. And this time, George Bush carried Missouri, but the Democrats carried the governorship, so we have a break there.

And as to the Carnahan victory over Ashcroft, Republicans have to be really deflated. They understood there was a significant sympathy vote out there for Carnahan, knew it would be difficult to overcome, but in the last few days, felt that things had turned around. The voters were focusing on the candidates and the election, rather than on the election as a memorial. They were wrong.

LIN: Stu, how effective are our congressional widows, as we call them -- those who take their husband's seat? How effective...

ROTHENBERG: Oh, they tend to do quite well. Sonny Bono passed away and his wife took it. Bill Emerson in Missouri -- again, his widow took it. This is a bit of a different case, though. This is a case where a -- the widow did not go through a full-scale campaign the way Mary Bono did. But the widow said that she would take the seat if given to her, assuming that her late husband was elected. So we normally don't have candidates who are deceased getting elected. So, this is an unusual situation.

LIN: And how long would she actually have the seat? Because isn't there a special election out there? ROTHENBERG: There is, there is. She will serve now until the special election, which would be in two years. And then that -- the winner of that special election will serve the remainder of the term.

HARRIS: That's just one of the many of a handful of unusual circumstances that popped out last night in the results. Give us your take on what you think was some of the most unusual results that you saw last night?

ROTHENBERG: You mean more unusual than the presidential election with this called, uncalled, called, uncalled? I don't know where it is now. Well, we called and we uncalled the Washington Senate race; it looked like Slade Gorton had lost, and he still may lose.

HARRIS: That one is now undecided, correct?

ROTHENBERG: It is -- yeah, Maria Cantwell looked as though she was going to win. But now, it's just a few hundred votes separate them. It's going to be -- could be ten days until the absentee ballots are counted. So, a lot of uncertainty that -- for the people of Washington state, as well as for the people of the country.

We saw a large number of incumbent defeats in the U.S. Senate, relatively few incumbent defeats in the House of Representatives. The Republicans -- hard to know exactly what's going to happen in the Senate since there's still some undecided races.

But the Republicans had a rougher time in the Senate than they did in the House, and many people assumed that they were going to lose -- if they were going to lose anything, they were going to lose the House.

HARRIS: Right.

ROTHENBERG: They kept their House losses down to a minimum.

HARRIS: Interesting. Well, we'll talk some more about that later on. We're going to let you get out of here, get some rest. You've had a...

ROTHENBERG: Thank you.

HARRIS: Great job last night.

ROTHENBERG: Thanks.

LIN: Thanks, Stu.

HARRIS: All right, Stu Rothenberg, take care.

And let's go on now and check on some international reaction.

LIN: That's right. CNN's Walter Rodgers is standing by live in London.

Walt, what do people overseas think of how our election process is working so far?

WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, I think they are a little befuddled at this point, just like you folks sitting there in the States.

Prime ministers and presidents across Europe are waiting to telephone their congratulations to the next president of the United States, but they don't know whom to telephone at this point.

One thing that bothers Europeans, I believe, is the uncertainty of the current political situation in the United States. We've been listening to CNN and seeing talk of deadlock, that is government in paralysis. And that would frighten Europeans considerably because they look to the United States as being the only -- a superpower left in the world. And they do look to the United States, perhaps sometimes not happily, but nonetheless for leadership. The uncertainty which we now see as to who the president is, and the deadlock -- a possible deadlock in the U.S. government has to trouble people here.

Now, there are -- the lines fall on both sides of the political spectrum in Europe. For example, in Britain, the Tories, the conservatives would almost certainly like to see George Bush elected. There are those in Europe, however, who would prefer to see Al Gore; the reason being they would like to see some continuity.

Mr. Gore, for example, frightens some people because -- Mr. Bush frightens some people because he comes from what's essentially an isolationist party, or what's perceived as an isolationist party here -- Carol.

LIN: All right, thank you very much, Walter Rodgers.

And still many things internationally on the table for the White House, including whether the Middle East peace process is going to resume. And the next administration is likely to oversee that.

HARRIS: Here we go; we were supposed to be making big decisions last night, and now we have more questions than answers.

LIN: Hopefully, we'll provide them throughout the day as we keep our eye on Florida in this very critical election for president here in the United States.

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