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The Spin Room: Who Will be the Next President of the United States?Aired November 8, 2000 - 11:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: First, it was the campaign that wouldn't end, and now, it's the election that won't go away. Good evening, everybody. Welcome to THE SPIN ROOM. I'm Bill Press.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: And I'm Tucker Carlson, and it is going to be another late night as we try and figure out who is going to be president of the United States. If you're up, and you probably are, give us a call, 1-800-310-4CNN. You can join the CNN chat room at cnn.com. And for those many of you online, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRESS: Before we get into all the talk about this, all the spin, Tucker, we want everybody to know there is this late word out of Palm Beach County, Florida. Officials now say that they have thrown out more than 19,000 ballots in that presidential race in Palm Beach County, Florida because people voted for more than one candidate. This all, of course, is part of the accusations that the presidential part of that ballot in that one county was confusing to a lot of voters; 19,000 thrown out. I mean, this keeps building.
CARLSON: So that means you can't vote for more than one candidate?
PRESS: Not in this country.
CARLSON: Bill, I'm learning more all the time. We actually have more news...
PRESS: Well, not in Palm Beach County, Florida, at any rate.
CARLSON: Apparently not. From the ever-evolving election, the votes are being counted in Florida. There are 67 counties in Florida; 27 have been tallied, apparently. And after tallying all of them, after recounting them, Al Gore has gained a total of 663 votes. He's going to need more than that to win.
PRESS: This is what we call vote creep. You've heard of mission creep. This is vote creep.
CARLSON: It's a pretty slow creep.
PRESS: It is -- well, it's a creep. It's not...
CARLSON: It is a creep. That's a good point, though. PRESS: But, Tucker, we said last week, you and I both said this is going to be close. Did you ever think it would be this close?
CARLSON: Actually, we said it was going to be close but I didn't really believe it was going to be close. And, in fact, I took an informal poll of everyone I knew the day of the election yesterday morning, and not a single person I talked to -- Democrat, Republican, Naderite, total whacko -- nobody believed it was going to be close. Everybody thought Bush was going to win except for the one person I called who actually works for the Bush campaign who sounded nervous. Turns out he was the smartest.
PRESS: Coming from California, thinking about what this is all happening last night, I'm thinking, what if this were a movie? What if you tried to say -- what if you tried to sell this as an idea, right? He's president. No, he's not president. The other guy's president. No, he's not president either. Now we still don't know. Plus, you know, there's other strange stuff that happened last night. This wasn't the only strange thing, right? You got the dead man winning in Missouri.
CARLSON: There was more strange stuff that happened last night. It was unbelievable. And then the president's wife apparently is now going to be in the Senate.
PRESS: So I hear. So Rob Reiner, who's one of the best in Hollywood, was on CNN at 4:30 this morning. Rob Reiner thinks some -- what would happen if you're a big Hollywood producer and you went into your boss and you said, "I got this great idea for a movie"? Here's Rob Reiner's take on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROB REINER, FILM DIRECTOR: You write this and throw you out of the office. They say, you know, this is ridiculous. I mean, this is one of these truths that's stranger than fiction things. You can't write something like this. Nobody would believe it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: See, I don't think the Gore people believe it. I don't think they believe it at all. I think they spent two years on the road working to become president, and you know, he's fallen short by less than 2,000 votes, and I just don't think they're processing it. I don't think they're accepting it.
PRESS: Do you know how bad it was, how bad it was last night?
CARLSON: How bad was it?
PRESS: Here's how bad it was, Tucker. This is an actual news release from Moscow that the Russian government suggested they should send a delegation to observe yesterday's election in the United States because they feared that there would be falsification of the results. What do they know that we... CARLSON: We didn't know. I'm going to add my own amendment to that resolution, which is: No more vodka in the Russian parliament. It gets late and these guys get cranky.
PRESS: All right, we've got a hot show tonight. We are going to hear a couple of spinners, good Republican and Democrat spinner. We also have a legend, Tucker, coming up.
CARLSON: "I am woman. Hear me roar."
PRESS: She's going to be here.
CARLSON: She is. Helen Reddy, herself.
PRESS: Helen Reddy, herself. Plus, you hear about all these electors. Who are they? Who are the people that make up the Electoral College? I think for the first time on national television...
CARLSON: Have you ever seen one? That's the question. You'll see them here. We have them, too.
PRESS: You're going to see two of them before the show is over. First, let's get the whole thing set up. Let's find out a little bit more, refresh our memory now about the night that was, or maybe it was the night that wasn't, and the day after. Nobody better to do that for us in our Atlanta bureau, Joie Chen.
Joie, you've been part of this whole thing. Sum it up for us.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Bill, I don't think this is the night before -- this is like the night that never ended. I mean, I feel like I've just been here the whole time. It just doesn't go away.
CARLSON: You probably have been.
CHEN: Yeah, I pretty much have.
PRESS: So do we.
CHEN: Well, I don't know about you guys, but all day today, everybody I talked to keeps saying, "Have you ever seen anything like this?" Well, of course, we have. It's mission: impossible. There's the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) music. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to try to appear above the fray. The code word here is "presidential," even though you justifiably have a long list of people whose hearts you are ready to rip out right now for getting you into this big mess.
Given everything that's happened, this could be a very tough mission for Mr. Bush. First here, be nice to your little brother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was an interesting night. My (UNINTELLIGIBLE) needless to say, there was some consternation with Florida's governor during our family dinner when somebody jumped the proverbial gun, as we say. And so 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 state roll and that cooler heads would prevail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: Can you imagine the food fight they must have had? Now maybe a bigger mission for Mr. Gore is to be nice to Mr. Nader, Mr. Bush and to your campaign strategy team. And while you're at it, you should make sure to leave all of your options open.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We now need to resolve this election in a way that is fair, forthright and fully consistent with our Constitution and our laws. What is at issue here is the fundamental fairness of the process as a whole. Because of what is at stake, 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, under our Constitution, it is the winner of the Electoral College that will be the next president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: And then there is Mr. President of the moment. We see that your wife, sir, let you play on her campaign and that she won. Your mission is not to rub it in when you have your heart to heart with the guy who didn't want to take you along for the ride.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I talked to him afterward. We had a great talk later, you know, when the situation was as it is now and we were laughing. We had a -- he was in a good humor. We talked about the unpredictability of life and how he'd done all he could.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: As for the rest of us, those smart mouths in the news media, yes, we know, we did get things a little bit messy last night with the calling and the uncalling and the calling and uncalling. And our mission now: I think it's just shut up and listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: Both candidates, in my opinion, were treated unfairly by the early projections in Florida, as were the voters.
CHRIS LEHANE, GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: On some of these instant polls and exit polls and network predictions proved to be wrong. I think it's a lesson for all of us. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: Yes, settle their network predictions. OK, so everybody got their licks in. Now do we all feel better? Maybe we should just join in a round on that song. Remember the one from the "South Park" movie? Isn't it, "Blame Florida," guys?
CARLSON: But I like the sound of it.
CHEN: You know what? I mean, what do you think is worse, Tucker? Do you think it's worse to have to call somebody and say, "OK, they liked you better. You win," or do you think it would be worse to have to call back and say, "Do over. Do over. I didn't mean any of that"?
CARLSON: I think it would be worse receiving the second call. And clearly, clearly, Bush thought so, too.
CHEN: Did you mean that? Did you mean that?
CARLSON: He did. That was the moment where the, "Gee, don't need to be so snippy" comment came out, which is my favorite of the entire night.
PRESS: From everything we've heard, that was a very tense second telephone call. And I sure understand why. Wouldn't have to make it -- wouldn't want to have to make it. Wouldn't want to have to receive it. And almost can't blame George W. for being a little snippy, according to Al Gore.
CARLSON: Nor can you blame Al Gore for being a little on the grumpy, too, because -- and this is a point that I think has been lost.
PRESS: Thanks, Joie. We'll be back to you soon for the latest news update, too, in just a second.
CARLSON: Well, this -- I just -- you know, so many things have happened over the last 24 hours that you miss some of the details, which are, of course, as always, the juiciest and the best.
PRESS: But the e-mails are already flowing in.
CARLSON: Well, here's one from Al Cantrell points out something that I hope is not lost in the fray here. Al Cantrell writes, "Some political commentators seem to be ignoring that Al Gore -- if he'd had the political thoughtfulness to win his home state of Tennessee, would not be witnessing this confusion. Two-hundred-sixty plus 11 Tennessee electoral votes equals the magic number of 271. What do Tennessee voters know that we don't?"
PRESS: I know. It's just too bad Al Gore wasn't thoughtful enough to save us all the trouble. If he had only won Tennessee. OK. Here's an e-mail to THE SPIN ROOM from Mitch, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "If Bush becomes president," says Mitch, "notwithstanding the confusion in Palm Beach County, his true title will be, "His accidency, the president. Does anyone who is intellectually honest truly believe 3,600 elderly Jews voted for Pat Buchanan? I just have to say, if they did, they didn't read his book first."
CARLSON: Well, may be a very cranky group but I have to say, you go into the voting booth, you can't just, you know, sort of throw the pen around and start punching holes. You have to take responsibility for the men you vote for.
PRESS: All right, now to add to the spin here, let's talk to a couple of master spinners tonight. Nobody better in the business. First of all, on the Republican side, he's communications director for the Republican National Committee, Cliff May, joined by Tucker?
CARLSON: Peter Fenn, an adviser to Al Gore and fabled, famous and very talented Democratic political consultant, hopefully talented enough, Peter, to answer the following question, which is: When are the Democrats going to give up and put an end to all this? Are they going to keep it going until December 18th for the Electoral College (UNINTELLIGIBLE) or longer?
PETER FENN, GORE ADVISER: I think after we control the presidency for the next century, we might think about giving up. How does that sound?
CARLSON: Not very good, actually.
CARLSON: No, I mean, isn't there a point in which it becomes bad for the country to keep this going?
FENN: I think, you know, in all seriousness, in this one, you have got to look at Florida very carefully. This clearly is coming down to vote by vote. We tell Americans how important it is because every single vote counts. And, boy, are we proving it in Florida. And I think we have to investigate all these kinds of incidents that look like they could cause problems. And I think we have to do that recount properly. We have to count those absentee ballots. We have to look at the million or so ballots that were counted by hand that are vote-by-mail ballots and make sure that's all done right. I mean, this is -- look, the presidency hangs in the balance. Gore, much to your amazement, Tucker, did win the popular vote, so you know, it would be nice, of course, if he won the electoral vote, we all think. We're waiting.
PRESS: Well, hey, Cliff May, I'm not going to ask you such a nasty question that Tucker asked Peter Fenn, so let me just ask...
CLIFF MAY, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Oh, come on, Bill, go ahead.
PRESS: No, let me just ask you this. Al Gore won the popular vote. Nobody contests that, so why don't you just trust the people and give it up? MAY: Bill, I think you know because you've been in politics a long time, we have a very special system that we're very proud of in this country. We have an electoral college. There's a reason we have that. I can explain it to you but probably not on this show. But we want to have that. And by the way, as you well know, about a week ago, most of the experts were thinking that the chances were that the electoral vote, if it went to anybody in a very close race, the electoral vote would go to Al Gore. And everyone was preparing us. Al Hunt was one who wrote an editorial about this or a column about this, very important we respect the electoral vote.
Whoever wins the electoral vote wins the election. Don't forget, Governor Bush has won -- we don't have one nationwide race, we have 50 races in 50 states and the District of Columbia. In 31 states now, Governor Bush has won the race for election here. And we believe he's won in Florida. That was the result they found yesterday. We should have a recount. It's the law. There will be a recount. And when that's confirmed, please, not all these little extra issues, these little old ladies who didn't know what they were reading. They wanted the ballot in Yiddish. They wanted it in -- just, look, let's just go ahead and say, "OK, it's done."
PRESS: I'll tell you what, guys. Hold on, both of you there, because we want to talk to you about those little old ladies and some of these allegations of voter irregularities in just a minute.
CARLSON: The Yiddish-speaking little old ladies. We will get back to you. But first, let's find out what else has been happening or if anything else has been. But apparently, other things have been while we've been focused on the vote.
Joie, tell us what has been happening.
CHEN: Yeah, things do happen outside the beltway and outside of Tallahassee, trust me.
CARLSON: Oh, that hurts.
CHEN: OK, so these are some other things you might have missed today. The guy who is still, by the way, currently the leader of the free world, is still trying to get a Mideast peace deal together. Mr. Clinton gets a visit from Yasser Arafat tomorrow. Friday, Arafat goes to the UN Security Council to ask for protection for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Now Israel won't go for that. And this Sunday, its prime minister will be in Washington to see the president himself.
Some high times in Northern California. Maybe it's a change in the air. One of those ballot measures that got lost in that shuffle yesterday did get approved, in fact. Now gardeners in Mendocino County can legally grow up to 25 pot plants a piece, though laws against this practice actually never stopped them before. Pot is already the largest cash crop in the county.
And the key to healthy living turns out to be bridge. Now researchers say bridge players have higher immune cell counts. Now to find this out, they spent 15 years studying rats, mice and a woman's bridge club in Orinda, California. I don't know, you know. This is a new sort of health note here, Tucker and Bill, but I'm not sure this is going to cause you to go out and play bridge.
CARLSON: I don't know about that, Joie.
CHEN: You any good at bridge, Tucker?
CARLSON: No, I think I'll take my health risks rather.
CHEN: Rather do that.
CARLSON: I'm not sure that sounds like hard science, but I'll take your word for it.
PRESS: So it's bridge...
CHEN: You know, I don't know if I could be compared to a rat or mice or a woman's bridge club.
PRESS: That's bridge in the Bay Area and it's the cash crop up in northern California. Thanks, Joie. We'll be back with you in just a little bit.
We're going to take a quick break. Cliff May and Peter Fenn are going to be joining us again just a little bit later. But first, Tucker, there it is, the big news.
CARLSON: And for the hard political news, the woman who roared loudly. That would be Helen Reddy, and we will speak to her next in THE SPIN ROOM.
PRESS: Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM with Bill Press and Tucker Carlson. We want to hear from you about all this exciting election news. You've got three ways to do it: by phone at 1-800-310-4CNN, join our chat room at cnn.com online, or you can e-mail us. We got a stack of them here. We'll be reading some more. E-mail us to email@example.com -- Tucker.
CARLSON: And, of course, later, we will have real-life electors captured in the field and brought to you here at CNN. Before that, we have a little housekeeping duty. Last Friday, we ran a clip of Candace Lightner (ph), one of the founders of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, defending George W. Bush. This came, of course, a day after his 24-year-old driving under the influence arrest was brought to light. Well, we've received a communique from MADD pointing out that Candace Lightner, while she was one of the founders of the organization, has not been involved for about the past 15 years and represents only -- they were quick to point out -- her own personal views and not those of MADD, which we point out, has not yet condemned George W. Bush's DUI arrest, so...
PRESS: And, of course, the question is: How did Candace Lightner show up on CNN if she hadn't been with MADD for 15 years? But who knows?
CARLSON: She's a very tricky spokeswoman, Candace Lightner.
PRESS: They're coming in, phone calls. Here's Sasha from the state of Tennessee, which, of course, is Al Gore's native state but didn't vote for him.
Hey, Sasha, good evening. Welcome to THE SPIN ROOM.
PRESS: So what's your take on all this?
CALLER: Well, I voted for Gore and I have to say, I think this thing in Florida with Palm Beach, especially, is the biggest conspiracy we've seen yet. And I want to know what you guys think will really come of this, because it sounds to me like just the one county could make or break the election for Gore.
PRESS: You know, I don't know, Sasha. I got to tell you, I mean, I think there'll be a legal challenge, Tucker, don't you? I mean, I think -- Congressman Robert Wexler was on CROSSFIRE earlier tonight. You know, he's upset about this. I think somebody's going to file a lawsuit. But the judge -- you know what the judge could easily say? Hey, tough. You go in there, you ought to know what you're doing.
CARLSON: Right. And I really think at what cost. I mean, you know, I think there are many Americans -- and I'd like to see surveys on this -- who probably would be happy to take either guy, any guy, any president-elect rather than the uncertainty, the really disconcerting uncertainty of not having anyone. So I think the Gore campaign does that at a great risk to itself.
But next we go from MADD to woman who's really mad about this election. We go to Helen Reddy, Grammy Award winning singer, naturalized U.S. citizen and Nader supporter.
PRESS: Yes. And Helen Reddy, I want to ask you this first question. Now if you look at the results in Florida -- and that's the vote that's going to decide the next president, Al Gore is behind by about a thousand votes now, latest count; Ralph Nader got 95,000 votes in Florida. If only, what, 10 percent -- a lot less of Nader's vote -- if Nader hadn't been on the ballot and only 10 percent of his vote had come from Gore, Gore would be the next president of the United States. So didn't Nader steal this from Gore and give it to Bush?
HELEN REDDY, NADER SUPPORTER: No. First of all, I'm not in Florida. I'm in California, and there was no doubt that Gore was going to carry California, which he did. I voted for Gore in '92 and again in '96. I had read his book, "Earth in the Balance." I thought it was a very thoughtful book. It was very well researched and I really liked him.
When it went to the Democratic convention -- and when I voted in '96, I remember thinking to myself, "This is it. This is the last vote of the century, the last time I will have to vote for two white men. Next time, 2000, there will be a woman on the ticket." Well, when I find out that there's not even a woman on the short list as a running mate, that just angers me. Really, he lost my vote there and then. I don't want to wait another eight years. I don't want to compromise my vote. I'm 59 years old. I want to see something now.
CARLSON: Well, Helen Reddy, let me ask you -- apart from the fact that I have to say Ralph Nader looks like an awfully pale character himself, now that you mention voting for white men -- I wonder if you'll just listen to what Ralph Nader himself said today about the results of the election. Tell me what you think of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RALPH NADER, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do think that Al Gore cost me the election, especially in Florida. And that's a far greater concern than whether I was supposed to help elect Al Gore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: I mean, that's charming in its way, but has he lost touch, do you think?
REDDY: He's being facetious. I also would like to see a viable third party. I am -- the Democratic and Republican party have become virtually the same party. There is just not enough -- there's not enough contrast, there's not enough options. I think women are getting very badly short changed. It's time, come on. It's the 21st century.
PRESS: Yeah, but Helen, look, I've known you a long time. I knew you back in the Jerry Brown days. Ralph Nader goes around and says there's no difference between Al Gore and George Bush, you're too smart to believe that, aren't you?
REDDY: I don't think there's no difference, but I don't think there's enough of a difference. Al Gore has disappointed me. He had the chance to take a woman and he didn't. And I don't think these candidates are really showing -- they don't seem to understand the meaning of the wordless gesture, you know. I mean, look at the king of Denmark when the Nazis invaded and said all the Jews had to wear arm bands with the star of David. The king was on the street the next morning wearing a star of David. By lunchtime, everybody in the country was wearing a star of David. You go find the Jews.
I mean, this country is crying out for some leadership and that's what we're not getting. I'm tired of hearing platitudes. I'm tired of people not wanting to talk about the issues. Let's get real.
CARLSON: Helen Reddy, thank you. And I have to point out that there are a lot of Democrats making, as you put it, wordless gestures toward Ralph Nader tonight. PRESS: And you can guess what they are.
REDDY: I'm sure.
PRESS: Helen Reddy, thanks so much for joining us. Helen Reddy, before we go to a break, we've got a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from the chat room here.
Tucker, we wanted to check in if ready. Perhaps not. There it is: "Is there any way that there will be a revote in Palm Beach?" Who knows? I guess that's an option. I mean, I can't imagine, though, that a judge would say, "We're going to isolate this one county and we're going to redo this election just in this one county."
CARLSON: No, I think we're getting into the fondest dreams territory of the Gore campaign when we talk about this. It's never happened before, certainly never in a presidential election. It would be unprecedented and I think it would be hard to justify. I think it's very risky politically.
PRESS: Back with some more questions about Palm Beach and other questions fired to Peter Fenn and Cliff May when we come back right here in THE SPIN ROOM. We're also going to be talking a little bit later on about that big vote in Missouri and about this Senate race in New York. What was that all about? We'll be back in THE SPIN ROOM.
CARLSON: Certainly the weird vote. Tell us what you think.
CARLSON: Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM.
PRESS: Are you ready there?
CARLSON: I like that. It's clever idea. We'll show you our picks for the "Spin of the Day." That's the moment in the day's news that's so improbable, so hilariously ludicrous, you could throw your beer bottle at the TV. We'll show you what we think qualifies.
PRESS: It makes your head spin. I have got my "Spin of the Day," Tucker has got his, and of course, we want to hear yours.
Just a quick clarification, earlier we mentioned these 19,000 ballots have been thrown out in Palm Beach Florida. AP is reporting those ballots were never counted. They noticed ahead of time that people had voted for more than one candidate and they tossed those ballots out. Whatever that means in this whole mix, it just goes on and on, which is time to bring the spinners back, don't you think?
CARLSON: It absolutely is. We have got Cliff May from the Republican National Committee and Peter Fenn, an adviser to Al Gore and a Democratic political consultant.
Peter Fenn, there's been a lot of talk about what the Gore campaign or independent Democrats might do about this vote in Florida. Give me your prediction for what sort of legal challenges might be brought.
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Well, I think the most important thing to do, obviously, is to go through the count and get that taken care of. Then look at any possible irregularities that may have occurred. One of the things, for example, that they might talked about today in Broward County was that people went with their voting cards, that somehow the computers didn't recognize their voting cards. They were turned away from the polls, they were not allowed to vote.
You know, clearly, if they threw out 19,000 ballots from people who thought they were voting for Al Gore and thought oops I just voted for Pat Buchanan. These things have to be thoroughly examined and looked at.
I don't think anybody is rushing to the courthouse right now, Tucker, I think what they're trying to say is: Look, let's make sure that this is fair, let's make sure that no one is turned away from the polls that you go there, in an election which is so so close, one thousand votes out of in six million cast, you got to make sure you do the right thing.
CARLSON: But I keep hearing talk about Civil Rights lawsuits brought not necessarily by the Gore campaign but by independent voters on the grounds that their Civil Rights were violated because they didn't understand what the ballot looked like. Have you heard this? Do you think this is likely to happen?
FENN: Well, there are some individuals, evidently, that have filed some kinds of suits. I looked at the law today, and I'm no lawyer, but I read it, and it does talk very specifically about how you're supposed to structure a ballot with the party that won the governorship last time first, the next party and on down, and that you're supposed to, at least in the case of written ballots, go to the right to make your vote.
In this case, the poor woman who designed this ballot put them both in the center, and it was almost incomprehensible to see how you're supposed to vote. So I think it's important just to -- just to look at the law, see what was done, and then find out whether anything was violated.
PRESS: Cliff, I know you want to jump in. Go ahead.
MAY: Yeah, well, a couple points. The supervisor of elections there happens to be a Democrat. Second, the law is that this has to be published in a newspaper so people can see it first, and it was. Third, there are arrows to show -- and what I fear -- and you hear it a little bit, I'm afraid, in what Peter's saying, is that the Democrats have plan A, which is to see if they can turn around the popular vote in Florida, and then there's a plan B and plan C, and each plan has more and more lawyers attached to it.
Look, if you want to talk about all the irregularities in the country, I mean, first, the fact that four networks called Florida early, so early that people in the Florida Panhandle, in another time zone, may have thought, "Oh, well. My candidate's lost. No point in my voting." People in California may have thought that, too, Bill. The fact that you had a DNC official handing out packets of cigarettes to homeless people in Milwaukee...
PRESS: Well, let's...
MAY: ... to get them to vote -- that's against the law. The fact that you had polls open late in Democratic districts in St. Louis because they wanted to get a few more bodies in...
MAY: You know, just get over it! Let's find out what happened in Florida. If we have a win, we have a win.
PRESS: Hey, Peter...
MAY: And let's have a president.
PRESS: Peter, let me jump in here just a second. Cliff, let me just ask you to slow down, Cliff, just a second, OK?
FENN: Take a big breath. Big breath.
PRESS: Just try to -- just try to, you know, rationalize this, OK? This is one of the most Democratic counties in the country. It's 66 percent Democratic, Palm Beach, OK? Thirty-five hundred Jews voted for Pat Buchanan and gave him 20 percent of his Florida vote? I mean, you don't think there's something weird about that?
MAY: I have no idea.
PRESS: It doesn't add up, Cliff!
MAY: If there -- if there is -- but no one is saying -- and I'm sure you're even suggesting that this is some conspiracy...
PRESS: No! No.
MAY: ... on the part of vast right-wingers like me. What you're saying is maybe the Democratic supervisor of elections did something confusing. Maybe the voters didn't understand it. You know what happens in those kinds of situations? You toss those ballots out.
FENN: Let me give you another example of...
FENN: ... Florida quickly. Nineteen thousand votes nationwide for the Socialist Workers Party candidate, who none of us know who the hell it is. But 9,000 of those votes were in one county in Florida. Now, that's -- everybody's saying, "Whoa! Wait a minute. This could be a problem."
MAY: That is not a reason to do over the election.
FENN: But look at it. Look at it. Look at it.
PRESS: Hey, wait a minute. Don't tell me there was a Socialist Worker Party candidate on the ballot! I missed it!
CARLSON: Oh, no, you didn't. You voted for him, Bill. Come on!
PRESS: Peter Fenn and Cliff May, thanks for staying up late. Thanks for joining us today. OK.
We've got to talk to Joie Chen because Joie was in Atlanta...
CARLSON: Boy, was she.
PRESS: ... you know, last night during all of this mess. They were talking about the media. I want to get Joie's take on what it was like in that newsroom. And when we come back, Tucker, we're going to bring...
CARLSON: Oh, no.
PRESS: ... two of the real people, the real people.
CARLSON: The electors. The realest people and soon to be two of the powerest -- the most powerful people in the world. We'll meet them when we come back.
PRESS: In THE SPIN ROOM, Bill Press and Tucker Carlson.
CARLSON: There they are.
PRESS: Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM, your chance to sound off in this unbelievable evening. Twenty-four hours later, we still don't know who won. The telephone number, 1-800-310-4CNN, or you can join our chat at cnn.com or get your emails in -- we're looking for your nominations for Spin of the Day -- to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CARLSON: Yeah, Bill, it has been the longest, as you pointed out, 24 hours in a long -- in memory, really. And I'm interested -- Joie Chen, you were in Atlanta last night. How long were you...
CHEN: Do I look that tired?
CARLSON: ... on the set?
CHEN: Is that what you're trying to say?
CARLSON: Actually, you look pretty good! I'm impressed. But what -- I mean, were you trapped? It was like being in a subway car that broke down? What happened?
CHEN: Yeah, I was pretty much -- it was like the Jerry Lewis telethon, you know, just kind of kept going and going and...
CARLSON: Did you dance? Did I miss that?
CHEN: No, it was -- it was getting kind of out of hand. You know, people needed to go home and bathe and, you know, they're running out of food. It was getting very ugly around here.
But you know, I have to show you something. This is -- this is -- I mean, this shows you how, you know, I spend a little bit too much time on the weekends trying to -- I made up all these nice cards. You see all my nice cards? I made up all these cards over the weekend with all these little election facts that I was going to use on the air yesterday, like, from 1:00 o'clock to 5:00 o'clock in the morning -- 1:00 o'clock to 6:00 o'clock in the morning.
Well, guess what happened? Our big guns -- Bernie Shaw, Judy Woodruff -- they had to be on the air while all this was going on. So poor little me -- could you bring out the violins? I never got to be on TV. Do you feel badly for me? I had to sit here until 6:00 o'clock in the morning. I just got to watch it, but I never got to be on TV.
PRESS: Well, what was the mood in the newsroom when the network had to call and then un-call and call and un-call? Red faces all the way around?
CHEN: You know, I think we were just so shocked. I mean, we looked around. We thought, "Did they say that? Did CBS do that? Are we going to do that? Did the Associated Press do that?" We went back and forth, and people were trying to figure out what had actually happened.
We'd been getting calls since the -- since the first Florida call was made for Gore earlier in the evening, we'd been getting calls from viewers up on our information line. You people were very mean to our friends in the information room. But they were getting calls all night about this.
PRESS: Well, I'm glad I was in Washington and not in Atlanta.
PRESS: Thanks, Joie. Come back to you in just a little bit here.
And we've heard all about these electors. We want to take a good look at two real, live electors. We went out -- our good producers hunted them down today. Joining us now...
CARLSON: With a net.
PRESS: With a net, right! Mel Martinez, who is a Republican elector from Orange County, Florida, joins us from Orlando, Florida. He's also an attorney. And our Democratic elector is Mr. Art Pulaski. Mr. Pulaski's an elector from San Francisco and a labor leader in northern California -- statewide, actually, California.
CARLSON: Now, Mr. Pulaski, do you expect -- A, have you talked to any other electors since you became one? And do you have a sense -- people have been talking about this idea that electors could -- could sort of break from their commitment and vote for the other guy? Is that plausible at all, from your point of view?
ART PULASKI, DEMOCRATIC ELECTOR: Tucker, I should tell you not only have I not talked to any other electors, I have never met an elector before, and I've always wondered who the electors were, how they got selected and what they did when they got selected.
CARLSON: Well, Art, meet Mel.
PULASKI: And then, lo and behold, a couple of months ago I was called by my congressman, who said -- Tom Lantos in California -- who said, "I'd like to nominate you to be an elector," and that's how I got here. So the first time for me.
PRESS: Well, how about you, Mel Martinez? How do you end up being an elector in Florida? I mean, do you pay a lot of money? Did you give Bush a lot of money? Is that how you got the job?
MEL MARTINEZ, REPUBLICAN ELECTOR: No, actually, I'm also an elected official. I'm elected county chairman or county mayor of Orange County, Florida. But I got a call from the party chairman of the Florida Republican Party, Al Cardenas, and he asked me would I consider being an elector. And I told him I would. I thought it would be kind of interesting, if not a little dull. Now it's turned out to be a lot more excitement -- exciting assignment than I ever anticipated.
PRESS: Well, let me ask you, what kind of orders did you get from this guy that called you up? I mean, he told you you sign your life away, right?
MARTINEZ: Not really.
PRESS: You sign in blood that you will vote the way he tells you?
PRESS: Mel, you first.
MARTINEZ: I'm sorry. I didn't -- I didn't -- I was not told anything in particular. I was just asked would I be an elector. I think it's pretty well understood that if I'm an elector as a Republican and there's another slate that are Democrats, that I would go up there and vote for the Republican presidential nominee if he is successful in Florida. And that's what I intend to do, and I think that's what every reasonable elector has done over the history of this system and should do.
CARLSON: Now, Art, did you sign anything?
PULASKI: I didn't sign anything. I was asked to be an elector. And of course, I am a strong Gore supporter. And however, let me say that I think that we should be very careful to abide by the opinion of the electorate and to be sure that we support the votes of the electorate. And under extraordinary circumstances, I might say maybe we should reconsider how we vote. Under normal circumstances, of course, I'm going to be a very clear Gore supporter. But what happened in Florida, I think, is something that, really, we have to ask the electors -- they have to ask themselves -- what are they going to do?
PRESS: All right, Art, hold on -- Mel and Art, hold on just a second because we want to bring in a couple of our viewers here. In fact, this is a first, Tucker. Another first for this show. I love these firsts.
CARLSON: There's a first every time, Bill.
PRESS: Not one phone call, two phones.
CARLSON: A dual phone call.
PRESS: We got duelling phone calls here. It's Michael calling from Pennsylvania and Sue calling from Ohio.
CARLSON: Duke it out, guys!
PRESS: All right, Sue, let's start with you. So what do you think ought to happen, Sue?
CALLER #1: This is Sue from Ohio, and I think the Electoral College is very important, and it's just as viable today as it was when the Founding Fathers put it together. And you have two houses in Congress. The Senate protects the state rights and equality, and you have the representatives that protect the population numbers.
PRESS: All right...
CALLER #1: And the Electoral College...
PRESS: All right. OK, Sue. So Sue says keep the Electoral College. Let's hear from Michael in Pennsylvania.
CALLER #2: Hi, Bill.
PRESS: Do you agree? CALLER #2: No, I don't. I disagree completely, 100 percent. I think that in modern times, the people are more educated than they were at the time they created the Electoral College, and I think now it should be strictly popular vote.
PRESS: All right.
CARLSON: Well, that's -- Mel -- Mel, tell me this. I mean, this is -- I mean, you're going to be one of the people under pressure, presumably -- if this goes on, December 18th and is decided in the Electoral College, you're going to be one of the people the Bush campaign's looking at very closely. Have they called you just to sort of firm up your support?
MARTINEZ: No, they haven't. I think it's pretty well understood that I'll have the support there. I'm a big Bush supporter, and I'm going to be real proud to cast that ballot. But let me say this. This is not the time to debate the merits of the Electoral College. This is a time to play by the rules of the game that we all agreed upon. And the fact of the matter is, the merits of the Electoral College, whether good or bad, might be debated at another time and another place. Right now, we have a presidential election.
And you know, I'm an immigrant. I came to this country from another part of the world. And I'm such a believer in our system of democracy that I really think it's terribly important that we have that continuity, that we continue to have that -- that democracy that's admired around the world and that very, very orderly transition of power.
MARTINEZ: And I think that's what we should honor at this time.
PRESS: All right, the question to you and to our viewers, too, is if you were an elector, would you ever consider voting for somebody from the other party if that other party candidate had won the popular vote? Think about that.
We're going to take a break. And don't forget, as we take the break, we're looking for your nominations for the Spin of the Day.
CARLSON: We are eagerly waiting. We'll be back with more with Mel Martinez and Art Pulaski coming up on THE SPIN ROOM.
CARLSON: Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM. I'm Tucker Carlson, here with Bill Press. I believe we're making television history. Other programs talk about the Electoral College, we have two actual members of it.
PRESS: Yes. And you know, they may be vestiges of the 17th century, but they're not wearing wigs. They really look like real human...
CARLSON: Plus, there are vestiges!
PRESS: They look like real human beings. Mel Martinez from Florida -- he's on the left of your screen -- he's a Republican elector. Art Pulaski, San Francisco's on the right of your screen.
CARLSON: Very handsome vestiges. I have a question for you, Art Pulaski, Democrat of California. It seems to me that this puts you in a sort of an odd position. Here you are an elector, but the Electoral College could be the undoing of your guy. Do you feel conflicted about this?
PULASKI: Well, you know, I had an opinion before this election even happened that I wasn't sure that it made sense to have the Electoral College anymore. And perhaps you can convince me to keep it, but maybe it's time to put myself out of a job, even though it's a one-day job and it's not paid, but...
CARLSON: So you would make that sacrifice? You would unemploy yourself from a job...
PULASKI: I would sacrifice...
CARLSON: ... that doesn't pay, that lasts one day?
PULASKI: ... myself for the good of democracy. And I think that we may not need the Electoral College anymore and that the popular vote should do it. Now, remember, I believed that when -- or I was inclined toward that when I thought the reverse would be the condition, and that is that Gore would likely lose the popular but gain -- but win the electoral count.
PRESS: A lot of people thought that. Art and Mel, Joie Chen from Atlanta wants to jump in here because she's been listening to this and...
CHEN: Yeah, I have a question...
PRESS: ... as a good news person...
CHEN: ... for Mel.
PRESS: ... has a question. Go ahead.
CHEN: I have a question for Mel here. It's really not for you, as an elector, but you, as a taxpayer in the state of Florida, Mel. And that is this. I mean, your elections board is supposed to be counting these up. Now, the leader of the free world, that position is what is in balance here. And your folks went home at, like, 5:00 o'clock this afternoon. They're not going to start counting again until tomorrow morning. I mean, don't you think they should, like, be working through the night here and working on this?
MARTINEZ: Yeah, I wish they would get it done, frankly, and that was part of what I was pushing for them to do here in Orange Country, and they stayed pretty late. They just shut down about an hour ago here in Orange Country, and they got most of it done. They -- I'm sure that Orange County will be finished counting by noon tomorrow. About 26 or so counties in Florida are already finished. But I agree with you, Joie. I think they should have stayed right on through until they completed their job. I really think it's that important.
PRESS: All right, Mel, now, we're not trying to -- we're not trying to pick on you, but I do want to ask you this question. I mean, let's say it's a scenario where you know you're a member of an archaic institution, that the other guy, in this case, Al Gore, won the popular vote. And let's say it turns out that Bush gets Florida and he wins by one electoral vote. Would you consider voting your conscience, voting for the people and not voting for what your party tells you to do?
MARTINEZ: Well, I'll be voting my conscience, period. And my conscience would tell me very, very strongly that I should support George W. Bush as an elector from Florida. And I got to tell you, I mean, we're going to -- we have a system that's been in place for a very, very long time, and it -- our democracy has worked better than any other anywhere in the world. And the fact is that the Electoral College is a part of the federal system of government that we have. You know, it's part of the...
CARLSON: But aren't you a little tempted? I mean, is -- I know you're a Bush supporter...
CARLSON: ... and of course, there's no question you'd vote for him. But aren't you tempted, now that your vote is so incredibly valuable, just to extort something?
CARLSON: Jeff Greenfield suggested earlier maybe a new highway interchange or some ideological position? I mean, it's got to be tempting!
MARTINEZ: You know, we really, really do need transportation money into Florida. That would be...
CARLSON: Well, this is your chance!
MARTINEZ: ... very tempting. It's maybe my opportunity. I doubt it, though. I think that there are a lot bigger issues at stake. And frankly, it's fun to think about what one could get, but I believe George W. Bush will be very good to Florida. Actually, his brother will be tugging at his sleeve, constantly reminding him that we put him in the White House.
PRESS: All right, Art Pulaski, let's flip it around and let's say it was going to be just the opposite, right, that Bush might win the popular vote but Gore win the electoral vote, and you're on the other side. Wouldn't you consider doing some trading here? I mean, this is a great chance to wheel and deal, you know, get something for your vote. PULASKI: Well, you just gave me the idea. I hadn't thought of it before, Bill. But let me -- let me tell you, though, I think -- I think that the matter of conscience is very, very important to the electors. And I would challenge my fellow elector, Mel, over the question about are you so committed to your candidate that you would not allow your conscience to say, if those 19,000 votes, the irregularities that are happening in Palm Beach now -- shouldn't -- you shouldn't say "We're not going to -- I'm not going to vote for Bush until I'm confident those members of the public"...
PRESS: Quick answer, Mel.
PULASKI: ... "have their vote"...
MARTINEZ: Let me say...
PULASKI: ... "represented."
MARTINEZ: Art, nice try. Nice try. But let me say, first of all, I've heard the word "fraud." I've heard "irregularities." The fact of the matter is we're having a very orderly recount, and that's all that's happening in Florida. The fact of the matter is that, you know, the way to challenge an election is -- on the ballot issue is to do it before the election ever happens. And I don't believe that any of these legal challenges will really see the light of day. But Art, I would -- I would just want you to maybe follow Florida and do the right thing, and maybe you could vote for Bush.
CARLSON: Do the right thing? Well, Art -- Art Pulaski, Mel Martinez, thank you for joining us -- battle of the electors. You saw it first here on SPIN ROOM.
PRESS: Yeah, I have a feeling, Tucker, that these guys are going to stay right where they are. Diogenes is looking for the elector who's going to change his vote...
CARLSON: These are not the fabled undecided voters.
PRESS: Not one of these two guys, no.
Spin of the Day coming up. We've got some e-mail nominations here. We've got some phone calls coming in. Tucker's got his, I've got mine, and we want to hear the rest of yours. We'll be back with the Spin of the Day in THE SPIN ROOM. Bill Press and Tucker Carlson. Stay with us.
PRESS: Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM.
And now perhaps the most exciting part of the show. It's our -- it's time for the Spin of the Day. It's that statement you heard somebody make that drove you absolutely crazy.
CARLSON: Perhaps the most exciting? Oh, Bill. You're using understatement again. PRESS: I'm sorry. That's true. OK.
CARLSON: We have Michael on the line from California.
Michael, what was the statement that caused you to throw the beer bottle at the TV? What's your Spin of the Day?
CALLER: Well, nothing caused me to throw any beer bottles, but the fact of the matter is, during the election, where Dole got all the military votes, he had been a war hero. Mr. Clinton had avoided the situation. We have a situation now where Mr. Gore went to Vietnam, did not try to get out of that situation, and Mr. Bush did not. So I don't think it's an automatic given that the military vote from overseas is going to be given to the Republicans.
PRESS: OK, Michael, thank you -- Spin of the Day. We've got some e-mails here, too. Tucker?
CARLSON: We certainly do. We have my favorite, from someone whose name I can't pronounce. And the Spin of the Day is "Helen Reddy should be awarded for the Spin of the Day for her comment, quote, `I didn't want to vote for another white guy. That's why I voted for Nader.'" And I'm quoting now, "Duh. Isn't Nader another white guy? I'm sure he isn't female, and I know he isn't African-American or Asian-American." You are right!
PRESS: As you pointed out, he is a little on the pale side.
CARLSON: He is very pale!
PRESS: All right, Stanley Osborne's (ph) "Spin of the Day" nomination. "My Spin -- let Vice President Gore and Governor Bush fight the election out in court and meanwhile keep President Clinton in office." You see, Tucker?
CARLSON: Oh! I'm getting shivers!
PRESS: You didn't get rid of him, after all.
CARLSON: We have one right in the monitor. "If you can't read that ballot, you deserve to vote for Buchanan," it says, Steve Copeland. Excellent point, Steve Copeland. I totally agree. And I think Buchanan was counting in people with bad vision.
PRESS: There is another alternative to keeping Clinton in office, which is the co-presidency, someone suggested to me today. You just let Gore have the first three days of the week and Bush have the last four days of the week.
PRESS: And then once a year, you just sort of swap, you know, so that...
CARLSON: Equally horrifying. This is from Dee Zetti (ph). "My take on the Palm Beach ballot -- a Democrat designed it, a Democrat approved it. Let the DNC stop whining about it." Not a bad point, I'd say.
PRESS: All right. I liked whining. All right, here's my Spin of the Day. My Spin of the Day, a former colleague of ours right here on CNN, yes, the Reform Party candidate, went before the vast media today to explain his take on his dismal showing in yesterday's election. Here is the one and only Pat Buchanan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT BUCHANAN (REF), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I hadn't had the gall bladder surgery, we might have gotten -- we got 17,000 votes in Florida. If we'd gotten 20,000, Bush would have lost the state and the presidency.
I think it's better for America that Mr. Bush be appointing Supreme Court Justices than that Al Gore be appointing Supreme Court Justices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PRESS: Now, you know, Tucker, sometimes you just expect lightning to strike!
PRESS: It is totally outrageous. Number one, he's taking credit for letting Bush win California because he had gall bladder surgery and he was wasn't able to campaign. And number two, he's saying it's better to have Bush appoint Supreme Court Justices. Pat just ended up a year of campaigning against George W. Bush...
CARLSON: Well, that...
PRESS: ... saying you can't trust him to make appointments to the Supreme Court.
CARLSON: That is -- that is very bold, and he would win the boldness award for today, but that award, needless to say, always goes to the Democrats, particularly the Gore campaign.
PRESS: What have you got? What have you got?
CARLSON: Listen today to -- this is from a press conference that Bill Daley gave. He was asked the question, "Do you believe Al Gore won?" Here is what Bill Daley said.
PRESS: I hope he said yes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: There's no question he is ahead in the popular vote and ahead in the electoral vote. There is one state left to be decided, and we believe when those votes are counted and that process is complete, totally complete, Al Gore will have won the Electoral College and the popular vote, and therefore is -- will be the next president. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Now, that's a long answer, Bill, but the first three words are the key, "There's no question." Sounds fine. The only problem is, Al Gore didn't win! Actually, Al Gore is losing! And they don't understand it.
PRESS: Actually, there is a question. But you know, the same thing -- George Bush and Dick Cheney came out in front of the governor's mansion in Texas today and said, "We're confident that we're going to win." You know what both of those statements were, Tucker?
PRESS: Pure spin!
CARLSON: Pure, except one will come true!
PRESS: I know.
CARLSON: And the other won't.
PRESS: And maybe we'll know -- maybe we'll know this time tomorrow night. But you know what? We're out of time, guys.
CARLSON: We've got to get a longer show, I think.
PRESS: THE SPIN ROOM -- this is it for THE SPIN ROOM tonight. You know, we'll be back maybe for another SPIN ROOM. I guess, you know, we'll see you when...
CARLSON: When we see you!
PRESS: ... when we see you.
CARLSON: So don't ever turn the dial from CNN, then you'll be certain to catch us when and if we're ever on again.
PRESS: We never know when we're going to come back. Neither do you. But we'll be there with you one of these nights.
Spun out for tonight, I'm Bill Press. Thank you.
CARLSON: I'm Tucker Carlson. Good night.
PRESS: Good night, everybody.
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