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Inside Politics

Gore Campaign Asks Florida Supreme Court to Order Counting of Disputed Ballots; Florida Legislature May Call Special Session

Aired November 29, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: In the Florida legal battle, the legal appeals keep multiplying. Al Gore tries anew to speed up his contest of the vote count.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Meantime, thousands of disputed ballots are being prepped for delivery to a Florida courtroom, but the Bush camp says send more.

Also ahead...


DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This notion that somehow we're too reliant on the past I just don't think holds water.


WOODRUFF: The Bush-Cheney transition team faces questions about the prospect of an administration that looks too familiar.



CHOIR (singing): A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland.


WOODRUFF: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the White House. Will we know who will be the next president by then?

ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff.

SHAW: Thanks for joining us.

As Al Gore pursues his contest of the Florida vote count, he is turning once again to a court where he has had some success: the Florida Supreme Court. Late this afternoon, Gore's lawyers appealed a lower court ruling denying an immediate recount of some 14,000 disputed ballots.

Amid the continued legal maneuvering, our Jonathan Karl reports the vice president's campaign for public support goes on.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As his legal team raced against the clock in Florida, Vice President Gore and running mate Joe Lieberman met in Washington with what they hope will be their transition team. But as Gore mulls over possible cabinet appointments, he is waging a public relations war over the Florida recount.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, in a close race, which by definition is usually one where the passions are running high and the feelings are very strong, it's even more important than in any other kind of race to make sure that the outcome is one that's determined by the will of the people, by the votes cast by the people, not by politicians who have control of the election machinery and who decide for whatever reason to let some votes in that are legally cast and take other legally cast votes and exclude them. That's wrong.

KARL: Gore sat down with CNN's John King for one of no less than five national television interviews Wednesday, bombarding the airwaves in an effort to build support for his legal effort to recount approximately 14,000 disputed ballots in Florida.

GORE: The only way to avoid having a cloud over the next president is to count all the votes.

KARL: As Gore hits the airwaves, his legal team is once again petitioning the Florida Supreme Court, this time to ask for an immediate recount of the disputed ballots. The Gore team wants the counts to begin even as their case contesting the certification of the election by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris goes forward.

The vice president's team is also working hard behind the scenes to shore up Democratic support for his legal challenges. To assist in that effort, the Gore team sent four Democratic governors to Tallahassee to make their case in the court of public opinion.

GOV. PAUL PATTON (D), KENTUCKY: Vice President Gore has the support of the majority of Americans by over a third of a million people, and that gives him the moral responsibility in my judgment to ensure that the Electoral College is determined as fairly and accurately as it can possibly be.

KARL: Gore's aides had previously criticized Governor Bush's public efforts to prepare for a transition as arrogant and presumptuous; now they say it is reasonable for both men to prepare to take office.

JACK QUINN, GORE CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: One of them is going to be president, and I think that not only should no one find fault with either of them doing that work right now, I think that it's important to the country that they be doing it.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KARL: While the vice president was at the White House today, he made an unscheduled stop by the Oval Office and had a meeting with Bill Clinton. No word yet from either man about exactly what they talked about -- Bernie.

SHAW: Jonathan, does Gore truly believe he can still pull this out?

KARL: Well, there is really two-part answer to that question, Bernie. On the one hand, there is the legal question, Gore believes -- the Gore team believes the law is on their side here, but they know they have quite an obstacle course they have to get through to actually prevail here. But they do believe the law is on their side, although they are keenly aware that time is running out.

The second part is, does Gore have a chance to make it overall. They believe very firmly that they have the votes in the disputed counties, that if those 14,000 -- roughly 14,000 votes are actually counted, they know -- they say with certainty that there are more than enough votes there for Al Gore to win Florida.

SHAW: Jonathan Karl.

And later here on INSIDE POLITICS, we will have extended excerpts from John King's interview with the vice president -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: George W. Bush's team is pressing on today with its transition effort and facing questions about how involved the governor is in the process.

As our Candy Crowley reports, the to-do over transition offers something of a contrast to the ongoing legal battle over disputed ballots, which are set to be delivered to the Florida capital Friday.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Florida's equivalent of a SWAT team is preparing to escort ballots to a courtroom in Tallahassee, where some of the best lawyers in the country are in a go-for-the-jugular legal battle over the Oval Office; 817 miles north, Dick Cheney, fresh from an A-OK checkup after a mild heart attack last week, prepares for a Bush-Cheney administration.

CHENEY: Tomorrow, I will be traveling to Crawford, Texas with General Colin Powell and our wives to spend the day with Governor Bush and Laura Bush. This will give us an opportunity for an extended discussion of the transition between General Powell, myself and Governor Bush.

CROWLEY: Familiar names gathering in the uncertain present to plan an unforeseeable future. This is so weird. Much like the Gore campaign, the Bush team forges ahead: looking, acting, talking like the next administration, publicly and privately throwing out names like Colin Powell, suggesting, but not quite announcing.

CHENEY: We both have great confidence in his judgment and his ability. It's not surprising, I think, that we would ask him to come down and spend some time with us, talking about the transition, talking about how you might put together your national security team for the prospective Bush administration.

CROWLEY: The Bush team is also eying Democrats, both for signals they are about to abandon Gore and for possible roles in a Bush administration. They have done such a good job of creating certainty that some Republican conservatives are already complaining about the Cabinet names they're hearing. And Democrats are carping that Bush is simply reinstalling his dad's old people.

CHENEY: The fact of the matter is, when you put together an administration, one of the things you look for are people with experience.

CROWLEY: Meanwhile, back at the ranch, George Bush, aides say, is enjoying the tranquility not afforded at the governor's mansion in Austin, which is generally surrounded by friendly but noisy protesters. Somewhere between candidate and president-elect, Bush is taking some heat for being a bit too far away from the fray.

CHENEY: I think it is perfectly appropriate for him to spend time on his ranch and to continue to spend time in Texas. On the one hand, we have been criticized for being too forward-leaning. Now you suggest maybe we're too laid back. I would suggest you can't have it both ways.

CROWLEY: Bush aides say the notion that Bush is too removed is silly and believe that Al Gore's anywhere-anytime approach to the media is -- quote -- "not presidential."


CROWLEY: Right now, the certainty within the Bush camp is mostly strategy rather than reality, because, in the political and the legal arms of the Bush camp, there is acknowledgment that nobody knows which way any of these courts are going to go -- Bernie and Judy.

WOODRUFF: Candy, on that criticism that you mentioned -- or at least tentative criticism about Governor Bush going with a number of people who were part of his father's administration -- is this something they just dismiss out of hand? Or is it something that they plan to address at some point in the future?

CROWLEY: Well, first of all, they haven't really named anybody in the Cabinet to begin with. So there is that. And they point that out a lot. But they also say, you know, that George Bush is going to reach out to any number of people. Now, obviously, Colin Powell came from the Bush administration, as did Dick Cheney.

So those are the two most prominent names out there. But Aides say -- and the governor has said all along throughout this campaign that he will reach out to all kinds of people. And certainly, we can expect to see that some of those governors who have been very close to George Bush, that one or two of them might come into a Bush administration. So they don't dismiss it. But they believe it's just, you know, entirely premature, and that nobody has seen the totality of the picture because they haven't painted it yet.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley, reporting from Austin.

And during our 6:00 half-hour, Bernie will be talking with Dick Cheney -- Bernie.

SHAW: Now to Florida, where, a short while ago, a hearing wrapped up on a request by Bush lawyers regarding ballots in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

CNN's Gary Tuchman is in Tallahassee -- Gary, you have the latest.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Bernie.

Another fascinating, head-spinning day of legal maneuvers here at the Leon County Circuit courthouse in Tallahassee, Florida: Yesterday, the news was 14,000 disputed ballots were coming from South Florida to Tallahassee on Friday. Now 1,175,718 ballots are coming to Tallahassee by Friday by police escort, because the Republicans have asked for each and every ballot to come if the Democrats disputed ballots were going to come.

The Democrats did not object to that. So now all the ballots from those two counties will be coming up in a police convoy caravan scheduled to arrive Friday by 5:00 p.m. Palm Beach County says it will take 167 boxes to get all of their 422,000 ballots here -- did a little math -- that's 2,600 ballots per box.

Now, in other news in the court today, the Democrats filed an appeal saying they objected to the fact that Judge Sauls in the court yesterday said he would not immediately start counting the disputed ballots. They have filed an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, asking the Supreme Court to immediately start counting the ballots; but the Republicans in court objected to that. They said Judge Sauls did not deny the motion, he just said he would hear it when he got the ballots. Then Judge Sauls spoke, he said, no, I did not deny the motion, the ballots aren't here, we can't count it; so how can I immediately count the ballots if I don't have it? So it's not clear if the appeal would have validity because the judge says he hasn't denied the motion, he doesn't have ballots to count.

Finally, in another case here in this court -- had nothing to do with the Gore contest, it has to do with a Democratic individual against Seminole County, Florida. Seminole County is accused of letting Republican workers go into the supervisor of election's room and fill out voter identification numbers on applications for absentee ballots. The Democrats in that county say that all the absentee ballots should be ruled invalid -- that could mean a net loss of 4,700 votes for George W. Bush.

The Republicans say it's a ridiculous suit; but either way, today the lawyer for the Seminole County attorney said he will ask for a deposition with Al Gore. Why? He didn't say. Republican sources say they believe it's not an individual behind this, filing the suit; but they believe Al Gore and his team are behind this. Democrats say the Republicans are just trying to gum this whole thing up.

Bernie, back to you.

SHAW: Thank you Gary Tuchman -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, under court order to pack up and ship off those disputed ballots, officials in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties have been busy making sure those crucial computer cards are sealed and secure.

John Zarrella has been watching the process in Miami-Dade, and Bill Delaney has been doing the same thing in Palm Beach.

First to you, John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, I can tell you that they're going to need a much bigger now than they thought they would need just a couple of hours ago. Instead of 10,750 ballots that will be leaving here from the Stephen P. Clark building on Friday morning, there are going to be more than half a million ballots leaving -- three vehicles: a van, a large van, now, obviously, and two police cars with a special response team -- five members of the special response team.

They are basically SWAT officers who will be accompanying those ballots northward up the Florida turnpike, then on highway I-75 to I- 10 West to Tallahassee. It will probably take them about 10 hours to get there with a couple of pit stops, obviously, along the way; and they'll be accompanied by, of course, now, as we're told, a representative of the Republican Party and a representative of the Democratic Party who will be traveling in that motorcade heading north.

Now, one interesting thing that came out in that hearing before Judge Sanders Sauls today: Republicans charge that election workers here and county workers were actually doing their own hand count today, that they were looking at ballots and moving them from one pile to another. We talked to elections officials here a little while ago and they flatly deny that anything like that happened. They said all they were doing was sorting piles and they have no idea how that story got up to Tallahassee -- but it's flatly not true. There was no hand count going on here in Miami-Dade County by anyone.

So, again, the plan is to get underway here first thing Friday morning at about 6:30 a.m. with all of those ballots in tow, headed for Tallahassee -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right; John Zarrella in Miami-Dade.

And now let's go to Bill Delaney in Palm Beach County -- Bill.

BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Judy. We will be having ballots moving out of West Palm Beach tomorrow morning as well, just as John Zarrella will have them moving out of Miami, we'll have 462,000 ballots moving out. Before I get to that, though, Judy, I want to talk about a final number we got here today -- as final as anything gets around here -- and that's a 188: 188, the final net gain, we're told by the election supervisor here, for Vice President Al Gore in the manual recount of ballots here. Now, this 188 was not included in the final certified vote for all of Florida; and that, of course, is because the canvassing board here in Palm Beach didn't finish it's manual recount by the secretary of state's deadline of 5:00 p.m. last Sunday.

But you know, they kept counting here, Judy, and that took them into the night Sunday, then they spent a couple days reconciling the original machine count to the hand count here and came up with these final numbers: a net gain for Bush of 327, a net gain for Vice President Al Gore of 515, and it adds up to Gore has 188 more votes in the manual hand count than he had in the machine count.

Now, is that the number that Democrats will be contesting as, what they say, should be added to Vice President Al Gore's column here in Palm Beach County? Well, it's not quite that simple. We talked to a Democratic lawyer, he said the number is actually more like 211.


DENNIS NEWMAN, DEMOCRATIC LAWYER: There is 637 precincts. We have to look at our sheets, their sheets and the tally sheets and the final results to rectify it, not dissimilar to three people balancing the same checkbook.


DELANEY: Now, the other number that Democratic lawyers are perhaps even more concerned with is 3,300. Those are the disputed ballots that will be included among the 462,000 ballots going to Tallahassee tomorrow -- 3,300 ballots Democrats say should have been for Vice President Al Gore,, but were counted as blanks. They are very concerned that those ballots be what the judge in Leon County focuses on.

So although 462,000 ballots in all will go up in a Ryder truck, accompanied by a couple of security police vehicles tomorrow very early in the morning -- we expect them to leave by 7:30 or so -- the numbers the Democrats are really concerned with is 3,300 disputed ballots counted as blanks they want in Vice President Al Gore's column -- back to you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Delaney in Palm Beach County -- I think I'm keeping all this straight -- thanks a lot.

Still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS: Florida lawmakers ponder their role in election 2000. We will look at the legislature's options.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: Members of the Florida legislature carefully considering their next move: For the second day, a legislative committee met in Tallahassee to determine whether lawmakers can or should step in and whether a special session is in order.

CNN's Mike Boettcher has the latest -- Mike.

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that committee adjourned at about 3 o'clock this afternoon, but they will return tomorrow, and Judy, it is a done deal. They will recommend to the leadership of the House and the Senate here, Republican-dominated, that there be a special session.

What will happen then is the two top leaders, the speaker of the House and the Senate president, will then meet. They have the power under Florida law to go ahead and call that special session.

Now, there was testimony taken today from members of the public for two hours. About 60-some people spoke. The Democratic Party acknowledged that they flew some of those people up from Miami and Broward County. They did not try to keep that a secret. They wanted, they said, to give these people a chance to comment. They said that they believe that this election was being stolen by the Republican Party.

But the legislature, the Republican side, brought to testify at the end another legal expert, who said it was the obligation of the state legislature to go ahead and act because Florida's 25 electors could be in jeopardy. It was their obligation to call a special session, and eventually name the electors.

Governor Jeb Bush today spoke. He's kept a low profile. But he said it was the responsibility of the legislature to protect the electors.


GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: If the state Supreme Court disagrees with the Florida legislature, then I think the United States Supreme Court trumps the legislature. But that is a huge hypothetical, because clearly, if you read the United States constitutional code, they have delegated authority on the selection of the electors not to the state, but to the legislature.

So I mean, we'll have to see what happens on Friday or whenever they make their decision.


BOETTCHER: Now Sunday night -- it seems like light-years ago -- but that's when Katherine Harris certified the election results and gave Florida's 25 electors to George Bush. She has also been keeping a low profile, but spoke today after the Cabinet meeting with Governor Bush, and she talked about her decision to make that certification three days ago.


KATHERINE HARRIS, FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: If anyone were to read the statutes, I think they would find clearly why I certified early.

QUESTION: What about the whole thing...

HARRIS: Or certified on time, as was prescribed by the statutes, in an unarbitrary and specific fashion.


BOETTCHER: Now, when will a special session occur? We are told it will be convened on Tuesday. The legislators begin arriving here Monday anyway. They had been scheduled to come for committee hearings and other meetings at the state capitol.

So look for Tuesday for the beginning of this historic special session -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Mike Boettcher, we've got a lot to look forward to. Thanks very much -- Bernie.

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

WOODRUFF: Still to come, overseas absentee ballots still at issue in two Florida counties: the latest legal maneuvers just ahead.



HOWARD KURTZ, CNN MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: The official proclamation of Bush's 537-vote margin in Florida has had a dramatic effect on the media's coverage.


SHAW: Howard Kurtz on the shifting news tide and which candidate may be benefiting.

And later...

WOODRUFF: Is time running out on election 2000? Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson check the clock.


SHAW: The battle for the White House between George W. Bush and Al Gore continued this day, with time becoming an even more important factor.

Here now, the latest developments: Al Gore and running mate Joe Lieberman discussed aspects of their possible administration today. At the same time, Gore's lawyers raced against the clock in their contest of the Florida election results. In one key ruling, a judge sided with Bush lawyers who had requested that all the ballots in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, more than 1 million, be sent to Tallahassee for a possible recount. Those ballots are expected to arrive in the capital Friday.

Meantime, the Republican-dominated Florida legislature is moving closer to calling a special session, a move that could result in it naming its own slate of presidential electors. The Republicans see this move as a way to resolve the election dispute in favor of Governor Bush.

WOODRUFF: In one of many legal fights in Florida, Bush campaign lawyers today, appealed a decision by a lower court which refused to consolidate a case involving ballots in Seminole County. The Bush team wants to combine the case with one now before Leon County Circuit Judge Sanders Sauls. Sauls is hearing Al Gore's contest of election results from three counties, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Nassau.

A Democratic attorney wants the 15,000 absentee ballots cast in Seminole County thrown out. He alleges that election officials violated state law by permitting Republican workers to fill out incomplete absentee ballot applications. A lawyer for the county elections supervisor said today that he wants to depose Vice President Gore himself, apparently to try to find out if the vice president is behind the suit.

The Seminole County case is not the only one involving allegations of tampering with absentee ballots. Election officials in Martin County, Florida also find themselves in hot water over the issue.

CNN's Mark Potter has that story.


MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Stewart, Florida, at the Martin County Courthouse, the supervisor of elections office is defending its actions before the November election. Democrats accuse the office of giving special privileges to Republicans by allowing them to correct mistakes on absentee ballot applications.

EMMA SMITH, DEPUTY ELECTIONS SUPERVISOR: They came in and they picked them up, they took them out of this office and they brought them back with the required information.

POTTER: Emma Smith, a deputy supervisor of elections, says Republicans were allowed to correct several hundred absentee ballot applications. The party had distributed the forms in a get-out-the- vote drive, but mistakenly omitted the voter registration number, as required by law.

Smith argues there was nothing wrong with allowing the Republicans to fix their own mistake after voters mailed the applications to her office.

SMITH: We in no way tried to -- quote -- "fix an election" or -- quote -- "pick a president." The only thing we had in mind was doing what the voter asked and requested. POTTER: But Martin County Democratic official Terence Noland says the party is consulting attorneys on whether Florida election laws were broken when Republicans took the applications from the elections office.

TERENCE NOLAND, MARTIN COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY: We don't know what happened with that paperwork when it was taken out of the office. We don't even know if all the paperwork taken from the office was ever returned.

POTTER: Republicans say elections officials were only trying to help voters get their ballots, and argue, nobody broke the law.

ROBER BELANGER, MARTIN COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY: There are enough safeguards in place where I believe that there really is no harm done by the act.

POTTER: Emma Smith says most Democratic Party applications were filled out correctly. And she argues there was no way for political parties to alter the absentee ballots themselves because voter signatures are compared with those on her office computer files.

EMMA SMITH, DEPUTY ELECTIONS SUPERVISOR: So if there's a difference in that signature, that ballot will not be counted.

POTTER: The Martin County Democrats say the situation here is much worse than the one in Seminole County. The Republicans say it is much ado about nothing.

Mark Potter, CNN, Stuart, Florida.


SHAW: The NAACP is planning to sue the state of Florida and several individual counties over alleged voter irregularities. NAACP President Kweisi Mfume says lawsuits could be filed as early as next week and would seek injunctive relief for disenfranchised minority voters. The organization has asked the Justice Department to investigate complaints but says, so far, no action has been taken. It is also asking local chapters across the United States to hold hearings and to determine whether voter irregularities occurred in other states.

WOODRUFF: Just ahead: the news media treatment of Al Gore; Howard Kurtz, on what's changed since Sunday. Plus, the vice president's democratic colleagues -- is his Capitol Hill support still solid?


SHAW: In our latest poll on the contested Florida vote, we asked how the news media had handled the story. The result was evenly divided between approving and disapproving our reporting. Four days after the election, the news media received a 55 percent disapproval rating. Asked about the media coverage of the Florida vote recount, 23 percent believe it has been biased toward Gore and 10 percent biased toward Bush. Sixty-three percent said the news media coverage was not biased.

As George W. Bush pushes forward with his transition, media coverage may be working in his favor. Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" takes a closer look at the post-certification news reports and their potential impact.


KURTZ (voice-over): When Katherine Harris put her signature on a document declaring George W. Bush the winner of Florida's presidential contest on Sunday, it was hardly an unexpected moment, but it was a huge media event, carried live not just on cable, but by ABC and CBS, even as NBC decided that viewers would rather see Leonardo DiCaprio in "Titanic."

And it was no surprise Sunday night when the Texas governor pronounced himself the next occupant of the Oval Office.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Secretary Cheney and I are honored and humbled to have won the state of Florida, which gives us the needed electoral votes to win the election.

KURTZ: But the official proclamation of Bush's 537-vote margin in Florida has had a dramatic effect on the media's coverage. Even after Gore's primetime address to the nation Monday night...

GORE: I have decided to contest this inaccurate and incomplete count.

KURTZ: ... the vice president was widely depicted as -- well, practically hanging on by his fingernails.

"The New York Times": "As Bush moved with determination to prepare his transition to the White House, Vice President Al Gore pleaded for public patience." "The Philadelphia Inquirer": "Vice President Gore would have to prevail in an extraordinary series of legal and political battles to wrest victory in Florida from George W. Bush." And one conservative newspaper was practically shoving Gore out the door.

Part of what's fueling the press' sudden shift is the polls. You remember the polls, which seemed to pop up constantly during the long campaign and invariably help portray Bush or Gore as either surging or sinking.

Right after Katherine Harris certified the Florida vote, a spate of surveys came out showing most Americans think the election is over and that Gore should concede.

GLORIA BORGER, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": We've seen a very, very patient public so far, and now suddenly an ABC poll today says that maybe 6 out of 10 voters want to get this over with.


BRYANT GUMBEL, CBS ANCHOR: You've seen the numbers, as I have, and the numbers right now are moving away from you and the vice president.


KURTZ: It didn't take long for reporters to raise the issue at a news conference yesterday.

QUESTION: Polls suggest that 60 percent of the American public is starting to tire of this, and that while they feel sympathetic to your situation and think it's a great idea to count all of the votes, that it's time to move on and put this behind us.

GORE: I'm quite sure that the polls don't matter in this, because it's a legal question.

KURTZ: Conservatives commentators, meanwhile, are trying to boo Gore off the stage.


SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The American people are screaming at Al Gore to get out of this race.


KURTZ: But Gore is still in campaign mode.

While Bush leaves most of the public speaking to Dick Cheney, the vice president continued his media offensive this morning on the "TODAY" show.

Perhaps the clearest indication that journalists believe Bush has the election sewn up, all the speculation about whether he'll name Colin Powell as secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser, Governors Frank Keating or Marc Racicot as attorney general. Number of stories about a possible Gore cabinet: zero.


KURTZ: The post-election maneuvering will continue to fill the airwaves this week, especially when the Supreme Court hears the lawsuit on Friday. Journalists will keep jumping on every lawsuit, every announcement, every news conference. But the media are increasingly sending the message that for Al Gore the race is all but over -- Bernie.

SHAW: Howie, you said that partly polls is responsible for the media's shift. What else, do you think?

KURTZ: I think the fact that Bush is acting like president-elect helps encourage reporters to treat him like a president-elect. I think journalists have taken a clear-eyed look at the legal situation and decided that both time and the legal challenges increasingly make an uphill struggle for Gore. And I think as well that the press simply feels that the public's support for Bush as opposed to Gore has taken this one step closer to being over. What's odd, though, Bernie, is that there is so much coverage on the airwaves, 24 hours a day, of these battles that could determine the presidency, but the more subtle message that I'm seeing in the press, particularly the print press, is that Gore's got an awful long way to go.

SHAW: Howard Kurtz in the sitting room, "Washington Post," thank you -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, the Bush transition team along with the governor's congressional supporters are already making overtures, we're told, to members across the aisles. As the Republicans begin to make the case for bipartisanship, will support for the vice president hold?

Speaking of what we just heard from Howard Kurtz, our Chris Black checks the Democratic mood on the Hill.


CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George W. Bush's point man in the U.S. House is reaching out to conservative House Democrats. The lawmakers, Roy Blunt says, are eager to work with Bush to get things done if he becomes president.

REP. ROY BLUNT (R), MISSOURI: A majority of Democrats now have never been there in the majority. I think many of them are very eager to begin to play a role where they have impact on what is happening rather than they totally focus on -- on stopping anything from happening.

BLACK: Some Democrats, who represent heavily Republican and conservative areas, in the West and South, particularly those standing for re-election in 2002, say they are feeling pressure from constituents, many upset the absentee ballots of military personnel were tossed out in Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon. Senator Tim Johnson's office.

BLACK: The phones are ringing this week in the offices of Democratic lawmakers, like Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, a state where Bush got 60 percent of the vote, many callers fired up by conservative radio talk shows.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, Senator John Breaux of Louisiana, a moderate Democrat known for crafting compromise, says Republicans close to Bush are contacting him, but Breaux, and most other Democrats, are sticking by Vice President Al Gore for the moment, willing to stand in solidarity at least until the U.S. Supreme Court rules.

REP. MARTIN FROST (D), TEXAS: The caucus has been very united across the spectrum, conservatives, moderates and liberals working for a common legislative program. And as long as Tom DeLay and Dick Armey keep taking outrageous positions, very few Democrats are going to want to cooperate.

BLACK: An exception? Congresswoman Julia Carson, who represents a swing district in Indianapolis. She says it's time for Democrats to move on.

REP. JULIA CARSON (D), INDIANA: Are we going to fight this battle for the next four years? I don't think we ought to do that. I think we ought to go ahead and let it happen, and let Al Gore come back and have a cakewalk in four years. He'll win the presidency hands down.

BLACK: Another Democrat, Senator Max Baucus of Montana, says he's waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to act, but in a statement he adds -- quote -- "The clock is ticking. It's imperative that we have resolution very soon."

(on camera): For now, Democratic congressional leaders are focused on keeping nervous Democrats in line for the vice president. But there is a growing sense that Al Gore's biggest enemy is time.

Chris Black, CNN, Capitol Hill.


WOODRUFF: from parties

Well, from party support to public opinion, Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson offer their views on the election in limbo when INSIDE POLITICS returns.



SEN.-ELECT HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I think that both campaigns have filed legal actions, and you know, we have the time to have those heard. I believe that it certainly is important that every American have the confidence that his or her vote is counted. And certainly in Florida, there are questions about votes that haven't been counted.

So I think that those should be resolved, and then there won't be any issues or any questions that people can raise after it's resolved.


WOODRUFF: First lady and Senator-Elect Hillary Rodham Clinton, calling for patience as the Florida standoff plays out in the courts.

Well, joining us now, Margaret Carlson of "TIME" magazine and Tucker Carlson of "The Weekly Standard."

Good to see both of you.

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME": Thanks, Judy. WOODRUFF: All right. Everybody's talking about how time is Al Gore's enemy. Margaret, does Al Gore have any friends out there if time is such a big enemy?

M. CARLSON: Well, he has friends, but time is not one of them, and the calendar is very brutal. And it's a constitutional calendar, with set dates -- December 12th, December 18th and January 6th -- and there isn't much of a way to move those around.

And the Bush -- the bush strategy has always been, you know -- what do you call it? Dribble the ball? Hold the ball. Freeze the ball?


WOODRUFF: I know what you mean.

M. CARLSON: Freeze the ball -- thank you, Judy -- until the clock ran out, and they did a great job in that way.

T. CARLSON: Well, actually, it was sort of a little bit different three weeks ago, when of course it was -- it was the Gore campaign saying, you know, there's no hurry at all now, and the Bush campaign was saying, you know, well, we need to get this closed as quickly as possible, and Gore went on TV to say the American people have infinite patience.

I'm struck by two things: one, by how nobody I've talked to this entire week -- Republican/Democrat, waiter/cabdriver -- thinks Gore has a shot, and two, by how many members of Congress are going to be sticking by him anyway, with, of course, the exception of Robert Torricelli. Not if that means anything.

WOODRUFF: Why is that?

M. CARLSON: Well, in part, the Republicans inflamed the Democrats, which they have a way of doing. There was a little piece of impeachment there. The House managers and Ken Starr had turned into the Miami -- how shall I call them? -- mob, just for purposes of argument, and the -- James Baker coming out after that decision. Remember how shrill he was?

So they did what Democrats can never do for themselves, which is unite them. They united the Democrats, and there they stand until the clocks runs out. And they don't have anything to lose by backing Gore, and in fact, they believe Gore. Gore probably does have the votes. But will he be able to prove it? It looks doubtful.

WOODRUFF: Tucker, is there anything Gore has to win here? Does he have to have the Supreme Court rule in his favor? Plus, does he have to have the local circuit judges in Florida rule with him? I mean, can you stack it up so that if he gets all these wins it works, or does the Florida legislature just automatically trump in any and all?

T. CARLSON: Well, right, and that is -- that is the key question. I mean, if next week if there is a special session and they do name, you know, the electors, then does any of it matter? Gore said today that no matter what the Supreme Court does he was unwilling to, even if it rules against him, he was unwilling to rule out further steps.

I mean, there are so many lawsuits -- I'm again struck by how difficult it is for the average Democrat, even ones who are following this really carefully, to outline specifically the Gore scenario for victory. It's not exactly clear what it is.

But I think there's going to be pressure on Democratic members of Congress, if the Florida legislature names the electors -- and this whole thing has the potential of going to Congress -- there's going to be pressure on them. And I think that's the point at which you're going to see a lot of them start to say, gee, Al, perhaps you ought to step down.

M. CARLSON: Well, it would be a sweet victory to win one of these court cases, and if the one in Leon Circuit Court were to be one and they could start counting really fast, then it would work. But unfortunately, yesterday, David Boies got the ballots moving from Miami to Tallahassee. But...

WOODRUFF: Or there about to move, tomorrow.

M. CARLSON: And you're hoping that it's FedEx'd, you know, when it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.

WOODRUFF: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) truck caravan up the state of Florida.

M. CARLSON: Yes, well, where's FedEx when you need them? No, if they don't start counting, you just can't see a way that it gets done, even if the court now rules.

WOODRUFF: Tucker, how is George W. Bush handling all that? He's out at the ranch. We hear a lot of Dick Cheney these days. We know Colin Powell is going to go out there. How -- is he looking presidential?

M. CARLSON: Here's -- here's how he's handling it. He's just perfected the wave.

T. CARLSON: Yes, I mean, there was some grouchiness on the part of a lot of Republicans after, you know, his speech declaring himself, essentially, the president-elect -- the complaints that, you know, he didn't read Teleprompter well, et cetera, et cetera.

And I think they're making a pretty good decision not to put him out there and, instead, you know, have his statements made by proxy. I think it's really interesting how often Gore and Lieberman are all of a sudden, you know, appearing. Oh, it's amazing -- especially for reporters who covered Gore and grouched for. you know, a year and a half about how few press avails he's had, then all of a sudden...

WOODRUFF: And he will be here in about half an hour. T. CARLSON: It's amazing -- I mean, you can call him just at home on the phone if you want, I think. I mean, they're very available.

M. CARLSON: Well, Bush missed an opportunity while he was reading that Teleprompter badly, to be a little gracious about the election. Katherine Harris declared him the winner, yes. But he could have acknowledged...

T. CARLSON: Now, now, now...

WOODRUFF: Well, I'm going to plug our own interviews. We have a John King interview with the vice president coming up at the top of the 6:00 hour, then Bernie is going to be talking to Cheney. And I can't leave without saying happy birthday, Margaret.

M. CARLSON: Well, Judy thank you.

WOODRUFF: A little birdie told us. Happy birthday.

M. CARLSON: Yes, many years young.

WOODRUFF: And Tucker, we'll wish you the same when it's your birthday.

T. CARLSON: Thank you; I won't tell you when it is, but I appreciate it.

WOODRUFF: All right. You will find out.

Tucker Carlson, Margaret Carlson, thank you both -- Bernie.

SHAW (singing): Happy birthday to you.

M. CARLSON: Thank you, Bernie.

SHAW: INSIDE POLITICS continues at the top of the hour. We'll talk live with Bush running mate Dick Cheney. And we'll have extended excerpts from John King's interview with Vice President Gore -- Judy, am I repeating you? Plus, a live report from Tallahassee on the latest legal battles over ballots in the Florida standoff.



GORE: I've never used the phrase "steal the election." I think that's an intemperate phrase.


SHAW: Al Gore talking at some length about his ongoing presidential battle with George W. Bush. We will have excerpts from his CNN interview with John King.

WOODRUFF: And Bernie will talk live to GOP vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney about the Florida recount and the Bush transition effort. Plus:


JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: What would have happened if this bizarre election had taken place at other times in our nation's history?


SHAW: Jeff Greenfield looking to the past to put election 2000 in context.

ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff.

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to this extended edition of INSIDE POLITICS and our coverage of the disputed vote in Florida. Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties now are under court order to send all the presidential ballots cast in those counties to a courtroom in Tallahassee. A little more than an hour ago, a circuit court judge issued a ruling in favor of a request by the Bush campaign.

Yesterday that judge had ordered only about 14,000 ballots be delivered to his court, as he weighs the possibility of a new hand recount. Officials in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties have been sealing disputed ballots and preparing them to be delivered under lock and key. Those ballots now are expected to arrive in the Florida capitol on Friday.

Meantime, an appeals court in Tallahassee today rejected a petition by the Bush campaign to consolidate a lawsuit involving ballots in Seminole County with cases from other counties. The Seminole County case stems from a suit filed by a Democratic attorney who wants 15,000 absentee ballots thrown out because of what he says is Republican voter fraud. In connection with that case, an attorney for the county election supervisor has asked to depose Vice President Gore himself. The attorney reportedly wants to determine if the Gore campaign is actually behind the Seminole County lawsuit.

Still another legal appeal to keep track of: The Gore campaign is trying again to speed up the vice president's contest of the Florida vote count.

CNN's Kate Snow joins us now from Tallahassee with an update -- Kate.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, I just spoke with attorneys for the Gore legal team and here's some news for you. They say that they will come to the Florida state Supreme Court at around 8:00 Eastern time -- that's just a couple of hours from now, and they will file what's known as an original petition with the Supreme Court, basically appealing Judge Sauls' order from last night. They call it an order -- there's some disagreement about whether it was a final order or not.

But it laid out the timetable for how they would handle the potential counting of ballots. The Gore team, of course, feels that it needs to be done more quickly. They feel that Judge Sauls erred in his timetable and that he's not doing things quickly enough to meet what they'd like to see done. So what they're going to do is come to the Florida Supreme Court and ask that the seven justices here order Judge Sauls to immediately begin counting those ballots.

Now, I asked the Gore legal team how, physically could this happen? Logistically speaking we're talking about thousands and thousands of ballots, if you go with what the Gore team wants, a million ballots if you go with what the Bush team wants. And they say, well, they think that the justices should find a way. That they should order it be done immediately. If it means running a caravan of police cars overnight tonight, well then, so be it. If it means starting counting in Palm Beach County or in Miami-Dade County down there in the southern part of the state through some surrogates of the court, well, they say that would be acceptable to them as well.

So, again, they're going to be filing directly with the Supreme Court. In addition to that, earlier today, they also filed an appeal with the first district court of appeals -- that's the appeals court that covers this county -- Leon County. And that was essentially the same appeal that they're going to make directly to the Supreme Court, which is, please ask Judge Sauls to start counting immediately.

Now, the Bush team had some problems with this whole argument. They said, at a hearing late this afternoon, that there's no grounds for an appeal here because they don't feel that Judge Sauls ever issued what's known as a final order. They feel the judge was just, sort of, laying out a calendar and that's not something that can be appealed. So those are the two arguments taking place.

Now, on one other subject here at the Florida Supreme Court, you'll remember that yesterday we were talking about butterfly ballots from Palm Beach County -- there are two cases now that have made their way to the Florida Supreme Court on the issue of the butterfly ballot, that's that infamous now ballot from Palm Beach County which was a two-page ballot and many voters thought was confusing. Some of those voters brought suits in the lower courts in Palm Beach County. Those suits have now made it to the Florida Supreme Court.

Today, one suit by the name of Katz (ph) filed their briefs before the Florida Supreme Court. Now, the court has not decided yet and we haven't heard any word yet as to whether they will accept either the courts -- the case, rather, that they heard today, or the case on the butterfly ballots that they heard yesterday. We should hear at some point whether they will take up the butterfly ballot issue.

Bernie, back to you.

SHAW: Thank you, Kate Snow, that's a lot.

Vice President Gore spent some of -- time today discussing a possible transition team, but much of his day involved public relations, specifically, interviews with correspondents from various news organizations; among them, our man John King -- John. JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, the vice president in remarkably relaxed spirits given this 22-day post-election ordeal. He said he was very confident in his legal team and that they were very confident they had a strong case, as they pursue his contest in challenge. He said he could tell the American people that all this would be over by the middle of December. He said he foresaw no circumstances under which this fight would go to the United States Congress.

And the vice president reacted angrily when I asked him about the Republican assertions that he is asking for special treatment, especially in regards to those 10,700 ballots from Miami-Dade County that have been run through the machines and registered no vote for president. The Republicans, of course, saying the vice president now trying to rewrite the rules by asking a court to review those ballots by hand; the vice president says that's not so.


GORE: The law requires that when there -- when they have to be counted by hand, the machine doesn't pick them up, they have to be looked at and counted.

Let me ask you this: Have you ever gone through the supermarket checkout line and they run the scanner computer over your items? What happens when it misses one? Do they give it to you for free? No. They do a hand count of that item.

And those computers are far more sophisticated than these Votomatic machines. That sounds like something out of the Jetsons.

KING: There is a political battle going on, of course, during your legal challenge. And some ask if you feel so strongly that you won the election -- and obviously, you do, why not just come out and turn the tables on them and say, "I believe I won the election. And I believe they are trying to steal the election"?

GORE: Well, I've never used the phrase "steal the election." I think that's an intemperate phrase. And I think that both Governor Bush and I have an obligation during this period when the votes are yet to be counted to try to pave the way for whichever one of us wins to be able to unify the country.

You know, the only way to avoid having a cloud over the next president is to count all the votes. Because our country is based on the consent of the governed, and the consent of the governed can only come through a vote by the people. And all the people who vote legally have to have their votes counted; that's the basic principle.

If all of the votes are counted, that's the best way to confer legitimacy on the outcome of the election.

KING: I want to repeat something to you that came to me from a very close friend of yours and a long-time adviser who said, "Al believes passionately in this. Al believes he won. And I believe he's right. But I do worry that we may reach a point where he's hurting himself. And that if it appears that this is slipping away, we reach a line where the 2004 calculation" -- your own viability -- "comes into play." Does that enter into your mind at all?

GORE: Look. You know, they started speculation about the 2000 race probably three years beforehand. And it's not over yet. So, I mean, I hope that I'm going to be in a position to consider running for re-election in 2004.

But to answer your question seriously, John, whatever concern that I might have about myself is not even on the radar screen compared to the obligation that I feel to the 50 million people who supported Joe Lieberman and me, who believed in the agenda that we put forward, who gave us more votes than any Democratic ticket ever in the history of this country, more votes than any ticket with the exception of Ronald Reagan in 1984.

But a higher obligation still, is the obligation I have to the Constitution and to the country to insist that the election have integrity.

KING: This is obviously uncharted waters, unprecedented territory. One of the things happening as the legal challenge unfolds is the Florida legislature, controlled by Republicans, is having a process of hearings now, and they've been quite open about the possibility that if you succeed, if your challenge, your contest, is upheld, and if they count those votes and the courts say, "Al Gore won Florida," that they will, regardless of that, send to Washington a slate of Republican electors directed by the state legislature to vote for Governor Bush. What happens then?

GORE: I can't believe that the people of Florida want to see the expression of their will taken away by politicians. The people of Florida have the right to select the candidate for president that they -- that they want.

If the politicians ever try to take that away from the people, I think you'd see -- I think you'd see quite a negative response to it.

KING: We have, in this conversation, talked about politics and polling, lawyers and legal briefs, courts, votes, counts. This has to be emotionally a pretty amazing roller coaster, having gone through the campaign and being exhausted at the end. We spoke near the end of the campaign, it's a tiring ordeal.

GORE: Yes. You were, too.

KING: I sure was.

And it's 22 days later. And you know, you win one day. You win one decision. It seems just hours later something goes against you. Then you win another one and something goes against you.

GORE: That's an incredible story, the way it's unfolded, isn't it?

KING: What do you -- what goes through your mind? And who do you reach out to when you want to get away from the lawyers and the consultants to have just a little bit of personal peace?

GORE: My family. And faith and family, as I've said to you before, is really the center of my life. And this is -- it is an unusual time because you prepare yourself to win. You prepare yourself for the possibility that you won't win. You don't really prepare yourself for the possibility that you flip the coin in the air and it lands on its edge and you get neither outcome.

But it's a heck of a lot easier than the campaign schedule, I'll tell you that. It's nice to sleep in the same bed every night, and to be surrounded by my family, and to get seven, eight hours sleep and exercise every day. So in many ways it's much more relaxing and much easier than the campaign trail.


KING: Now, during this time, the vice president says he's spending quite a bit of time with his young grandson. I asked him what that young boy's 8th grade history book might say about this period in our history. He said he hoped -- stressed hoped -- that it said -- would say that the Gore-Lieberman administration was one of the most successful in American history after one of the most exciting elections in history. We know the last part is true, we still don't know the answer to the first part.

SHAW: Indeed. Thank you, John -- John King.

And we should tell you, you can see the entire Gore interview during our special report tonight at 10:00 Eastern.

Up next here on INSIDE POLITICS, Dick Cheney on the Bush plans for moving into the White House. The Republican vice presidential running mate joins us live.


SHAW: Our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield now pulls up a chair for this very important segment. And as promised, we're talking now with Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney, he joins us from McLean, Virginia.

Good to have you on INSIDE POLITICS.

CHENEY: Hello, Bernie.

SHAW: Hi there.

First question: What are your thoughts about the possibility that you could lose this election?

CHENEY: Well, this has been a -- it's been a roller coaster ride for a long time now, but, of course, we think there have been major developments within the last week or so; the fact that we've been through the count and the recount and now the certification in Florida. We had an extra 12 days of counting; that we've now reached the point where the outcome of the election has been certified. It's important for us to move on.

We find ourselves in a unique circumstance, because the opposition now, Vice President Gore, has decided for the first time ever really to take a certified election, presidential election to court. And try to overturn it in the courts in Florida I think really is unprecedented. We've got no choice, though, but to press on with the transition, which has been my main assignment this week.

SHAW: You're traveling down to the governor's ranch with General Colin Powell tomorrow. What's the specific agenda?

CHENEY: Lunch and an opportunity to spend the afternoon together. We'll be talking about the transition itself, talking about the whole area of national security policy and how best to structure an organization that will be able to move forward in this administration.

We not yet prepared to announce any Cabinet members this week, but clearly General Powell has been a close friend for a long time, somebody who worked very closely with us during the campaign, and we welcome and value the opportunity to spend an afternoon talking to him about this very important part of the next administration.

SHAW: Is he a lead pipe cinch for secretary of state?

CHENEY: If I were to say that, Bernie, I'd be making an announcement, and I'm not authorized to make an announcement tonight. Clearly the governor's indicated on a number of occasions that he certainly would give very careful consideration to the possibility of trying to persuade General Powell to come out of retirement and to join the administration.

GREENFIELD: Mr. Secretary, it's Jeff Greenfield, good evening.

CHENEY: Yes, Jeff.

GREENFIELD: After your hospitalization and the new questions about the amount of information that was released back last July, you cited privacy as an explanation for not releasing the complete medical records. But the questions that were being asked back last July related very specifically to things like blood pressure, cholesterol level, the injection fraction of your heart -- specific questions about a medical condition you'd already had. How does privacy -- or how did privacy issues constrain you from releasing those specific pieces of information that were asked for by health professionals and others?

CHENEY: Well, Jeff, they were -- frankly, they were asked for by a few people in the press. We've released an enormous amount of information. I would guess that my physical anatomy has been more thoroughly analyzed, and my health more thoroughly reviewed, than any other vice president in modern history.

We put out a lot of information last summer when I became a candidate. We did an extra heavy special review of my health situation before I agreed to serve as George Bush's running mate. This past week, again, we had -- the day that I went in and had the stint procedure, we had two separate briefings at the hospital by the hospital physicians; the doctors themselves were made available to the press to answer those questions.

Now, we've, I think, been very forthcoming, put out another statement just today. I was in today for the weekly follow up, everything looked good. If you're curious, my blood pressure was 106 over 80, my pulse rate was 64, my cholesterol level, last time I checked, was 174. We did more blood work today and those results will be available in a day or two.

But, the doctor's been very forthcoming and very direct. But, I prefer, frankly, to have health professionals who know and understand all of these technical details, men of stature and integrity, review the technical aspects of my health, and then comment on them.

And that's exactly what we've done. They're far more qualified, I think, to evaluate my health situation than would be the run-of-the- mill reporter.

SHAW: Well, Dick Cheney, I want to ask you two direct questions about your health.

CHENEY: Yes, sir.

SHAW: Do you brood about your heart condition?

CHENEY: No. I've lived with this, Bernie, for over 20 years, since I was 37 years old. I've had, I think, a fairly successful career in government and in the private sector after the onset of coronary artery disease. I learned to live with it a long time ago.

SHAW: Last question: Do you fear another heart attack?

CHENEY: Bernie, I don't operate that way. I think the great benefit I've had is the technology today is really phenomenal; the things that our doctors are able to do by way of dealing with coronary artery disease are much improved over what they were even three or four years ago.

And I've been uniquely blessed to have nearly 60 wonderful years now of a fascinating life. Look forward to several more years.

SHAW: Well, add more to that. That's our wish for you, Dick Cheney.

CHENEY: Thank you.

SHAW: Thanks very much for joining us.

WOODRUFF: And now let's turn back once again to our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield.

Jeff, you have been listening to the vice president and now to the man who would be vice president, thoughts? GREENFIELD: Well, let's take a look at what Al Gore had to say to John King. As you know, he's been, as John King pointed out, on a public relations offensive -- if that's the right word -- trying to blanket the airwaves, and there is one thing I think we heard tonight that I think we should pay special attention to. The tone of Al Gore all through these few days has been, I'm the reasonable person in this, I'm not claiming I won, I'm not looking for a fight, I just want the votes counted.

There was one question John King asked him where I thought we saw a hint of steel, that was about the Florida legislature, all right. He said if the Florida -- if the politicians ever tried to take the fundamental right to vote away from the people I think you would see quite a response. Because I think Al Gore knows that the -- that one of the major threats to him, even if he would win this post- certification contest, is the legislature appointed electors, and I think he was putting down a marker tonight saying, if you try that one, there will be nuclear war, or a political version thereof.

WOODRUFF: How about with Dick Cheney here, he's talked about his condition, but he still is saying that the fact that the Bush -- that the Gore people are contesting this election -- it's almost as if he's saying it's illegitimate to contest it, even though they acknowledged ahead of time that the contesting was coming.

GREENFIELD: Well, I think anybody expecting consistency from any politician, you know, I think we've got a bridge to the 21st century to sell. It is true that in all of their papers before the certification, the Bush campaign and the lawyers were saying this is the wrong time to raise these. You raise them after certification, in the contest. And they're now saying that the contest is a sign you're a sore loser and you won't face the inevitable.

Look, it's very clear what they're doing. I'm sure the Gore campaign would be doing the same thing. They have the certification in their pocket. And what they are trying to say to people is now any attempt to fight it is delaying the inevitable, you're too hungry for power, you're delaying the transition, you're weakening us around the world, the stock market will collapse.

It's a perfectly understandable political argument leaning toward inevitability: We are the guys, let us have the keys, let us in, let us plan the inaugural.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield, and we're going to come back to you in just a minute, because up next on INSIDE POLITICS, Jeff, some thoughts on how Americans might have reacted if the election had happened at some other time in history. We'll be right back.


WOODRUFF: Well, it is beginning to look a bit like Christmas at the White House. But as we near December, the president-elect still in question.

Joining us once again with some thoughts on the political situation and the public mood, our Jeff Greenfield -- Jeff.

GREENFIELD: Well, as I think we all know here on INSIDE POLITICS, the words are angry and the charges are heated. But you know, the streets are filled not with rioters but with holiday shoppers. If there is a broad sense of anger in the land, you sure can't prove it by the polls.

In fact, one way to measure the relative calm is to ask what would have happened if this bizarre post-election had happened at other times in our history.


GREENFIELD (voice-over): Imagine it was 1864, with the Civil War raging and many in the North unsure that the Union would finally triumph. Imagine a President Lincoln unsure if he had defeated ex- General McClellan. Would he have pressed on with the Civil War, or would his political weakness have led to a settlement with Jefferson Davis and a permanent end to the Union?

Think about 1932, when the Great Depression was abroad on the land, when a quarter of the population was out of work, when breadlines were a common sight, and when the far left and the far right were winning over some disillusioned Americans. What would it have meant if FDR and Herbert Hoover were struggling for the White House weeks after the election?

Or think about 1968, and an uncertain election in the wake of war in Vietnam, civil upheaval at home, assassinations. What would an election shrouded in conflict and controversy have done to a national spirit already battered by the hammer blows of that year?

But 2000? This is a time when there are no worries or threats from abroad, no obvious sources of domestic unrest, no sense of economic crisis. Compared with other eras, America is now "a hotbed of rest."


GREENFIELD: Now this may be bad news for Al Gore, because without a sense of passionate concern, even many of his supporters seem to be saying, "You know, it's not that important, Al, you might want to give it up."

But the relative contentedness of most American voters, I think, is one big reason why the public these days is looking at this political spectacle not as passionate participants, but in fact, as spectators.

It's almost like a sport they're watching. They don't feel totally wrapped up in it.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, thank you very much.

SHAW: That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, but of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's WOODRUFF: And these programming notes: Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Lieberman and Republican Senator John McCain will be among the guests tonight on LARRY KING LIVE at the 10 o'clock -- I'm sorry -- 9 o'clock Eastern. And Bernie, Jeff and I will be back at 10:00 Eastern for a one-hour special report on the Florida standoff.

I'm Judy Woodruff.

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



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