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Election 2000: Republicans Hold Edge in Senate; GOP Senator- Elect George Allen Discusses Mandate From Virginians

Aired November 8, 2000 - 8:27 a.m. ET


FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to our election coverage. We want to tell you very quickly, in the Senate, as of right now, 50 seats belong to the Republicans, 48 to the Democrats, two still up in the air. If it's 50-50, the Republicans retain control, although they're going to have a hard time doing business.

Over on the House side, 216 seats belong to the Republicans, 207 Democrats, two Independents up in the air. So far, it's a wash on the pick-up seats. We'll have more for you on that in just a bit.

But we want to go to an interview now with Senator-elect George Allen of the state of Virginia.

Senator, congratulations. How are you reading your mandate and the mandate to do business when you come to Washington, given what -- the uncertainty we've got?

GEORGE ALLEN (R) SENATOR ELECT, VIRGINIA: Well, I ran on a very positive agenda of protecting Social Security, reinvigorating our national defense, empowering parents in education, as well as making the tax code less burdensome and more fair. And so I'm going to work up in Washington for the people of Virginia, and I think you'll find that in people in many states are going to have similar concerns of their constituents. And I think we can work together.

The situation in Florida, or the presidential, has its uncertainty, but I think once it's decided, the country will come together. I believe that Gov. Bush will get elected because I think the absentee ballots will break his way in Florida. But then I think people in both parties will find common ground and move forward because that's what the people want.

SESNO: What are the American people telling you?

ALLEN: I think what the American people are saying, from what I can -- my perspective from Virginia, is I think they expect us to get rid of the marriage penalty tax. I think that they think that the self-employed and small businesses and individuals ought to get 100 percent tax deductibility for health insurance. I think they want Social Security protected, they want a wise and frugal government at the federal level, but they also want greater freedom in their own life and their own enterprises to chart their own course and build a more secure future for themselves and their families. SESNO: Senator-elect George Allen, thanks so much for your time. Have a memorable day.

ALLEN: Thank you, Frank.

SESNO: OK, as we will.

Let us run you down, then, what else is happening in the United States Senate with some of our boards that give you a sense of this race. Let us start in the state of New York where Hillary Rodham Clinton will come to the state to -- to the Capitol with something of a commanding lead that she brought out of her election; you can see there 56-44 over Rick Lazio.

Next, the extraordinary race in the state of Missouri, John Ashcroft losing to Mel Carnahan. The late Mel Carnahan died tragically in that plane crash. His seat will be taken by his wife, Jean Carnahan.

Over in the state of Washington, a very tight race, one we are still not able to call. Maria Cantwell, Democrat, challenging Slade Gorton, a conservative who has fought off tough elections in the past. This has been one the Democrats had hoped to pick up.

As is the next state we look at, Michigan, where Spence Abraham, he came in 1994, in with the Gingrich Republicans, as you recall, has been considered vulnerable by the Democrats all along, challenged by Debbie Stabenow. As you can see, she has a slim margin, but we're still not calling this one.

Over now to the state of Florida. This is a pick-up for Bill Nelson from the state of Florida, beating Bill McCollum. He had been one of the impeachment managers. The Democrats have made a great deal out of that and other facts. The state goes to the Democrats.

A pick-up in the next state, in the state of Delaware for the Democrats. A very power senator, William Roth, he brought you some of the tax cuts that you are familiar with, and not to mention the Roth IRA. He loses to Carper there, as you see. Age became a factor in this race.

Over to the state of Minnesota now where the heir of the Dayton Department Store fortune wins over Senator Rod Grams.

In New Jersey, John Corzine putting up some $65 million of his own money, beats Bob Franks, a little-known congressman there. This state -- this seat was very important for the Democrats. They hang on to it.

In the state of Nebraska, this is also one that the Democrats were biting their nails on, but they held onto the seat, Ben Nelson beating the attorney general, Stenberg, in the state of Nebraska.

In Nevada, this one a pick-up for the Republicans, John Ensign winning commandingly there. And finally in Virginia, as we just discussed with Senator-elect Allen, he's winning -- wins there, picks that state up from the Democrat, Senator Chuck Robb.

He had a tough race last time, Charlie Cook, he had a tough race this time. This time he did not prevail. A different dynamic in the Senate.

CHARLIE COOK, "COOK POLITICAL REPORT": Absolutely. You know, the fascinating thing to me is that when you look overall, you've only got four incumbents in the Senate lost, two incumbents in the entire House; 390 incumbent House members won, only two lost. And there are still eight seats still out, eight incumbent races still out. This was a great year for incumbents in the House where, you know, I think the good economy, voters very contented. It was heck of a night for incumbents.

SESNO: That's not surprising that it would be a good year, as you say, in a good economy. In fact, that was the presumption confronting the presidential candidates as well, that it should have been a good year for Al Gore.

COOK: Well, we've been -- you know, we've been predicting it for a long time, but I didn't think it was going to be that good, I mean, two of them. Wow, that's amazing.

SESNO: One of the things that we're hearing here in Washington a lot, in conversations I'm having with people, is in terms of actually getting something done, whoever the next president is -- and there's more of a prospect for a honeymoon with George W. Bush than there is with Al Gore because of the ill feeling -- that there's only going to be a narrow window to do that. The honeymoon will be short-lived and it will probably be from the State of the Union time to August recess time.

COOK: No, I think that's right. But the thing is, neither of these candidates -- neither of these presidents would -- are under any delusion that they're going to have a mandate. I mean, they know there's no question they're going to have to work with and put together strong bipartisan coalitions or they're not going to get anything done at all.

SESNO: And what does that mean for what has happened here in Washington up till now, which has been strong partisanship on Capitol Hill?

COOK: Well the thing is, each of these candidates had amazing party support. I mean, they had almost record levels of party support, and yet now they've got to be able to be able to bipartisan way.

SESNO: Charlie Cook, thanks.

Back to Carol and Leon in Atlanta. As you can see, a lot going on.


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, and lots more to talk about, too. Thanks, Frank.

LIN: Thanks, Frank.

HARRIS: We'll get back to you in just a bit.

LIN: All right, coming up now on our special day-after-election news, we are going to go live to New York. History also being made in the Senate with the first first lady ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

HARRIS: That's right, and our Frank Buckley is covering that one.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon and Carol, this is the place where the phrase "Capitol Hill" has a whole new meaning. We'll have the skinny on the New York Senate race next on EARLY EDITION.



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