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Inside Politics

Election 2000: Florida Supreme Court Rules Palm Beach Can Resume Recount; Bush Attorneys Ask Federal Appeals Court to Stop All Recounts

Aired November 16, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: (AUDIO GAP) Florida's presidential vote, a ruling from the state Supreme Court.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: The hand recount of ballots apparently can continue for now, despite the objections of Florida secretary of state.


SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think the Bush campaign has done everything it could in Florida to avoid a recount. And, of course, we think that we won.


WOODRUFF: The would-be presidents and their allies press on with their legal and public relations battles.


DON EVANS, BUSH CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: To do his part to ensure the fairness, accuracy and finality of this election, Governor Bush has decided our campaign will not seek a recount of the close vote in Iowa.


ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw in Washington.

SHAW: Thank you very much for joining us for this special two- hour edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

The presidential election cliffhanger turned into more of a courtroom drama this day. A short while ago, the Florida Supreme Court apparently handed a victory to Al Gore by giving Palm Beach County a green light to resume its hand count of ballots.

For the latest on that ruling, let's go to CNN's Mike Boettcher in Tallahassee -- Mike.

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Bernie, that came down about 30 minutes ago and this is kind of what happened: Palm Beach County went to the Supreme Court and said, look, help us out, Supreme Court. The secretary of state is telling us if we do these hand counts, she is not going to count them. But the attorney general is telling us -- of this state -- that we can do these hand counts and they should count.

So, the Supreme Court said, another court has already decided that for us and we affirm their decision. That court is the court in Palm Beach County and the one here in Leon County, Judge Terry Lewis, who said last Tuesday that the secretary of state can go along -- go ahead with her deadlines, but at the same time, she must use reasonable discretion when she decides whether or not to count those votes when they are finished.

So, that is what happened. He has thrown it back, basically, into this court and here is a critical decision in this court. This is the only place where a judge has before him the decision whether or not to halt Florida's final election count Friday night when those overseas ballots come in.

Now, Democrat and Republican lawyers argued here today. Lawyers for Vice President Gore said that the secretary of state abused her discretion when she went ahead and certificated all of the county results on Tuesday and said she was going to finish it up Saturday morning after that overseas ballot deadline. The Republicans said she used proper discretion, she thought about it for a day, asked the counties to come to her with reasons why they wanted delayed and need to count and she made up her mind and followed state law and said, no, I am not going to accept those.

So, those are the basic arguments. Tomorrow morning at 10:00, Bernie, we are supposed to have a ruling here and that will be a very, very critical ruling. Whatever happens, it is going to be appealed and we will end up back at that Supreme Court.

SHAW: And, Mike, to be perfectly clear, today's Supreme Court ruling in Florida applies solely to Palm Beach County.

BOETTCHER: Bernie, this comes in the case of Palm Beach County versus the secretary of state and the attorney general of the state of Florida. The two cases they cite, the one in Palm Beach County deals specifically with Palm Beach County. The case here in Leon County three days ago, where the arguments were made before Judge Terry Lewis, dealt on state-wide basis and dealt with those three counties.

So, in further reading of this, I believe that because of the ruling here in Leon County, this would affect all three counties. Judge Terry Lewis, when he made his ruling that the secretary of state should use discretion in determining whether hand-counted ballots can be used in the final tally and the secretary of state should hold off, that was made for all three counties. He said she can go ahead with her deadlines but that she should use proper discretion.

So, he is saying that Leon County and Palm Beach County are the two authorities. And in the case of Leon County, the judge here, Terry Lewis, was talking about all three counties. That is my reading of it, Bernie.

SHAW: OK, thank you very much, Mike Boettcher -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And now let's go to Palm Beach County to find out how election officials there are responding to the state Supreme Court ruling.

CNN's Martin Savidge is in West Palm Beach -- Marty.


This was exactly the ruling that Palm Beach County elections canvassing board members had been waiting to hear, sort of. It obviously gives them the green light to go ahead with their hand recount of all 431,000 votes that were cast in this particular county last Tuesday. But the question mark is, will it matter? will it count? And, of course, that's still part of the legal wrangling that's going on in Tallahassee.

Just a short while ago we heard from the chairman of that canvassing committee, Judge Charles Burton, as he outlined some of the work they still have to figure out before they actually get to the vote recount which will take place starting tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m.

This is what the judge had to say.


JUDGE CHARLES BURTON, PALM BEACH COUNTY CANVASSING COMMISSION: As they go through the ballots, you know, assuming it's clearly punched through, there's no objection by either observer, then the vote's counted. If the observers, whether it's the Democratic observer or the Republican observer has any problem with the ballot, they yell out questionable and then those questionable ones are set aside. And it is the questionable ballots that the canvassing board has to look at and decide.


SAVIDGE: There could be a lot of those questionable ballots. The pile in that particular stack could be quite large now because of the judge's ruling here in Palm Beach County. that would be Judge Jorge LaBarga, he apparently gave wide discretion to the canvassing board as to how they may look at ballots to try to determine voter intent.

In other words, we bring up that issue of dimples and, yes, it appears that the canvassing board will be looking at those dimples -- something that they did not do the last time they did the partial recount over the weekend. So that enters a whole new spectrum as to what exactly will they use to try to determine what the voter intent was.

Meanwhile, before the rulings all came down here, there were a number of protests stage in and around this particular site. The Republicans in support of George W. Bush had a large really late this afternoon. Several hundred people participating. It closed down traffic on the street in front of the building that's being used for the recount. There were signs being held saying "No More Gore" and "Bush Won Twice." There were also a lot of signs in support of Secretary of State of Florida Katherine Harris.

It wasn't just the Republicans that were having their say out on the street. Earlier in the day Democratic organizers had smaller rally that took place. These were mainly environmental groups as well a number of labor organizations and representatives from the Haitian community here in Florida that likewise held a demonstration this time in support of Vice President Gore and the idea of a manual recount in this county. So the recount is going to go ahead. It starts tomorrow morning. It should last six days -- Bernie and Judy.

WOODRUFF: Martin, can you just clarify for us, who or what will decide which of the those questionable ballots can be counted?

SAVIDGE: There are a number of decisions. The first decision is, obviously, the three members of the elections canvassing board must get amongst themselves and determine, all right, what is going to be the exact guidelines.

What will happen is that there are about 50 election workers that will be brought in. They will be going over all of those cardboard ballots looking at them. There will be one Republican and one Democrat as part of those teams of 25. And when they find one that is questionable, it will be taken over to the three members of the elections canvassing board and it's only they that can make the final determination as to which way that ballot was voted if it was voted at all -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Martin Savidge in West Palm Beach, thanks -- Bernie.

SHAW: Now moving on to Broward County where election officials are hand counting ballots for a second day despite all this legal wrangling. CNN's Charles Zewe is there -- Charles.

CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, right now the count is continuing for a second day. Let's take a look. No sign of any letup here among the 38 teams of people who've going over each of ballots -- 588,000 ballots to be counted here approximately. From 609 precincts, the latest count we get from canvassing board is that Al Gore has now picked up 21 votes since this recount began, this hand count began.

They've been going over the ballots very carefully today. That is roughly about 90 precincts of the 609 precincts in Broward County that have been checked before and they are showing no signs of letting up despite, today, a lawsuit trying to halt this process.

Four Republicans going into circuit court here trying to shut down this process as illegal. Republican Attorney Bill Sherer confronting the canvassing board today in person to serve them notice that they show up court tomorrow to show cause why this operation should not be shut down. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM SHERER, FLORIDA GOP ATTORNEY: Our papers have alleged that are you acting unlawfully in this recount, that you acted unlawfully in the second -- or first hand count, that this second hand count is unlawful. That are you acting in defiance of our -- of a directive from the secretary of state which is binding upon you. And that you are acting in defiance of the election laws because you had no basis to start you hand count in the first place.


ZEWE: A 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time hearing has been set before Circuit Court Judge Leonard Stafford here in Broward County tomorrow. She'll cause hearing on why this operation should not be shut down. Democratic attorneys are calling this latest lawsuit garbage, absolute grand standing. They saying it will not stand.

A spokesman for the Bush campaign who is here observing the operation and speaking for the Republicans side, says this lawsuit, despite today's Supreme Court ruling, will continue to challenge this hand recount, that there will be no letup here -- the Bush campaign and Republican attorneys forging ahead with an attempt to shut this operation down -- Bernie.

SHAW: Well, Charles, I was just wondering, in view of the Supreme Court ruling in Tallahassee, does that ruling not make the suit by Mr. Sherer and other plaintiffs moot? Anyone talking about that, aside from the Bush campaign?


SHAW: Sorry. Go ahead.

ZEWE: Yes, they are they say, Bernie. They say there are different issues, slightly different issues here: that the Palm Beach lawsuit was a challenge of Katherine Harris' authority to not accept the ballots. That is a big question here: what if they come up with enough changed votes for Al Gore to affect the outcome? Will the secretary of state not accept them? That is same question confronting the Palm Beach recounters and recounters all over the state.

So that is question that will be before the judge tomorrow afternoon in the hearing about whether this hand recount here is illegal. By the way, they expect that they can be finished some time on Monday. They are not saying when, but sometime on Monday, with recounting all 588,000 votes here.

SHAW: Charles Zewe with the very latest from Broward County -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, now that we have looked at the counting and the courts in the state of Florida, let's check in on Republican efforts to get a federal-court ruling on the hand recount controversy.

CNN's Bob Franken is at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The reason we're at the Appeals Court, Judy, is because Republicans have been thwarted twice -- in Orlando and Miami -- in their efforts to get a federal judge to stop the hand recounts. So they have now come to the Appeals Court. And the fundamental issue is whether the federal court should have role here.

The Republicans say that there are constitutional violations in what is going on in Florida, because of the uneven selection of counties for hand recounts. Therefore, that's a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and the First Amendment. The Democrats respond that, in fact, Article Two of the Constitution requires that the states control the elections, that the federal judiciary has no role.

They have been going back and forth. There is an unusual procedure here. All 12 judges are hearing this. It's called en banc. Normally, there is a three-judge panel first. But to move things along, all 12 are going to hear this -- don't know if there's going to be an open-court hearing. They have received their briefs. The next step is, tomorrow morning at 7:00, the replies to the briefs from both sides must be filed with the court.

They will then be sent to the judges. One other point: It is the political makeup of this court. There are 12 members. Seven are Republican- appointed by Republican presidents, five by a Democrat. Of the Republicans, four were appointed by President Bush, father of presidential candidate. And on the Democratic side, four were appointed by President Clinton of the Clinton-Gore administration -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Bob, on that very point, would the fact that they were those who are appointed by President George Bush, the father of the candidate vitally interested in outcome here, would that be cause for any of those justices or judges to recuse themselves?

FRANKEN: Everybody would be startled if that would occur. The judges -- particularly at the federal level -- like to make the claim that, in fact, their political dispositions before they were judges do not affect their dispensation of -- dispensation, excuse me -- of justice. There are others, however, who say that there is a predilection to rule a certain way. We're going to have to see how this comes out. But in any case, nobody is expecting any of these judges to recuse themselves.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Bob Franken at the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta.

Well, joining us now for more on all the legal maneuvering: CNN legal analyst, Greta Van Susteren. And she is in West Palm Beach.

Greta, now we have heard from Florida State Supreme Court, telling Palm Beach it can go ahead with the recount. Does this give the vice president and the people supporting his cause a leg up, if you will, at this point? GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, sure. The last party to win always get the leg up. And the Florida Supreme Court certainly is the highest court in this state. If Governor Bush wanted to go on to the United States Supreme Court, he would have find a Supreme Court issue. And it seems very unlikely, a as procedural matter, that this particular case, in this form -- since it was simply the Palm Beach canvassing board asking for permission from the Florida Supreme Court about its own internal state law -- it seems unlikely that this is the type of issue that it could ever go on to the United States Supreme Court.

So I think, for the moment, the Gore people must be extremely happy, because this is win for Gore people. Now, I got to add couple things: First of all, it was unanimous. The Gore side certainly is very happy that it's a unanimous decision, although, there's really no place to go from a Florida Supreme Court decision. But secondly, the decision does not say one thing. It does not say that the secretary of state must accept the vote.

And it's very interesting. The court is silent as to that. And perhaps one of the reasons it's silent is because, in Tallahassee, in the Leon County Circuit Court, that very issue at the trial court is being litigated. We're going to hear a decision tomorrow morning from that judge, which is a trial-court judge, about whether or not the secretary of state abused her discretion when she said that she had decided not to consider any additional votes.

That case will probably trickle up to Florida Supreme Court. No matter who wins or loses tomorrow, you could expect the loser is going to go back to the Florida Supreme Court. So that issue will end up in the lap of the Florida Supreme Court, in all likelihood, as to whether or not she must consider votes in the event it is Vice President Al Gore who wins the votes here in Palm Beach County and in Broward County.

WOODRUFF: So, Greta, do I hear you saying that this is not something that is going to be cleared up by midnight Friday, as the secretary of state of Florida has said she wants to have happen?

VAN SUSTEREN: I think it's a pretty safe prediction `that this will not be cleared up by midnight on Friday, because what the Palm Beach canvassing board has said is that it will take about six days to do their hand count. So I think it's pretty unlikely. I mean, they're bringing in a lot of extra forces to do this hand count here in the building, incidentally, right behind me.

But they are not going to start until tomorrow morning. So I think it's very -- I mean, it's almost impossible that they will be done by midnight. I think this is just beginning another round.

WOODRUFF: But, just quickly, Greta: conceivable that the secretary of state on Saturday, say, could announce results and say that's it, even while Palm Beach County counting goes on?

VAN SUSTEREN: That's right. But I've got to tell you, Judy, when you are a lawyer and you look at the Supreme Court, and it makes a statement like this very succinctly: seven justices -- even though it doesn't say the secretary of state was wrong in what she did on Tuesday -- what it is, is it's a nod and a wink to the secretary of state. And it seems very likely that they are going to say that if the issue ever comes before them, that she must consider these votes.

That's what the lawyers -- that's how we interpret it. That's sort of the nod and the wink. That's the tea leaves. But I must emphasize, we can't say that for certain. We can only say it seems like a nod and a wink from a Florida Supreme Court. And you can never get inside of these heads of these justices. And I wouldn't go out on a limb to say that that's what they're ultimately going to order the secretary of state. But it certainly looks like that from this -- at this moment, with the facts as they are now. But this is an ever- changing story.

WOODRUFF: Boy, is that the case. Greta Van Susteren, thanks very much -- Bernie.

SHAW: Still ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS: the campaigns and the candidates sticking to their positions, vying for favor in the court of public opinion -- and the latest from both campaigns, as this battle for the White House continues.


WOODRUFF: CNN is being told the Gore camp will be commenting, making a statement and presumably taking questions, holding a news conference in Tallahassee just about one half hour from now, the former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and Bill Daley, the manager of the Gore campaign.

So the Gore campaign is already reacting to the Florida Supreme Court's decision to permit the hand count to go forward in Palm Beach County.

Our own Chris Black is here now with that and the rest of the news from the Gore camp -- Chris.

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, it should be no surprise the Gore camp is delighted with the Florida Supreme Court's interim ruling. Doug Hattaway, a Gore campaign spokesman, said -- quote -- "this is great news. The highest court in the state said the hand counts should proceed. We help Palm Beach gets under way with the count without delay from the Bush campaign or Florida's secretary of state."

Now, the Gore campaign operatives say their strategy is to keep it simple and keep attention focused on the right of all Florida voters to have their votes counted.


BLACK (voice-over): The mantra in the Gore campaign is to show movement and keep the vote count going in the heavily Democratic Florida Gold Coast. Vice President Al Gore remained at his official residence, his staff saying he staked out the high ground with his offer to drop litigation in return for agreeing to a recount of disputed ballots.

On a radio talk show, Gore made his case.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The choice really is whether the voters are going to decide this election by having every vote count, or whether that process is going to be short circuited.

BLACK: The Gore team is convinced the law and Florida's history of recounting disputed elections is on their side.

KENDALL COFFEY, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: We're not seeking to have a judge determine the election. All we're seeking is to have the Republican efforts to stop the recounts addressed. All we seek in this entire process is just to get an accurate determination of the votes.

BLACK: So on this day, nine days after the election, the main action took place in three separate courtrooms with one bottom line: get the courts to sanction the recount.

Operatives at every level of the Gore campaign share a single conviction, that is, Al Gore got more votes than George W. Bush in Florida. The Democratic vice presidential candidate said publicly what others claim privately.

LIEBERMAN: We think if all the votes in Florida are counted, not only will we have won the popular vote in America -- Al Gore and I -- but we will have carried the state of Florida and, therefore, the Electoral College, and would have won the election.

BLACK: Many Gore operatives say the Broward County vote is helping to make their case.

DOUG HATTAWAY, GORE CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Governor Bush is saying he trusts machines more than people. We think that people can look at the ballot and make a judgment as to what their fellow citizen intended to do.


BLACK: A Democrat close to the Gore campaign today said there is a need to get this wrapped up by next Thursday, because it would be disastrous for both Bush and Gore if the American people are talking about a disputed election over Thanksgiving dinner -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Chris, why are the Gore people so confident that once these either uncounted or disputed ballots are counted that it's going to end up in their favor?

BLACK: Well, there is no guarantees, Judy, obviously, but they feel really good about these counties, everything they look at, every sort of barometer that political operatives look at in terms of turnout, the demographics of that turnout, is in their favor. And they also just do not believe that 10,000 people in Palm Beach County went to the polls in a presidential election and blanked the presidential race, they are convinced that most of those votes, or many of those votes, are for them.

WOODRUFF: Chris Black, thanks very much, appreciate it -- Bernie.

SHAW: The Bush campaign is banking on the public's desire for a swift resolution. Today, the campaign announced it would not challenge the vote totals in Iowa in an effort to prevent further delay.

Our Candy Crowley now on the strategy in Austin.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In court, it's about deadlines, statutory responsibility, the legal meaning of "arbitrary." In the public arena, Gore v. Bush is about who seems more reasonable, which is why a Bush team decision not to contest Iowa is wrapped in terms of the larger good.

DON EVANS, BUSH CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: To do his part to ensure the fairness and accuracy and finality of this election, Governor Bush has decided our campaign will not seek a recount of the close vote in Iowa.

Both sides waged vigorous campaigns in Iowa, the results are exceptionally close, but Governor Bush believes the time has arrived for our nation to begin the process of moving forward.

CROWLEY: In this case, there is little cost to reasonable. The Iowa vote gap is about 4,000 -- very small, but difficult to see how a recount could make up the difference. And even if the Bush campaign contested and won Iowa on a recount, the state on its own doesn't have enough electoral votes to make a difference.

In the public arena, Iowa's decision was less about Iowa than Florida, a way to contrast what the Bush camp did in Iowa versus what the Gore camp is doing in Florida, another way to push for an end to the Florida controversy when the overseas ballots are in.

EVANS: Once these votes are counted, we will know the final results of Florida's election and the nation's election. Win or lose, this election will be over. For the sake of our country and so that we can begin to unite our nation, tomorrow's deadline must be honored.


CROWLEY: Now, as far as court proceedings and decisions in Florida today, the Bush camp is dismissing that interim decision by the Florida Supreme Court which allowed the hand counts to begin in Palm Beach County and to go on in Broward County. One aide said to me, "it's a status quo decision, we don't consider it that big a deal, it is not the final word" -- Judy.

SHAW: Candy, we know that taking the public's pulse is very important, I'm curious, do you know whether the Bush people are doing any polling throughout this legal battle? CROWLEY: You know what's interesting is, I'm sure they are watching the polls -- now, whether or not they are polling, I'm not sure. I did ask an aide today, what are you doing, you know, here? I mean, here is the political arm of the campaign that's been there for a year and a half sort of watching all this legal stuff unfolding in Florida and he said, well, we -- you kno, we try to find out what happens and then we, you know, call reporters, but then we get called into another meeting to find out what has happened and then we call reporters.

So they're -- they don't seem at this point to have an overall sort of press strategy. It's merely, you know, watching and monitoring along, obviously, with the governor what's going on, it's clearly being directed by the governor as to what he wants to do, but it is being led by the lawyers in Florida.

SHAW: Very interesting. Thank you, Candy Crowley -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: From politics to a very different and tragic story, two people are dead after the collision today of a U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter with a small civilian aircraft over Sarasota, Florida.

And for more on that story, let's go to CNN's Carl Rochelle, he's with CNN's bureau in New York -- Carl.

CARL ROCHELLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, here is what we know from several government sources: the accident happened about an hour and a half ago. The F-16, a single seat, single-engine military fighter in a midair collision with a Cessna 172 with two people believed on board, both of them believed killed in the crash. The Cessna single engine, high-wing, has four seats on board, but we believe two people in.

Now, this accident happened about 20 miles south/southeast of McDill (ph) Air Force Base, which is based in the Tampa, Florida area. The F-16 was one of a flight of two F-16s out of George Moody (ph) Air Force Base in Georgia. They were on what was described by the Air Force as a routine training mission. No indication yet what kind of flight the 172 was on, whether it was a training flight, a treasure flight, a business flight, whatever, and still too early to determine exactly what happened, what caused it.

We do know that the two planes ran into each other, the pilot of the F-16 ejected, we believe that the pilot of the F-16 is OK, we do believe that both of those on board the 172 died in the crash -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Carl Rochelle, thanks very much -- Bernie.

SHAW: And there is much more ahead on this two-hour edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

This quick update, word from Palm Beach now is that Palm Beach County will resume its recount of ballots by hand at 6:00 p.m. this evening, not 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

WOODRUFF: And still to come in the next 30 minutes... (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... to think that there has been such an issue about this and that these could be the main factor in this election.


WOODRUFF: The all-important overseas absentee ballots and their now key role in election 2000.


SHAW: Is time running out in Florida? Bill Schneider checks the political clock.

And later...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are concerned that if the greatest democracy the world has seen, the most technically advanced, the most slick can get this kind of itch, how bad can it go elsewhere?


WOODRUFF: From election observers to an election in question, why the world is watching the Florida standoff.


SHAW: This battle over the disputed presidential vote is getting hotter by the minute, maybe by the second, and there is still no end in sight.

Here now, the latest developments: Florida's Supreme Court says Palm Beach County may resume manual recounting, a ruling supported by Vice President Gore. Florida Republicans have filed a lawsuit to try to stop the manual recount in the Democratic stronghold of Broward County. Lawyers for Gore have urged a Florida state court to overrule the secretary of state, who had rejected requests from four counties to submit amended vote totals. Bush lawyers have asked a federal appeals court to stop all recounting in Florida. And Governor Bush says he will not call for a recount in Iowa where Gore won a narrow victory.

We have reaction coming up from the Bush and Gore camps. We will hear from Gore campaign attorney David Boies in the next hour. But first, Republican Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee joins us from Tallahassee.

Senator, first question to you: In your judgment, is this ruling by Florida's Supreme Court justices devoid of politics on their part?

SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R), TENNESSEE: I have no reason to think that it was a political decision. I think these public officials down here ought to be given the benefit of the doubt. The Republican secretary of state certainly has taken a lot of grief. The Gore spokeswoman who called her a hack, and others have called her worse from that camp.

Of course, the machinery, most of it, is controlled by Democrats. Whether it be the local canvassing boards or the judges who are hearing these cases or the attorney general. But I think we ought to be awfully careful before we accuse either side of pure politics in this. Their actions are going to be scrutinized very closely by the entire nation. And so far, I don't have any reason to think that as far as any of these court decisions are concerned, anyway, that these people are not trying to do their best.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Senator, it's Jeff Greenfield, and that flows into what I wanted to ask you. I mean, it's not coincidental, I think, that suddenly Democrats have discovered the virtues of hand counting while Republicans have suddenly discovered the virtues of machines. I mean, it's not theological. Where do we begin to find anything in this fight where one can honestly say, all right, it's not political, even though it's a major prize at stake, that there are some assertions that maybe both sides can agree on. Are there any?

THOMPSON: I think so. You know, I took a look at this when I came down wondering how in the world we got into this quagmire and whether or not I could bring any objectivity to it. I don't know that I am objective at all. But I did try to reach out in terms of what you are talking about.

There is an interesting article, ironically, in the last couple of days in "The Miami Herald" about the problems with hand counting and particularly the problems with hand counting of these punch ballots. I think that it's kind of counterintuitive, but the fact of the matter is that the longer that you go and the more that you hand count these things, the less accurate results you get. These machines are very accurate. And these hand counts are subject to human error. Maybe one every 10,000. Some say 10 errors per 10,000, things of that nature.

When you add, when you add the human error, on top of the political circumstances that everyone finds themselves in, the tremendous pressures there, you must come to the conclusion, I think, that it is fraught with all kinds of potential for error and political involvement that should not be there.

SHAW: Senator, you said that very stately, very diplomatically, but very bluntly. Would you trust a Democrat hand-counting ballots?

THOMPSON: I would not discount anyone because they're a Democrat. I don't think that that certainly is the case. I think that most of these officials on both sides are going to try to do their dead-level best. All I am saying is that we must recognize the world that we live in. There are tremendous error rates from fatigue and so forth, like that alone.

Now a judge has said that you don't even have to punch one of these ballots. If you perceive an indentation, we can count that as a vote. And when you have a 2-1 makeup on these governing boards down there you have to recognize that.

People are demonstrating out in the streets. People, apparently, from what I read, are applying pressure, public officials down here in some cases, are applying pressure to some of these people. I think most of them are trying to do their best and trying to resist the pressure.

But it's not the actuality as much as the public perception, I think, that is important. At end of the day, if the vice president is able to eke out enough votes from these kinds of circumstances, is anyone going to have confidence to give that presidency the legitimacy that it will need? And that's a troubling thing for the future of the country.

GREENFIELD: Senator, let me try one statement that maybe would be as nonpartisan as I can make it, that basically, this election, nationally and in Florida, was a tie and if we can really figure out how to do it without enormous administrative nightmares, we should run the whole thing over again and find out who won. What do you think of that notion? It was a tie.

THOMPSON: Jeff, I think you are one of the most astute observers around and I think that is an absolutely awful idea.

GREENFIELD: Thank you for the compliment, Senator. We are out of time.

SHAW: Senator Fred Thompson, thank you for joining us.

THOMPSON: I think we have to do the best we can. We had a -- it's a flawed system. We are learning that about our system. It's not perfect. We have two choices here. One, launching off into this morass that I've just described, or the other, taking the certified results, acknowledging it's not perfect, but that it more nearly will represent the will of the people of Florida. And from the polls down here, most Floridians think that George Bush won this election.

SHAW: The man from Tennessee, Fred Thompson, Senator, on the ground in Tallahassee.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

SHAW: You are quite welcome, sir -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And another reminder, in just a few moments we are expecting a news conference in Tallahassee of folks representing the Bush -- I'm sorry, the Gore campaign down there. That would be Bill Daley, campaign manager. and former Secretary of State Warren Christopher. They're expected in just a few moments.

When we return, the Florida timeline. Bill Schneider on the political maneuvers of the last 24 hours.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SHAW: Tomorrow, there'll be another deadline in Florida, regarding the overseas absentee ballots. But does that deadline mark the end of the public's patience?

Our Bill Schneider joins us now with more on the politics and the timing in the Sunshine State -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Bernie, as you know, for a week now the Bush campaign has been pushing for closure, get this thing decided. The clock is ticking. The Gore campaign has been pushing for fairness, make sure every vote is counted. Stop the clock. On Tuesday, each campaign responded to the other side's argument.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): At 4:20 p.m. Eastern Time, Bush's main man James Baker makes the case for closure.

JAMES BAKER, OBSERVER FOR THE BUSH CAMPAIGN: Shortly after Election Day, and I think right here in this room, I cautioned that there would be no reasonable end to the election process in Florida if it should dissolve into multiple recounts and court cases. And I'm afraid to say that's exactly what's happening.

SCHNEIDER: 6:36 p.m. Eastern, Al Gore makes the case that fairness requires a manual recount.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Machines can sometimes misread or fail to detect the way ballots are cast.

SCHNEIDER: But then, for the first time, Gore makes the bid of closure.

GORE: The results of this recount would of course be added to the present certified vote total and the overseas absentee vote total. If this happens, I will abide by the result.

SCHNEIDER: What about Bush's argument that a recount in selected Democratic counties is unfair?

GORE: I am also prepared, if Governor Bush prefers, to include in this recount all the counties in the entire state of Florida.

SCHNEIDER: If that's what Bush wants, then he'll be responsible for prolonging the process.

8:07 p.m. Eastern: the Bush campaign accuses Gore of trying to stall.

KAREN HUGHES, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, BUSH CAMPAIGN: Yet it appears we now have a deadline that may not be respected as a deadline at all.

SCHNEIDER: 8:42 p.m.: the Gore campaign accuses Bush of trying to force a rush to judgment. WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Every Floridian has the right to have his or her vote counted. The Bush campaign and the secretary of state are, in our opinion, are trying to cut off that right.

SCHNEIDER: 9:14 p.m.: Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris moves to shut the process down.

KATHERINE HARRIS, FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: The reasons given in their requests are insufficient to warrant waiver of the unambiguous filing deadline imposed by the Florida legislature.

SCHNEIDER: 10:25 p.m.: George Bush answers Gore's call for fairness.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I honor and respect the value of every single vote. That's why my campaign supported the automatic recount of all the votes in Florida.

SCHNEIDER: He then raises Gore by saying the process must also be accurate.

BUSH: Additional manual counts of votes that have been counted and recounted will make the process less accurate, not more so.

SCHNEIDER: Bush sees Gore's call for a statewide recount by arguing it would just compound the inaccuracy.

BUSH: This means every vote in Florida would be evaluated differently, by different individuals using different judgment, and perhaps different local standards, or perhaps no standards at all.

SCHNEIDER: Bush thanks Gore for conceding the need for closure.

BUSH: I was encouraged tonight that Vice President Gore called for a conclusion to this process. We all agree.

SCHNEIDER: But he insists that must happen with a vote count, not a deal.

BUSH: The outcome of this election will not be the result of deals or efforts to mold public opinion. The outcome of this election will be determined by the votes and by the law.


SCHNEIDER: Now, so far, the public has been more sympathetic to Gore. People value fairness over closure. But Bush is betting that the clock will run out on Saturday, when the Florida secretary of state is due to stand up and certify the results. After that, the public mood may shift. If people feel it's over, then the burden will be on Gore to make the case that this should go on -- Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you, Bill Schneider.

Just ahead: David Broder and Bob Novak on the issues and the actions in the Florida vote standoff.


WOODRUFF: Joining us now with their takes on the Florida recount: David Broder of the "Washington Post" and Bob Novak of the "Chicago Sun-Times."

David, does either side have the advantage right now?

DAVID BRODER, "WASHINGTON POST": I think perhaps the clock is in favor of the Bush campaign. But I think there's a lot of apprehension there that the courts or something may intervene still before they get to that Saturday-afternoon declaration, that they hope will wind it up in Bush's favor.

WOODRUFF: Bob, you agree: Bush may have the advantage at the this point?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": I think so. It's a little like a ACC basketball game. It keeps going back and forth. I thought it was an appearance of Gore having the advantage early yesterday evening. I think Bush has a little bit of the advantage now.

But I think they feel and -- the Bush people -- they have to get a favorable court decision in one arena or another. They have to either get it from the Florida Supreme Court or through the federal judiciary, because I think they feel that, in Palm Beach, they can get counted out with the chads lying all over the floor in a highly- politicized process.

WOODRUFF: David, when you said that you think that Bush -- the Bush team does have some advantage now, you say that despite the fact the Florida state Supreme Court ruled today that this hand counting can go forward.

BRODER: That was a very carefully couched opinion, as all of your legal commentators have been making clear. I think, on the Gore side, what they need and are still hoping for is a very strong affirmative declaration from the Florida Supreme Court. That those -- excuse me, those disputed ballots ought to be counted and ought to be included before the certification is made. And the Supreme Court, so far, has not come out with that kind of flat, declaratory statement.

NOVAK: And, although I'm a long way from being an expert on this -- just as there was a lot of talk about the governorship of Texas being a weak governorship, some people say that the Florida Supreme Court is a weak Supreme Court institutionally, in that it is not used to overturning the decisions of state officials, as some state Supreme Courts are, and it's going to move very, very cautiously even though, numerically, it's overwhelmingly democratic.

BRODER: And Bob, as you know and Judy -- that the Bush campaign will assert very strongly that there is a separation of powers issue here; that, as long as the secretary of state is operating within the terms set by the law and statutes of Florida, that it would be improper for the judicial branch to intervene and substitute it's judgment in an area where, they will argue, she has full authority under state law to make that declaration as to who has won Florida's votes.

WOODRUFF: Does either one of you question that the final answer will come from the courts? I mean, I'm hearing what you're saying about the courts not wanting to tread on the authority of the secretary of state or other duly-appointed or elected state officials; but the courts are going to be pivotal in all of this.

NOVAK: The only way that wouldn't be the case; I mean, I have felt from -- for seven days that this is in the hands of the courts -- the only way that wouldn't happen is if this recount in Palm Beach County does not give Gore enough votes to overcome the overseas ballots for Bush. I think that's unlikely. But that would be the only way that the courts would be negated. I really believe that it's going to be settled, one way or another, in the judiciary.


BRODER: I hope that Bob is right, Judy, but I have a sneaking feeling that whichever side loses here in the next few days may find some grounds to bring this thing to Washington, either to the U.S. Supreme Court or to the Congress, which has a ministerial role in counting the electoral votes.

NOVAK: I would say that, when I say the judiciary, I meant it may well end up in the Supreme Court.

WOODRUFF: We've just been told that we're just a minute or so away from a news conference down in Tallahassee with the Gore campaign officials.

But, David, just picking up on that point -- what makes you think that it could end up in the Congress?

BRODER: Because close elections have, in the past, ended up in the Congress and there is a precedent for the Congress, House and Senate, caucusing separately, to decide whether it will or will not accept disputed electoral votes.

WOODRUFF: All right, let's interrupt and go to Bill Daley in Tallahassee.


BILL DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: ... with my friend and my counterpart in the Bush campaign, Don Evans, the chairman, I watched them announce that they would not contest or call for a recount in the Iowa vote. And I return the favor by announcing that we would not contest the vote in Texas.


We are obviously gratified by the unanimous ruling of the Florida Supreme Court authorizing the continuation of the manual recounts. The Supreme Court's clear and unambiguous ruling that the counties are authorized to proceed with the manual recount is a victory for everyone who wants to see the votes counted fully and fairly here in Florida.

Now that the legal hurdles have been cleared, the counting can resume in Palm Beach, continue in Broward, and be reviewed in Dade. We urge these counties to conduct these recounts as quickly as is possible.

The delays have been largely the product of lawsuits filed by Republicans or erroneous legal opinions from the secretary of state. With these obstacles gone, we hope that the counts can be finished in the next few days.

We think it is particularly significant that the Florida Supreme Court sent a clear signal to the counties that their counts can continue, notwithstanding the secretary's efforts to terminate those counts three times in the past three days.

Judge Lewis set aside the effort to terminate the counts Tuesday at 5 p.m. The Florida Supreme Court rejected the secretary of state's application that cut off the counts yesterday morning. And now the court has said that the counts can go forward in spite of the order of last night to cut off these counts.

The Florida Supreme Court has spoken: The counts can continue, notwithstanding the secretary of state's deadline.

In the end, our goal remains clear and simple: Let the will of the people be done by having the votes of the people of Florida counted. We hope the secretary of state will not try to impose other obstacles in the path of this count and we hope that the counties will complete these counts as fast as humanly possible.


QUESTION: ... something about whether the secretary of state should include the count, once its done? Are you hoping that they'll come out and say something about that later? Do you think you have to go back to court?

DAVID BOIES, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: That was not the issue that was in front of the Florida Supreme Court. If the counts are completed, when the counts are completed, then the revised and corrected tallies will be presented. At that point, if the secretary of state were to reject those corrected tallies, then the issue would be ripe.

Obviously, we would hope that once the counts have been completed, those counts would be accepted. I doubt if the Florida Supreme Court meant to have these counts go forward only to have them be ignored.


QUESTION: Well, does that mean all of Judge Terry Lewis -- everything into the hands of Judge Terry Lewis and his ruling tomorrow morning?

BOIES: Well, Judge Terry Lewis is the trial court. And obviously the trial court will probably make an initial decision on an issue like that. That decision will then ultimately perhaps end up in the Florida Supreme Court.

QUESTION: If the secretary of state has said she's going to reject any new votes. She said the votes she has are the votes she's going to count, that's exactly what you're fighting in court. So even though you may get new counts, she still doesn't have to accept them.

BOIES: Well, there may be a difference of opinion about that. You have a situation in which Judge Lewis has already ruled that the deadline that the secretary of state set, which was 5 p.m. Tuesday was an arbitrary deadline. In other words, the only deadline that the secretary of state has set is a deadline that Judge Lewis already has ruled to be inappropriate. That isn't even something that needs to be decided tomorrow.

The second point is that I think it's very unlikely that the Florida Supreme Court would have directed that these recounts go forward if all they meant was to do -- was to preserve the votes for history. This is a situation in which every time the courts have looked at this issue, the courts have said, "Let the recount go forward, because the people have voted and we want to know how they voted and we want to take those votes into account."

QUESTION: If the Florida Supreme Court has spoken clearly about counting votes, why would they have called it an interim order? And why, given the fact that these votes that they didn't specify? One of the things that you asked was for a clear cut thing to say the secretary of state or the attorney general was wrong. They didn't rule on that at all.

BOIES: I think what the Supreme Court did was ruled on the only issue that was directly in front of it, and courts are wont to do that. Parties often ask the courts to give them guidance; courts usually refuse to give advisory opinions.

What the court did was rule directly on the single issue that was directly presented to it by Palm Beach. And it ruled quite unambiguously that these counts ought to go forward.

Yesterday, of course, the Supreme Court rejected the secretary of state's petition that said, "Stop these counts." We of course came out and said, "Well, that means that they mean for it to go forward." The other side said, "No, all it means is that we get to go to a lower court."

Here today, the Supreme Court was explicit and unambiguous: Those votes are to be counted.

QUESTION: Mr. Boies, how important is it from a public opinion of view to get these numbers out there day by day, as they're released, to reveal whether or not the Gore campaign is picking up votes? BOIES: I'm not really an expert on the political aspects of it. I think that this recount is going to be completed in a few days. Whether you get interim reports or not, there's going to be a final, corrected tally within a few days.

QUESTION: What's a few days? Three? Ten?

BOIES: I think it is probably not three. I think that it is probably not more than about 10. Vice President Gore, when he was talking last night, said that he believed that this could, if it began without interruption, be completed in a week or so. It is a matter of days, not weeks or months.

QUESTION: Could the secretary of state effectively call the election on Saturday, after she's counted the absentee ballots, and then have those numbers change perhaps dramatically within the course of the following week?

BOIES: I suppose, having lived through the last four days with all of you, that almost anything is possible.

Certainly, in light of the clear direction from the Florida Supreme Court, we would hope, and maybe optimistically expect, that the secretary of state would not take any further action to try to prematurely end this process. But, obviously, she will decide what she will decide.

QUESTION: Is it correct to say that you now presume that the Florida Supreme Court is, so to speak, in your corner?

BOIES: No, I don't think I'd want to say that. What I would say is that the Florida Supreme Court has ruled consistently with what every other court that has been presented with this question, lower federal courts and lower state courts together, have said, and that is that people have voted and those votes should be counted.

I don't think that puts them in our corner or somebody else's corner. I think that's what the law is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll take one more question.

QUESTION: You believe this includes more than Palm Beach County and you also believe this mandates Katherine Harris to include the Palm Beach County votes in the final tally?

BOIES: No, what the Supreme Court decided was that there was no legal impediment to the votes being counted, and that they should go forward in Palm Beach and continue, obviously, to go forward in Broward County.

The court specifically mentioned circuit court decisions not only in Palm Beach County, but in Leon County as well. So that I think that the Supreme Court was not making a decision that was good for Palm Beach County only.

Palm Beach County was the only county that had brought this case for a declaratory judgment to the Florida Supreme Court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks everybody. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Gore campaign representatives, attorney David Boies and campaign manager Bill Daley, underlining the decision, the announcement today from the Florida Supreme Court that the counting by hand of ballots in Palm Beach County is to go forward, underlining this was an unambiguous -- in there words -- and clear decision on the part of the Florida state Supreme Court.

We'll be back with more of this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS in just a moment.


SHAW: The Florida Supreme Court gives the go-ahead for hand recounts of presidential election ballots.

WOODRUFF: The Al Gore campaign cheers the decision. But is another legal skirmish with George W. Bush's camp all but certain?



CROWD: We support Harris!


SHAW: The tensions, the political twists in Palm Beach County, where a manual recount is set to begin this hour.

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Once again, Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff in Washington.

WOODRUFF: And welcome back to this special extended edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

At this hour, election officials in Palm Beach County plan to launch a full hand recount of the presidential ballots after getting a green light from Florida's Supreme Court. The state high court ruled that there was no legal reason to prevent any Florida county from proceeding with a manual recount.

And, as you just heard live on CNN just moments ago, Al Gore's campaign is applauding the ruling. But lawyers for George W. Bush say this is not a final word. They say that the Florida secretary of state does not have to include the hand recount in the final vote total -- Bernie.

SHAW: And for more on that state Supreme Court ruling, we go to CNN's Deborah Feyerick in Tallahassee -- Deborah.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie: Keep counting. That is the ruling issued by the Florida Supreme Court, the state's highest court: seven judges siding with two lower courts. In their ruling, they said -- quote -- "There is no legal impediment to the recounts continuing." Gore attorneys appraised the finding.


DALEY: The Supreme Court's clear and unambiguous ruling that the counties are authorized to proceed with the manual recount is a victory for everyone who wants to see the votes counted fully and fairly here in Florida.


FEYERICK: ... all of this is: Will these votes indeed count? Florida's secretary of state late last night said the votes she has are the votes she's going to use, except for the absentee overseas ballots, where she will count -- or get the count of on Friday. She denied any amendment to the ultimate vote count. And that's exactly why Gore's attorneys are still in court. They were in a state court today.

They were arguing that the state attorney -- the secretary of state -- that she -- her decision should basically effectively be declared null and void, that certification. And they also want to prohibit her from certifying any votes until the recounts are in and the overseas ballots are totaled. Now, of course, as you mentioned, this is definitely not the end: Bush attorneys in a U.S. Court of Appeals today. And they are trying to still stop this recount -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Deborah Feyerick, thanks.

And now let's go to Palm Beach County and the status of the hand recount there.

CNN's Martin Savidge joins us from West Palm Beach -- Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, they have decided to go ahead and start the manual recount of the county election ballots that were cast last Tuesday by hand at this hour. They have decided that enough time has been wasted already. So they have sent out a call on the telephone for the first team of 25 election workers.

They have already begun checking into the building here. Joining with them are the various representatives -- attorneys for the most part -- from the two campaigns that are directly involved here: that being George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore. And the elections workers are being seated inside the large room, inside of the Emergency Operations Center, where they will begin the task of going about counting the ballots.

Still to be worked out, though, as the ballot process begins, is the criteria exactly that will be used by the election's canvassing board. As you will remember, yesterday there was a mandate that was essentially delivered to them by a local judge that said that they had basically the right to determine whatever criteria they wanted to use. However, he did say they could not arbitrarily reject a ballot if it had a dimple in it, meaning, if that -- there was pressure by the stylus that forced an indentation on the ballot, but may not have punctured the ballot.

And now dimples count. And so that is a little different from the last time they did the partial recounts.

The board members have got to get together and determine the specific criteria. Also, too, there is a no talking rule inside of this room now. It was the discussion, many cases arguments, that took place between the canvassing board and those various campaign representatives last weekend that caused the great delays that we saw.

That's why it lasted for nine hours just to count 4,000 votes. A no talking rule in effect. They will go back and revisit the 4,000 ballots they looked at over the weekend because, again, the rules have changed.

So the process is getting underway here in Palm Beach County, a process they say that should take about six days -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Martin Savidge, thanks very much. And Bernie.

SHAW: Florida's overseas absentee ballots are still waiting to be counted. And that process is scheduled to begin tomorrow and the end result could be pivotal in determining if George W. Bush or Al Gore wins the White House.

CNN's Brian Cabell reports.


BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The overseas absentee ballots trickle in daily, one or two at a time. Columbia County Supervisor of Elections Carolyn Kirby keeps track of them. There are 10 ballots so far.

CAROLYN KIRBY, COLUMBIA COUNTY SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS: These -- these are the ballots that are returned.

CABELL: Of the 10, seven are regular absentee ballots. Three are what are known as federal absentee write-in ballots -- generic ballots that citizens can pick up at a military base, for example, and send in. Kirby and the other canvassing board members will count them Friday afternoon, then send them to the secretary of state.

KIRBY: It's exciting to think that there's been such an issue about this and that these could be the main factor in this election.

CABELL: An estimated 2,000 of the uncounted overseas ballots are still out there in Florida's 67 counties, locked up and ready to be counted after the last of Friday's mail arrives. The party affiliation of all the uncounted ballots isn't known, but for instance in Manatee County, which voted strongly for Bush, there are 127 uncounted votes. Of those, 74 are from registered Republicans, 26 from registered Democrats; 27 are listed as other.

In Hernando County, which voted narrowly for Gore, 19 overseas ballots are waiting to be opened; 13 are from Republicans; 4 are from Democrats; 2 are other.

And Governor Bush may have good reason to be encouraged about the overseas vote. Counties where he won the regular vote have about twice as many uncounted overseas absentee ballots as do counties where Vice President Gore won.

In the last presidential election, Bob Dole took 53 percent of Florida's overseas absentee votes. Dole's status as a veteran may have helped him on military bases. This election, it's believed Joe Lieberman may attract more Jewish overseas votes to the Democrats.

(on camera): The earliest the overseas absentee ballots will be certified is Saturday. If Governor Bush wins that vote or loses by fewer than 300 votes, he'll win Florida, unless and until the disputed recount votes are allowed.

Brian Cabell, CNN, Tallahassee.


WOODRUFF: When we return, the battle for the White House heating up even more. We will talk with Gore campaign attorney, David Boies.


SHAW: Joining us now from Tallahassee with the Democratic reaction to this day's rapid-fire events, Gore campaign attorney David Boies.

Mr. Boies, looking at the essence of this problem, is the nation without a declared winner nine days after the vote, is this nation without a declared winner, because Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris is a Republican?

BOIES: I wouldn't want to say that. I think that what we have is a recount going on. The Florida Supreme Court has finally decided that that recount shall be completed. I think the recount probably could have been completed by now if the secretary of state had not taken the actions that she took to stop it.

But I don't think that this is a time for recriminations or criticisms. I think this is a time to simply get on with counting the votes. And now that I think that everybody is accepting that these votes will be counted, I think we ought to focus on that part of it and not on who is responsible on delaying it.

GREENFIELD: Mr. Boies, it's Jeff Greenfield.

You know that Shakespearian phrase, that phrase about the laws delay, and I think that there are people starting to have a nightmare that whoever's inaugurated, just before he starts a speech, a lawyer is going to slap a subpoena on him.

I mean, is there not a point at where, somewhere down this line, we have to say, we can't drag this out in court, state or federal, any longer? that it's better the law be settled than it be settled right? BOIES: Well, it is, of course, very important to have finality. But it is also very important to have accuracy, particularly when you're electing the president of the United States.

Fortunately, in this case, it's absolutely clear that we can have both finality in a reasonable period of time and accuracy. The vote count is simply a matter of days, it's not a matter of weeks -- it's certainly not a matter of 75 days as Governor Bush's lawyer was trying to tell the court today.

So this is a situation in which you can have finality. You can have finality in a reasonable period of time, and you can have accuracy; and that's what the Florida Supreme Court ruled today.

SHAW: You say that; you use the word "finality," but Governor Bush's lawyers say otherwise. They say that the Florida secretary of state does not have to include the hand recount total in Florida's final presidential tally.

What say you?

BOIES: Well I think that the Florida secretary of state, hopefully, when actually confronted with corrected tallies, will decide, regardless of her political affiliation, that the right thing to do is to include those votes.

SHAW: What if she doesn't? What if she does not?

BOIES: I really don't want to speculate as to what happens if she fails to fulfill her duty. I think she will fulfill her duty; the Florida courts, the lower courts, the Supreme Court have tried to define what that duty is -- I want to believe she's going to do that.

SHAW: All right, but just a short while ago in your live news conference with William Daley you said, "If the secretary of state were to reject those corrected tallies, then the issue would be ripe."

Ripe for what?

BOIES: Ripe for a challenge in the courts, ripe for a decision. I think that if, in your hypothetical, there were corrected vote tallies that the secretary of state decided to disregard, then I think some remedy would have to be sought. Again, that remedy could be done very quickly.

But if there's a lack of finality here, it is entirely going to be a lack of finality because of actions that the secretary of state takes to stop the ultimate vote count. From the Gore campaign there isn't going to be, and I think Vice President Gore made this very clear -- what is attempted here is to get the votes counted. Those votes can be counted in a matter of days and we hope that the secretary of state will not interfere with taking those into account.

SHAW: But you're also signaling to us that if she does interfere you're going where? Back into court. BOIES: I think -- what you're trying to get me to say is that if she fails to fulfill her duty we're going to take some action, and that's probably true. What I'm trying to say is that we hope she's not going to fail to do her duty.

SHAW: Campaign attorney for Vice President Gore, David Boies, thank you very, very much.

And coming up next here on INSIDE POLITICS, Brooks Jackson on the bitter fight over chads, the tiny pieces of paper at the center of this Florida controversy.


WOODRUFF: They are called chads, and they are the source of a good deal of the election fight in Florida.

As Brooks Jackson reports, it is not the first time these tiny pieces of paper have triggered an election firestorm.


BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How should Florida do it? If officials there follow the trend in other states, they'll count those dangling chads or even just bulging chads as votes.

The most dramatic recent example, a 1996 Democratic primary in Massachusetts. The state's seven-member Supreme Judicial Court pored over 956 disputed ballots and declared a winner by counting ballots that were merely dimpled and the chad not dislodged.

The court said the cardinal rule in such cases is -- quote -- "If the intent of the voter can be determined with reasonable certainty from an inspection of the ballot, effect must be given to that intent and the vote counted." It said a voter who failed to push out the chad completely "could have done a better job of expressing his or her intent, but such a voter should not automatically be disqualified."

The winner was now-Congressman William Delahunt.

(on camera): And that's been the trend. A 1990 case in Illinois, for example, hinged on 30 partially punctured punch-card ballots. It was a Republican primary race to determine a nominee for state representative.

(voice-over): The Supreme Court of Illinois looked at the disputed ballots and counted them, saying -- quote -- "Nothing in our election code requires voters to completely dislodge the chad from the ballot before their vote will be counted."

In a 1987 Alaska case, the court counted punch-card votes marked with a pen, rather than punched. A 1981 Indiana case counted hanging chads as votes on grounds they indicated voter intent. State courts often count ballots where election administrators don't see clear voter intent. DOUG LEWIS, DIRECTOR, THE ELECTION CENTER: Anything you cannot clearly determine, you set aside. And if the contest is still where you can't decide who wins, then you put that group of ballots in front of a judge and let a judge make a decision.

JACKSON: State judges are not unanimous. A 1984 Louisiana case refused to count punch-card ballots merely marked with a pencil.

(on camera): But in other cases, courts look closely for voter intent. In a dramatic case from South Dakota, one judge examined two disputed ballots under a 40-power microscope. That county-level race came down to a single bit of bulging or pregnant chad, with only two corners detached.

(voice-over): The South Dakota Supreme Court declared that vote counted -- quote -- "A vote shall be counted if the voters' intent is sufficiently plain." The race was declared a tie. The winner was determined by a game of poker, the Republican won, with a pair of 10s.

(on camera): What Florida courts do remains to be seen. The trend in other states might be summed up by that Illinois decision. The judges said: "The voters are the owners of the government."

Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: And joining us in West Palm Beach for more on this and other legal issues of the disputed vote in Florida, David Cardwell, CNN election law analyst and former Florida state elections director.

David, we know about the state Supreme Court ruling saying the recounting can go ahead. They're doing that in West Palm Beach. Governor Bush's lawyers say the secretary of state does not have to accept in the final Florida presidential tally these recounted votes.

Where would they -- where would this put us?

DAVID CARDWELL, FMR. FLORIDA STATE ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: Well, that may be where we're headed.

It's very possible that the three counties that are either in the process of recounting or considering recounting by hand may go ahead and complete their manual recounts if the courts do not stop them from doing so, at which point if they complete it and they certify the returns to the secretary of state, then it will shift to her to decide -- for her to decide whether to accept those returns or not as an amendment to those that were received in her office this past Tuesday. If she does not accept them and they affect the outcome of the election, there will be more litigation.

SHAW: And what is it important for us to watch for now?

CARDWELL: I think we need to follow the process of the manual recount and see it to a conclusion, watch it carefully. It is a public process. It's one which not only the news media but the public is entitled by law to observe and note that it's going to take some time.

The counters should not be rushed. We have a lot of speculation as to how long it's going to take. This is a tedious process and for it to remain accurate it's important that the workers be not overworked. That they be given frequent breaks and that they have adequate supervision so that there can be some consistency in the count. The other thing we need to look for that's going to be coming up here very soon are those overseas ballots.

SHAW: OK, David Cardwell, thanks very much. I'm sure we will see you again and again and again. Thank you.

CARDWELL: And again.

SHAW: And there's still more political news and insight just ahead.

WOODRUFF: When INSIDE POLITICS returns: How the Florida battle is playing out across the country. We'll check in with journalists from Tallahassee to Seattle.


SHAW: The strategy of spin. Rating the political performances in Florida.

And later:


GREENFIELD (voice-over): Consider some of the stories that have obsessed us in this all news era. Now at first glance.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know how many votes went for Gore?

GREENFIELD: This current story looks a little like those others.


WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield on the why this story is different.


SHAW: To our viewers in the United States and around the world, please stand by for a live Tallahassee news conference coming up in five minutes by former Secretary of State James Baker, the top legal representative for Texas Governor George Bush in the Florida recount dispute.

Here now, the latest developments in this contested presidential election. The Florida Supreme Court has authorized full manual recounts of presidential ballots, a move supported by Vice President Al Gore. Palm Beach County is beginning a full hand recount this hour. A recount was already underway in Broward County. Attorneys for Governor George W. Bush have asked a federal appeals court to stop all recounts in Florida. And some 2,600 overseas absentee ballots are to be counted starting tomorrow.

WOODRUFF: Joining us now with their take on all the latest election developments, David Postman of "The Seattle Times"; David Yepsen of "The Des Moines Register" in Iowa; and in Tallahassee, Mark Silva of "The Miami Herald."

David Postman in Seattle, let me start with you. First of all, how are you hearing from your readers and what are you hearing from them?

DAVID POSTMAN, "SEATTLE TIMES": Well, we are hearing a lot. People are talking about the race quite a bit, the presidential race. But we have our own very close U.S. Senate race here and people are also following that. We get as many calls and e-mails asking what might happen there, what sort of projections are at play there, as we do about what's happening in Florida.

WOODRUFF: And what are they saying about Florida?

POSTMAN: Well, I mean, frankly, I think we have to admit to a little bit of chad envy. There was a time where we thought Washington state and Oregon might be bigger players in the presidential election this year. We certainly thought that might be the case and it hasn't turned out that way.

And we're doing our recount soon, probably in the Senate race next week or after Thanksgiving. It is a very quiet, methodical, slow process. There's no protest in the street, whereas we get to watch what's happening in Florida. Obviously it is a zoo, it's a circus. And I think people here watch it with a little amusement and maybe even a little bit of a superiority feeling, that we're so quiet and patient about our process.

WOODRUFF: Mark Silva, with "The Miami Herald," you are in Tallahassee, Florida, clearly ground zero for all of this. What are the people of Florida who read your newspaper saying?

MARK SILVA, "MIAMI HERALD": I think it's a mixture at this point. It's almost a dead heat between people who feel that this race needs to be concluded and counted and get over with and we know who the president is and people feeling that it's going on too long. The confusion has ended with votes that are unclear. We don't know who we've got as our next president, frustration generally.

WOODRUFF: Sound like it's reflecting the vote tally in your state.

And now let's skip up to Des Moines. Iowa, to David Yepsen of "The Des Moines Register."

David, what are you hearing from your readers and seeing?

DAVID YEPSEN, "DES MOINES REGISTER": Well, I think Iowans are pretty patient but I think that patience is wearing thin. It has been a while now since this election was held. People are focused on this in a big way. I mean, I have people stopping me on the street asking me about it, phone calls from readers. It is clearly one -- it is clearly the largest political story I've ever been around.

There is some concern, though, about how long this is going on. You are hearing from people complaining about what's going on in the stock market, what's it's doing to their 401(k)s.

And I think after it's all said and done, there's going to be a lot of work the political community has to do in this country, politicians and those of us in the media to restore public confidence in our institutions, Judy.

WOODRUFF: David Postman, back in Seattle, what sort of patience do you detect there?

POSTMAN: Well, again, I think that part of it is tempered by what is happening locally with the U.S. Senate race, our state house is also up for grabs right now. It could end in a 49-49 tie. There is race with few votes that probably won't be known again for another week to ten days. I think that has taught -- and we've had those in the past, the past couple of elections -- there has always been a couple of very close races that we've had to wait that have decided things.

So, it seems to me -- I would say people are somewhat patient. My guess is the presidential election could be settled before some of our local races.

WOODRUFF: We want to point out that Mark Silva with "The Miami Herald" is in Tallahassee, where we are about to begin a news conference with the Gore campaign -- I'm sorry, the Bush campaign spokesman, Jim Baker.

And while I'm saying this, I'm told Jim Baker stepping up to the lectern. Let's go to Tallahassee. He's not quite there yet. There he is.

JAMES BAKER, OBSERVER FOR BUSH CAMPAIGN: Ladies and gentlemen, as one who has practiced law for many years, I'd like to suggest to you that you have just witnessed a superb example of the art of legal spin. A one-paragraph interim order of the Florida Supreme Court has just been portrayed to you by my good friend Secretary Daley as the biggest thing since night baseball.

Let's be real clear about the real meaning of this order. It was not a decision on the merits; it was an interim order. It did not address the decision of the state Elections Canvassing Commission to certify the results of the presidential election in Florida. It did not speak to whether the secretary of state or the attorney general's opinion controls as to the question of expanding test manual recounts to the whole county.

What the court said was simply that there is no legal impediment to the recounts continuing, and therefore the counties in question can proceed with the manual recounts. This decision does nothing more than preserve the status quo, and that status quo is that state officials act pursuant to the law, honoring its deadlines.


BAKER: I'm going to let our lawyers here respond to those specific questions.

BARRY RICHARD, BUSH LEGAL ADVISER: I don't think the court it had jurisdiction. I don't think it addressed jurisdiction. The only thing the court said is, We had a request to determine whether the opinion of the attorney general or the opinion of the secretary of state was correct. That's now moot because circuit courts have addressed the same issues. Once the circuit court rules, the opinions of both of those parties don't mean anything anymore.

Once the circuit court rules, everybody follows the order of that court until it's appealed. And if it's reversed, then that changes things. But in the absence, we follow the order of a court of competent jurisdiction, period.

They didn't say anything about the jurisdiction, they didn't say anything about the merits. That's all that this order did.


QUESTION: Secretary Harris has now been reversed twice in two days by the Supreme Court. Is that because she's doing the work of Republicans, or because this is a Democratic court that's out to get her?

RICHARD: You're asking me that question?


RICHARD: Well, first of all, it's not my role to address questions regarding the intent of the parties or the court. I haven't seen the court reverse anything. This court didn't reverse Secretary Harris. The only thing this court said was, The question you asked us, there's no reason for us to respond to. This is elementary law school law.

I think what the court said is right. Sometimes the lawyers are so intent on addressing the questions they would like the court to talk about, that they fail to notice a much simpler issue, which is what this court told us was the real issue. They said the real issue is, The court has spoken, everybody follows that court until something happens. Nobody's appealed it. It's not before this court, so just do what you're supposed to. That's the end of it.

Anybody who tries to make more out of that opinion than that is ignoring the reality.

QUESTION: But, Mr. Secretary, if you don't count the votes or recount them again, you can't include them in the final tally.

QUESTION: So by that logic, isn't this a setback for the Bush campaign? BAKER: Well, I wouldn't characterize it as a setback. It does mean that the counties can go forward with the count. We've made very clear our problems with that manual count, with the lack of standards, with the lack of uniformity, with the problems for human error and indeed even mischief.

Now we will have some counting; that's true. But I don't think you could characterize that as a setback. What would have been a setback would have been if we had lost something on the merits before the Florida Supreme Court.

Those issues are still there and that court has not considered those issues.

QUESTION: What would be the reaction of the Bush campaign, should the recounts be completed, regardless of what happens with the secretary of state, and it finds more than 300 votes for the vice president?

BAKER: Those what-if questions I'm not going to spend a lot of time answering. I learned, after spending as much time as I spent up there in Washington, D.C., that answering hypotheticals is probably a mistake. So I'm not going to take those questions.


QUESTION: Let me ask you to respond to something that Mr. Boies said just a few moments ago. Although this ruling clearly does not in any way say that these votes will be included in the final tally, the recount continues. And what he said to me was that he believes, if counted, it would be difficult, legal and politically, for those votes to be disregarded.

Do you believe that?

BAKER: I don't believe that because the predicate has been laid very firmly, we think, with respect to what is the problem -- what are the problems that are generated by letting this process go forward. So I don't think that it's going to difficult.

But the legal question is one that will be debated and considered probably and decided by judicial authorities here in the state of Florida. And it's really for them to determine.

But with respect to the legal question -- as far as the political question is concerned, no, I don't think it will be a problem. As far as the legal question is concerned, let me ask Mike Carvin here to answer that.

MICHAEL CARVIN, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: The secretary can certify the votes on Saturday at 12:00 just like she could before. Unless the court takes affirmative action to prevent her, the status quo hasn't changed at all. We'll get that decision tomorrow morning.

But the relevant point is, today she made a very convincing case that she'd considered all the relevant, equitable and legal factors that were vested in her discretion by the Florida legislature, and indeed, that she's following exactly the policy that was mandated by the Florida legislature.

So, we're quite confident that this certification will go on, and the legal vote tally will be arrived.

QUESTION: If I may follow up on that please, do you believe then, that essentially this election could be decided by what the judge says tomorrow morning at 10:00?

CARVIN: I'm not going to speculate on that sort of thing. But obviously there's going to be a winner declared on Saturday. And we have every confidence that it will be done pursuant to the normal processes that have existed in Florida for a long time, because the secretary is following precisely those processes.

QUESTION: How do you think this case today, from the Florida Supreme Court, that came down today, is going to affect what happens in Atlanta, in the case there?

RICHARD: The two cases are entirely separate issues, and I don't think they'll affect each other at all. The case in Atlanta deals with the questions involving the United States Constitution. The case in Florida deals with questions involving Florida law. If the Supreme Court in Atlanta should hold that the manual recount is unconstitutional, as a denial of due process or equal protection, that ends it, unless the United States Supreme Court chooses to grant certiorari and review that.

RICHARD: If the 11th Circuit, on the other hand, should rule that it is not unconstitutional, then we come back to Florida again, where we have to determine whether or not Florida law has been complied with.

QUESTION: Sounds -- it sounds like, from what -- it sounds like, from what you're saying, according to the attorney, he said that unless the courts take affirmative action effectively to change her mind, that there is no way that the secretary of state will change how she has interpreted her discretion amending the vote totals.

BAKER: If you're asking us what the secretary of state might or might not do, that's a proper question to address to the secretary of state, I think.

Thank you all very much.

WOODRUFF: Representatives of the George W. Bush camp saying that, in their interpretation, the state Supreme Court ruling today saying that the hand recounting will go forward in several Florida counties not a decision on the merits, purely an interim order. In other words, a 180-degree different interpretation of the state Supreme Court ruling than the interpretation we heard about one hour ago from the Gore camp.

In fact, Jim Baker, who is the spokesman there in Tallahassee for the Bush campaign, started out by saying what you heard from Bill Daley a little while ago, in the words of Jim Baker: "a superb example of the art of legal spin."

The legal battle, the political battle, continues.

And before we take a break I want to thank our guests who we were hearing from just before this news conference got underway: David Postman of "The Seattle Times," David Yepsen of "The Des Moines Register" and Mark Silva of "The Miami Herald."

When we come back, Jeff Greenfield on how this issue that we're covering is different from all the other big stories we've been covering lately.


SHAW: On Capitol Hill today, some Republicans charge the television news organization reporting of election results may have been intentionally biased.

House Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Townsend of Louisiana cited a preliminary review of when news outlets called states for Al Gore or George W. Bush. The congressman claimed networks were quick to call states won by Gore but, he claims, they delayed calling states for Bush. He says his committee will hold hearings on this matter as soon as next month and he says that top officials of television news organizations will be among those asked to testify.

CNN denies any bias in its reporting from election night results. There was no immediate comment from other news organization.

WOODRUFF: And now joining us once again with his take on how this huge news story compares with some others we've seen in the last few years, Jeff Greenfield -- Jeff.

GREENFIELD: Thank you, Judy.

You do hear the question a lot right now, can anything good come out of this tangled post-election scrum? Well, here's one possible answer. It has certainly got people interested in politics again. In fact, it may be the first big news story of this all news era that combines visceral, riveting appeal with genuine long-term significance.


GREENFIELD (voice-over): Consider some of the stories that have obsessed us in this all-news era:


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Orenthal James Simpson not guilty.


GREENFIELD: O.J., of course. The death of Princess Diana; Jon Benet Ramsey;


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that building is devastated.


GREENFIELD: Oklahoma City; the Clinton-Lewinsky saga; Columbine.

They're all very different from each other, but they do all share one or more of these elements: violent, shocking death; sex; celebrity; scandal; and the inevitably-labeled media frenzy.

Now, at first glance...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know how many of those votes went for Gore?


GREENFIELD: This current story looks a little like those others.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we're talking about Mark Fuhrman.


GREENFIELD: There's the circus atmosphere.


UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: The war for the White House is anything but over.


GREENFIELD: The relentless coverage.


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: There's another Florida county that's been in play, here.


GREENFIELD: Even some of the faces look familiar.




DERSHOWITZ: I doubt that we would see O.J. Simpson being asked to try on his gloves.


GREENFIELD: You almost expect Kato Kaolin to turn up counting some of the ballots. And certain phrases have again become immediately familiar. Instead of "the bloody glove," or "the dress," we have:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is the swinging door chad.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two-quarter chad.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hanging, the dangling, the open, the pimpled, the dimpled.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you didn't want to talk about chads any more? We've got to do it one more time.



JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: If you think that I've been tenacious on Ken Starr, you ain't seen nothing yet..


GREENFIELD: And, once again, we have turned much of our air time over to what we might call a "frank and open exchange of views."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Votes are counted.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, that's absurd.


GREENFIELD: But here's a difference. For all the power of those past stories, they were rooted in a sense of temporary sensationalism. Oklahoma City may have raised the specter of terrorism, but it seems now like an immensely evil, isolated act. Columbine stunned us, but in fact youth violence long-term is on the decline. The Clinton- Lewinsky scandal did lead to impeachment, but its origins still lie in a stained dress and arguments about just what sex is.


GREENFIELD: But this one is different. No deaths, no bloodshed -- not yet, at least -- no tabloid scandal. Instead, we're immersed in election laws, and court battles, and the mysteries of the Electoral College. We're arguing about whether we've been taking the vote for granted, whether we ought to change the way we pick the president, and how the new president -- whoever that may be -- is going to lead.

And, for the moment, at least, a lot of people have managed to wrench their eyes off the stock market long enough to think about how we govern ourselves. This is a story we can actually feel good about covering and following, even if on this side of the tube we have got some questions to answer about those Florida calls. So there you are.

SHAW: Bravo

WOODRUFF: Good reminder. Jeff Greenfield.

SHAW: Well, that's all for this expanded edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But, of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's

WOODRUFF: And stay with CNN throughout the evening for the latest on this presidential election. Bernie and I and Jeff and Bill Schneider will be back at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for a one-hour special report: "THE FLORIDA RECOUNT." I'm Judy Woodruff.

SHAW: And I'm Bernard Shaw. "MONEYLINE NEWS HOUR" is next.



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