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36 Days that Gripped the Nation

Aired January 21, 2001 - 2:00 p.m. ET



BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Bill Hemmer at the CNN Center in Atlanta.

Chances are it will be a very long time before any of us think of Florida the same way again. That famous sunshine and surf now eclipsed by dimpled chad and butterfly ballots, but what a wild ride it was. And what an amazing education for all of us, but looking back now, what did we learn?

Tonight, we're hitting the rewind button -- how five amazing weeks unfolded, day by day, hour by hour, and many times, minute by minute. We begin, though, where else, with the one night everyone thought would give America its next president: November 7th, election night.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm doing great today, I feel good, I would feel better when I know that our people are going to go to the polls, and that's why I am calling.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Prior to going on the air, we had a readout of exit polling to get an idea of how the voters are voting and what they are saying when they leave the polling places. You always have to remember that the run-up has been more than a year of covering this story -- covering the candidates.

We had been on the road for a long time. Election night, November 7th, constituted our grand finale.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: It was suppose to be a close election, but you know, you never really know whether the polls are going to be right on or not.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: For the first time in 25 years, we did not know who the president was going to be, hours before we went on the air.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: In 1996, we knew at 2:00 that Bill Clinton was going to win; and in 1992 I think we knew around 5:00 that Clinton would win; we certainly knew back in '88 that Bush would be a handy winner, we knew that -- this one we did not know.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: People would come up to me, including some CNN executives, and they'd take me aside, and say, Bill, tell me, what do you really think is going to happen -- I know you can't go on record on this, but what do you really think is going to happen?

And I would say, quite honestly, you know, I don't know; and I was right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A big call to make, CNN announces that we call Florida in the Al Gore column.

GREENFIELD: This is a roadblock the size of a boulder to George W. Bush's path to the White House.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I almost immediately got a call from George Bush's top political strategist just screaming, you guys called this race, you know, before the panhandle polls; you are wrong, you are wrong.

Boy, you begin to look at those other big battleground states: Pennsylvania, Michigan -- they become so much more important now.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This, a major boost for the Gore campaign, a cheer going up here in Nashville.

It was a strange night -- I mean, it was a cold, rainy night, there was a crowd waiting for Gore, and I stopped about halfway through the night trying to find any adjectives to describe it, because I did not think there were any.

The results in Florida have got to be bittersweet for the Bush family -- of course the brother of Governor Bush -- the sitting governor in Florida.

MARY MATALIN, CNN HOST: There were a half million absentee ballots out there; I'm just telling you, that state's going to flip.

MATALIN: And I do remember Governor Bush saying, something to the effect: I am not sure we have our own information.

BUSH: ...we believe we have enough evidence to be able to call the state.

WOODRUFF: And about the same time, Karl Rove, Bush's chief strategist, telling us in an interview:

I listened to that -- we all did and we thought, well, is this partisan spin?

SCHNEIDER: Little did we know, that the fact is -- that they had real serious reasons to express those sentiments, and that became apparent very quickly.

GREENFIELD: George Bush has got to win Ohio, he's got Tennessee and Arkansas, he has got to win Missouri -- these projections are not infallible; there are times when the networks have to eat a hearty portion of crow. And I was saying on the air, at that moment, you know, sometimes we have to eat the crow at those predictions. At that moment, Bernie comes in and says we're taking Florida off the table, which is when I piped up with,

Oh, waiter -- one order please.

It needs to be said, I think, that part of the problem was that everybody got complacent about the accuracy of these polls.

CROWLEY: I think that you can hear the crowd reaction.

SCHNEIDER: My God, this is incredible, we are pulling back Florida. We pulled back calls in a few other cases in the past, but a big one like this in Florida -- that was a real surprise.

Then, all of a sudden, everything was unknown, the end of the night was unknown, we did not know where in the world things were going, or how long this was going to last.

SHAW: The United States has a new president; he is the Texas governor, George Walker Bush.

WOODRUFF: I remember being focused on what Hal Bruno (ph) and some other people were telling us, that these votes were still coming in, and then, it seemed like 20 minutes later, we called Florida for Bush, at 2:18 in the morning.

And I remember thinking, how did this happen so quickly? These people who are doing these calculations must have, you know, they must really have a crystal ball that is working now.

KING: Talk to me please. Hey, Gore called Bush -- he is going to concede in a speech here.

There were gasps of no, screams of no, their faces quite glum.

And people started moaning, groaning and booing, and a lot of them started turning around, looking at where we were at the platform -- we knew that the speech guy -- the body guy had come out with the speech and fed it into the teleprompter, so the concession speech was ready to go.

The five minutes becomes 10 minutes, becomes 15 minutes, and we're all working the phones furiously, and then we reported that there was some communication going on. So then, Candy pops up.

CROWLEY: And the producer hands me the phone, and the source says to me, the vice president has just called the governor and retracted his concession -- and I said OK, and it took me three times -- I mean, I felt like it was some Biblical thing, tell me that again, are you sure?

Because it is one of stories that you think -- and I knew nobody else had it, so that was a very exciting time, but you are almost scared of it. SCHNEIDER: That was the most memorable moment of the evening. That is when I believe I audibly gasped and said, I don't believe this.

GREENFIELD: We are in a state of political suspended animation.

CROWLEY: At the governor's mansion, they are trying to figure this out at the moment.

WOODRUFF: Don Evans, a long time close friend of George W. Bush.

DON EVANS, BUSH FRIEND: They are still counting, they're still counting, and I am confident, when it's all said and done, we will prevail.

SHAW: It's not over. It's simply not over.


HEMMER: I went on the air on my regular shift at 9 a.m. the next morning, tired from the night before, but just like, wow! We are suppose to get a president, right? That is why we have this national election, and that is what everybody thought -- but clearly, this was not the normal election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple of hours later, the "Miami Herald" comes out with Not Over Yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Certainly an accurate headline this morning, we don't know where things stand.

SCHNEIDER: I think Bush initially made a mistake in assuming that he had won.

BUSH: Secretary Cheney and I have carried the state of Florida.

SCHNEIDER: It looked very presumptuous -- he seemed to be going about the business of setting up his transition.

He got the message very quickly and decided to lay off, and he stayed in the background, very wisely, letting Gore look like the guy who was desperate to recount the ballots and to win, and was pushing this along.

AL GORE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We still do not know the outcome of yesterday's vote. This matter must be resolved expeditiously.

GREENFIELD: The Gore we saw in the post-election was the Gore that everybody saw, for better or worse, in the election, -- kind of, at pains to make an appearance that did not seem to comport with reality. You know, I'm just here playing touch football with my family; I'm just going out to the movies. When everybody knew he was running -- gaming the strategy, saying these things like, it is not about me, it is about the process -- well, you know, it is about you. KING: Under the law, the original recounts is the machine recount. You take all of those ballots back out of the boxes and you run them back through the machine.

ROGER COSSACK, CNN ANALYST: And that's when most of us for the first time in our life, heard the word chad.

C-H-A-D, I believe -- right?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We had a lot of retirees saying, I think I accidently voted for Pat Buchanan.

Some of them had a little emotion about it, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You might think this count would take place behind closed doors -- indeed it is, but there are lots of windows in the room too, so you can get a live look at this historical count in progress.

They decided to count 1 percent of the total ballots by hand -- here they were, sitting in this room, holding up the ballots to the light, trying to see if the sunlight was coming in, and realizing that if they found a big change in the amount of votes, they would decide to count all 100 percent of the counties votes.

The one image I will always remember about the post election period of the year 2000, is this. Looking at the chads.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were actually 3 types of chads that are being counted as a vote. Hanging chad...

COSSACK: And we got into this issue -- do you count the hanging chads, the one corner chads, the dimpled chads, and how is it that you decide which one is a vote for who, by using the phrase, the intent of the voter?

JAMES BAKER, OBSERVER FOR BUSH CAMPAIGN: I would like to introduce the senior members of the litigation team.

CROWLEY: George Bush hired as good of lawyers that he could get, and said, OK, here is what I want to you do -- I want you to go down to Florida and fix this mess and let me know how it's going.

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Florida, hurricane country, they're saying, this is the eye of the hurricane.

There's no singular star in this, and they came in due west, dancing different dances.

QUESTION: Are you safe saying that there is a legal fight ensuing in this race?

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Already, there's been suits filed and I would imagine, this will continue for a while, as it should. KAREN HUGHES, BUSH CAMPAIGN: I don't think anyone thinks that a lengthy and protracted -- scores of lawyers, endless legal battles, will have a reasonable or foreseeable conclusion what will be healthy for the country.

TONY CLARK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bush, we are told, has given Baker the authority to challenge a hand count of the ballots in Florida.

KING: Remember how critical they had been -- it was Al Gore and his lawyers suing to steal an election and all of a sudden you had George Bush's team, you know, preparing to go to a lot of courts.

BOETTCHER: The legal strategy was very simple. For the Democrats, it was count the vote.

WARREN CHRISTOPHER, OBSERVER FOR THE GORE CAMPAIGN: What we are doing is a constitutional process, there is no constitutional crisis.

BOETTCHER: For the Republicans, it was the vote has been counted -- let's certify it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We ask there be no further recounts of already recounted ballots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary of state told Warren Christopher in the meeting that the election will be certified at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow.

KATHERINE HARRIS, FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: We will all remember these times.

HEMMER: Katherine Harris, secretary of state, was a woman who was on the hot seat from the word go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not someone who is not interested in the outcome of this. She was one of the Governor Bush's campaign chairs.

They had a campaign to vilify her as a partisan hack who was delivering the state for the Bush brothers, with whom she was very close.

KING: In Katherine Harris, they saw the first opportunity to swing the political debate. And to say, what's the hurry? We are only trying to count votes; why would George Bush's crony want to shut down the counts of the votes?

So, there were anonymous phone calls from Gore aides and leading Democrats saying, you know, she campaigned for George Bush in New Hampshire.

SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R), TENNESSEE: The Gore spokesmen have called her a hack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Katherine Harris is a fine lady and they should lay off of her. We entered the action in asking the court to stop the secretary of state from ending the vote counting over night.

GORE: I would not want to win the presidency by a few votes cast in error, and I don't think that Governor Bush wants that, either.

HARRIS: In the race for the president of the United States, these certified results...

COSSACK: So she goes ahead and certifies him -- the question then becomes, what happens to these votes that have not been counted?

The Democrats go to court and say, we wish the vote counting can continue.

DAVID BOIES, GORE ATTORNEY: This court certainly has the power to say, what we are going to do is tell the county boards that you've got this amount of time to complete your recount.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we think that the process is highly subjective, subject to mischief.

COSSACK: The Florida Supreme Court agreed unanimously, in a very short period of time, with the Democratic side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The right of the people to cast their vote is the paramount concern overriding all others. The opinion of the court is unanimous; thank you, and I will not be taking any questions.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: When the Florida Supreme Court said the certification date will not be November 14th, one week after the elections statute said, we're moving it to November 26th, the Republicans claimed that was changing the rules.

BAKER: It is simply not fair, ladies and gentlemen to change the rules, either in the middle of the game, or after the game has been played.

VAN SUSTEREN: And what the Democrats said was, no, that the Supreme Court was simply using its equitable powers.

GORE: We will move forward now with a full, fair and accurate count of the ballots in question.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you had the two tensions between the two sides at all times during this litigation -- was it creating rules or was it interpreting rules? And that was the problem.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay two minutes to me -- can you send our runner up-stairs to find out exactly what vote count they mean?

Good evening, a major decision has been issued; the Miami-Dade canvassing board has decided now to consider only the so-called undercount. FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When they made that decision, Republicans were outraged. They already felt that this process was skewed against them, they were angry, and that's when they went upstairs to begin their protest.

Those Republican observers who were protesting upstairs were trying to get into the area where the canvassing board was moving its votes to observe what was going on.

They were not being allowed in.

I went up the elevator and I will not forget, as the elevator opened onto the 19th floor, the sound that changed for me, from the quiet of an elevator to the roar of a protest taking place outside of the elevator doors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you getting the feeling this is out of control, or -- this seems unusual; everything has been pretty calm to this point.

BUCKLEY: Well, these are the observers who have been a part of this process who are now being told they were no longer needed.

This made the Republicans very angry. And it also gave them ammunition to say, this is being done behind closed doors, this is wrong, there is a chance for fraud here.

I talked to people from Alabama, and Texas, and Tennessee, and Ohio, and Illinois.

HEMMER: And they all flooded down into Florida, and traveled around and moved around, and showed up when it became critical in the story to make sure their voice was being heard.

Whether it was recounts in Broward, recounts in Palm Beach, recounts in possibilities in Miami-Dade, big court decisions in Tallahassee, they all flooded in to town.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a time to honor the rule of law, not surrender to the rule of the mob.

Dear Secretary of State Harris, your consideration of our request to extend the deadline for final submission of this hand count until Monday, November 27th at 9:00 a.m. would be greatly appreciated.

HEMMER: Getting confirmation now to secretary of state's office here in Tallahassee -- was told that vote counters down in Palm Beach that the extension of that deadline will not happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your request for filing an amended certification after 5:00 p.m. today is denied.

TUCHMAN: The Palm Beach County canvassing board ended up being very frustrated, because they spent days and days counting these votes. GREENFIELD: The smartest thing Katherine Harris did -- looking back on it, I think it was the absolute pivotal moments of the event, was that ceremony of certification.

HARRIS: The certified result of the presidential race in Florida is as follows. Governor George W. Bush, 2,912,790. Vice President Al Gore, 2,912,253.

KING: So Katherine Harris signs those papers. George W. Bush is the winner again. It is the headline, at least its how they believe people will hear it.

SCHNEIDER: Having heard 3 times that Bush had won, they got the impression that Bush had won and had been certified -- they saw it happen, and that Gore was desperately pursuing a recount.

BUSH: The election was close, but after tonight after a count, a recount, and yet another manual recount, 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.

GORE: A vote is not just a piece of paper, a vote is the human voice; a statement of human principle, and we must not let those voices be silenced.

FRANK SESNO, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU: Al Gore, the fight song, which we heard repeatedly through the campaign, prior to that, had been somewhat generic. Who was he really fighting for? Now, he was fighting for a principle, for every vote to be counted as he said it, and for some key and important core Democratic voters.

KING: Time is running short, the public opinion polls -- now even a large chunk of Gore voters, are saying it is time to shut it down, and so they, their strategy has to change now, and you're going from protesting the election to contesting the election.

GORE: So, as provided under Florida law, I have decided to contest this inaccurate and incomplete count, in order to ensure the greatest possible credibility for the outcome.

KING: The calculation was made that we are hemorrhaging, and we need to get the vice president out to make the case that, this is not over, don't bail out yet. And to try to do that with a tone, that came across as, look, all I want is to count every vote.

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

CROWLEY: The Bush team during the time Al Gore was, as they called it in the Bush camp, "all Al all the time." They felt very strongly that they needed to keep George Bush -- he did not need to be out there.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On the one hand we were criticized for being too forward leaning and now, you suggest, maybe we are too laid back, and then I would suggest, you cannot have it both ways.

CROWLEY: Appearances were very scarce after that initial, OK, it has been certified, and Al Gore went on the offense. All George Bush needed to do was to sit back and keep planning transition, and that's what he did.

WOODRUFF: Lawyers for Al Gore are in court at this hour, seeking a recount of some 13,000 questionable ballots. Gore wants a state judge to order a hand recount of disputed ballots in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.

TUCHMAN: So, you have this relatively small courthouse in Tallahassee, Florida, which normally deals with county business -- which was now in the business of helping decide who the president of the United States was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would also appreciate if possible to have some help unloading the transfer boxes. I believe there will be 167 of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our clerk is not that big.


HEMMER: Sanders Sauls was a judge on the circuit level, who I believe served as our comic relief. He was always there for a good one-liner.

SAULS: You know, I really like that guy.

HEMMER: Sanders Sauls had a quote that6 we picked up on, that we thought was quite simply the funniest line we had heard. He said, all these motions you men are filing at me, make me feel like I'm getting nibblerd to death by a duck.

BOETTCHER: So that became basically our mantra: We're being nibbled to death by ducks.

DAVID BOIES, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: They can send up the ballots that are contested right now. We can't think of any need to hold up our ballots, the contested ballots, which are a few thousand in each case, for the hundreds of thousands of other ballots.

SAULS: I'm going to leave it to them. What do you all want to do down there? Do you want to send up two times, or you want to do it once? It's your call.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One time from Miami.

SAULS: One time it is. All right, that's it.

HEMMER: So more than 1 million votes were loaded aboard trucks, a truck treked from South Florida to the state capital of Tallahassee and arrived at -- people throuhout the United States watched all throughout the day. GREENFIELD: There's always a moment in these things, no matter how high or low the story, when there's a playful spirit at work. Well in the case of the Ryder truck, it's, this is television, all news all the time, at it's siliest. That is, you point your camera at something of no consequentiality unless somebody -- unless the truck had been hijacked by agents of the Gore or Bush campaigns. Now because you point a camera at it and talk about it on live TV, it has to be important.

BOETTCHER: You know, it's something that the critics will harp on, here's this Ryder rider truck and whatever. But, you know, it was -- heck, bottom line it was good television.




SESNO: Charles, quite a day.

BIERBAUER: Yes, it is, Frank, unlike anything I've ever seen here at the Supreme Court.

Outside the court, you had a First Amendment exercise going on, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly.

PROTESTERS: Get out of Cheney's house.

BIERBAUER: So there was some street theater, but it was street theater in the pursuit of democratic free speech.

SESNO: That day was one of, you know, great anticipation, great drama really, and also a strange sense that people would hear these disembodied voices, these kind of people from on high, that they don't see, never interviewed, they're not elected, but who is some ways, for that period of time anyway, were the most powerful people in the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God save the United States and this honorable court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How could it make a difference? What's the consequence of our going one way or another now in this case?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, some of these counties that have an enormous number of votes to conduct their manual recount.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's only about the Florida election votes.

BIERBAUER: In the first arguments probably the telltale note when Justice Ginsberg said:

RUTH BADER GINSBERG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: I suppose it would be a possibility for this court to remand for clarification. BIERBAUER: And I remember noting that down saying, is this a hint as to what they are going to do?

SESNO: And shortly, I believe, if not already, Roger Cossack, who is in the courtroom, he's going to be talking to us very shortly. But first...

COSSACK: So I left. I go outside, I run down the steps of the United States Supreme Court and I'm handed a microphone. And the next thing I'm told is to start talking about what I've seen.

SESNO: Roger, good day to you. What can you tell us? What did you hear? Your our first connection with what's going on in there.

COSSACK: Frank, it was an incredibly dramatic day. At 10:01 we heard Justice Rehnquist announce the case and introduce Mr. Ted Olson, who argued on behalf of the Bush team.

BIERBAUER: It was extraordinary to have an opportunity to transmit and listen to those tapes directly after the arguments.

LAWRENCE TRIBE, GORE ATTORNEY: They were acting in conflict with one part of statute. But the...


BIERBAUER: They were on a fast track. The arguments were on a Friday. Normally it's weeks, if not months, until an opinion comes out. But they knew the deadlines.

HEMMER: We are awaiting now two what could be rather significant rulings in this race for the White House. The U.S. Supreme Court could rule at any time.

SCHNEIDER: This is an audience...

KAGAN: Bill, I'm going to have to go in and interrupt you. I mean,I know that was a huge moment, but it looks like we have a huge moment right now coming out of the U.S. Supreme Court. Just getting word from the Associated Press that the U.S. Supreme Court has set aside the ruling on hand-counted votes in Florida.

BIERBAUER: Manual recounts of ballots in the certification of the recount results. Pardon me for being out of breath. We're actually all sitting in the courtroom listening to arguments in another case when a person from the press office came through and handed this to us.

VAN SUSTEREN: And the first one was rather a short opinion. And it was very clear, at least if you quickly paged to the end -- I had two pages. I think -- mine was a two-page printout. But anyway, if you quickly flipped to the end, you could see that as a remand. In other words, the United States Supreme Court, it appeared, ducked the issue. They said to the Florida Supreme Court, look, we don't know how you decided this case. We're sending it back to you. Figure it out and send it back to us.

COSSACK: What I think it meant and signaled at the time was there was great divisiveness on the United States Supreme Court and that in many ways they could not quite figure out an answer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The honorable M. Sander Sauls presiding.

SAULS: Please be seated.

TUCHMAN: When he walked into court and very seriously made it very clear that Al Gore had gotten nothing that he came for and that George W. Bush was a complete victor in his courtroom.

SAULS: In this case, there is no credible statistical evidence to establish a reasonable probability that the results of the statewide election in the state of Florida would be different from the result which has been certified by the state elections canvassing commission.

QUESTION: Mr. Boies, will you appeal.

BOIES: We're doing it right now.

TUCHMAN: Al Gore's attorney rushed their appeal -- and I mean rushed, like a road runner across a field -- to the Florida Supreme Court, knowing this was their last shot.

VAN SUSTEREN: Everyone and his uncle thought that Vice President Al Gore was dead in the water, because Judge Sanders Sauls had written this opinion that seemed pretty locked.

J. KING: There are some Democrats beginning to get nervous. They did a pretty good job, and Bill Daley deserves a lot of credit for this and Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle deserve a great deal of credit for this, of rallying the troops and saying, let's not go off the reservation.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: I think everybody wants a fair and accurate count.

HEMMER: Day 30 and again we sit here and wait.

BOIES: My name is David Boies.

Before David Boies had almost gotten out of his mouth good morning, Chief Justice Wells was all over him.

CHARLES T. WELLS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF FLORIDA: ... shall recount, manually recount, all the ballots.

BOIES: What the Dade County board had done is to say...

SESNO: By late in that week, there was a universal sense, you know, this was just going to be an enormously difficult thing to turn around. It was probably over. I actually spoke to one Democrat who flat out said I hope the Supreme Court just comes, the Florida state Supreme Court, comes out and ends it for Al Gore and says no recount. He said it will be clean that way. It will be over with that way, and we can move on.

FRAZIER: The next big step in all this presidential recount action comes in the Florida state Supreme Court, and this is the scene there, where it looks like might be getting ready to say something.

WOODRUFF: We're sitting there and thinking we knew something was going to come down but we didn't know when.

GREENFIELD: My assumption was that the thing was wrapping up, and everybody was saying, well, we've got a couple more days. We've got to let Gore play it out. You know, the Democrats were saying we'll give him his time. But right -- throughout the whole thing, almost nobody ever had a sense that Gore could actually prevail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By a vote of 4-3, the majority of the court has reversed the decision of the trial court in part. It has further ordered that the circuit court of the 2nd Judicial Circuit here in Tallahassee shall immediately begin a manual recount of the approximately 9,000 Miami-Dade ballots that registered undervotes.

GREENFIELD: You're sitting there in New York watching this report, and I actually did this. I went -- I was like "Home Alone" -- because I suddenly started thing, OK, now we are really in a situation where the fertilizer's going to hit the air conditioner.

SCHNEIDER: Holy mother of God, what are we going do now? That was truly astonishing because it looked as if everything was unraveling for Al Gore and it looked as if the recount had been shut down, which oit had been at that point.

GREENFIELD: And you looked at the math and you thought, my god, the lead is now down to whatever it was 160 votes. Miami-Dade's going to be ordered to recount.

DALEY: It is a victory for fairness and accountability.

BAKER: This is what happens when for the first time in modern history a candidate resorts to lawsuits to try to overturn the outcome of an election for president.

GREENFIELD: Now you're talking about possibility of two slates of electors, of a recount that gives Gore the lead, of the Florida state Supreme Court by writ of Mandamus ordering the governor to sign -- to certify a slate for Gore, a state legislature then stepping in and saying it's going to be a Bush slate, a fight in the Congress on January 6th the likes of which we haven't seen for 125 years, literally.

So that moment was the moment when I thought, all right, now you're in -- I think I said on the air, we have now left the gravitational pull of planet Earth.




BOETTCHER: I went to the library where they were starting to count in Tallahassee. And along the way, I ran into Clay Roberts, the head of the division of elections for Florida. He's walking real fast and I'm walking real fast. I said, Clay, where are you going? He goes, I'm going over here to find Terry Cass, the administrator of the courts, because I've got every county in Florida sending me e-mails screaming at me, we're here ready to count, what do we do?

HEMMER: The greater majority of the counting is going to be conducted based on these so-called "punch-card ballots."

So all these observers start coming into the library in Leon County. And the observers sit down, and about 9:00 in the morning the boxes are opened, and they start doing what we had seen done so many times in southeastern Florida, they were counting ballots again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am looking for technical guidance.

HEMMER: The Republicans were saying, no, this is not fair, because there are no standards in the state.

Your thoughts on what we're seeing on CNN today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're seeing chaos.

FRANKEN: The action requested by the Bush camp is that the recount is stopped.

COSSACK: They go to the court and they say, we want an emergency stay.

TUCHMAN: By all account, things are going very smoothly in Leon County. They counted almost half of the Miami-Dade ballots and it surprisingly to some showed a net gain for George W. Bush. Then they made an announcement: We may be stopping the count. Keep counting, but we'll know more in five minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have stayed the recount at this point.

HEMMER: It was almost as if when the U.S. Supreme Court came out and said, stop, put your hands on the table and walk out of the room, literally people are picking up ballots and almost in slow motion putting them back on the table.

PAM IORIO, HILLSBOROUGH ELECTIONS SUPERVISOR: The Supreme Court has just stop the process, and so, hey, another day in the life of the 2000 election.

GREENFIELD: Whatever you think about that ruling, just as a matter of analysis you'd have to look at that and say, boy, it's going to be real tough for Gore to get anything going now, because the one thing that he had to have happen he never got. He never got a recount in motion that at any point would have to said to the country, Al Gore actually is in the lead in Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should have finished the vote when they had it started. The only way we'd ever know, the only way we'll have justice. This is terrible.

VAN SUSTEREN: The important thing for the Bush team, though, in getting stay is that they got a tip from the United States Supreme Court.

The tip is that we think you have a really good argument because the court also said we think you're likely to prevail on the merits. When the Gore campaign heard or read those words, the Gore campaign knew they were in big trouble.

REHNQUIST: George W. Bush and Richard Cheney versus Albert Gore.

BIERBAUER: All of us had a feeling that this had to be the real answer, not just the interim response that the court gave the first time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are different standards for evaluating those...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There must be a uniform standard.

BOIES: The question is whether that standard is too general or not.

COSSACK: I understood clearly from listening to those arguments that there was a great concern among members of the court about the equal protection argument.

BOIES: The standard is whether or not the intent of the voter is reflected by the ballot. That is the uniform standard throughout...

KENNEDY: That's very general. It runs throughout the law. Even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked.

COSSACK: If certain votes are counted one way in one county and they're not counted the same way in another county, aren't those votes that aren't counted that way, don't they count less than the other person's votes? The Supreme Court was clearly concerned about that.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... is going to come out...

HEMMER: ... the Supreme Court of Florida...

VAN SUSTEREN: My colleagues madly going through the decision.

BIERBAUER: ... is reversed...

As I passed the door of the press officer, she said, page 13. By this time, I was on the fly, cell phone in one hand, opinion in the other hand.

I'm going to have to extract that. Why don't you to talk to Ken while I look for it.

SHAW: And I remember saying to Charles on the air, in effect, take your time. And what I was signaling to him was don't be intimidated by the fact that we're on live, worldwide television.

Listen to this language from the justices...

BIERBAUER: ... without substantial additional work.

SCHNEIDER: ... without substantial additional work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The safe harbor date is really December -- is today.

GREENFIELD: You run smack against the calendar.

COSSACK: You have to come up with a standard...

I was the guy freezing in front of the United States Supreme Court

... that satisfies the equal protection class.

BIERBAUER: What the justices said was, it's going to be almost impossible. You'll have to make changes. You'll have to do things that have not foreseen. You'll have to institute accounting procedures statewide, you'll have to institute some form of checks on that, you'll have to have judiciary review. We don't think can you do it. We, in essence, urge you not try.

CROWLEY: The sense of confidence that this is indeed a victory for George W. Bush.

It didn't take the Bush team long to realize they had gotten what they believed was a total victory out of the Supreme Court.

BAKER: This has been a long and arduous process.

CROWLEY: But it now becomes a political problem. OK, we've won in the U.S. Supreme Court, but they don't have concession from Al Gore. So how do you get a concession from Al Gore? You do what the Bush team had been doing for the past week or so, which was to back off, back off, back off.

BAKER: Thank you, and good evening.

CROWLEY: They wanted to be off the stage and to give it to Al Gore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The vice president has ordered the recount committee to suspend all activities and that there will be a statement this evening from the vice president.

GREENFIELD: Once freed of any notion he was going to win, he gave an incredibly gracious and funny and loose speech.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening. Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States. And I promised him that I wouldn't call him back this time.

GREENFIELD: And everybody said after, gee, how come he didn't give those kind of speeches when he was running for president.

GORE: For the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.

J. KING: Lost and he really believes he should have won.

GORE: And now, my friends, in a phrase I once addressed to others, it's time for me to go.

J. KING: They are doing the autopsy, and he even during the recount, even before he concedes and gets out, suddenly realizes something that people have been -- people including the president of the United States -- have been warning him about for eight years: Tennessee.

BLITZER: In the end, Al Gore has to blame himself for losing this election, because he did not carry his home state of Tennessee. If he would have carried Tennessee, Florida would have been irrelevant. He would have been next president of the United States.

CROWLEY: The fact is the drama was Al Gore's.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's my honor to introduce to you...

CROWLEY: What usually is the ultimate speech of a campaign, and that is either the concession or the victory speech...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the president-elect of the United States, the honorable George W. Bush.

CROWLEY: ... in this case, more than a month later, was reduced to a scene setter really.

You know, the time for confetti and crowds and posters -- in fact there were signs as you went into this chamber, the House chamber of the Texas legislature where he gave this speech saying no posters, no hooting. They wanted it almost like a State of the Union address.

BUSH: Our country has been through a long and trying period.

SCHNEIDER: I saw a reassuring presence, which is what he intended to do in that speech, to try to bring the country together, to play the role that he had always described for himself, to be a uniter and not a divider.

BUSH: Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interests and I will work to earn your respect.

BLITZER: I think people will tend to say, he's the president of the United States, let's see what he can do, and give him a break. The fact that he lost the popular vote and that there is this asterisk next to Florida, you know, that's irrelevant right now. He is the president, he's going to be the president for four years. He's putting together a strong Cabinet, let's see how he can govern and let's see if he can get the job done.


HEMMER: And so we move away now from Election 2000. But there will be plenty of new stories and new faces and new lessons to learn. At times it may have seemed that Election 2000 was one endless civics class. But hopefully, we're all a bit smarter now about our elections, our courts, and our country.

It sure was a wild ride. I'm Bill Hemmer. And thanks for watching.



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