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Florida Recount Leaves Presidential Race in LimboAired November 9, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: They put a demand for finality ahead of the pursuit of fairness.
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BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: ... in limbo, the Gore campaign's strategy, as the vice president's dreams of the presidency hinge on Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON EVANS, BUSH CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Vice President Gore's campaign did not like the outcome of Election Day. And it seems they're worried that they won't like the official recount result either.
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JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: The Texas governor concentrates on the future, as his staff counts on vote-tally victory.
SHAW: Protests and lawsuits: the confusion and controversy in one Florida county.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS, with Bernard Shaw at election headquarters and Judy Woodruff in Washington, and analysts Jeff Greenfield and Bill Schneider.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.
Down by a razor-thin margin in Florida's recount, Al Gore's campaign has launched an all-out effort to claim the Sunshine State and with it, the presidency. Gore's team is calling for a hand count in four counties and supporting a legal challenge to the vote in Palm Beach.
Far from sitting back, the George W. Bush camp is upping the ante, suggesting that the vote count in some of Gore's states might be worth taking a look at. Our coverage of all of these dramatic developments begins in Tallahassee, where CNN's Mike Boettcher is waiting for the results of that official count -- Mike.
MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, in terms Floridians can understand, it's sort of like tracking an incoming hurricane. And this result just in to us: 63 of 67 counties, showing Governor Bush up by 341 votes over Vice President Gore. If you will remember, after the election, the figure was closer to 1,800 votes. So the vice president has gained about 1,500 votes with four counties remaining.
Now, that is the figure from the Associated Press, which has been independently calling the various counties which are counting the totals. The state total has lagged behind. We suspect that most -- and I have been told by sources in the capital -- that most of the counties have reported in up there. They have been slower to produce those, mostly due to the mechanics of counting those, getting those added in.
But they have been pretty slow about that today. They were quicker earlier in the morning and yesterday. But we are told, in about 55 minutes, that there will be a press conference by the Division of Elections and state officials here. And at that time, we have been led to believe over the past two days, that we may have a complete figure by that time that the state sanctions. Now, after that happens, there is a certification process that will get under way.
The election results from Tuesday have to be certified by this coming Tuesday. The overseas ballots have to be certified by a week from Friday. So there's still a long ways to go if this total of this gap remains very thin between the vice president and the governor. So it's a very still close, close process, with some time to go -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: So, Mike, just to clarify two things; Number one, we won't know the final, final count in Florida at least until a week from Friday, when all of those overseas ballots come in and are counted.
BOETTCHER: Correct. That is correct. What we don't know, Judy, is, we don't know how many of those overseas ballots came in over before the election or on Election Day. Those have been counted in this total we're seeing right now. And the only thing we have to go by is the 1996 election. And they look at historic perspectives. They say that 2,300 of those ballots were cast after the Tuesday.
And Florida law says if you postmarked your ballot -- if you are overseas and you postmark it on the day of the election and send it in, it's valid. And it's counted when it's received here, if it is received within 10 days. Some of those have already been sent in and got here before the elections. Others have not. And those are the ones to be counted.
By the way, in that race, Dole took 55 percent and Clinton took 45 percent. So that was the total back four years ago.
WOODRUFF: Mike, just one other quick question. You talked about this recount or canvass -- whatever it's being called -- that is under way right now resulting in a change of some 1,500 votes in favor of Al Gore. Do you have any idea what caused the change? Did somebody just miscount?
BOETTCHER: Yes, no, it was a miscount. The strange thing, is, Judy, if you look at it, both sides have gained vote. I mean, more votes were cast than originally thought. Governor Bush did not lose votes. He gained votes. It's just that Vice President Gore gained more votes. And there were ballots that stuck together, various little things like that. And they added up when you are talking about a six million vote total.
WOODRUFF: All right, remarkable, every bit of it. Mike Boettcher, thanks very much. And we'll come back to you a little later -- Bernie.
SHAW: Although both campaigns are well represented in Florida today, the two candidates remain in their home states, watching the fight from a distance. Our John King is in Nashville, Tennessee, with a look at the Gore strategy.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're having a great run here.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The vice president took a jog in Nashville, as his strategy turned more aggressive on two fronts: a stepped-up legal challenge in Florida and angry criticism of Governor Bush for acting as if he is already the president-elect.
DALEY: I believe that their actions to try to presumptively crown themselves the victors, to try to put in place a transition, run the risk of dividing the American people and creating a sense of confusion.
KING: The Democrats demanded that the votes in four Florida counties be recounted by hand. Nearly 1.8 million votes were cast in the four counties: Palm Beach, Dade, Broward and Volusia.
DALEY: If the will of the people is to prevail, Al Gore should be awarded a victory in Florida and be our next president.
KING: And the Democrats want a new election or some other remedy taken in Palm Beach County, saying this confusing ballot may have cost the vice president perhaps as many as 20,000 votes.
KENDALL COFFEY, DEMOCRATIC PARTY ATTORNEY: That ballot was completely illegal. It confused voters. It led to an unprecedented number of voters, many of whom were elderly, who waited for hours, who had their votes disqualified because it was very hard, looking at it, to figure out exactly what to do.
KING: Republicans believe the law is on their side: that any objections to the ballot needed to be raised before the election. But a senior Bush legal adviser tells CNN -- quote -- "If they somehow revisit the Palm Beach County vote, then Gore wins the election." The vice president leads in the popular vote, and at least, for now, in the Electoral College count. So talk out of Austin about naming Cabinet members has soured already poor relations between the two camps.
The Gore team sees it as a deliberate strategy to steer attention away from the Florida recount, and as an attempt by Republicans to paint the vice president as a sore loser, and to turn public opinion in favor of a quick resolution.
DALEY: All we are seeking is this: that the candidate who the voters preferred become our president. That is what our constitutional principles demand. That is what true fidelity to our Constitution suggests.
KING: While this increasingly bitter drama plays out, the vice president is heading back to Washington. And his legal and political teams will relocate with him.
KING: Now, the Gore camp's view is that all this could take several weeks or even more to resolve. And their public line is that, since the new president isn't inaugurated until January 20, there is no reason to rush -- Bernie.
SHAW: John, do the Gore people plan to raise their profile to counter what the Bush people are doing?
KING: Well, that is what they did today, Bernie. Yesterday, when the vice president came out, you'll note that he did not claim victory. He did not say that he thought he had won the election. What he said then was he thought there should not be a rush to judgment. What changed in the Gore strategy overnight was when they all this talk out of Washington about naming a Cabinet, about picking a White House chief of staff.
At that point, the Gore people decided they believe what Bush is up to is a calculated political strategy to convince the American people this is over and to paint the vice president as a sore loser. They believe that they needed to step up and be more aggressive today. And we're told that once this recount -- and the Gore campaign does not expect this recount to swing into the vice president's favor. That's why they want all that hand-counting in those four big counties.
Once that is announced in Florida tonight, we will see Mr. Daley and Mr. Christopher again. They will not cede the public spotlight to the Bush people at all here.
SHAW: Fascinating, John King in Nashville, thank you.
Judy, back to you.
WOODRUFF: Well, aides to George W. Bush complain that the Gore campaign is, as you've been hearing, trying to politicize the situation in Florida. CNN's Candy Crowley joins us now from Austin, Texas -- Candy.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, we just finished a news conference here by three top advisers to Governor Bush. Their take on this whole thing is that it is Al Gore who is trying to politicize the situation. They believe that the Gore campaign is handing out partial facts that do not tell the entire story about the history, among other things, of Palm Beach County.
But primarily, what you are seeing here is that this is not a matter of mathematics: who voted for who in Florida and what that is. This is now, between these two camps, a matter of politics. And from the Bush campaign point of view, it is Al Gore who is trying to seed some confusion out there and to perhaps redo an election that took place on Tuesday evening.
Here is Don Evans, the campaign chairman.
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EVANS: Vice President Gore's campaign did not like the outcome of Election Day. And it seems they're worried that they won't like the official recount results either. The Democrats, who are politicizing and distorting these events, risk doing so at the expense of our democracy. One of the options that they seem to be looking at is new elections. Our democratic process calls for a vote on Election Day. It does not call for us to continue voting until someone likes the outcome.
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CROWLEY: Now, the Bush campaign, while it is paying most of its attention to Florida, there are other states they are looking at where there have been very close votes. Political strategist Karl Rove:
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KARL ROVE, BUSH CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: There are at least three other states in which automatic recounts are likely. The state of Wisconsin, Gore's lead has shrunk to 5,050 votes. I have talked to Governor Thompson's chief of staff this morning who says that he believes that after the Tuesday canvas, this will fall under a standard that may require a recount or offer the opportunity of a recount.
In the state of Iowa, the margin is now just several thousand votes between Vice President Gore and Governor Bush and this -- and several ballot boxes from, we think, Republican counties, have yet to be counted. This may fall under the automatic trigger that exists in Iowa law.
And there is also a recount going on, as we speak, in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, Albuquerque, the largest county in the state. Twenty-seven thousand ballots were not counted on election night.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: Now, just one addendum, there is not an automatic recount in Iowa in the case of a close vote, although a candidate can request one. The same apparently holds true in Wisconsin. In any case, what we have is a confusing situation in Florida and the Bush campaign now looking at other places. This is more, apparently, about the popular vote than any change in the electoral vote. Karl Rove said that he believed that that popular-vote margin that you are seeing might just shrink a bit as those absentee ballots come in into a number of states and final votes are gotten out in other states that were gotten close -- Judy and Bernie.
WOODRUFF: Candy, this notion, we just heard John King say he expects the Gore people expect they will call for a hand recount or a hand count in a number of Florida counties. Will the Bush people go along with that?
CROWLEY: Well, I'm not sure that's up to the Bush people. Will they complain about it? I'm not sure. I mean, their basic theory is that the Gore campaign is trying to drag this out, to find any way that they can to drag this out, sow the seeds of doubt in Florida. So, whether or not they would specifically be opposed to a hand count, all they're saying here is, look, we're certain when the final count is in that Governor Bush will get the electoral vote and thus the presidency. And we want it to be done in a fair and thorough manner.
WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley in Austin, thanks -- Bernie.
SHAW: This is a presidential campaign that has gone into overtime, as you know, and it's not clear, yet, how long, or how far, the two sides will go. Joining us to sort things out are CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider in Atlanta, and CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield in New York.
Bill, you first, what's the big picture right now?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Bernie, it's still election night. In fact, it's a very slow election night and the results are still coming in. We don't know the answer yet. It's an election night like we used to have 125 years ago when it would take weeks to determine the outcome of an election.
Welcome to 1876, and I choose that year carefully, because 1876 was the last time we had a disputed outcome in the presidential election. That one was settled by a corrupt political deal. Now, nobody is talking about that kind of deal this year, so far. This is an extraordinary situation, but it's not a crisis, unless the candidates choose to turn it into one.
SHAW: Jeff, potentially, what could happen down the road?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Heed Mr. Schneider's warning, because what's around the road are pitfalls the size of the Grand Canyon. I'll just give you a couple for openers. Let's say that this contentiousness continues and ripens into bitterness.
You could have a situation where, once Florida decides who it thinks has won, on January 5, 2001, the new Congress convenes in joint session to certify the electoral vote. If one senator and one congressman object, the House is then adjourned to their prospective houses and decides. And you could have a situation, if Maria Cantwell wins in Washington, where a fifty-fifty Senate with Al Gore, still the vice president on January 5, 2001, would reject the votes.
Now, it takes both houses to reject electoral votes. So, presumably, the Republican House would approve of them. But think of the legitimacy issue. A new president Bush, coming into office, probably having lost the popular vote, with one of the two houses of Congress saying we don't think you actually won. We are a long way down that road. Unfortunately we're a heck of a lot closer to it than we were when the votes started being counted on Tuesday.
SHAW: Given what Jeff just told us, what are the political calculations each candidate has to make?
SCHNEIDER: Well, essentially this, Bernie: How much is winning this election worth? Is it worth creating a constitutional crisis? Is it worth undermining your ability to lead? Because, those things are at stake if each candidate pushes this thing too far. I think Bush appears presumptuous and arrogant by talking about rallies and transition teams. This outcome is not beyond dispute.
And I think Gore takes a risk if he sounds like he's willing to win on legal challenges and on technicalities. He risks sounding like he's a candidate who would do anything to win the election. You know, legal challenges in Florida could open the floodgates to legal challenges all over the country. There are other instances of ballot confusion and disputed results and recounts can be made in other states that Gore won narrowly.
We have seen a dangerous escalation in the rhetoric today and a dangerous politicization of the vote counting process. Whichever side is seen as responsible for politicizing this process is the loser, even if that candidate becomes president of the United States.
SHAW: And, Jeff, a quick thought from you.
GREENFIELD: Well, it should be noted that we have three times had folks lose a popular vote and get the electoral vote. And each of those times they were one-termers. So, even that casts a shadow of a doubt on a new president. But if you have a president come in in the midst of court fights and street demonstrations and the kind of rhetoric we have seen all over cable television in the last 48 hours where there is no dispassion.
I mean, if you are a Republican, you think that the outcome in Florida is fine. If you are a Democrat, you think it was outrageous. If this is how we are dividing in the first days of this, what I'm really concerned about is that all of the mechanisms that we've never had to employ: Electoral College mechanisms, faithless electors who might switch their votes, Congress dueling over who the real president is.
You think about things like the markets. You think about the international community. You think about how the United States has always been seen as a bedrock of political stability. I'm not suggesting riots in the streets, but I'm suggesting some real potential problems.
SHAW: Indeed, indeed, Jeff Greenfield in New York.
Bill Schneider, thank you very much.
Still ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS.
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REVEREND JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: This ballot is fuzzy. It is deceptive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: The controversy over the Palm Beach County ballot, Mark Potter with the latest on the confusion that's sparked legal action.
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PAT BUCHANAN, REFORM PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It does seem to me that those are probably not my votes in those precincts in Palm Beach County, the outsized nature of my vote. And I've looked at that ballot, and it is -- on the left side, it is Bush and then Gore, 1, 2, but if you -- the dots 1, 2, are Bush, Buchanan. And so my guess is, I probably got some votes down there that really did not belong to me, and I feel -- I do not feel well about that. I don't want to take any votes that don't belong to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan today on the question regarding the ballots in Palm Beach County. Some voters there say a confusing ballot led them to mistakenly vote for Buchanan instead of Vice President Gore.
Mark Potter has the latest on the complaints, the legal actions and the political protests.
MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Several hundred protesters gathered outside the Palm Beach County elections office demanding a new countywide vote in the presidential race.
Their argument is that Vice President Gore was deprived of thousands of votes because of a confusing ballot form. The protesters were joined by the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
JACKSON: This ballot is fuzzy. It is deceptive. While there is over and over again, a call for a recount in West Palm, there must be a first count. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democratic Party, may I help you?
Do you feel that your vote was either incorrect, or you are unsure of who you voted for yesterday?
POTTER: A block from the protest, a law firm working with the Democratic Party set up a phone bank to document complaints from angry voters. Attorneys say since Wednesday morning they have received more than 5,000 calls, a partner in the firm argues that according to state law the ballot was configured improperly, thus confusing thousands of voters.
MARK CLARK, ATTORNEY: These are folks that voted mistakenly for Pat Buchanan that intended to vote for Al Gore.
POTTER: But Bruce Rogow, an attorney for Theresa LePore, the Palm Beach County supervisor of elections, says she did her job properly.
BRUCE ROGOW, ATTORNEY: Theresa LePore put the ballot together. The ballot was approved in Tallahassee. There is nothing wrong with anything that Theresa LePore did.
POTTER: But several lawsuits have been filed in state court asking for a new Palm Beach County presidential election. Andre Fladell, a chiropractor and political activist, is one of the plaintiffs who says he was disenfranchised.
ANDRE FLADELL, LAWSUIT PLAINTIFF: I went into a place expecting a simple, fair ballot. I got a crossword puzzle with some configuration no one had ever told me about.
POTTER: Now, a short while ago, the Palm Beach County canvassing board held a public meeting and announced that they would not be certifying this latest recount. Instead, they are going to do a manual recount of 1 percent of the vote, about 4,000 votes in three precincts, that was requested by the Democrats, they're going to do that on Saturday. They're also going to do a machine count of all the ballots, that was requested by the Republicans. Representatives of both parties will be present during those recounts, and the results of all of that will be announced on Monday.
Bernie, back to you.
SHAW: Thank you, Mark Potter -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Well, joining us now to talk more about all the legal issues involved, CNN's Greta Van Susteren, she joins us from Tallahassee; and election law expert Kenneth Gross, he's here in Washington.
Greta, to you first. This Palm Beach County ballot, I assume you have taken a look at it, Jesse Jackson and others are saying it's deceptive. What is your take on it? GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Judy, ultimately the take -- the take that matters is what a judge will think, should the case get before the judge. But let me tell you what the Florida law is, the analysis that a judge will have to make in examining the ballot.
First, is there an irregularity under Florida election law? And what the judge would do is to actually look to the election law in Florida and try to make a decision whether he or she thinks it's an irregularity. If it is an irregularity, the next step is to determine whether that irregularity is material and does it establish reasonable doubt whether the election manifests the will of the people. And what the Gore people will be able to do is they will be able to bring in both witnesses and also statistical evidence in an effort to prove their point that it does not manifest, that is the election, the will of the people.
So at this particular point, no one really knows, you know, what a judge will do. But I tell you one thing, lawyers always make sure that they go into court with all their evidence and they hope they have the judge that is sympathetic to their point of view.
WOODRUFF: Kenneth Gross, how high a standard are we talking about here, for a judge to go along with a challenge, for a group of voters who agree with Jesse Jackson that these ballots are deceptive? What standard?
KENNETH GROSS, ELECTION LAW EXPERT: Well, it's a high standard. There has to be a substantial irregularity that's thwarting the will of the people, and that's going to be a difficult hurdle to overcome. On the other hand, from what we've been seeing there is a substantial irregularity here.
We have a tremendous amount of voting for -- from -- for Buchanan in an area where it's clear that Buchanan doesn't have that level of support, combined and corroborated by the statements of the voters saying that they were confused, that the ballot didn't actually work properly when it went in there as far as measuring the dots and punching the holes on it. All this combined together creates a weight of evidence and is going to confront the court with the more difficult question as to what the remedy can be in a situation like this.
WOODRUFF: Well, and I want to ask you both about that -- Greta, what are the remedies in a situation like that, assuming a judge in a courtroom determines that the challenge has merit, what do you do? What can be done?
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Judy, I think the judge would have an enormous array of possibilities of what he or she could do, and I actually think that in this particular instance if the judge is convinced that there is substantial evidence of an irregularity and that it does not -- the vote does not reflect the will of the people as a result, I think the judge could -- I'm not saying the judge will, but I think the judge has the authority to invalidate and order a new election in that area. Now, the problem with all of this is that to great extents we are in uncharted waters, because this is a presidential election and we're having -- and we have state law to look for in terms of trying to decide what to do. So all lawyers are very sort of careful in terms of telling us what we think will happen, because frankly, no one knows for sure.
WOODRUFF: Kenneth Gross, what about a revote? Is there any precedent for that, number one? And number two, how likely is a judge to call for something like that?
GROSS: Well, it would be an extraordinary act but within the judges's powers, and one of the difficulties with this situation, it appears to be the only satisfactory remedy. I don't know how you rehabilitate a vote like that.
If you have mismarked absentee ballots or other mistakes like that, a judge could say, well, we're going to count them anyhow, because they reflect the will of the voter, we're going to throw them out, but it doesn't require a revoting -- here I think that may be the only way to actually make sure that there was a proper expression of the will of the people. It may be the only remedy available if the court is convinced that there is sufficient evidence.
I know of no case in Florida where they have done that, there are examples of cases around the country where revoting has been the solution even in the absence of fraud -- and we're not talking about fraud here, but irregularities in the election process, so there is some support for that result around the country.
WOODRUFF: And, Greta, presumably where -- again, where this is all if, if, if -- we're very much in the realm of speculation here -- but there could potentially be a revote in a few Florida counties. We're not talking about a statewide revote, are we?
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't think so, Judy. I think what a judge will try to do is take the very cautious approach and I think the judge would look at the individual area in which an irregularity occurred. I think that's the only place a judge would be within his or her power to declare that a revote take place. You know, if there is a good vote in another area of the state, it seems to me that the judge would be hard-pressed to vacate the will of the people in that area. But who knows?
I mean, listen, this is so unusual, the situation so bizarre, but my wild guess is that the judge, if he or she finds an irregularity and finds that it's so substantial that it does -- that it undermines the will of the electorate, I would suspect he or she would do the very limited area. For instance, here if it's Palm Beach County, my guess would be that the revote would only occur there.
GROSS: Yes, I would agree with that entirely. In fact, it could well be limited to just those who actually voted last time. I think it would be as limited as it could possibly be.
WOODRUFF: All right, Kenneth Gross, Greta Van Susteren, thank you both.
How did Florida become such a tight battleground state? When INSIDE POLITICS continues, we'll meet some of the voters.
SHAW: Since early Tuesday evening, Florida voters have found themselves the focus of U.S. politics. From the very start of the vote count through the recount, Florida has kept the nation guessing. What made the state so hard to forecast?
CNN's Pat Neal tried to find out.
PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democrat Dottie Shay of Davie voted for Al Gore. She says he is being robbed.
DOTTIE SHAY, FLORIDA VOTER: It upsets me to even think about it. The most powerful man in the world and it's got to be right.
NEAL: Shay may be upset, but her fellow seniors are a big reason for Gore's current predicament. In years past, Democrats could count on 60 percent of Florida seniors. But this time Gore got just half. Slightly younger and more conservative newcomers are gradually replacing the older, reliably Democratic seniors.
Phil Lucia voted for George W. Bush. He didn't buy Gore's position on Social Security.
PHIL LUCIA, FLORIDA VOTER: Social Security is an issue for Americans that deserve good Social Security programs. I don't know about the lock box. I don't know if that's feasible nor intelligent.
NEAL: Others liked Bush's stance on strengthening the military and his reluctance to commit U.S. forces overseas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Foreign policy: We have to conduct foreign policy our own American way without influence of the rest of the world.
NEAL: Beyond demographics -- geography. The post-election map shows a state that's finely balanced with a lot of independents.
KEVIN HILL, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY: Over 20 percent of the electorate has no party affiliation. Those people will swing each way every time and it doesn't take 20 percent. I mean, this election, is going to be decided by less than one-half of 1 percent.
NEAL: Bush won the swing districts around Tampa and racked up lots of votes from Jacksonville, across the conservative, northern part of the state into the panhandle, where Bush's dad, former President Bush, campaigned for his son.
Gore won big in southeast Florida with help from African- Americans and Jewish voters. Gore also took a victorious ride in Orange County, home of Disney World and the Florida Christian Coalition, but it's also where the state's large, Democratic Puerto Rican community lives.
(on camera): Florida has increasingly trended Republican, but neither party can reliably count on it. That's because the political landscape constantly changes with the continuous flow of newcomers to the state.
Pat Neal, CNN, Miami.
WOODRUFF: Still much more head on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come: Waiting for the outcome. Will the undecided presidential race have an impact on the nation?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's Al Gore's biggest talking point.
GORE: Joe Lieberman and I won the popular vote.
JACKSON: But it's not true, not yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Brooks Jackson on why the popular vote is also too close to call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two days after the election, and the extra sleep has been postponed because America does not yet have a president-elect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Gary Tuchman on the campaign staffs with their immediate futures on hold.
SHAW: Joining us in our Washington studio to talk about this election situation, an election still undecided, Robert Strauss, former Democratic National Committee chairman and chairman of President Carter's campaigns in '76 and '80. He enjoys the respect of Democrats and Republicans. He was ambassador to Moscow under former President George Bush.
Bob Strauss, is this situation putting the nation on the verge of national trauma? ROBERT STRAUSS, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: No, I don't think it is. In fact, what worries me is that some people are acting that way on both sides. They get, understandably, terribly overwrought. But this country, this republic, is very strong, and we will work our way through this. We're a nation of laws and this process will work. It's going to be difficult. The biggest problem we have, I think, Bernie, is that we're spoiled in this country. We expect instantaneous results and results that are totally clean and clear and understandable -- well, that's going to be a luxury, obviously, we're not going to get right now. There's not going to be an instantaneous result here and people have got to keep that in perspective that we have strong institutions -- and the world sees that -- and behave that way.
SHAW: What is it you dislike about what Gore's doing and about what Bush is doing?
STRAUSS: To tell you the truth, I'm embarrassed to tell you, I haven't even looked at the television today and I've been busy, I just came in here to do this show.
I don't dislike anything that either of them are doing. I think this country, since you mentioned it, I think we're very lucky with this terribly difficult, messy situation on our hands, that we have people like Jim Baker and Warren Christopher, two distinguished former secretaries of state, two distinguished American citizens who won with Bush and the other one with Gore involved. And we have Bill Daley and Don Evans, one with Bush and one with Gore, representing their parties.
So, with four people like that involved, it'll be controversial, but they'll be sensible and responsible and the people will react to that if we give them a chance.
SHAW: But what will the situation do to the next president taking office?
STRAUSS: It's going to make it very difficult. The next president will have a terribly, terribly difficult time and he's going to need -- I don't know who it will be -- I'm sorry, I'm sort of in a strange situation, as you mentioned, I served in Jimmy Carter's administration, I was campaign chairman, I was democratic chairman, I've also served in the Bush administration, I'm a very close friend of the Bush family -- so I think I'm reasonably objective about this. And I know that either one of these fellows that get there are going to have a terribly, terribly difficult time and I suspect the country will rally around them when they have to. But it's not an easy time.
SHAW: Fitting for the vice president to carry this challenge all the way to the end?
STRAUSS: Well, that's the vice president's decision, and I don't even know the facts. What either one of these people do depends on the facts. I hear all kinds of stories and I don't think most of them you need to pay much attention to. But I know one thing, as I said earlier, that this is a strong -- we have strong institutions in this country and the public has a right to rely on them and will rely on them if we give them a chance.
SHAW: Are those electors who meet next week -- or next month -- in Washington to be trusted?
STRAUSS: Well, we have a long history -- with one or two or three exceptions, to the best of my recollection in all these years of an elector who was not faithful to the people who elected him and her. And I suspect that will be true again this time.
But I really think that we're in for confusing days and I think we need to be sober and cautious and responsible as citizens. I think we owe it to each other and we owe it to both sides of this thing. I can't understand why the terribly partisan people on each side -- well-motivated, well-meaning, intelligent people -- are terribly upset and distraught and emotional. This is a time to settle down and let these processes work in the way they should work.
SHAW: Bob Strauss, always a pleasure to hear you and your wisdom.
STRAUSS: Thank you, it's nice to be here.
SHAW: Thank you, good to have you on, believe me.
And up next, going into overtime -- the campaign staffs still waiting for the answer to question numero uno.
WOODRUFF: It is two whole days after the election and the staff members of both campaigns, had expected to be packing up and moving on by now. But with the presidential race still in doubt, staffers on both sides are still at work and still in limbo.
Gary Tuchman reports.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): They've been working for Al Gore for months and, in many cases, years. And with all the hard work of a presidential campaign, they all had a good reason to look forward to the days after the election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I probably would have been asleep, when it comes down to it, because I haven't slept since July.
TUCHMAN (on camera): What were you going to be doing today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sleeping. My No. 1 goal was just to rest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was hoping to be asleep for a couple days, so -- it's exciting, though, to be here, so sleep can wait.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the ballot law in Florida states that the hole has to be to the right of the name? TUCHMAN (voice-over): Two days after the election, and the extra sleep has been postponed because America does not yet have a president-elect.
It's a similar scene at Bush headquarters in Austin, where sleep- deprived staffers and volunteers field phone calls from supporters.
Back in Nashville, the Gore staff tries to sound optimistic.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Right now, you're not nervous at all?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard to be nervous because we know that he won the popular vote and he's going to win the popular vote in Florida and we're just going to keep going at it.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): A hotel suite right below the vice president's suite has been made into a makeshift campaign office -- an unmade bed and an extra bed propped up against a wall make the room look more like a college dorm than the center of Al Gore's braintrust.
Twenty-two-year-old Brian Rich (ph) is the so-called "technological guru" of the campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I carry, you know, two cell phones, three pagers, two laptops, printers and all of those things; and my job is to, basically, manage, process and pull down all of the information for the vice president, for the campaign staff.
TUCHMAN: Which means Brian Rich is now busier than ever.
(on camera): Are you nervous?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Optimistically nervous. I mean, you know, I would have preferred to win the other day, but I think things are going well and I think they're where we want them.
TUCHMAN: So plans have been changed, vacations canceled. The campaign may be over, but the jobs of the campaign workers are not.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Nashville.
SHAW: And when INSIDE POLITICS returns, Al Gore says he won the popular vote. But is that a sure bet?
Brooks Jackson looks at why it might not be.
WOODRUFF: An update now on that recount canvassing, whichever you want to call it, going on in Florida. At this hour there are -- there is a vote difference of 362 separating Al Gore, the vice president, from Texas Governor George W. Bush. Governor Bush in the lead by 362 votes. And that is with 64 of 67 Florida counties having been counted. We're waiting any moment now for a news conference that will be held by the Florida Board of Elections to bring us an update on all of this.
At this hour, there is at least at least one trump card in Al Gore's hand, his slim lead over George W. Bush in the national popular vote. But there's guarantee that that will be the case when the dust finally settles in this extraordinary election.
CNN's Brooks Jackson explains why.
JACKSON (voice-over): It's Al Gore's biggest talking point.
GORE: Joe Lieberman and I won the popular vote.
JACKSON: He claims he's won the popular vote and supporters echo that.
JOE ANDREW, DNC NATIONAL CHAIRMAN: Democrats won the popular vote in the race for the White House.
JACKSON: Saying it gives Gore moral authority to press a legal challenge in Florida.
WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: And more voted for Al Gore than Governor Bush.
JACKSON: But it's not true -- not yet. There are still millions more votes to be tallied before it's clear who won the popular vote.
CURTIS GANS, ELECTIONS ANALYST: 1.1 million outstanding ballots in California, absentees that haven't been counted. 900,000 that haven't been counted in Washington. 400,000 that have been impounded in New York -- you can only begin a count today. And about 300,000 votes in Oregon under that all-mail system that they're having trouble getting a final count on. And then there are scatterings of votes in other places, including Alaska, whose votes are highly incomplete. There are more than enough votes to close a 200,000-vote gap.
JACKSON: Gore does lead in the unofficial tally of the popular vote, but by a narrow and changing margin. On election night, he was running behind by half a million votes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: This is the raw vote total at this hour with...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: The next day he led by a quarter-million. Thursday afternoon his lead over Bush had shrunk to less than 200,000 votes out of more than 100 million counted for all candidates. But those are just unofficial totals gathered by the news media, subject to change due to recounts or late tallied absentees.
In 1996, the unofficial totals being reported the morning after Election Day showed a total of nearly 93 million votes cast for president. But weeks later the final, official vote tally showed well over 96 million votes were actually cast. That's nearly 3.5 million additional votes.
President Clinton's winning margin changed significantly when all the votes were counted. Morning-after totals had him beating Bob Dole by just over seven million -- 7,760,000 votes. His official winning margin turned out to be more than 8 million, a change of more than 440,000 votes. But this time, a change could go either way.
GANS: Absentee voters are, in general, tend to be more upscale and therefore likely to be more Republican. On the other hand, the bulk of the absentee is in the West Coast and particularly in California and that tends to be a little more liberal. So we don't know.
JACKSON (on camera): And we won't know -- not for a while. This one is still too close to call.
Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.
SHAW: Much more still ahead on this expanded edition of INSIDE POLITICS. The latest on the dramatic events in the Sunshine State and we're going to talk with David Broder of "The Washington Post" and Tom Fiedler of "The Miami Herald."
SHAW: ... a look at the recount, the questions, and the potential impact of this unprecedented election.
WOODRUFF: A day of escalating rhetoric and dramatic developments in the presidential election: with the presidency hinging, apparently, on the Florida vote, a still-to-be-completed recount, or canvas, right now shows George W. Bush leading by fewer than 400 votes out of 6 million cast. The final result will have to wait at least a week until all the overseas absentee ballots are counted. With the tallies still not complete, the Gore campaign already is calling for counts by hand in four Florida counties. Also under question: the vote in Palm Beach County, where Al Gore's campaign chairman says a confusing ballot could cost the vice president thousand of votes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DALEY: Because this disenfranchisement of these Floridians is so much larger than the reported gap between Governor Bush and Vice President Gore, we believe this requires the full attention of the courts in Florida and concerned citizens all around our country. More a than 100 million Americans voted on Tuesday and more voted for Al Gore than Governor Bush. Here in Florida, it also seems very likely more voters went to the polls believing that they were voting for Al Gore than for George Bush. If the will the people is to prevail, Gore should be awarded a victory in Florida and be our next president.
EVANS: The Democrats, who are politicizing and distorting these events, risk doing so at the expense at our democracy. One of the options that they seem to be looking at is new elections. Our democratic process calls for a vote on Election Day. It does not call for us to continue voting until someone likes the outcome. Throughout this process, it is important that no party to this election act in a precipitous manner or distort an existing voting pattern in an effort to misinform the public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Florida may not be the only state in question. Bush strategist Karl Rove suggested this day that recounts might be needed in three other states, states that Gore won narrowly.
Let's bring in our reporters who have been covering the candidates. John King is in Nashville. Candy Crowley is in Austin.
John King, we heard Don Evans say that Al Gore is just really, and his people are really just waiting to see -- waiting for the results that they want to see. How do the Gore people react to that?
KING: Well, the Gore people react, Judy, by saying this election is so close that either side, if the outcome were like this, would be asking for a recount. And indeed, on election night, when we were going through all the confusion back and forth about the state of Florida, even Bush campaign officials were saying that night that if the vice president won, they fully expected that there would be questions about the balloting.
So, what the Gore people are saying that this is standard operating procedure. Obviously the stakes higher than anyone can remember, a presidency at stake here, but that either side, a margin of three, 400 votes out of six million cast, that the losing side would always be asking for a recount and, indeed, most state laws would require a recount. What they want now is a very detailed hand recount in the four counties where they believe the vice president performed the strongest. They believe that will reverse the Bush lead and, of course, they are also thinking about court action, or supporting court action in Palm Beach.
This a process the Gore campaign says could go on for several more weeks, and what they say is going on here is that the Bush campaign is worried that if the process goes on, the results might end up in a Gore victory, so that they are trying to create this public impression that this is sore losers, lawyers, too many lawyers, and they're trying to get the public to demand an end to this. They say it could go on for quite some time.
WOODRUFF: All right, John, we're just about a minute away, I'm told, from the Florida secretary of state holding a news conference, presumably to tell us the result of this county-by-county recount.
But while we're waiting for that to get started, Candy, how do the Bush people respond to the statement by Bill Daley, the Gore campaign chairman, that we just want, the American people just want the person in the presidency who most people wanted, the preferred person? CROWLEY: Well, as it relates to Florida, that's what the Bush campaign would say, that is what they want, an honest recount of what the votes were in Florida. But they also believe that the Gore campaign is fomenting this kind of -- you know, there's fraud here, there's fraud there. The ballot was confusing. They came armed at a news conference with their own copy of the controversial ballot in Palm Beach County, saying, look, the arrows point from the name of the candidate to the hole you're supposed to punch. They point out that Democrats signed off on this ballot, that it was in the newspaper, that it was sent to voters, that it was not confusing.
And they believe, watching the protest outside various Florida facilities, one of them led by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, a strong Democrat, a Gore supporter, that the Gore campaign is just fomenting this sort of turbulence to make things seem more uncertain than they actually are. They believe they are handing out sort of half facts about what went on in Palm Beach, that kind of thing. So, you know, what you have is this...
WOODRUFF: Candy, I am going to have to interrupt you because I am told that the secretary of state in Tallahassee is about to begin this press conference. And let's listen.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
KATHERINE HARRIS, FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: Good afternoon.
As secretary of state, I am chief elections officer, and I would like to introduce to you the Election Canvassing Commission that will be certifying the state recount results: Commissioner Bob Crawford, commissioner of agriculture, and Clay Roberts, the division director for state of Florida Division of Elections.
We will all remember these times as some of the most critical and defining moments in our nation's history, a time when we as Americans are working to ensure the meaning and vitality of our democratic system.
To that end, here in Florida our local supervisors of elections, our Division of Elections staff, and countless volunteers have dedicated themselves to the accurate reporting of election results.
All of us take this responsibility seriously, given the national implications of this election and our statutory responsibility to ensure the integrity and accuracy of our elections process.
This recount is mandated by Florida law whenever a final ballot puts the margin of victory at less than 0.5 percent. The Department of State requested all of our locally elected supervisors of elections to forward their recount results by 5 p.m. today.
As of 5, the Divisions of Elections reported receiving recount results from 53 counties in Florida. We are still awaiting the results from the supervisors of elections in 14 Florida counties, which by law have until Tuesday, November 14, to submit those returns to the Office of the Secretary of State. Official certification by the Elections Canvassing Commission, consisting of our commissioner of agriculture, the division director of elections and the secretary of state, will not commence until the original signed forms from all 67 counties, attesting to their certified results, have been received by our office.
As of 5 p.m. today, the unofficial certified results of the recount are as follows: Governor George W. Bush, 2,909,661; Vice President Al Gore, 2,907,877; a difference of 1,784.
HARRIS: The following is very important: Under statutory law, legally cast Florida ballots received from overseas must be counted by the supervisors of elections for 10 days following the general election. That deadline is November 17, 2000.
Hear this: We will continue to perform our responsibilities and this process with all due speed, but with a determination to assure the full accuracy and independence of this process.
QUESTION: Secretary Harris, is your office prepared to vigorously defend what is certain to be a legal challenge about the way that ballot was constructed in Palm Beach County?
HARRIS: Can we address that?
CLAY ROBERTS, DIVISION DIRECTOR, FLORIDA DIVISION OF ELECTIONS: Yes, we expect legal challenges. Our policy is we are not going to comment on litigation. The secretary will exercise her duty as chief elections officer, and where she is required to legally defend a lawsuit she will do so.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up. On September 7, Clay, you sent a memo to all 67 election supervisors dictating the order of candidates. That was dictated by Florida statute. Did Palm Beach County follow the order as specified in your memorandum?
ROBERTS: As far as I know, they did.
I have not reviewed their ballot, though. I have seen on the television their presidential ballot. I haven't seen any of their other candidate ballots. And that's pending litigation so I am not going to answer you further.
QUESTION: Secretary of State, if you want to certify this, have you gotten word from the Gore campaign that they intend to file suit in order to keep you from finalizing and certifying the recount?
HARRIS: I have not received any contact from the Gore campaign in that regard.
QUESTION: The wire services -- it's being widely reported, many more counties in and much closer number. Can you put -- can you explain to the viewers why the discrepancy? Why is it we're hearing 61 counties are actually in and we're hearing those numbers and a number that's much closer.
HARRIS: Actually, we've been glued to our TVs as well following your results. I hope they're going to be a lot more accurate than the other night, but -- on the polling.
But at any rate, the differences for the viewers is specifically that we are reporting all the unofficial certified results. And they are behind the -- when many of the news stations are contacting the supervisors or some of their staff directly and posting those results.
We are not putting any results out until they are unofficially certified. By that, it means that we've received word from them the certified results. But until we have the physical certification in our hands, they are not officially certified. And we're only reporting those that are unofficially certified at the Department of State presently.
QUESTION: What do you think the policy -- the manual recount in four counties by the Democrats, how long do you think that may delay these final tallies?
HARRIS: I'm delighted to talk about process, and I don't want to speculate, but actually the request for the local counts is a decision that is made by the local canvassing boards consisting of the supervisors of election -- the supervisor of election in that county, the county commission chairman, and a local judge.
QUESTION: If they were to deny that request, does the decision then go to you?
ROBERTS: As far as requesting the manual recount, that is a decision solely within the control of the local canvassing board and there's no appeal to the Secretary of State's Office.
QUESTION: Does the request have any effect on whether or not ballots -- whether or not this count is certified? I mean, does it stop that process at all (OFF-MIKE)
ROBERTS: Under the statutes, the local canvassing board has to certify to the State Division of Elections and the Office of the Secretary of State, no later than seven days after the election. Whatever procedure that the canvassing board is going through, whether it's a hand recount, whether it's a machine recount, whatever other processes they want to go through, they must certify within seven days so we can begin our work.
STAFF: At this point, we're going to turn it over to Secretary Crawford, to make his comments.
QUESTION: Secretary Crawford, do you, sir, as an open supporter of George W. Bush feel that you should be in the position you're in in terms of canvassing and affirming the results? BOB CRAWFORD, FLORIDA'S SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE: Well, I would say that anybody that's going to serve on this commission had to vote for somebody. And I'm a Democrat. I happened vote for George W. Bush. When you serve on a commission like this, it's not about politics, it's about process and the integrity of the electoral system. And that's certainly the most important thing before us, and that's what we're going to stick to.
And let me just say, too, that Secretary Harris and Clay have done a fantastic job under very difficult circumstances. And I know a lot of people in this country are watching Florida right now, and I want people to know that while there's a lot of frustration surrounding this election, nobody ever said that democracy is simple or efficient. But this is democracy in action. If you want simplicity, just go about 70 miles south of Florida and you've got Cuba, and they're very simple. They have no elections.
So it's frustrating, it's confusing, it's perplexing, and it's all worth it because it's our democracy. And we're going to get through it and it's going to all work out.
STAFF: We have a statement available on this side of the room at this point. Thank you all for coming.
WOODRUFF: I think those must be voters or something. They don't sound like reporters.
SHAW: Well, the positive statement there made at the end by Bob Crawford, Florida's agriculture commissioner indicating that we're going to get through this. This is we're going to get through this and he said if you want simplicity, go 90 miles south to Cuba, where they have a lot of simplicity.
Very briefly, two important things. Along with latest vote count, which showed Governor Bush in Florida's raw vote total having 2,909,661 to Vice President Gore's 2,907,877 was the point about those absentee ballots. Perhaps you heard Katherine Harris say at one point that legally cast Florida ballots, absentee ballots, must be counted for 10 days -- for 10 days following the election and that deadline is November 17th. Another point she made: 53 of Florida's 67 counties have reported. They are awaiting results from 14 and they have until Tuesday, November 14th.
Joining us now, Tom Fiedler of "The Miami Herald." Tom, what was going through your mind as these points of date and numbers were ticked off?
TOM FIEDLER, "THE MIAMI HERALD": Well, my main reaction to all of that was why did we bother getting together here? She basically repeated the same numbers that we knew or very close to knew on the close of election night there. So apparently as she said there, the more recent tally that we're getting where we have 64 of 67 counties and the gap with slightly more than 350 between the two of them That's based really on the news media's -- the consortium that the news media has that goes directly to the county supervisor. So, I think the session that we just saw advance the ball not one yard down the field.
SHAW: What about the legal changes or challenges? What are you hearing about them right now?
FIEDLER: Well, you know, there was one interesting point. One of the questions that came up in that conference was directed to the state Elections Department Director where he was asked if he had seen the Palm Beach County ballot and whether it complied with a memo that he had written.
What that memo said was that the order of presidential candidates must follow the order of the results in the last governor's race, which means the first line of the ballot had to be Republicans, the second line the Democrats and the following lines below that would be the minority parties. In fact, in the disputed ballot in Palm Beach County, the first line on the ballot and the first punch hole on the ballot is the Republicans. But the second punch hole on the ballot was Pat Buchanan's. The third punch hole was then Al Gore's.
So the basis of or one of the basis of the legal challenges that are being or are about to be brought to that Palm Beach County ballot is that it in fact was in violation of Florida law and in violation of the state Supervisor of Elections memorandum, and if that legal -- if in fact the ballot itself was illegal, than any actions -- any invalid action by the voter in effect doesn't matter because the ballot itself was polluted.
So that was a fundamentally important question and I have a sense that the state Supervisor of Elections realized he was about to step into a bear trap and kind of pulled back by saying he really hadn't looked at this issue. But I think it's going to be fundamental issue.
SHAW: That was really very, very noticeable. You could see him, practically hear him thinking, do I really want to answer that question? I'd better back off.
FIEDLER: That's right.
SHAW: What do we know who might be the sitting judge?
FIEDLER: Actually, we don't know. This should be a blind rotation system where the case will simply come up on what they call the wheel. And then we'll see whether the judge will entertain this. Florida election law has been fairly open about entertaining cases where there's suggested fraud primarily, and the state law does give the trial judge here, the circuit court judge, enormous power to remedy the situation.
Of course there will be appeals from this, but the judge could -- has the authority to order a recount, can order a new election or the trial judge could in effect say all the ballots here are illegal and therefore we'll throw them all out and that would mean basically Palm Beach County's votes wouldn't count at all and that would be draconian. But there is that kind of power invested in the judge. SHAW: You know, politically I was struck by the fact that the Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford, a Democrat said he voted for Texas Governor George Bush but he was reassuring in declaring that process is what matters here and he said, quote, "We're going to get through this."
What were you thinking when he said that?
FIEDLER: Well, I was thinking he was in many ways, again, trying to step very carefully there. As a Democrat who is publicly supporting the Republican, he's already out there on a tightrope. So, probably the safest line that he could walk was to say exactly what he said. I don't mean to minimize it, I think his words were well chosen, well spoken, but the safest position for him to take was, I am not voting either my party registration or what happens to be my preference, I am just going to make sure that I preserve the process here and go by the Constitution. It was -- I think, again, he was just minding his words quite carefully there.
SHAW: And the governor of the state where you are, what are you hearing about Jeb Bush's mood and predicament?
FIEDLER: Yes, his -- it's an extraordinary difficult predicament. Of course, his heart is involved in this, but he also has to be very mindful of his executive authority. I think, in my personal view, he's handled this as well as you could expect him to. He has taken himself off of the state canvassing board, saying he would not play a part in that, and I think he has to.
At this point, there is clearly -- the integrity of the balloting process is so fundamental, it rises above any individual race, any individual person. So the governor's action here -- not only, I think, is he following his heart, but I think he also is following his duty here in trying to assure people that he will not in any way put his finger on the scale.
SHAW: Tom Fiedler, "Miami Herald," good to see you again. Thank you.
FIEDLER: Sure. Thanks, Bernie.
SHAW: You're quite welcome.
And still to come here on INSIDE POLITICS, coming up, Judy talks with the chairman of the Republican and Democratic National Committees, and more.
WOODRUFF: The fight over Florida's electoral votes involves legal issues and moral issues to some extent, but no one is pretending it is not political.
Joining us now, RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson and DNC National Chairman Joe Andrew.
Gentlemen, thank you both for being with us.
Joe Andrew, we just heard Florida's secretary of state say now that it's going to be next week before -- apparently before we have the official count from all of Florida's 67 counties. Where does this stand from the standpoint of the Democratic National Committee?
ANDREW: Well, Judy, Democrats want what all Americans want, which is a fair and accurate count of every ballot in every election, but particularly for president of the United States of America. We need to make sure that that count is credible, that it's clear, that the process is transparent as well, and maybe even more importantly, people have confidence in the result of it. And I think that's why we need to do, as President Carter, who's reviewed dozens of elections all across the country, said, is to be patient here, be patient with democracy, let this process go forward and make sure that it's a result that people have confidence in.
WOODRUFF: Jim Nicholson, as the head of the Republican National Committee, do you -- does your party have difficulty with the idea of making sure that the votes were counted correctly, that the final count is one that everyone can have confidence in?
JIM NICHOLSON, RNC CHAIRMAN: We have no difficulty with that at all. That's the goal. This more than being political, or moral, or legal, Judy, is constitutional. What's involved in -- here is our way of government, the way we conduct elections, we have to do this very carefully and I think people are doing the country and potentially our freedom a disservice when they act irrational about this, when they go down there and hold demonstrations, when they try to incite people to riot.
WOODRUFF: Who are you saying exactly is irrational?
NICHOLSON: Well, Jesse Jackson is down there right now, you know, ginning up people. That's not what we need. We need leadership, we need people who respect the Constitution so strongly that they will lead, and that they will advise constraint on the part of all people involved so that we do get this done and we get it done right consistent with the Constitution, and I think when that's done, Governor Bush is going to have a majority of the votes in Florida, which will give him Florida's electoral votes and he'll be elected president of the United States.
WOODRUFF: But you would acknowledge we don't know that for certain until all the votes are counted?
NICHOLSON: That's correct. And there is still...
WOODRUFF: Including the absentee.
NICHOLSON: ... absentee votes that need to be counted.
WOODRUFF: Joe Andrew, what about Jim Nicholson's statement that you have people, including Jesse Jackson, who seem to be trying to stir things up down in south Florida? ANDREW: I don't think Reverend Jackson is trying to stir things up. I think he's helping to express the will of a lot of people down there who are concerned and don't have confidence in the result or in the process right now. Again, the most important thing here is to make sure that people have confidence in the process and that we need to make sure that all Americans recognize that it may take some patience and may take some time.
WOODRUFF: Let me ask you this, what is it going to take -- well, let me -- I'm sorry. Let me turn it around and ask it this way.
Today, we heard Karl Rove, who's the chief strategist for Governor Bush, say that, OK, if we're taking a look at Florida, then let's think about Wisconsin, let's think about Iowa, New Mexico, some other states...
WOODRUFF: Oregon, states where the vote was very close, ended up in Gore's favor. Would you support a look at some of the -- at the balloting in some of these other states if things go forward in Florida so that maybe there is a revote, maybe it goes into court? We don't know yet.
NICHOLSON: I don't know. I can't answer that, Judy, but it's -- you know, our elections across our country are huge and they're scope and scale, and there are always some irregularities, and it's an imperfect process, and what I think Karl was saying is, if we're going to zero in one county, then we're going to have to zero in on a lot of counties around this country.
I mean, in Milwaukee, for example, we know that a leader from the Democrat Party was in there taking homeless people from a shelter down, giving them an absentee ballot and voting them, and giving them a pack of cigarettes as their reward. Should we be contesting that? We know in St. Louis they kept the ballot place open in contravention of a federal judge's order so people could vote. Should we be contesting that? And we could go on and on.
I think what we need here is real sound, mature judgment, people who revere our freedom and our Constitution -- I fought for that myself in combat. This is not something we ought to take lightly and we shouldn't be acting irrationally, with placards and -- this is not a campaign, this is more important.
WOODRUFF: Joe Andrew, what about this point, that if you're going to go down and open everything up all over again in one state, or in one county, or four counties, why not do it in other places where there were close races?
ANDREW: Well, we should. There is no question that we should look at everything. For example, in response, particularly, to what Jim just said; in the situation in Milwaukee, while it wasn't a democratic leader, it was just a volunteer -- actually, the Republican Party is contesting it there. In each one of these circumstances he issues an example, it is being contested, it is being looked at right now. There are state, obviously, investigations going on all across this country as there always are after elections.
WOODRUFF: What is it going to take, gentlemen, for each of you, for the political organizations that you represent to be satisfied with the results? I mean, some people would look at what's been going on and the rhetoric that we've been hearing in the last day or so -- wait a minute, this is like two trains headed for a collision; we just had an election.
I mean, what is it going to take for there to be an acceptance of the results?
NICHOLSON: I think it's for the people who have that responsibility, particularly in Florida, to make their decision and then certify their decision. And people, I think, will accept that.
WOODRUFF: Whatever it is in Florida, because we know that, whichever way those 25 electoral votes from Florida go, it will either be Governor Bush or Vice President Gore who will be the next president?
NICHOLSON: Well, you make a good point; and as Joe mentions, you know, these other areas, in Wisconsin, in Iowa, in Oregon, in New Mexico. Those are very close elections, none of which we won. So, you know, if there's litigation over this, if there's a protracted dispute over this, those are areas that we will have to look at because, you know, the counts there are so close that maybe they are wrong.
WOODRUFF: Joe Andrew, just quickly, what will it take to...
ANDREW: We have to have a clear, transparent process. We've got to make sure we understand what the will of the voters was and will of individual voters, as well. That's what Americans want and that's what will breed confidence. I think in the end, that's exactly what we'll get.
WOODRUFF: All right; Joe Andrew, Jim Nicholson, chairman of their respective parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. Thank you both very much.
And I want to tell our viewers that we are waiting for a second news conference this day by Bill Daley, who's the chairman of the Gore campaign, and Warren Christopher, former secretary of state, who has been appointed by Al Gore to serve as his legal emissary to Florida while this recount and some of these questions are outstanding.
We'll be back in just a minute with more of this special edition.
SHAW: For our viewers in search of the "MONEYLINE NEWS HOUR," normally beginning at 6:30 Eastern, CNN INSIDE POLITICS has an extended program because we're expecting a news conference by the national campaign chairman for Vice President Al Gore William Daley and the vice president's legal representative Warren Christopher. We're standing by for that, and as soon as we wrap up then, of course, the "MONEYLINE NEWS HOUR" will come on.
We're going to take you back to Florida now and check in with two of our correspondents for an update on what is happening.
First to you, Patty Davis, in Tallahassee; what's the latest?
PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're hoping for some resolution here in Tallahassee, but that is not to be the case. Florida secretary of state Katherine Harris just holding her press conference saying, in fact, that only 53 out of Florida's 67 counties have reported their recount numbers, 14 are still missing.
They now have until Tuesday, November 14, to come in with their numbers. What the state official numbers now show is that Bush is still up 1,784 votes in the recount at this point. There's a difference, now, with what The Associated Press and the voter news service is reporting -- those are unofficial numbers as well. But those reports are in the counties, actually where the recounts are taking place. They are showing that 64 of 67 counties are reporting their numbers; 362 is the number that George W. Bush is up according to AP and VNS.
Now, we may not know the final numbers here until Tuesday; as I said, that's when all the counties are required to report their numbers, and then there is the sticky problems of those absentee overseas ballot. They do not have to be received until the following Tuesday -- actually, on the 17th, which is Thursday, 10 days after the election, Bernie.
SHAW: That's the absentee ballots?
DAVIS: That's right, those are the absentee ballots from overseas. They have to have them postmarked by the Election Day, but they have to be received by the 17th, which would be 10 days after the actual election.
SHAW: OK Patty, would you please stand by.
Let's go down the East Coast of Florida and check in with John Zarrella in West Palm Beach.
John, what's the very latest where you are?
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the very latest is that the protesters are still here and they're still saying, "don't throw my vote away." They've been here since about 7:00 or 8:00 this morning.
A couple of other developments here in Palm Beach County is that the supervisor of elections office, just a little while ago said that they would go ahead and recount the votes again for a third time. The Republican Party has asked for a machine recount. That will be conducted beginning at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. The Democratic Party asked for a manual recount, that will also be conducted beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, but will only be of 1 percent of the vote, and that's about 4,000 votes that they will recount from three precincts here, randomly selected precincts in Palm Beach County.
And what we also understand is that a federal lawsuit that was about to be filed here has been withdrawn and that there will no longer be any federal challenge, at least not by one individual here in Palm Beach County who was planning to file a federal lawsuit, saying that the election -- they were mislead, they were duped, and that the election should be thrown out and a new election in Palm Beach County should be handled.
But right now you can see all of these protesters behind me, Bernie. They have been here, again, all day. The Reverend Jesse Jackson was here about 1:00 this afternoon. He said that the vote here could not stand, there had to be some sort of a revote, which is what the people here are asking and demanding. When all of this will shake out in Palm Beach County; very, very difficult to say; 19,000 votes were thrown out here because people voted for two presidential candidates. Another 3,400 votes are in question because they went to Pat Buchanan, and that's five times more votes Pat Buchanan got here than he got in Broward County, which has twice the number of voters. So that's appears to be suspicious.
And that all hinges on the ballot here in Palm Beach County that is suspect in the way it was put together, and which has been the subject of contention all day by -- and questioning, even a little while ago in that press conference held in Tallahassee with the elections commission officials as to whether the ballot is wrong, whether it's a bad ballot, whether it, indeed, should not have been used.
So, many developments still to untold, regardless of the what this final count is in the recount of the 67 counties -- Bernie.
SHAW: John Zarrella with the latest from West Palm Beach, we thank you as we thank Patty Davis in Tallahassee.
INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRAWFORD: While there's lot of frustration surrounding this election, nobody ever said that democracy was simple or efficient. But this is democracy in action. If you want simplicity just go about 70 miles south of Florida and you got Cuba and they're very simple. They have no elections. So, it's frustrating. It's confusing. It's perplexing and it's all worth it because it's our democracy and we're going to get through it and it's going to all work out.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: Those were the comments just a short time ago. Bob Crawford, who is the Florida state agriculture commissioner, he was there with the Florida secretary of state talking about the recount, the canvassing of votes going on at this hour still in the state of Florida. We are waiting for a news conference by the campaign chairman for Al Gore, Bill Daley and also by Vice President Gore's legal -- the head of his legal team, Warren Christopher, down in Florida. And we're going to go to that just as soon as it gets underway.
But in the meantime we're going to bring back with us Ken Gross, the election law expert. And Ken, you are here in Washington. Jeff Greenfield joins us from New York.
I want to ask Ken Gross, first, you listen to the secretary of state and her colleagues, are we any further along in understanding where we stand with this recount, Ken Gross?
GROSS: It didn't do anything for me. It sounded like we were back where we were a couple days ago. In fact, the information we've been getting from CNN is coming directly from the field, as they say out in Florida, and that seems to be more accurate or at least more developed information than we got from the secretary of state. So I didn't see that moving the ball at all.
WOODRUFF: What about the question that went to the -- I'm sorry, I didn't write down his name. He was the gentleman who I guess runs the state election board.
WOODRUFF: He was asked about the order of names on the ballot, and he did not answer the question. Now why would that be significant?
GROSS: Well, it was an interesting question and I think even a more interesting reaction because he kind of pulled back. The reason it's important is if the ballot in its design is not in compliance with state law, that's just another basis for a challenge and throwing out the Palm Beach votes that were based on this butterfly ballot.
And I guess the question really comes down to if you read the column, you know, one from column a and one from column b, it looks like they're not in order of the presidential primary -- the major party candidates first. It looks like it's major party, minor party, major party. Of course, if you read the first column all the way down and then you go over to the second column then they are in order. So that's just another problem with this butterfly ballot.
WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, it is increasingly looking as if there may well be a legal assault here on the election at least in Palm Beach County, perhaps in other counties. What does all this do to the process of picking a president? What are we really dealing with here?
GREENFIELD: Here's what I'm beginning to sense, and I hope I'm wrong. I'm getting the sense that I'm looking at a stately, magnificent automobile, a classic automobile parked on a grade, slowly beginning to roll down the hill. And at the bottom of this hill, actually, there's a cliff. There's plenty of time to stop the car. Everybody loves the car. Everybody wants to preserve but the car faster this car gains momentum, the harder it will be to stop what could be a very ugly crash.
And part of the reason, I suggest, is we are once again, just as with impeachment, employing a 200-year-old mechanism that we never thought we were ever going to get around to employing again.
I mean, just one other point. To look at these 362 votes, if that's the unofficial estimate, I tried to do the arithmetic like Tuesday night, Judy. It represents something on the order of 3/10,000 of 1 percent of the national popular vote and that is the number that may or may not determine the next president because of our electoral system.
And whatever you want to argue, and the partisans are getting more and more loud, you know, more vociferous, more contentious, that's a very troublesome thing to be at a time when we should be talking about the transition and the new president.
WOODRUFF: Well, Jeff Greenfield is saying we may be heading for a crisis, but Ken Gross, I mean, after all, there is process for dealing with serious challenges to election outcomes, is there not?
GROSS: There is, and I think we're going to see it played out because there is a basis under the court system, the state court system in Florida to bring challenges. Where they'll end up, we don't know, but the Democrats here are certainly entitled to due process and I think we're going to watch it unfold.
WOODRUFF: All Right, Ken Gross here in Washington; Jeff Greenfield in New York. We're going to take a break. More of this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're very, very proud of him. And I'm very pleased that he has Jim Baker helping him there. And I'm very proud of Jeb. I'll tell you, as a dad, some of what's been said about him, questioning him just kills me.
QUESTION: Do you think it'll come out all right?
QUESTION: Do you support the recount?
G. BUSH: The most nervous time in my entire life. I'll leave that to the pros. I'm a father -- a very proud father. I'm proud of the way my son has conducted himself and is conducting himself. And it's very hard to describe it to people. That's where it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: Former President of the United States George Herbert Walker Bush, he's in the rain under that umbrella just outside Blair House. He and Mrs. Bush, along with former first families, president Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn, Jerry Ford, former President Ford, his wife, Betty, and former first lady, Ladybird Johnson, they're all at the White House tonight for dinner, hosted by President and Mrs. Clinton, part of those celebrations commemorating the 200th birthday of the White House.
Now, quickly, to our correspondents in the field covering both campaigns in both camps. Candy Crowley in Austin.
John King, you're in Nashville. John, what is it with this news conference by William Daley, the campaign chairman, and Warren Christopher, the top legal representative?
KING: Well, Bernie, they were preparing to respond to whatever the Florida secretary of state said about recount, the initial recount. The Gore campaign now saying it doesn't know what there is to respond to because she said so little. She gave no new information, no firm number on where the initial recanvassing, as the Gore campaign calls it, is.
So, whether we will hear from Mr. Daley and Mr. Christopher, I think, is in doubt. And if they do come out, I was just told by a senior campaign official, they really have very little new to say. They coming out to react to her new numbers and then she didn't release any, because she said the process is not complete.
SHAW: And Candy, I presume that until John just reported that latest information, the Bush campaign was ready to respond to the Gore campaign responding to the Florida officials.
CROWLEY: Well, that seems to be the way we're going. They certainly left open the option that we might hear from them further this evening. There was nothing planned as of about an hour ago. So, you know, obviously, Bernie, what we're seeing is that this has become as much about politics as it does about adding numbers up. When the Gore campaign had a news conference earlier today, the Bush campaign did feel that it needed to get out there with its side of the story. So, I imagine this is something we are going to see over the next week or so, I guess.
SHAW: And Candy, we just heard former President George Bush expressing some very deeply held emotional feelings about his two sons, Jeb Bush, governor of Florida and, of course, Texas Governor George Bush. Was the president reflecting pretty much what you're hearing about the Bush family and the emotions that are just percolating?
CROWLEY: Absolutely, I think that what we've seen over the course of this campaign and, indeed, when George Bush, the father, was in office, is that this is a close family and a family that sticks together. They were, Jeb Bush, George Bush and George Bush the father, were all there with their wives in the governor's mansion as these returns came in on Tuesday night. There is obvious affection in the family and obviously, you know, a proud dad. And George Bush is always saying the only worse thing than being the guy who's running is being a relative or a loved one of the guy who's running. Probably, father George Bush is in the toughest position of either of his two sons at this point.
SHAW: Candy Crowley in Austin, John King in Nashville, I know you're tired of standing, so we're going to get out of your lives for a while. Thank you.
When we come back we're going to hear from Bruce Morton.
WOODRUFF: It is an election that will go down in history like few others. While some may find humor in it, or be shocked by it, our Bruce Morton reports, there have been other controversial elections, and the nation managed to sort them out.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's funny, of course. The late-night guys love it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")
JAY LENO: Man, and what is it down to, just a couple of votes? Boy, wouldn't it be great if this whole thing wound up being decided by Elian Gonzalez's crazy relatives? Uncle Lazarus and the crazy fisherman, we got the final vote right here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORTON: But it isn't just funny. Oprah's worried.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW")
OPRAH WINFREY: But we are live in Chicago on November 9th and we are leaderless. Aren't we still shocked?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORTON: And some of us are.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of problems with counting and exactly how many votes are actually valid and whatnot, and it just makes me think that, whoever they elect, is that really our president? or is it a counting mistake?
MORTON: Nowadays, everything is instant. But elections used to be slow. And even then, the U.S. always muddled through, somehow. Abraham Lincoln was murdered. His vice president, Andrew Johnson, was impeached in a country bitterly divided at the end of the Civil War. But power passed smoothly. Andrew Jackson won the popular vote and the electoral vote but not a majority. And the House elected John Quincy Adams president. Power passed smoothly. And Jackson won the presidency four years later. Same with Grover Cleveland, won the popular vote, but the Electoral College went for Benjamin Harrison and Cleveland got elected four years later.
When Richard Nixon resigned the presidency -- something that had never happened before, in 1974 -- people said, this will be bad for the country. But it was only bad for Nixon. The country, under Gerald Ford, was calm. It was the same Nixon who, when he lost a very close election to John Kennedy in 1960, did not pursue vote fraud charges in Illinois, but accepted the results. This time, well everyone's talking about it.
TERESA CHAPPEL, REPUBLICAN ELECTOR: If I was on the other side, I probably would say, yes, the popular vote. However, it is the Electoral College in this country that elects our president and I think that should hold.
MORTON: They'll debate changing the system for next time. But the odds are this election will be decided under the law, fairly calmly, no coups, no national collapse. And if we need a temporary president, somebody to mind the store while the lawsuits get settled, I know just the guy, and so do you. You know he'd love to be asked; it absolutely beats being the spouse of a famous senator.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
SHAW: Always willing to help.
That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Bernard Shaw.
WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff. We will join the "MONEYLINE NEWS HOUR," already in progress.
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