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The Florida Recount: With Overseas Absentee Ballots in, Bush Leads by 970

Aired November 18, 2000 - 1:25 p.m. ET

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

GENE RANDALL, CNN ANCHOR: Both presidential candidates are staying out of the spotlight. George W. Bush and his supporters were hoping for a day of celebration. That has not happened. Instead, it's another day of legal wrangling and waiting.

CNN's Tony Clark has the latest from Austin, Texas -- Tony.

TONY CLARK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gene, it's not the kind of celebration that, as you said, Governor Bush and his supporters wanted; but if you look behind me, you can see many of the Bush supporters. They are marching around the governor's mansion in the pouring rain with signs, they are shouting slogans; people have been going by and honking their support for Governor Bush. Some of the supporters -- you can't see them because of the weather, but they've got on T-shirts. They are like former campaign T-shirts that said "Bush for president"; the word "for" is marked out and the word "is" is printed over it.

So they are here marching to show their support for Governor Bush and former secretary Cheney. They also have indicated that they anticipated a protest for Vice President Al Gore, and just a short time ago they said they wanted enough people to encircle the governor's mansion so that there wouldn't be any room on the sidewalk for any of Vice President Gore's supporters.

Governor Bush is inside the mansion. He left earlier today to go over to the state capitol to do some of the state's. And then, when he came back to the capitol his car stopped just inside the gate. The governor came outside the car, stood on the sidewalk, waived to so some of the people who were outside at the time. At that point there were not nearly the number of supporters that are here now.

A spokesman for Governor Bush says he is in good spirits. He is calm and steady and anticipating Monday's Supreme Court hearing -- state Supreme Court hearing. The lawyers getting ready to brief that hearing. Those briefs being filed today, argued on Monday. At this point, he is keeping a low profile.

At 2:00 Eastern time his communications director Karen Hughes will speak to the press; no doubt, to give us some impressions how the governor is doing today. Also to repeat some of the things other spokespeople have -- for the campaign -- have been saying throughout today. Concern over the Gore campaign's move to get some of the overseas ballots disqualified, and concern over the way the manual counting is going. But for now, everyone, including Governor George W. Bush will simply wait until Monday's hearing -- Gene.

RANDALL: And once again, Tony, Karen Hughes, the Bush press secretary, set for 2:00 Eastern time there in Austin?

CLARK: Here at the campaign headquarters, which is just a short distance from there; and that's going to be, you know, one of the first things that we've heard from the governor's high-level staff today.

RANDALL: Tony Clark in Austin, Texas; thanks very much, Tony.

And while we wait to here from Mike Boettcher in Florida on the official -- unofficial vote results -- I understand Mike is ready now.

Mike, what numbers do you have for us?

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Gene, the division of elections for the Secretary of State of Florida Katherine Harris has issued the overseas absentee ballot count. Now this is unofficial, it's not certified, but it is official in terms that it is being released from the Florida (AUDIO GAP) they had hoped to have this certified but, of course, that was put off by the Supreme Court.

It shows Governor Bush winning 1,380 of those ballots, Vice President Gore 750; that is a difference of 630 -- that is four more votes than The Associated Press' count, so there is a 630-vote gain for Governor Bush, and these just released. The hope had been by Secretary of State Harris to certify the election after these had been received but, of course, that will not happen. The Supreme Court issued an order for a status quo, keeping all things as they are. The certification is put off, and so we'll have to wait for a court hearing on Monday to see what the next step is, Gene.

RANDALL: So, Mike, it's my understanding, going into that court hearing on Monday before the Florida Supreme Court, George W. Bush will have a lead of something under 1,000 votes over Al Gore?

CLARK: Absolutely; it will be just -- pardon me, you're right, correct -- just under 1,000 votes.

RANDALL: About 970 votes. Mike Boettcher, thanks very much.

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