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NEWSROOM for November 9, 2000

Aired November 9, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Election 2000. This is a special edition of CNN NEWSROOM, with Shelley Walcott, Rudi Bakhtiar and Tom Haynes.


VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We now need to resolve this election.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm looking forward to this being speedily resolved.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: The U.S. presidential election is over but there are questions to resolve. Hello everyone and welcome. I'm Tom Haynes.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: We'll go beyond the numbers and look at shifts in balance of power. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: And we'll check world reaction to the history-making U.S. election. Hello. I'm Shelley Walcott.

BAKHTIAR: It's been the campaign of all campaigns, one of historic proportions that still hasn't produced a United States president-elect. Americans are waiting on the edge of their seats as Florida recounts its popular vote and tries to sort out who gets its 25 electoral votes.

If ever there was an election where every vote truly counted, this was it. At last count, Vice President Al Gore led Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the national popular vote by less than 193,000 ballots. Roughly 1,700 votes separated the two contenders in Florida, with Bush ahead.

But it's the electoral votes that determine the winner; 270 are needed to win. At the moment, Gore has the most electoral votes, 260 compared to Bush's 249. But the candidate who takes Florida will capture 25 more. If it goes to Bush, he could win the presidency despite losing the popular vote. We may know by the end of today if that will happen.

Meanwhile, Bush and Gore both remain confident as they wait for the results. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: This morning brings news from Florida that the final vote count there shows that Secretary Cheney and I have carried the state of Florida. And if that result is confirmed in an automatic recount, as we expect it will be, then we have won the election.

GORE: I want to express my deep and profound gratitude to all of those who cast their ballots, however they cast them. We now need to resolve this election in a way that is fair, forthright and fully consistent with our Constitution and our laws.


HAYNES: Currently, Al Gore leads George W. Bush in the popular vote, but he may, when all is said and done, lose the battle for electoral votes, and the election, to Bush. That would be the first time in more than 100 years that such a scenario would take place.

Garrick Utley looks at the Electoral College process and the issues it raises.


GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For voters, the small print was right there on the ballots in many states. They were not electing the president, but rather electors who would elect the president. Someone like Martin Connor, who will cast his electoral vote in New York State.

MARTIN CONNOR, DEMOCRATIC ELECTOR: The voters want me to vote for Al Gore, and therefore the party, the Democratic Party, picked electors who will be sure to carry out that function.

UTLEY (on camera): Of course, those who voted for George W. Bush here in New York State may well ask, what about our votes? since they will not be represented in New York's 33 winner-take-all electoral votes. But then that's the way the system has operated for more than 200 years. The question is, why?

UTLEY (voice-over): When the 55 men who wrote the Constitution debated how to elect a president, it was a different America. There were no political parties, no national campaigns. There was concern that regional candidates would splinter a direct popular vote for president and result in weak chief executives.

PROF. DAVID EPSTEIN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: It was going to be difficult, they thought, for the people to really know all the different candidates. They thought that the electors, the leading members of community, might have a better idea of who was out there and what their merits were.

UTLEY: But almost immediately, that imperfect electoral system ran into trouble. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr received an equal number of electoral votes because each elector was allowed to cast two votes. That was changed to one vote per elector. In 1824, Andrew Jackson won the popular vote but not the required majority of electoral votes, because four candidates were in the race. John Quincy Adams, who came in second in the popular and electoral vote count, was elected president by the House of Representatives.

In 1876, Samuel Tilden won more popular votes than Rutherford B. Hayes. But Hayes won the electoral vote after a dispute over those votes was resolved in the House of Representatives.

And it happened again when Grover Cleveland ran for reelection in 1888 and narrowly won the popular vote by fewer than 100,000 votes. But Benjamin Harrison won the electoral vote and the presidency.

EPSTEIN: Benjamin Harrison won a lot of states by a little bit while Cleveland won fewer states, but by a greater number in each state.

UTLEY (on camera): And so now in 2000, the real presidential election will take place on the first Monday following the second Wednesday of December as 538 men and women, most of whom are totally unknown to the general public, gather in their respective state capitals to cast their electoral ballots.

CONNOR: There's a big wooden ballot box with an old-fashioned lock on it and each elector is given a ballot. It's pre-printed with the winning candidate's name on it. You sign the back of it. It's not a secret vote, really. And then you literally line up as the roll is called and drop the paper ballot into the ballot box for president.

UTLEY (voice-over): And what now if one candidate wins the electoral vote and the other the popular vote?

JAMES ORTENZIO, REPUBLICAN ELECTOR: I think the results would be first questioned but not contested.

UTLEY (on camera): And then?

ORTENZIO: And then I think everyone would understand that this is the way the cards fall.

UTLEY (voice-over): And the counting of those cards, the electoral vote, is announced before Congress in January.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bill Clinton of the state of Arkansas has received for president of the United States 379 votes.


UTLEY: For more than 200 years, Americans have been electing, indirectly, their presidents. If enough people are unhappy with that and want to change the electoral system and the Constitution, well, they have the power to do so.

Garrick Utley, CNN, New York.


WALCOTT: For the first time in several presidential elections, there was an increase in voter turnout. It's estimated that just over 50 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. In fact, in some areas, people had to stand in line for hours to cast a ballot in what is now believed to be the closest election in modern U.S. history.

Dan Ronan reports.


DAN RONAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When all of the votes are counted and recounted, about 100 million American adults will have cast ballots in what is now the closest presidential election in modern history. It's estimated 50 percent of all eligible age voters went to the polls. And it's estimated to be up 1 percent nationally from the 1996 campaign.

Here's why many experts say voter turnout increased. The tightest of presidential races between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore excited thousands more voters, especially senior citizens who have always vote in very high numbers. Ralph Nader's third-party campaign raised the level of excitement among younger voters, many whom had never voted before. Exit polls also show minority and union members, especially in the Northeast, parts of the Midwest and California, went to the polls in larger-than-expected numbers.

Putting the turnout in some historical perspective, turnout reached its peak in 1960 when 63.1 percent of voters cast ballots in the close Kennedy-Nixon election. And with the exception of 1984 and 1992, voter interest every four years has been dropping off.

The closeness of this razor-thin, now history-making election proves every vote counts.

Dan Ronan, CNN.


BAKHTIAR: Well, there's no doubt that this presidential election will go down as one of the most exciting and bizarre elections to date. All eyes are on Florida as the make-or-break state presses on with a recount. One important factor to consider are the votes from Americans living outside the United States.

So how do expatriates vote? Margaret Lowrie runs us through the process.


MARGARET LOWRIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how Americans living overseas cast their absentee votes: by postal service. The mailbox becomes, in effect, the ballot box. (on camera): And who is eligible? Pretty much any U.S. citizen living outside the United States during a federal election period. The U.S. government estimates there are at least 6 million such Americans, some of them serving in the military.

(voice-over): In the last presidential election, only 2,300 Floridians living overseas returned their ballots. State officials expect a similar number this time around. In Britain, Republicans Abroad U.K. have about 3,000 to 4,000 members registered.

MARK SHIELS, REPUBLICANS ABROAD UK: Many people are interested in voting, but they don't get around to actually taking the steps to register. So we took it upon ourselves to contact all of our members to ensure that they were indeed going to vote and provide them with the necessary forms to register.

FRANCES DEAK, DEMOCRATS ABROAD UK: This is the write-in ballot if you didn't receive your ballot in time. And this is exactly what has to be counted by hand and may take several days.

LOWRIE: Frances Deaks works for Democrats Abroad UK and is a registered voter from Florida.

DEAK: I voted early enough to get the computer card, and it should have gone through with the regular votes. In fact, only the people who voted at the last minute should have had a write-in ballot, which have to be counted separately.

LOWRIE: The U.S. embassy in London does not provide ballots for Americans resident here, but helps them figure out the mechanics of voting by mail; with a telephone help line, for example, and through the embassy's Web site, which takes prospective voters throughout the procedures step by step.

The first is to obtain an FPCA, or federal post card application. These days, that can even be done online. the postage-free application must be returned by post to the voter's home state or territory in order to receive the postal ballot. Some states allow voters to apply for, receive and return the voted ballot by fax. Under normal circumstances, most states and territories begin mailing their ballots 30 to 45 days before the election.

In some states, including Florida, overseas postal votes received up to 10 days after the election are considered valid as long as they were postmarked by Election Day itself.

Margaret Lowrie, CNN, London.


HAYNES: World leaders who rushed to congratulate George W. Bush for his apparent victory in the U.S. presidential election were forced to take it back. They, like most of us, placed their faith with the American television networks.

Kitty Pilgrim tells us how the closest U.S. election in decades is playing around the rest of the world.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Beijing to Brussels, people gathered to watch American democracy in action. But when confronted with the Electoral College, many found the process befuddling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: American politics is very difficult for us Brits to understand.

PILGRIM: In Japan, coverage of the U.S. election was broadcast all day long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Every time I watch a U.S. election, it seems like an entertainment show to me.

PILGRIM: When the U.S. media called it a Bush victory, the reply from overseas governments was swift and sure. South Korea's Kim Dae Jung sent a congratulatory message to Bush, as did China's official news agency and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. France, the Netherlands, Turkey and Indonesia all issued congratulations to Bush. In Russia, the government quickly affirmed that there would be no change of cooperation with the new Republican administration.

Cuba displayed no confusion, predictably hard-line, no matter what the outcome.

FILIPE PEREZ, CUBAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Either one is likely to become the 10th American president to retire without being able to bring Cuba to its knees.

PILGRIM: Little did Cuba realize that straddling the fence would soon become the diplomatic dance du jour. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook performed some verbal gymnastics, congratulating Bush if it is confirmed he has won.

For many countries, a party change in the White House may mean a change in State Department policy. But the closeness of the election poses another problem for international policy.

ROBERT HORMATS, GOLDMAN SACHS: The key point is, what mandate will the new president have? Will he be able to lead? Will there be enough of a consensus behind the new president so that he can take the necessary actions at home and abroad, particularly abroad if there's a crisis.

PILGRIM (on camera): The lesson in government to the world: the American political process is not always orderly, sometimes holds some surprises, and is often entertaining.

Kitty Pilgrim, CNN Financial News, New York.


WALCOTT: A key question for whoever is elected president: Will he be able to work well with Congress?

Andy Jordan brings us a closer look at the Senate and House of Representatives, and at how election 2000 may affect the balance of power on Capitol Hill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Record their vote by electronic device!

ANDY JORDAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. Congress is made up of two chambers or Houses. The House of Representatives has 435 members who are usually referred to as Congressmen or women. They are elected every two years and represent a particular district within a state, on average about 600,000 people.

PHIL SMITH, CONCORD COALITION: The House is perpetually being reelected, and the forefathers made it that way on purpose so that the House members would be very, very, very in touch with the wants and needs and current affairs of their constituents.

JORDAN: The number of representatives a state has is a direct reflection of its population. The U.S. Senate, on the other hand, has 100 members and their constituency is much broader.

Until a constitutional amendment in 1913, senators were appointed by House members. The amendment provided that not only would senators be elected by the people, but there would be two from each state and each serve six-year terms.

Phil Smith is a former staffer in the U.S. House and spends a lot of time on Capitol Hill pushing his cause. He's a regional director for the bipartisan budget watchdog group the Concord Coalition.

SMITH: If you want bipartisan support, you go after both Republicans and Democrats. But what a lot of people forget is that, part of the process, it also has to be bicameral before it can get to the desk of the president. And bicameral simply means both houses of Congress.

JORDAN: There are several ways in which the House and Senate balance each other in power, one of which stems from a key issue of the American revolution: taxation without representation.

SMITH: Being very, very aware of those concerns, the forefathers made the House of Representatives the place where all taxation bills must originate, and that stands to this day.

JORDAN: To balance the power of the House, the Senate has the power to check on the executive branch by approving presidential choices for cabinet and ambassador positions. The Constitution also says the Senate alone has the power to ratify treaties, but the House can have an indirect say as well.

SMITH: The House controls the purse strings. And so that way the House has an effect on what the Senate does, because the senators are mindful that anything they do can be checked by the House in terms of controlling the purse strings.

JORDAN: A bill cannot become law unless both House and Senate versions are identical.

SMITH: And there are lots of examples of how bills were either changed or eliminated or passed based on that whole process of the checks and balances and the conference committees that the Senate and the House are appointed to to try to work out differences, to make that bill identical so that it can become law.

JORDAN: The conference committee is a way for the House and Senate to hammer out differences, and that can be a long process. Many bills get tied up over pork barrel projects. They are spending measures or projects that a member of Congress will try to push through Congress that generally benefit constituents in his or her political district. Most often, senators end up putting the brakes on a House member's pork barrel project.

SMITH: When a senator comes in, they can make an amendment or they go into the conference committee process and do away with some of that pork. And we do see that happening sometimes.

JORDAN: The House and Senate balance of power can also come into play on non-legislative duties.

SMITH: Having witnessed the impeachment situation, that was the most recent powerful demonstration of the differences between the House and the Senate.

JORDAN: For only the second time in history, last year the House voted to impeachment a president. The Senate is charged with trying him. To that extent, the Senate checked what the House started by acquitting President Clinton. Smith says the constitutional forefathers knew what they were doing in creating a Congress whose balance of power is carefully calibrated.

SMITH: They could never foresee the type of issues that we'd be dealing with today with entitlement reform, Social Security, Medicare. They never would have imaged that we'd be talking about these things today -- issues related to the Internet. But the very framework and structure that they put together, the checks and balances between the House and the Senate, still last to this day.


BAKHTIAR: While we still do not know who will be the next president of the United States, there is one thing we do know: The next president will face a divided Congress.

CNN's Chris Black reports.


CHRIS BLACK, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the last vote is counted, Congress will be virtually split between Democrats and Republicans. Is it a prescription for gridlock or opportunity for bipartisanship?

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: Power sharing is a unique concept. We recognize and I hope they recognize that the only way the Congress will accomplish anything is through bipartisanship. It simply will not occur in any other way. They don't have the votes, we don't have the votes.

BLACK: The election has left Capitol Hill reeling. The outcome of the Washington Senate race is still uncertain, but the Senate will be divided between Republicans and Democrats next session. And the House Republican margin has most likely been cut to fewer than a handful of votes, potentially making passage of Social Security reform, tax cuts and spending bills tougher than ever.

SEN. ROBERT TORRICELLI (D), NEW JERSEY: This is an American constitutional equivalent of cohabitation.

BLACK: With no mandate for either party, even the controversial senator-to-be from New York, Hillary Rodman Clinton, is adopting a conciliatory tone.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATOR-ELECT: Today, you know, we're New Yorkers and I'm going to get to work to represent the entire state of New York.

BLACK: Both Democrats and Republicans say the ability to pass legislation in the next Congress hinges on the outcome of the presidential race, and efforts to bridge the partisan divide are already under way.

CNN is told a coalition of moderate to conservative House Democrats are already talking privately about reaching out to George W. Bush if he wins the election. And moderate Republicans who side with Democrats on some domestic issues could prove to be a pivotal swing group.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: The things that we really feel ought to be advanced will be advanced, and the centrists in both parties will be a player in those decisions, just like they have been in the past.

BLACK: An early test will be on campaign finance reform, with Sen. John McCain vowing there will be blood on the Senate floor if his quest continues to fall short.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: I think we will get a campaign finance reform bill done next year.

BLACK (on camera): To top off all the confusion, the current Congress returns next week for a lame-duck session. Lawmakers say the outcome of the presidential race and how it affects the unfinished business of this Congress will provide a good clue into how they behave in the next.

Chris Black, CNN, Capitol Hill.


HAYNES: When all the votes are counted, this could be the most even split of power between Democrats and Republicans in Congress in almost half a century. Yesterday's election ended the wide Republican majority in both the House and the Senate.

Kelli Arena reports on what the closer margin will mean for legislation in the 107th Congress.


KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gridlock is good -- at least that's the message voters sent to Washington; no clear majority in Congress, no clear mandate on any one issue, a situation in which uncertainty is the norm, dragging on corporate America's agenda.

PAUL EQUALE, DEMOCRATIC BUSINESS COUNCIL: If every issue is jump ball, if every issue is one where a new coalition is going to be formed around that specific issue, then, as a lobbyist, it can be a very difficult proposition.

ARENA: Congress is already deadlocked over several issues important to business, including a prescription drug benefit, Social Security and legal reform. And with an even smaller Republican majority, deadlock can be expected to stifle progress on those issues.

TOM DONAHUE, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: It will be very serious. I can't think of any of those that are going to be easy.

ARENA: Lawmakers are trying to put the best spin on the situation, suggesting it could force the two sides to cooperate.

DASCHLE: It simply will not occur in any other way. They don't have the votes, we don't have the votes.

ARENA: And some suggest, even if bipartisanship fails, there are some good things to say about gridlock.

GREG VALLIERE, SCHWAB WASHINGTON RESEARCH: No. 1, it allows the surplus to pile up even more because there'll be no pressure for big, new spending or big, new tax cuts. No. 2, as many on Wall Street say if there's gridlock, it means Congress does less harm.

ARENA: But even Valliere admits there can be too much of a good thing.

(on camera): That's because business is anxious for reform, and total gridlock, a total breakdown in any ability to get anything done, is not in the best interest of any industry.

Kelli Arena, CNN Financial News, Capitol Hill.


WALCOTT: You didn't necessarily have to be a grownup to vote on Election Day. No, kids from across the U.S stepped up to the ballot box, thanks to a program called Kids Voting USA. The program encourages students, like the ones seen here in Atlanta, Georgia, to head to polling sites with their parent or guardian. Kids then cast their ballots in boxes set aside especially for them. It's all to teach young people about the responsibilities of voting.

And the kids' vote choice was Gov. Bush, who earned just over 50 percent of the vote. Vice President Gore came away with 45 percent.

BAKHTIAR: Democracy in America is an over 200-year-old work in progress with amendments that give life to its Constitution. Though this election is a testament to democratic values at work, democracy did not come easy to the United States. And there are countries all over the world still struggling and fighting for their democracy.

Here now is Garrick Utley.


UTLEY (voice-over): We witness the power of the people, their triumph, and wonder how could Slobodan Milosevic think he could defy them forever. What was he thinking when he called an election, gave the people the power to vote and then denied them the result?

Milosevic has shown again how absolute power can corrupt the mind and the ego.

There was the shah of Iran, run out of his country in 1979 despite his wealth and military might; a lesson not learned by Ferdinand Marcos, run out of the Philippines in 1986 when the people and the army turned against his excesses and his wife's extravagances; a lesson not learned three years later in East Germany, when mounting people pressure against communist rule brought Mikhail Gorbachev from Moscow to tell East Germany's rigid leaders that it was time to change, warning him that history punishes those who come late.

But it was already too late in Berlin, as it was in Czechoslovakia, as it was in Romania, where the ruthless dictator Nicolae Ceausescu also failed to learn the danger of treating power as a personal possession. The people turned against him and then the army, and Ceausescu paid with his life.

(on camera): Watching how the mighty fall, you might ask, why don't they learn, these rulers in denial, including those who are still in power? Especially, why didn't Slobodan Milosevic understand?

Look at this video.

(voice-over): It was made in 1987 when a Yugoslav official was sent to Kosovo to cool the passions of Serbs angry at Albanians in Kosovo. The official was a younger Slobodan Milosevic. Instead of calming the crisis, he exploited it, fanned the flames of Serb nationalism, used it as his sword to seize power.

He saw, right there, the power of the people who backed him. He didn't see that they could grow tired of him and turn against him. Now Slobodan Milosevic has learned how history punishes those who leave late.

Garrick Utley, CNN, New York.


WALCOTT: And that's our election 2000 special report. I'm Shelley Walcott.

HAYNES: Be sure to continue to watch CNN for updates. I'm Tom Haynes.

BAKHTIAR: And I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. For the entire staff of CNN NEWSROOM, have a great day. We'll see you tomorrow.

WALCOTT: Bye-bye.



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