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Election 2000: Presidential Race Still Too Close to Call, Officials Recounting Florida Vote

Aired November 8, 2000 - 10:00 p.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: History on hold.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Last night was obviously a historic moment, and it's going to be resolved in a quick way.



AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We still do not know the outcome of yesterday's vote, and I realize that this is an extraordinary moment for our democracy.


ANNOUNCER: Who becomes the next president comes down to one state: It's all riding on Florida's recount.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No American will ever be able to seriously say again, "My vote doesn't count."


ANNOUNCER: But with the electoral college, does it really count?


JIM NICHOLSON, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Should it turn out that Governor Bush wins the electoral vote and not the popular vote, that would be a very rare event but certainly not unprecedented outcome.


ANNOUNCER: A look at why some say this American tradition needs to be updated.

Plus, the evolving power structure on Capitol Hill: from Senator- Elect Clinton...


SENATOR-ELECT HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I am determined to make a difference for all of you.


ANNOUNCER: ... to possible Senate appointee Jeanne Carnahan.


JEANNE CARNAHAN: The mantle has now fallen upon us.


ANNOUNCER: ... the unresolved controversies and what lies ahead for the new Congress.

From Atlanta, Judy Woodruff, Bernard Shaw, senior analyst Jeff Greenfield, and senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. We are all still here despite last night's 13-hour marathon on this election set and today's vote recount that started in Florida.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: And we still don't know for sure who will be the next president of the United States.

Vice President Al Gore still leads Governor George W. Bush in the nationwide popular vote by a margin of about 192,000 votes. Of course, this total is not what determines the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It is the total number of votes in the electoral college. And right now, our map has Gore in the lead, but the states of Florida and Oregon are still too close to call.

This election will come down to the man who wins Florida and its 25 electoral votes.

WOODRUFF: And as the Florida recounting progresses, the gap between Governor Bush and the vice president is narrowing just a bit. Bush now leads Gore by 1,743 votes. In addition to the pressure on Florida's vote-counters, state officials are coping with complaints about problems with voters and ballots yesterday. Bush supporters are downplaying these concerns, but Jack Quinn, a former Gore chief of staff, raised some new questions a short time ago during an interview with CNN.


JACK QUINN, FORMER GORE CHIEF OF STAFF: There have been a number of critically important issues that have been raised about the proper, counting of ballots in the state of Florida. We believe that as many as tens of thousands of votes intended to be cast for Al Gore were not counted for a variety of reasons.



WILLIAM BENNETT, CO-DIRECTOR, EMPOWER AMERICA: If there is some very serious offense here, some massive voter fraud, by all means, let's look into it and undo it. But you know, you've got complaints of inappropriateness in St. Louis, in Wisconsin, all over the place, and you always would.


WOODRUFF: CNN's John King is with the Gore campaign and we will go to him in just a little bit. But first, our Patty Davis is in Tallahassee with more on this ballot controversy and the recount -- Patty.

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, the recount began today here in Florida, hoping to settle the question of who gets Florida's crucial 25 electoral votes.


DAVIS (voice-over): It all comes down to this: recounting Florida's nearly 6 million ballots one by one.

CLAY ROBERTS, FLORIDA ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: We understand that while the people of the state of Florida deserve a quick resolution to this issue, they more certainly deserve a methodical, a diligent and an accurate resolution.

DAVIS: Many of Florida's 67 counties reported their recounted votes the day after the election. As of yet, Vice President Al Gore is still Texas Governor George W. Bush but gaining. All counties must report their recounts by the end of business Thursday.

Both sides sent observers to oversee the recount. Two former secretaries of state, James Baker for Bush and Warren Christopher for Gore. Meanwhile, Democrats charged election fraud and voter intimidation in Florida.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush, George Bush's brother, promised to prosecute anyone committing voter fraud. To avoid a conflict of interest, the Florida governor says he will recuse himself from the committee that will certify the state's election results.


DAVIS: Florida's division of elections is keeping that count on its Web site, but it has been so inundated, there is so much demand on that Web site that they're having to add new servers tonight -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Patty, when they do the recount, are they counting all the ballots, including absentee ballots that were not officially part of yesterday, last night's count?

DAVIS: They're going to be counting all the ballots that were cast, but that's a good question about absentee ballots, because a lot of those absentee ballots are not in yet. In fact, some of them overseas, sent from overseas, they have 10 days after the election day -- that would be November 17 -- to get those absentee ballots in. Then those would be added to the total voter counts at that point.

So we still could have quite some time here. The division of elections here saying that all counties must report by tomorrow close of business. We could know earlier than that since we're getting some good returns from these counties. But the absentee ballots then will be added on top of that -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And are they giving you any ballpark figure, Patty, as to how many absentees there are still outstanding?

DAVIS: They're not. They're not giving us that figure. In fact, the state doesn't keep control of that. The counties send that out on their own. The counties would have to be talked to one by one really to decipher exactly what that figure is.

It's been speculated that back in 1996 there were some 2,400 or so ballots, absentee ballots that were cast, the majority of which, by the way, went for Republican Bob Dole. So the Bush campaign is hoping that a lot of those absentee ballots, when they come in, will be going their way -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And finally, Patty, can you give us an update now, now that this much of the recount has taken place, to what extent has it changed the total? Has one candidate or the other been advantaged by this?

DAVIS: That's a good question. You have 19 counties so far out of 67 counties here in the state of Florida reporting, but it's pretty much a wash. We've got Al Gore gaining and George W. Bush gaining, but not by much. The number still stands at Bush leading by 17,043 votes, Judy -- very, very close.

WOODRUFF: And Patty, just one other quick thing, tomorrow, they just finish the recount and then it's announced at some point. When?

DAVIS: The state board -- the division of elections will put those figures out. We don't know whether they would be holding a press conference, whether they're going to decide that. It's too close yet, and they're going to wait for those absentee ballots.

We just have to wait and see what they decide to do tomorrow -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Patty Davis in Tallahassee. Thanks very much -- Bernie.

SHAW: In a few minutes, a couple of veteran journalists will join us to talk about vote-counting and allegations of voting irregularities in Florida.

Next on our special report, the candidates, finally, they speak out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I'm confident that the secretary and I will become the president-elect and the vice president-elect in short order.



GORE: This matter must be resolved expeditiously, but deliberately and without any rush to judgment. Despite the fact that Joe Lieberman and I won the popular vote...


SHAW: We'll have more on how the campaigns are handling this unprecedented uncertainty.

Also ahead: those early calls. We're going to look at news media eagerness and public expectations. And later, the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. We'll check the new balance of power in Congress.


WOODRUFF: In the wee hours of this morning, both presidential candidates called off speeches to their supporters because of the uncertainty of the vote count. And things didn't get much clearer today. But both candidates finally appeared before the cameras.

Our correspondents John King and Candy Crowley stayed up during last night's long vigil. And they join us now with the latest from both camps.

And I can't believe both of you are awake at this hour.

John King, we are going to start with you and the vice president's day in Tennessee.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, when the vice president did come out, he chose his words very carefully. He thanked his campaign staff. He praised the millions of voters who helped him to a surprise victory in the popular vote. Otherwise, though, he took a very much a wait-and-see attitude as this remarkable breathtaking story now blossoms into a legal controversy.


KING (voice-over): Not ready to predict victory, not to even think again about conceding defeat.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because of what is at stake, this matter must be resolved expeditiously but deliberately and without any rush to judgment.

KING: The vice president was the surprise winner of the popular vote, but acknowledged it would be only a symbolic victory if Florida ends up in the Bush column.

GORE: Under our Constitution, it is the winner of the electoral college who will be the next president. Our Constitution is the whole foundation of our freedom and it must be followed faithfully.

KING: The words were delivered calmly, but there was no forgetting the calamity of the night before. Mr. Gore had already congratulated Governor Bush and was just minutes away from a public concession here when he was told the Florida gap was narrowing and that a recount was mandatory under state law.

Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher leads the legal team urgently dispatched to Florida.

WARREN CHRISTOPHER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: But I don't have any reason to think we're on the edge of a constitutional crisis and we don't intend to try to provoke a constitutional crisis.

KING: The Gore team will not only monitor a recount but also raise questions about a ballot it claims confused perhaps 2,500 or more Gore supporters into voting for Pat Buchanan by accident.

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: We believe when votes are counted and that process is complete, totally, Al Gore will have won the electoral college and the popular vote, and therefore will be the next president.

KING: But recount veterans say history heavily favors Governor Bush.

BILL MCINTURFF, GOP POLLSTER: It's better to be ahead in the recount. And actually, if it is as the Bush people think, 1,800 votes, it sounds like a little amount, but actually, in a recount, that's a lot of votes to overturn to actually win a state.

KING: On the day after, no shortages of what-ifs in the Gore ranks. What if Ralph Nader hadn't siphoned off so many votes? What if the vice president had been more aggressive in the first two presidential debates? But mostly, the thought was, what now? Aides say the vice president knows odds are long, but urged his exhausted campaign team to keep its spirits high while awaiting Florida's final word.


KING: And while he waits, this much is certain, perhaps 1,000, 2,000 of the nearly 6 million votes cast in Florida and the more than 100 million votes cast nationwide will decide a presidential election that right now defies explanation -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King, we want you to stand by even though it is raining and we appreciate that. But we will come back to you in just a moment because now we want to go to CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley who spent another long day with the Bush camp in the Texas capital, Austin -- Candy. CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the Bush camp is confident enough that that recount will still show Florida in the Bush column that they are beginning to cautiously put together a transition team. It will be headed by vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney. They are already tossing out some names. Andrew Card, the former transportation secretary under father Bush is expected to be the chief of staff. Having said all of that there is really very little the Bush camp can do right now but sit and wait with the rest of us.


CROWLEY (voice-over): The once-declared president-elect hopes to soon regain his title.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This morning brings news from Florida that the final vote count there shows that Secretary Cheney and I have carried the state of Florida. And if that result is confirmed in an automatic recount, as we expect it will be, then we have won the election.

CROWLEY: After an astounding night of doubt, then triumph, then uncertainty, a sense of the surreal has pierced the trademark optimism of the Bush camp.

KAREN HUGHES, BUSH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: It was an amazing night, as you all know, since you lived through it. I watched it this morning on television, some excerpts. And I thought that maybe it had been all a dream. And then I realized I was awake the whole time.

CROWLEY: His running mate by his side, the Republican nominee was low-key, but positive, as he recounted the evening, including that second phone call from Vice President Al Gore to retract his earlier concession.

BUSH: I listened to what he had to say.

QUESTION: Were you amazed at (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: Well, I was -- I felt like we -- I was fully prepared to go out and give a speech, thanking my supporters. And he withdrew his earlier comments. And now here we sit.

CROWLEY: Sitting and waiting isn't easy, but the hottest spot may belong to Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who spent the long night in Austin.

BUSH: There was some consternation with the -- Florida's governor during our family dinner, when somebody jumped the proverbial gun, as we say. And -- and he's the person that really went through some -- obviously, some interesting emotions. I was confident that, when it was all said and done, that Florida would be taken off the declared, you know, state roll, and that cooler heads would prevail.

CROWLEY: Jeb Bush left Austin Wednesday morning to return home to Florida. Former Secretary of State James Baker is also headed to the state to look after Bush's interests there. The Bush camp also has a lawyer on the ground in each precinct to monitor the recount. Should Bush prevail, winning may be the easy part. He would assume office having lost the popular vote.

BUSH: I want to assure them that, should the election go the way that we think it will, that I will work hard to earn their confidence. America has a long tradition of uniting once elections are over. Secretary Cheney and I will do everything in our power to unite the nation to call upon the best, to bring people together after one of the most exciting elections in our nation's history.


BUSH: Despite the cautious confidence, there is a certain wariness in the Bush camp as well. A feeling that Vice President Al Gore will not let it rest with a simple recount in Florida. They believe he might pursue other things and were quite worried about his news conference earlier today. Thus late this evening, communications director Karen Hughes put out a statement saying that after the recount, we expect the vice president will respect wishes of voters of Florida -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, let's bring John King back in, Candy.

John, what about that? What are the prospects that the vice president won't let it rest with just the recount, that he will pursue it further? How much further will he take it?

KING: Well, aides say they can't discuss any possible legal challenges yet. This is what they say, that if they are satisfied that the recount is thorough and fair and if it shows Governor Bush ahead, that the vice president will do just what he was prepared to do, what he came about five minutes from doing last night here at the War Memorial. He will concede the election. But they have concerns.

You had the sound earlier in the show from Jack Quinn. Most of the it focuses on Palm Beach County. They believe the ballot there was quite deceptive. They think Pat Buchanan got 3,500 votes, 3.400 something votes in that county, way in excess of what he got anywhere else in this state. The Gore campaign believes that at least 2,500 of those people, perhaps even more, meant to vote for Gore but were visually deceived by the ballot and punched the Buchanan slots. They also think that many of Gore realized their mistake in addition to that and after punching Buchanan, then punched Gore. The ballots were punched twice, many of them thrown away because they had two presidential candidates picked. So, they want an investigation into that.

The Republicans however, saying, crying over spilled milk, that the ballot was published and approved before the election, that the county election commissioner is a Democrat and that if anybody objected to the way that ballot looked, they should have done so before the election.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Candy Crowley, there have been reports that Governor Bush seemed put out by the fact that the vice president called late and said, I'm retracting my concession. Can you tell us anything about that? He sounded a little testy in that video clip we saw.

CROWLEY: You know, there's a -- you can sense that they are, as I said weary, that they are a little ticked off. I don't that it's directed completely at the vice president but you -- communications director Karen Hughes was also, there was edge to her voice when they described the phone call, the second phone call when the vice president retracted his concession. So, you know, the combination of lack of sleep, there's not a lot of love lost between these two men, as I'm sure you know, and the tension of the situation, I think it's very fair to say that at this point they are bit put out and ticked off, yes.

WOODRUFF: And John King, just to quickly wrap up here, what then do would look for tomorrow from the Gore people? Do you think we're going to know definitively tomorrow whether they're going to pursue this? Whether they are going to pursue this?

KING: Unclear whether we'll know. They want to have their people go into Tallahassee, also to go into Palm Beach County, other places where what they call irregularities they are believed to have occurred. They say, if they are convinced it's fair and thorough they will concede the election. Warren Christopher saying we don't want a Constitutional crisis.

The vice president significantly noting he knows that it's the electoral college winner who is the president. They're not talking here about trying to lobby or sway any of the electors if this is close. They are, though, raising some serious questions and it may not just be the Gore campaign.

Some people already filing suit in Palm Beach County over that ballot. Some other Democrats thinking about making irregularity complaints to the Justice Department. So no matter what the Gore campaign wants to do, the legal challengings may go on. The Gore campaign saying it won't make up its final decision until Mr. Christopher and the other lawyers got on the ground in Tallahassee, until they see the results of that recount tomorrow. And as we speck tonight, they say they are making some progress. That count suspended but they believe some 20-something counties of the 67 have been counted and they believe they're making up some ground, not enough of yet, though.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King in Nashville, Candy Crowley in Austin. We hope you both get some rest. Thanks very much.

Still ahead on CNN's SPECIAL REPORT, ELECTION 2000: journalists from two Florida newspapers will talk to Bernie about the recount in the presidential race.

And later, a who's who in the new Congress. We'll be right back.


SHAW: Florida's automatic recount, with the addition of overseas ballots, will determine the presidency. Joining us to talk about that, Tom Fiedler, the editorial page editor for "The Miami Herald." Also with us tonight, Shirish Date, the Tallahassee bureau chief from "The Palm Beach Post."

Gentlemen, let me first start with you, Shirish and ask each of you this question: Based on your reporting, based on your talking on the telephone and based on what your colleagues are saying, on the ground, what are election officials saying and thinking?

SHIRISH DATE, "THE PALM BEACH POST": Well, right now in Palm Beach County, they're saying, well, we made the ballot for a reason, that was to help people see the names. We put it in big type. I don't know if you can see it, but this is what most other counties did. They had all the names going down in a row and therefore the hole that you punch out is right next to the name.

Now Palm Beach -- by now, everyone has seen the butterfly ballot and it was to some people very confusing. What they can do about it now remains to be seen. Lawyers are saying it's perfectly legal, that the elections officer in Palm Beach County had every right to make it that way and that it was appropriate to do it that way.

SHAW: Tom.

TOM FIEDLER, "THE MIAMI HERALD": Well, as John King alluded earlier, there's an awful lot of other people on the ground who getting ready for a legal assault on this. The case, at least by implication, that there's something seriously wrong with the count in Palm Beach County I think is pretty compelling. You've seen the numbers all night, but there were something like 570 people in all of Miami-Dade County who voted for Pat Buchanan and then 3,407 in Palm Beach County, a county with about half the population.

So more than six times as many, if you made that proportionate it would be 12 times as many people voting for Pat Buchanan and in precincts that we know to be Jewish precincts. Now you're not going to see many Jewish Democrats voting for Pat Buchanan. So I think there's, again, there's a pretty good case here that something went dramatically wrong. You add to that the high number of ballots where the ballot itself was just tossed out because they were double punches and I think there's a solid case for somebody to go to court, which they are getting ready to do.

SHAW: Tom, what are you hearing back channel? What are election officials saying and thinking?

FIELDER: The elections officials are being very, very careful to make sure that anything that they say will allow them to make a defense against these expected challenges. Such as Shirish just said, they are making the point that this was done for a good public purpose, to help particularly older voters see more clearly.

They say that these ballots were distributed in advance, sample ballots. They had people the polling places who were not only ready to assist, but to help somebody walk through the dots. So they are very cognizant, I think, of the expected attacks here and they're being careful not to provide ammunition to the challengers.

GREENFIELD: I have a question.

SHAW: Sure.

GREENFIELD: Shirish, hi. It's Jeff Greenfield. Explain something to us. If I go into a voting booth and I'm confused, if I double punch my ballot and it's thrown, I walk out and I think, oh, my God, I pulled the wrong lever. Legally speaking, there's nothing anybody can do about that, right?

DATE: Well, it depends how far you get out. If you leave the little voting table -- in Florida, we don't really have the enclosed booths, anymore. We just have a little table with a little privacy shield around it. If you leave there and say, hey, I messed up my ballot, can I have another? They give one to you. If you leave the polling place, if you put the ballot in the machine and it's gone, that's it. There's nothing more you can do.

GREENFIELD: OK, so that's my point. So all of the conversation of people who left, talked to their friends, realized, good heavens, I punched the wrong card, in a legal sense, whatever the right and wrong may seem morally, my sense is that's it. Either of you?

DATE: Well, absolutely. And I think that's the point that Governor Bush of Florida is making and the election officials are making. But look, I mean, the day of the election, before anyone knew what they total was going to be, we at "The Post" were getting dozens of phone calls from people upset that they thought they had done wrong things and so forth.

And the numbers -- if you extrapolate, like Tom suggested, Gore would have picked up 2,100 votes if the Palm Beach County vote had just voted for Buchanan in the proportion that they did statewide and he would have picked up 2,800 votes if they are voted the way Broward County voted for Buchanan. Demographically, pretty similar places.

SCHNEIDER: This is Bill Schneider. For either of you, what can be done? What is the legal redress? Can they call a new election in Palm Beach County? What could happen?

FIEDLER: Well, that's the question of moment, Bill. The hope, obviously of those people who are challenging the election is that can build at least a strong enough circumstantial case that perhaps by going to a friendly judge or a relatively liberal judge they can make the case that the election results in Palm Beach County ought be set aside, a new election ought be called and only those voters who actually participated in the first election, and you know that because they signed in, be allowed to come back and redo it. That's long, long shot.

SHAW: OK, gentlemen thank you very much, Shirish Date and Tom Fielder -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: This story, it never stops getting bigger. Well, there is much more to come in this CNN SPECIAL REPORT: ELECTION 2000. The widow of Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan contemplates her husband's win in the U.S. Senate. We'll also take a look at other fresh faces in Congress.


WOODRUFF: While we still do not know who will succeed Bill Clinton as the next president of the United States, whoever it is will face a divided Congress. Republicans now hold 50 seats in the Senate, and the Democrats have 49, with one race in Washington state yet to be divided -- or decided. Over in the House chamber, Wednesday's projections gave Republicans 220 seats, Democrats 211.

CNN's Washington bureau chief Frank Sesno takes a closer look now at some of the newcomers and the old timers on Capitol Hill.


FRANK SESNO, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): The GOP retains control in the U.S. House by the slimmest of margins, while in the Senate, though Republicans still rule, it could be evenly divided between the two parties. That's why just about the only thing that's unanimous these days is this: Finding the votes to cut taxes, reform Social Security, pass budgets and bills will require something Washington has not seen in years.

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: We're going to have to operate on a bipartisan basis more than we ever have. It can't just be a slogan, nobody's going to be able to get anywhere on anything

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Either side has the ability under the 60-vote rule to stymie the other if they want to.

SESNO: Just as it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster, the numbers tell the story. In the Senate, one race still too close to call between incumbent Republican Senator Slade Gorton and Democrat Maria Cantwell in Washington state. A Cantwell victory would create a 50-50 Senate split.

In Missouri, Republican John Ashcroft lost to Mel Carnahan, who died in a plane crash a few weeks ago; his widow takes his place -- a mournful first. Ashcroft wants closure.

SEN. JOHN ASHCROFT (R), MISSOURI: I will not initiate any legal challenge, and I will not participate in any legal challenge. I believe that the will of the people has been expressed.

SESNO: Other turnovers: veteran Republican William Roth of Delaware loses to the popular Democratic governor, Tom Carper. Michigan's Spencer Abraham, a Republican who rode in with the Gingrich revolution of '94, loses to Democrat Debbie Stabenow. Democrats lost their Senate seat in Virginia. It goes from Chuck Robb to former Governor George Allen.

And then there is Hillary Rodham Clinton -- soon New York's Senator Clinton.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATOR-ELECT: My first bill on my own behalf will concern the upstate economy.

SESNO: Senators on both sides say Clinton should expect no special treatment, despite her marquis value and Secret Service entourage; says one Republican, "nobody is going to be bowing and scraping to her."

In the House, there is no running room for a fractious majority. Can conservative and moderate Republicans agree with one another, let alone Democrats?

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), HOUSE SPEAKER: I think we are looking for people and I think the American people are looking for people who are willing to bring people together and get things done.

SESNO (on camera): Several lawmakers say they interpret this down-the-middle election as a signal that voters want moderation and want their government to bicker less and accomplish more. After years of partisanship, accusation, and investigation, it won't be easy.

Frank Sesno, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: Voters decided eleven gubernatorial races at the polls Tuesday. One incumbent was defeated and one woman elected in races across the nation. Democrats won eight states and Republicans three, dropping the GOP total from 30 to 29.

WOODRUFF: We know that yesterday's presidential election was a battle between two political giants, but a battle of the sexes?

Our Bill Schneider explains, as this CNN special report, Election 2000 continues.


SHAW: Bill Schneider is forever nosy about what voters think when they leave the polling booth. Exit polls, Bill?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Bernie, nothing went as expected last night, especially in Florida.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Early this year, a lot of people expected Bush to carry Florida handily because Cuban-Americans were so angry at the Clinton administration's handling of the Elian Gonzalez affair. But look at what happened: Florida's Hispanic vote split between Bush and Gore. How could that be?

The Hispanic vote in Florida used to be heavily Cuban-American and overwhelmingly Republican -- no more. Cuban-Americans are outnumbered by other Hispanic voters: Dominicans, Puerto Ricans and South Americans, who tend to vote strongly Democratic. That, plus the fact that second and third-generation Cuban-Americans tend to be less Republican than their parents and grandparents. Late this year, a lot of people expected Gore to carry Florida handily because of the Social Security and prescription drug issues -- not so. Florida voters 65 and over actually voted for Bush by a narrow majority. Seniors tend to have traditional values, and many were disturbed by the moral tone set by the Clinton White House.

Now here's something that did go as expected: the gender gap. Nationally, among men, the election wasn't even close. Men voted for Bush by an 11-point margin. The election wasn't close among women either. Women voted for Gore by 11 points. The election was a gender showdown, fought to a stand-off. Bush, the president of men, versus Gore, the president of women.

This election has been called a ground war. Who delivered on the ground? If Gore becomes president, he'll owe organized labor big time. Labor mobilized on his behalf. Among the one quarter of voters from union households, Gore scored nearly 60 percent of the vote. He lost among non-union voters. If Bush becomes president, he'll owe gun owners big time. The National Rifle Association got them out for Bush. Nearly half of all voters Tuesday had a gun, at home, we hope. Bush carried over 60 percent of gun owners. He lost among non-gun owners. So, the ground war was between union voters and gun owners.


SCHNEIDER: Of course, some union members actually own guns. Now, what did they do? You know what? They split 50-50.

SHAW: Bill Schneider, one quick question: the role of Ralph Nader.

SCHNEIDER: Well, Ralph Nader was a spoiler in the Electoral College, not in the popular vote, because Gore is still leading in the popular vote. But in the Electoral College, we identified three states, Oregon, New Hampshire and Florida where Nader either threw the vote to George Bush or could, because we haven't declared the winner in either Oregon or Florida, but Bush is winning in both states. Without Nader, Gore would have won the popular vote as well as the electoral vote. He is winning the popular vote, but the electoral vote clearly would have been with Al Gore. So, not only could Ralph Nader throw the Electoral College vote to Bush, he could also be responsible for creating the scenario of a president getting elected without carrying the popular vote. Yes, he was a spoiler.

SHAW: Thank you, Bill Schneider.

There's more to come on the CNN special report, "ELECTION 2000." We will examine why the television networks called the state of Florida for Gore then for Bush and then entirely undecided. We will be right back.


SHAW: Technology: It's meant to meant to make it easier to determine the winner of an election. But sometimes, either technology doesn't cooperate or something else gets in the way. CNN's Maria Hinojosa takes a closer look at what made election night 2000 one for the record books.


MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 7:57 p.m. on election night.


DAN RATHER, CBS ANCHOR: Florida goes for Al Gore.



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: A big call to make, CNN announces that we call Florida for Al Gore.


HINOJOSA: But some Florida panhandle polls, in an earlier time zone, weren't even closed yet. And at 9:49 p.m., Governor Bush says the media is ahead of itself.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The networks call this thing awfully early, but the people who are actually counting the votes are coming up with a little different perspective.

HINOJOSA: The anchors were relying on judgment from their news organizations, which use data from Voter News Services -- VNS -- a consortium of ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC and Associated Press. VNS gathers and reports exit polls and real results. But this time, problems.

KATHLEEN FRANKOVIC, DIRECTOR OF SURVEYS, CBS NEWS: This was not a race that was called only on exit polls. At 7:50 p.m., when we made the call in Florida, we also had some tabulated vote, actual votes, not a majority of the actual votes in the state, but some of them. And in one county, Duval County, the tabulated vote report was, again, too Democratic, it was wrong.

HINOJOSA: So at 9:54 p.m., Bush's doubts are confirmed.


RATHER: Pulling back into the undecided column, because some bad data came from certain precincts in Florida. Quite honestly, we now don't know.


FRANKOVIC: It could be simple human error in entering the data. It could be some other kind of transcription problem, but it was wrong data.

HINOJOSA: Hours later, another shift.


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: George Bush, governor of Texas, will become the 43rd president of the United States at 18 minutes past 2 o'clock Eastern Time.


HINOJOSA: Gore even phoned Bush to concede. But at 3:41 a.m., trouble again: late south Florida votes trickling in for Gore.


CROWLEY: The vice president has recalled the governor and retracted his concession.


EVAN CORNOG, POLITICAL HISTORIAN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I think the public already has a pretty low opinion of both the political process and of journalists, and I'm afraid that what has happened over the past 24 hours will not serve to improve the image of either profession.

HINOJOSA: An image media executives promise to improve.

TOM HANNON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: We are going to learn from this mistake. We are going to find out what happened, and we are going to do everything in our power to prevent it from happening again.

HINOJOSA (on camera): Members of Voter News Service say they'll be meeting to discuss what went wrong on election night and will take a hard look at how they compile voter data in the future.

Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.


SHAW: And in just a moment, we go from polling and television and technologies the founding fathers never imagined to what many feel is an outmoded legacy of their great debates. Jeff Greenfield looks at the Electoral College when this special report continues.


WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, the prospect of having a president who has maybe was the popular vote loser but the Electoral College vote winner raises all sorts of questions about us, doesn't it?

GREENFIELD: And about the system we use to really pick the presidents.

It was Thomas Jefferson who called it "the most dangerous blot on our Constitution." Famed author James Michener, himself once a presidential elector, said it was a reckless game with destiny which some day might wreck our country.

They were talking about the Electoral College, a time bomb that has been merrily ticking away in our Constitution for 200 years. Last night, it just may have exploded.


GREENFIELD (voice-over): When they met in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, the founding fathers didn't even know if they wanted a president, much less how to pick one. They wanted a chief executive, not a tyrant; and they certainly didn't want the public to choose.

So they came up with the idea of electors: men of distinction and virtue. They'd winnow the choice to a few, and, the framers thought, it would then be up to the House of Representatives to make the final choice.

The time bomb blew up in 1824. Andrew Jackson outpolled John Quincy Adams, but he did not get an electoral majority. It went to the House or Representatives where Henry Clay cut a backroom deal that put Adams in the White House.

In 1876, Samuel Tilden ran far ahead of Rutherford B. Hayes, but the Congress awarded disputed electors to Hayes in return for an end to Reconstruction. Furious Democrats called Hayes "his fraudulency."

the last time a popular vote loser became president was in 1888, when Benjamin Harrison ran 100,000 votes behind President Grover Cleveland, but won the electoral vote and the White House. Cleveland reclaimed it four years later. But back then, we were a far less Democratic country. Women couldn't vote; southern blacks couldn't vote. We didn't even pick our senators by popular vote.

So, with Al Gore winning the popular vote, will the country regard George W. Bush as a legitimate president should he win Florida? Will Al Gore accept that verdict? Here's what he said about the process recently.


GORE: In all such cases, we are fortunate as a people to have a Constitution that resolves all doubt as to what would happen in that situation.


GREENFIELD: And, most intriguingly, what if a handful of Bush electors decide they can't vote for the man who lost the popular vote? Could they vote for Gore? Or what if they abstain, depriving Bush of an electoral majority, which would throw the choice into the House of Representatives?


GREENFIELD: Now there are some powerful arguments for the Electoral College. It's linked to America's federalist history. It forces candidates to focus on state issues and state problems. But at least there is one time bomb that we cannot ignore anymore which is the human factor.

Whatever you think of the Electoral College, if you eliminated the human factor and counted these votes automatically that it would mean a lot less if this entire election were hanging on the whims of a couple of state electoral official or the handful of votes in one county.

I should also mention one other thing. We talked about what if some of these Bush electors voted for Gore because they didn't like the popular vote. Suppose you took some ardent conservatives who were Bush electors, of whom I'm sure there are some, and suppose they took it on themselves to say, you know, Bush hasn't really been quite clear on some of our issues. So maybe we'll say to the president-elect, if he were that, we will vote for you provided you promise, for instance, to ban RU-486. Or electors might say, we promise to vote for you if you'll put that highway in our district. You just don't know what human beings can do.

WOODRUFF: I was going to say, you're assuming these are human beings swayed by political opinion and human emotion.

GREENFIELD: Well, what a shock that they're swayed by idealism, perhaps by avarice, perhaps by legitimate concern. We don't know.

WOODRUFF: At the same time, they are bound by loyalty. They take an oath of loyalty to support the candidate who's the winner in their state.

GREENFIELD: Very quickly -- half the states don't even bind them and the Congress the last time this was raised said even if state law binds you, they can't stop you from voting. All they can do is punish you later.

SCHNEIDER: And the ones who are chosen as electors are chosen very, very carefully by the candidates because they are deeply committed candidate loyalist.

WOODRUFF: Which is my point. That they are so loyal that...

GREENFIELD: But you what, I would agree on half of that, that they are loyalists. The carefulness with which they are chosen, I'm not sure because it's ever mattered.

SHAW: But Jeff, since the public does indeed choose the chief executive, unlike back then, is that a compelling argument to get rid of the college?

GREENFIELD: Well, that's exactly the argument, Bernie, that we are a different country than we were 200 years ago -- Mr. Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: Well, yes, we are. I mean, you know, back in 1888 when the Electoral College choose one candidate and the popular vote went the other way, I don't think people knew what the national vote was. There were no national polls and they probably didn't add it for weeks. So didn't know this was not the popular choice.

WOODRUFF: If nothing else, it's giving us a great national civics lesson

SHAW: Indeed. That's all the time we have for this special report, but please stay with CNN for your chance to weigh in on this election. Bill Press, Tucker Carlson standing by in "THE SPIN ROOM," ready to take your telephone calls and e-mails and comments. That's next at 11, Eastern.

WOODRUFF: And you'll find the very latest on the Florida recount, plus election results from every state of the union on our Web site, For all of us, good night from Atlanta.



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