Republicans call Florida recounts 'slow-motion grand larceny'
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Infuriated by Florida's Supreme Court decision allowing manual recounts of presidential ballots to be added to the state's final election tally, Republicans are expressing outrage over what they view as an effort to reverse an election they firmly believe George W. Bush has already won.
Without the recounts, Bush has an official statewide lead of 930 votes. But there are thousands of challenged ballots that could tip the scales.
One top Republican describes the recounts as "slow-motion grand larceny."
In a rally-the-troops conference call with the Bush campaign Wednesday, several senators said flatly that Democrats are trying to steal the election.
There was wide support for Bush to fight to the finish. One Republican said "primal forces of nature" have been unleashed.
Republicans fume that so-called dimpled ballots, which bear an impression but no clear punch-out, are being counted. They contend the Florida Supreme Court, where all justices were appointed during the terms of Democratic governors, is politically tainted and has embraced unbridled judicial activism.
"It truly was obvious that this court was joining in an effort to try to take this election away from Governor Bush," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-New Mexico.
Atmosphere called venomous
Republicans say they have never felt the atmosphere so venomous. Conversations with reporters are often laced with anger and profanity. They say it's far worse than during the dark days of impeachment. Then, there was a measure of somber decorum among many members. And now?
"Here there is a sense that the very fundamental fabric of our democracy may be under attack and that an election may be slipping away from the real result that the people chose because of clever court tactics or delaying tactics," said Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah.
With the courts involved, the Florida legislature weighing its options and the standoff potentially headed for the U.S. Congress, many say the nation could be facing an unprecedented, unpredictable scenario.
Dislike for Gore
One worried GOP elder said, "We're in a downward spiral. I don't know where this is going to go. ..."
The animosity on the part of many Republicans is reinforced by their dislike of Al Gore, his association with Bill Clinton and eight years of bad-blood politics.
It's getting so ugly that one veteran Republican said he was approached by a respected Democrat who proposed they issue a joint call for calm, a middle way out of this. The idea never got off the ground. The Republican said events and passions overtook the idea.