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CNN Today

The Florida Recount: Gore Camp Decries 'Bluster and Arrogance' as Bush Holds Transition Meetings in Austin

Aired November 9, 2000 - 1:09 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And now to the candidates: Both are keeping relatively low profiles, at least for the moment, leaving it to their lieutenants to defend their interests in Florida. Still, one camp urges patience, the other is floating names of possible cabinet nominees.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve is in Austin, Jonathan Karl is in Nashville. Let's go first to Jeanne.

What's going on in Texas? And have you seen candidate Bush today?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Natalie, we haven't seen the governor. He is at the mansion conducting meetings today. And we do know that some of those are about the transition. At least one was conducted with Condoleezza Rice to discuss international policy. Dick Cheney, the vice presidential candidate, is also at the mansion. We know now that he is heading up the transition team. Recently, he was joined at the governor's mansion by Karen Hughes, who's the communications director, and Karl Rove, who is the chief strategist.

This is what we learned about the transition yesterday, that Colin Powell, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is expected to play a role in the administration, and that Andrew Card, the former secretary of transportation under Gov. Bush's father, and also his point man at the Republican National Convention, is expected possibly to be named White House chief of staff.

But transition meetings continuing today, a display of confidence, considering that we don't even know who's won this election yet -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Jeanne Meserve watching things in Austin, thanks.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The Gore camp, we're told, is rankled by what one adviser calls "bluster and arrogance" from the Bush camp.

CNN's Jonathan Karl is at Gore's national headquarters in Nashville.

What's the problem, Jon? JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. Well, what Jeanne talked about as a display of confidence on the part of the Bush campaign, Gore folks here are calling it a display of absolute arrogance, and they believe that George W. Bush may be embarrassed by this.

You may remember the Bush campaign going into the election, in fact on Election Day was talking about how they expected to rack up 313-360 electoral votes, talked about how their internal polls showed that they were going to take Florida by 5 percentage points. They -- the Gore people think the same kind of bluster is going on right now with this talk of a transition.

They're watching very carefully what's happening in Florida right now. They see that margin now falling below 800 votes, and they believe that there's cause for concern even after this recount is put in place.

The vice president himself is leaving tonight to go back to Washington, D.C. He's going to have in place -- his people are putting in place a committee up there, kind of a successor to the campaign, a committee that would overlook the recount and overlook any legal challenges that would be possibly tendered to this vote in Florida.

The Gore campaign thinks this is far from over, that this recount that we're seeing today is just a first step and it may be several days, possibly even a couple of weeks, before this is resolved.

That said, the vice president himself has said that he wants an expeditious conclusion to this. His aides are also saying they want to get this over with as quickly as possible. But The phrase you keep hearing out of the Gore campaign is "rush to judgment." They do not want to see a rush to judgment in this case -- Lou.

WATERS: All right, Jonathan Karl in Nashville.

And Jeanne Meserve down there in Austin, what's the Bush camp saying about these alleged irregularities, ballot irregularities in Florida?

MESERVE: Well, Lou, first of all, they want to make it clear that they have confidence in the integrity of the recount so far. They think it's proper that it should be going forward and that it's being done well.

However, you are hearing them start to make comments about how the Gore campaign is seizing on all of the irregularities that have been found. One campaign staffer said to us a short time ago, "I think what the American people are seeing is an attempt by the Gore campaign to politicize a calm and thoughtful process."

The Bush campaign, meanwhile, minimizing the irregularities that have been found. Secretary of State James Baker, who is overseeing the recount in Florida for the Bush campaign, saying, hey, if you've got a double-punched ballot, the law is you throw it out; hey, if this ballot wasn't unclear, Democratic officials had a chance to look at it and approve it or disapprove it before this election took place.

So they are taking issue with much of what is being said in Florida, but still saying it's proper for the recount to go forward, and certainly saying they expect their man to win -- Lou.

WATERS: And you also have James Baker saying today that the recount, which we're expecting to be completed sometime today, may not end this.

MESERVE: That's right. There is an acknowledgement that those overseas absentee ballots which have to come back may be critical here and will have to be taken a look out -- Lou.

WATERS: OK, Jeanne Meserve, Jonathan Karl keeping watch over both of the camps.

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