Tony Clark: Bush camp endures letdown, but fights on
CNN National Correspondent Tony Clark is reporting from Austin, Texas, on the
presidential campaign of Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Q: Does the Bush camp feel like it’s been hit with a sledgehammer?
CLARK: One thing the Bush campaign has learned over the last month is not to take
anything for granted. And this was a day when they thought everything was going their
way. One aide out of Florida told me, “Two down, one to go,” after the Martin and
Seminole County cases were thrown out. There was partying going on at the Republican
Party headquarters in Tallahassee. You could hear the excitement after the circuit court
decisions in the press room at the campaign headquarters in Austin.
Everyone was upbeat within the Bush camp. And it was shortly after the circuit court
decisions came down that we found out there was going to be a state Supreme Court
ruling. There was anticipation and hope within the Bush camp that this was finally
coming to an end. Immediately after the state Supreme Court ruling, there was a sense of
letdown, but determination to move right ahead and go ahead with the appeal.
The Bush campaign has tried to learn to take these things one at a time. Even though they
felt good about the arguments before the state Supreme Court, they are ready to move on
and fight this current decision.
Q: Were they at least pleased that the state Supreme Court ordered a statewide recount of
the undervotes, rather than just counting in the selected Democratic counties the Gore
team had hoped?
CLARK: The Bush campaign has said all along that the Gore campaign was picking just
the Democratic strongholds for the recount. One of the things they had argued was that if
the state was going to count the votes, it needed to be done statewide.
But the Bush camp had also argued that they did not believe it was in the purview of the
Florida Supreme Court to count votes. Barry Richard, their lead attorney, argued that the
Florida Supreme Court had the authority to review appeals from lower courts, but it does
not have the authority to count votes. That’s why the Bush camp is especially
disappointed: By a 4-3 vote, that’s exactly what the Florida Supreme Court ordered to
Q: Describe the range of emotions the Bush camp has gone through Friday.
CLARK: Earlier in the day, we were hearing things like, ‘It’s a great delight to hear those
circuit rulings’ or ‘we are obviously pleased.’
They felt had they gotten the state Supreme Court in their favor it would have been
enough to force the vice president to concede defeat. Now, it’s being looked at as one
more hurdle that they’re going to have to deal with.
They’re ready to fight this.