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The Florida Recount: Bush Camp Awaits Final Results From Florida

Aired November 10, 2000 - 10:16 a.m. ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back live in Tallahassee, Florida. We continue to await the recount of the ballots that were cast in this past week's election. We want to talk more about what's happening behind the scenes because there are so many things that we need to work out; not only through journalists working here, but also to allow people to get an indication of what's happening outside.

I'm going to stop myself just because Karen Hughes, now, talking in Austin, Texas; let's listen in there.

KAREN HUGHES, BUSH CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: ... now meeting with Secretary Cheney. We've been on a conference call with Secretary Baker in Florida. I understand that Secretary Baker is going to be having a news conference in Florida shortly to talk about events there.

We've now had a vote on Tuesday night that showed Governor Bush won Florida. We have had a recount that has showed Governor Bush won Florida.

The only votes still outstanding are the overseas absentee ballots, which are in the process of coming in. And we think -- I understand that those are in the process of coming in, and will be counted a week from Friday.

But we would certainly hope that the Democrats would stop this talk of endless legal battles and still more recounts. We've had a vote. We have laws in this country. We have a constitutional process. We have had a vote. We have now had a recount of that vote, and both of those confirm that Governor Bush, in fact, carried the state of Florida.


HUGHES: Well, Doug, I think, obviously, this is a -- we're in the midst of an ongoing process.

The media is reporting the returns of the recount of the vote. Not all of those have yet been officially certified by the state of Florida, but he believes that he has a responsibility to begin some discussions.

We've had discussions about a transition; they've been ongoing. I think both campaigns, before the election, as part of their responsibility should they win the election, began the process of some transition planning. And so, he is proceeding with some of those discussions.

But, again, at this point, we are still watching the events in Florida, and he's receiving regular updates from there.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what role Andy Card is playing in that respect?

HUGHES: Well, Andy Card is an adviser to the governor. He was the chairman of our convention. And we have not made any further announcements at this point.

QUESTION: Would he be a likely choice for chief of staff?

HUGHES: Again, we've not made any further announcements at this point.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) talked to Al Gore (OFF-MIKE)?

HUGHES: No, he has not. No, he has not -- not since -- not since the night when the vice president called to retract his concession.

QUESTION: How is he holding up? Is it starting to wear on him at all? I mean, you -- who knows how long this is going to take?

HUGHES: Actually, he is in -- he's in very good spirits. He -- governor -- one of the things I've learned about Governor Bush, over the course of six years working for him, is that he is very steady.

He is -- he is conducting himself the way you would hope a leader should conduct himself. He's being thoughtful, he's been deliberative, he is getting regular updates on the situation in Florida, he is meeting with his officials from -- he is still the governor of Texas, and is meeting with officials from the governor's office about state business.

He is also meeting with Secretary Cheney and others to discuss preparations for a potential transition.


QUESTION: ... rattle him at all?

HUGHES: I think he's, again, very steady and very calm. I think the American people should have a lot of confidence in Governor Bush, based on the steady and calm and responsible way that he has handled these unusual events.

QUESTION: Karen, would it be fair to say that preliminary discussions about transition are underway?

HUGHES: Well, preliminary discussions have been underway for some time. Again, both campaigns, even before Election Day, began the process of some preliminary planning, because transitions are a short period of time in which you have an enormous amount of work to do. And whoever becomes the president on January 20 has an awesome responsibility, to protect the national security interests of our country, and to put in place a government in a very peaceful and orderly transfer of power.

And so there have been some preliminary discussions. I imagine that there were some before the election and they are ongoing.

QUESTION: And is Andy Card taking part in those now?

HUGHES: Andy Card has been involved in meetings, yes.

QUESTION: Do you expect Gore to issue some statement to stop the demonstrations and accept the vote tally on Friday?

HUGHES: Well, I think that at this point that everyone needs to think about what is best for our country. And we have a constitutional process, we have laws, we have rules. Those laws and those rules have been followed. The vote has now been counted and recounted. And I hope that the vice president and his campaign officials would think through their responsibility to this country and to our process.

I don't think anyone thinks that a lengthy and protracted, scores of lawyers, endless legal battles, with no reasonable or foreseeable conclusion would be healthy for the country.

QUESTION: Is the governor likely to speak publicly today?

HUGHES: I believe that we will have a pool, we will take a pool inside to the Governor's Mansion later today.


HUGHES: 1:30 this afternoon.


HUGHES: We will take a pool into the governor's mansion to get some coverage of one his meetings. He's meeting this afternoon with Larry Lindsay, his chief economic adviser, and with Dr. Condoleezza Rice, his chief foreign policy adviser. And we will take a pool of you in there to see part of that meeting, and to...

QUESTION: Will he be going to Florida?

QUESTION: Is that just for pictures, Karen? Or is he going...

HUGHES: He will take some questions.

QUESTION: Is he going to Florida?

HUGHES: No, he's not.

QUESTION: Karen, at what point do you say, OK, it's over, we won, we're it. I mean, do you just keep waiting, or...

HUGHES: Well, again, I think both parties need to think about their responsibility to the country. There has been a vote. There has now been a recount of that vote. Both the vote and the recount have confirmed that Governor Bush did indeed win the state of Florida.

The recount of the vote is being reported by the media. We believe it is accurate. It's still yet to certified, however, by the secretary of state's office.

QUESTION: Once it's certified, is that it, as far as the governor is concerned?

HUGHES: Well, again, there are the -- the only votes remaining to be counted are these overseas absentee ballots. Historically, they have favored Republican candidates.

In fact, in 1996, they went pretty overwhelmingly for Bob Dole, who was our nominee at the time, even though he did not carry the state of Florida this year.

So I think it's a logical and historical assumption that those votes would favor Governor Bush, who did carry Florida in this election. But those votes are still coming in to the state of Florida.


QUESTION: ... concerns about this thin margin? Whichever the election goes, and it's obvious that the Bush team believes that it's gone his way, what are his concerns about this thin margin?

HUGHES: This has been a close election. But I will remind Americans that Governor Bush earned more popular votes on Tuesday night than President Clinton did, in either 1996 or 1992.

So, clearly, there are a large number of Americans who have great confidence in Governor Bush. The people of Texas, who have seen him operate as their governor, have great confidence in Governor Bush. He is a leader who will work to unite our country. He will reach out and seek to unite, just as he's done here in the state of Texas.

I got to go to the office.

QUESTION: At what point, though -- I mean, is it after the absentee ballots are counted that you would feel confident in declaring victory? That's what I'm trying to understand.

HUGHES: I understand that. Again, I just -- I can only say to you that there's been a vote -- there's now been a recount of that vote in the -- and we hope that the vice president and his campaign will reconsider this talk of endless lawsuits, and still yet more recounts.

And I want to make one point about that. They're now talking about a manual recount. Well, there is a reason that across the country people went to machine and computer counts, because they tend to be more accurate, they avoid the potential for human error or mistakes or potential tampering. And so there is a reason that computer counts, which we've now had two of, are viewed as more valid than manual counts.

And we think in the -- and we certainly hope, that in the best interests of the country that the vice president and his team will think carefully about this talk of lawsuits and endless recounts which have no foreseeable conclusion.

Thank you all very much.

HEMMER: All right, Karen Hughes, the communications director of the Bush campaign talking with reporters live there in Austin, Texas. And Karen Hughes talked about a number of things from the Bush campaign's perspective, but one thing that is clear in the question- answer session there with reporters is that they are waiting right now for the results out of this state, Florida, to be delivered possibly on Tuesday, possibly on the following Friday, a week from today.



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