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Election 2000: Lanny Davis, C. Boyden Gray Discuss Possible End-Game

Aired December 13, 2000 - 10:55 a.m. ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Once again, if you are just joining us, Vice President Al Gore has suspend his recount operation in the state of Florida in light of last night's U.S. Supreme Court decision.

To talk more about that, we have Lanny Davis, former White House special counsel for President Clinton, and Boyden Gray, former White House counsel for President George Bush.

Gentlemen, good morning.

Lanny, first to you, is Al Gore making the right decision in calling it off at this point?

LANNY DAVIS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, first of all, I am going to let him announce his decision tonight. It sounds like he will be calling it off. But I think what he did was the right thing for both his supporter and for the American people, which was to fight for the opportunity to count every ballot that he genuinely believed had not been counted. And in the long run of history, I think that principle of fighting to count those ballots will put him in good stead.

KAGAN: Mr. Gray, and now to you, and this is all coming out of course in light of last night's U.S. Supreme Court decision. Did the court, even though it ruled for George W. Bush, do a disservice to him in the way that they ruled for him in being a split and divided court?

C. BOYDEN GRAY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I don't think so. I think on the main issue, it was 7-2, one can hope for 9-0, but I would take a 7-2 decision any time. It's a well-reasoned decision, and I think it puts the end to this in a way that has dignity and the finality. And I don't see it as a disservice at all.

Neither candidate would have come out of this in the way you would in a normal election, that's for sure, but I think that the way is now open for Gov. Bush to do the things that he needs to do to united the country and get on with his presidency.

DAVIS: May I respectfully disagree with my friend, Boyden, about the mathematics there. There were four out of nine justices that believed that the remedy should be to allow some type of counting to continue, and that the December 12th deadline was not a fixed deadline. And the 5-4 split, I think, is going to last a long time in this country's history, largely, because on Saturday, the Supreme Court, I think erroneously stopped the counting from continuing, and then last night said, if you had more time, you could continue to count with an objective standard.

That is going to be very bitter for many people who believe that this was all about stopping the count from taking place to begin with.

That being said, I think we are all ready to rally and support our next president, regardless of how all these things came to pass, and I believe that that will take place, if the vice president decides tonight to concede.

KAGAN: In the end, I am sorry. In the end, it did end up being about time. Do you think, looking back, legal scholars will look at the Bush legal team and say that their brilliance -- to use a sports analogy -- was running out of the clock?

DAVIS: Well, I think they certainly were extremely effective in their legal -- I am a lawyer, I very much admire the effectiveness. They won a lot of victories. There will be a lot of second-guessing on both sides.

But I think that the primary element of anger and bitterness that Governor Bush will have to reach out and try to reconcile when he, and if he becomes president, will be the effort from day one by the Bush forces to prevent those uncounted ballots from being counted.

They certainly had a good faith reason for arguing that those ballots were too subjective to be counted, and I don't doubt their sincerity. But there is a lot of anger in the Democratic Party in a country split down the middle. Vice President Gore did win more popular votes, and it will be a challenge that I think Governor Bush, quite frankly, will be able to meet, if he becomes president. But he's got to work at it, to overcome what is now a very disappointed one half of the country.

KAGAN: And Mr. Gray, we know what is coming, or we can assume what is coming, with Florida's very open laws. There is going to be some organizations, some journalistic organization, that is going to request under the Freedom of Information Act to look at those ballots. What if a count comes out, even been January 20th, although it wouldn't be official showing that Al Gore indeed did get more votes in the state of Florida?

GRAY: Well, it all depends on what you mean by the vote.

KAGAN: A vote.

GRAY: And I would -- a couple of points about what Lanny said, and in response to your question, to take nothing away from the brilliance of the Bush lawyers, what really cannibalized, but short the time, was the Florida Supreme Court elongating the protest period at the expense of the contest period. The contest period being, the way they construed it, more favorable to Vice President Gore. So that a problem the Florida Supreme Court created really for itself. And as for the stopping the count on Saturday, all seven justices are quite clear that whatever count had proceeded, whether it had proceeded or not, would have had to have been restarted and done all over again, according to what they ruled last night.

So I think that the stay is immaterial, irrelevant at this point, absolutely irrelevant.

KAGAN: The discussion will go on. Boyden Gray, Lanny Davis, thanks for joining us on what will end up being a historic morning. Thank you very much, gentlemen.

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