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Election 2000

CNN's Bernard Shaw: Election 2000 unresolved

November 8, 2000
2:30 p.m. EDT

Bernard Shaw's Photo(CNN) – Republican presidential nominee Governor George W. Bush cautiously claimed victory November 8. However, Florida election officials are conducting a mandatory recount of the state’s votes because Bush’s lead of 1,784 votes is so narrow. If the recount confirms this lead, Bush wins the state’s 25 electoral votes and the election. Nationally, Gore leads in the popular vote count by 275,000 votes, with 48,734,682 for Gore and 48,459,592 for Bush.

Bernard Shaw is CNN’s principal Washington, D.C. anchor. He also co-anchors "Inside Politics" and "CNN WorldView" with Judy Woodruff and anchors "CNN & Time." In Election 2000, Shaw moderated several Democratic presidential debates.

Chat Moderator: Welcome to the CNN chat room, Bernard Shaw.

Bernard Shaw: Thank you.

Chat Moderator: Is the aftermath of this election going to influence the way the media covers election results, specifically the practice of calling an election based on exit polls?

Bernard Shaw: I doubt that the news media will radically change their method of real time reporting of election results. Our basic criterion is to call a race after 75 percent of the polls have closed in a given state. Clearly, the news media have been criticized for this practice. But I do not foresee the news media changing this procedure.

Question from Realist: Mr. Shaw, is there any possibility of a revote in Florida, considering the missing ballot boxes and the confusion in Palm Beach over Buchanan-Gore?

Bernard Shaw: Not to sound flippant, but under these circumstances, "anything" is possible within the realm of legality. Having said that, I do believe the state of Florida has credible election procedures and can properly and legally handle this situation -- witness the recount underway now with an outcome forecast for Thursday afternoon at approximately 5 p.m. Eastern time.

Question from JoeBob: Is it possible that the electors of Florida will give the vote to Gore, regardless of the popular vote?

Bernard Shaw: That scenario is hypothetically within the realm of possibility, but I do not think it likely. Clearly, electors can be of their own mind under this constitutional procedure, but I doubt the specter you raise would become an eventuality.

Question from Musaeva: Do you think that the Electoral College system is going to go by the wayside as a result of this election?

Bernard Shaw: No, I do not. We would have to have a monumental constitutional crisis before the Congress and the states would be driven to alter forever what clearly is an anachronism, meaning the Electoral College.

Question from Hobbes: What if, after the votes are recounted, the tally falls in Gore's favor by a small margin? Can Bush ask for yet another recount?

Bernard Shaw: I do not know the state of Florida's election laws, but it would seem to me that that would fall within the realm of possibility.

Presidential race 2000
The Electoral College

I recall that Vice President Gore's spokesman and Campaign Chairman William Daley announced early Wednesday morning that after a recount, the Gore campaign would abide by the results. That is a paraphrase of what Daley said in Nashville, Tennessee.

I am searching through my notes right now to find his precise words. I apologize, I am a bit tired after only three hours of sleep, so please bear with me. Here is the approximate quotation I refer to. William Daley said, "Until results of the recount become official, our campaign continues." That is my response to your question.

Question from KustomKitten: Do you guys think ANYTHING will get done in the next four years, given the almost even split in Congress and between candidates?

Bernard Shaw: The American people, having spoken, would not stand for legislative and congressional gridlock in Washington. Rarely will sitting members of the House and Senate be under such national scrutiny -- you can bet, uncharacteristically so. The incoming members of both chambers will be on their best and most civic behavior.

This truly is an historic moment in this great nation's history. Having been an observer of Washington for almost four decades, I cannot believe that the women and men of the incoming Congress and, for that matter, whomever the next president will be, would perform otherwise. If I sound optimistic, it is because I am.

Question from Jeter: Do you believe that this result was the worst possible for Bush -- elected without a mandate and behind in the popular vote?

Bernard Shaw: No, I do not believe this was the worst possible outcome. The worst possible outcome for Governor Bush, it seems to me, would be if he had outright lost the election.

"The American people, having spoken, would not stand for legislative and congressional gridlock in Washington."
— Bernard Shaw

As to the heart of your question, I believe Bush has to be taken at his word that he would work with Republicans and Democrats to achieve results for the people. He has called himself a "healer." If he is the eventual president, we would see.

Question from IloveNader: Do you think Gore will keep a "good loser" attitude if he loses, to keep a good image for 2004?

Bernard Shaw: Absolutely. You have to remember -- and I have covered Al Gore since the days he was in the House of Representatives -- this man was bred to be president by his parents, including his father, the late Senator Albert Gore, Senior. He respects our nation’s institutions and its political system. I submit he could not be under more intense public scrutiny than now and in the near future.

By the way, I would say the same thing about Governor Bush, given his name and his family's role in American public life.

Question from Cannon: Bernie, with the vote totals in Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin all within a few thousand of each other, are Republicans wanting to recount those states?

Bernard Shaw: I have not heard of a Republican call for a recount in those states. But we should remember that the crucial epicenter of this election’s outcome lies in those votes cast in Florida.

Chat Moderator: Thank you for joining us today, Bernard Shaw.

Bernard Shaw: It has been my pleasure.

If all of you have time, please tune into a special 90-minute edition of "Inside Politics" today at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time and also a one-hour special report at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time tonight. You can guess the subject matter.

Bernard Shaw joined the Allpolitics Chat via telephone from CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. provided a typist for him. The above is an edited transcript of the chat, which took place on Wednesday, November 7, 2000.

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