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Election 2000: Close Race Causes Cross-Country ChaosAired November 8, 2000 - 9:37 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: As we've been talking about all morning, Florida election officials say that the recount could be completed by the end of the day. We're going to get more now on the situation in Florida from democratic Congressman Robert Wexler, he's joining us by phone from Boca Raton in Palm Beach County. This is an area where a number of complaints came from voters.
Congressman, good morning.
REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA: Good morning.
KAGAN: First let's address this issue where some voters are saying that they believe a vote for Al Gore really came out in your state and your area as a vote for Pat Buchanan.
WEXLER: That's very correct. And I voted, myself, yesterday and was quite confused; and I met hundreds of people that left the balloting boxes in Palm Beach County and came out crying. They came out in total hysteria that they felt they had voted for Pat Buchanan rather than Al Gore.
You need to understand why this happened. Ordinarily, you would think, on the ballot George Bush and Dick Cheney would be the first bubble that people would press and that Al Gore and Joe Lieberman would be the second. But what it actually was on the Palm Beach ballot, and I believe it may have been the only one in the state, Pat Buchanan was actually the second bubble that you would press in Florida.
And it -- I know my district. Please understand, what we're talking about is a group of senior citizens, an overwhelming majority of them who are Jewish, who are the most loyal Democrats in the world, having voted in large numbers for Pat Buchanan. In Palm Beach County, apparently, there was more than 3,000 votes attributed to Pat Buchanan when, in other counties of comparable size, there were only 400 votes.
It is inconceivable that that many people knowingly voted for Pat Buchanan in my Congressional District. These people have been disenfranchised and there is something terribly wrong when we're not reaching the correct result for president.
KAGAN: Congressman, the Gore campaign has sent about 70 staffers down there to watch the recount and to look at the issues. They have said, as long as this is all looked at and handled, as they say, "fairly and competently," they will be satisfied with whatever the results will be of the Florida election and then the general election as well.
Do you think that that can happen in your district and your home state -- that this can be looked at fairly and competently?
WEXLER: Well, I am, certainly, hopeful that this can be looked at competently and fairly. My only concern is I know what I saw yesterday during Election Day. I saw it myself with my own eyes. I talked to hundreds of people; there is no doubt there was mass confusion in Palm Beach County yesterday at the ballot box which resulted in at least, it seems, about 3,000-plus votes for Pat Buchanan. And I know that that's incorrect.
KAGAN: So do you think those votes need to be thrown out? What are you suggesting?
WEXLER: I don't have an answer at this point. I want to just make sure that the correct result is reached and, certainly, if 3,000 votes were incorrectly -- or disenfranchised, and the result is, we elect the president because of it, democracy is not well served. I mean, there isn't, I don't believe -- this isn't a thing, about George Bush or Al Gore. We want to make sure that the correct president is being elected. And we don't want to disenfranchise people. That would be the worst thing that could happen from this.
KAGAN: Congressman Bob Wexler joining us by phone from Florida; thank you very much, sir -- Bill.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: If you are one of the many Americans who went to bed thinking the results were in in this election, then wake up this morning only to see that there is still no conclusion as for the White House win just yet, you're probably not alone.
More reaction, now, from middle American in Chicago -- CNN's Jeff Flock with us this morning.
Jeff, hello to you.
JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You got it, Bill. Some sense of chaos here in Chicago, as well -- you're absolutely right. I want to give you a sense of the headlines this morning. This is the "Tribune" headline, here -- we're at the East Bank Club, by the way, in Chicago -- "As close as it gets," says the "Tribune." I want to show you the "Sun-Times": multiple different headlines; I don't have the one out, which went out for a while, which says "Bush wins." But they went "Recount" and then "Bush and Gore fight to the finish." Certainly, it has been that and some of the people we talked to said, it's -- I don't know, what did you call it -- utter chaos this morning?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I called it utter chaos.
FLOCK: What do you make of this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unbelievable. I mean, what do you say when the country is split right down the middle like this? It speaks to a lot of issues that are just not answered and just doesn't give any overwhelming view on anyone's part.
FLOCK: I hear you; I move along here. You made the point, sir, that, what did you say? That this was sort of a statement in a way?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that the public's saying that they want to keep things as they and no one knew which candidate represented a status quo rather than a change to the unknown. And I think that the American public really wants to kind of stay where they're at, and I think there was kind of a stalemate in the vote. And not a low voter turnout but, in fact, a great deal of intensity.
FLOCK: All right, we appreciate your comments here this morning at the East Bank Club here in Chicago. Also talking about this issue of a different result in the popular vote and the Electoral College -- what does that all mean? I'll be back to talk to more folks later this day.
I'm Jeff Flock, CNN, reporting live from the East Bank Club here in Chicago.
HEMMER: All right, Jeff, thank you very much. Again, the state of Illinois, 22 electoral votes last night going to Al Gore from last evening. So that's the result from Illinois. But the results elsewhere, though still...
KAGAN: On hold.
HEMMER: You got it.
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