Jonathan Karl: Gore's new lease on life
CNN Correspondent Jonathan Karl is in Washington, monitoring the presidential
campaign of Vice President Al Gore.
Q: Describe the roller-coaster ride of the Gore team over the past week.
KARL: Itís unbelievable. They were pronounced dead earlier this week. Judge N. Sanders Sauls ruling was seen as the end of the campaign. One Democrat on Capitol Hill had said, ĎIf the fat lady isnít singing, sheís at least clearing her throat.í
Now, it looks like Al Gore has a new lease on life, a new chance here.
But again, itís a roller coaster. Right now, the Gore team is on a high, but theyíve got several very significant hurdles ahead of them. This is by no means the end of the road. This just means they live to fight another day.
Itís obviously a clear victory for the vice president, but he has several more hurdles he has to get over.
The vice presidentís team has spent a great deal of time preparing for this moment, preparing for what would happen if Gore won the case. The first order of business is that they anticipate George W. Bushís team will file an immediate injunction to stop the counting while they take their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Even before they heard this decision, the Gore team was preparing for that injunction and preparing to insist that the counting must start now.
Even if the counting does begin, the big question raised by this decision is: Can it be done before December 12, the deadline for when states have to have their slate of electors chosen? (That deadline will be even tougher to meet) now that the state Supreme Court has opened the door for the statewide manual recount of all undervotes to begin. That will take a lot longer than simply recounting votes in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.
Q: What has the Gore team done to prepare for the manual recount?
KARL: The Gore campaign already has had in place a team of about two dozen people to serve as the Democratic observers of this recount. Theyíve already been trained and prepared for this possibility.
Q: However, were they prepared for a statewide manual recount of undervotes?
KARL: No. The anticipation had been that this would simply be a recount of the undervotes in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties. So, a big question is whether those two dozen people on that team will be enough for what may have to be done.
There is also the question of further legal action. The Gore team knows that there are many hurdles to overcome still. It has the hurdle of a Supreme Court challenge to this; they know they will have to fight their case vigorously before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Finally, if they win all the legal challenges, thereís the question of whether Al Gore will win with a statewide recount. They donít know the answer to that, but they anticipate he would win. They think thereís enough votes for Gore in the undervote, but they just donít know.
Q: What does the Gore team expect the Florida state legislature to do?
KARL: The Gore team has tapped Walter Dellinger, the former U.S. solicitor general, to prepare an extensive legal response to what they think the Florida state legislature will do.
They think the state legislature will come back in its special session and name its own electors, and that they will be Bush electors. So, what the Gore team will do is immediately challenge that in the courts, right up to the Supreme Court. Theyíve already prepared their briefs and gotten ready for that possibility.
Thereís also the possibility that this all ends up with the U.S. Congress. The U.S. Supreme Court could say the matter of a disputed presidential election is not up to us, and turn it over to Congress to decide. If that happens, thatís part of Dellingerís portfolio: To figure out how to wage that battle before the U.S. Congress.