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The Florida Recount: Rhetorical Battle Heats Up in Tallahassee; Judge Grants Temporary Injunction on Behalf of Two Voters

Aired November 10, 2000 - 2:01 p.m. ET


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Nobody likes to be stuck on hold, but that's exactly where we remain today. It appears the nation -- for that matter, the world -- will have to wait at least until next Friday to find out who will be the 43rd chief executive. An unofficial tally of all Florida counties gives George W. Bush a minuscule 327-vote lead over Al Gore out of 6 million votes cast. Let's stress these Associated Press numbers are not certified. And, in fact, it looks likes a few thousand overseas ballots, which will be counted a week from today, could determine who wins Florida and the presidency. Between the counting and the waiting, more high-voltage rhetoric from the campaigns.

Let's begin our coverage of the nation's unfinished business with CNN national correspondent Mike Boettcher in Tallahassee -- Mike.

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, hello, Natalie. Here in Florida where the war over the ballot box is being waged, the rhetorical battle really heated up in Tallahassee today. First up to the podium, former Secretary of State James Baker, who is representing the Bush campaign in this election recount in Florida. Now, he dangled the possibility that if this process continued, these challenges continued by Al Gore's campaign, he dangled the possibility of possible recounts in Iowa, New Mexico and Wisconsin, states that went for Gore. And he said, Gore should give up -- that was his bottom line -- enough is enough.


JAMES BAKER, OBSERVER FOR BUSH CAMPAIGN: Let the country step back for a minute and pause and think about what's at stake here. This may be the last chance to do that. There is no reasonable end to this process if it slips away.


BOETTCHER: Next to the podium were the surrogates for Vice President Gore. His campaign chairman, Bill Daley, along with former Secretary of State William Christopher, said that the lawyers for the Gore campaign now believe, after studying that controversial ballot in Palm Beach, that it is illegal. If you'll remember, 19,000 of the double-punches for president had to be eliminated from that ballot, and he says their lawyers say it is illegal. He asked the nation for patience and he said let the process work. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: The way to get these results is frustrating; frustrating to all of us in both campaigns, and to the American people, obviously, as well. But calls for a declaration of a victor before all the votes are accurately tabulated are inappropriate. Waiting is unpleasant for all of us, but suggesting that the outcome of a vote is known before all the ballots are properly counted is inappropriate.

BOETTCHER: Meanwhile, the official election count here in Tallahassee on the 18th floor has slowed somewhat because this is a holiday in Florida, Veterans Day. But they now have 65 of the 67 counties. All are not in. The unofficial count of all 67, as you know, this 327 gap between Vice President Gore and Gov. Bush, with Gov. Bush leading.

We shouldn't see any more movement, or very little movement, until Tuesday when there is a final count announced here, the ballots are certified. And then the next movement will be probably a week from today when all of those overseas ballot are opened and are counted in all the various counties, and then sent here.

The Republicans side says, traditionally in this state, those overseas ballots have gone Republican. But the Democrats say, let's stand back, let's watch it, let's be patient. So the rhetorical war continues here, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Mike Boettcher, thanks, in Tallahassee.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: And election workers in disputed Palm Beach County, and perhaps several other counties, will conduct a hand recount starting this weekend.

CNN's John Zarrella is covering things in West Palm.

John, what's the latest from there?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, it won't be just a hand recount. They're going to do that of about 1 percent of the vote, about 4,600 people. That was requested by the Democratic Party. The Republicans asked for a machine recount of the entire county's vote, and that will also be conducted tomorrow beginning about 9:00 a.m. We're not going to see any of that until -- the results of that -- until late tomorrow evening.

Now, about 40 miles south of us here in West Palm Beach right now, a couple of attorneys representing two women who have filed suit in Palm Beach are holding a press conference to discuss that suit. It's an important event because last night at about 8:30 p.m., a circuit court judge here in West Palm Beach granted a temporary injunction to those women on their suit.

Their suit challenges that they were misled, that they didn't have a proper opportunity to vote because of this ballot that is out there, the butterfly ballot, as it has become known, saying that it wasn't fair the way it was laid out. The judge is going to hold a hearing on this -- on all of this and hear their arguments sometime next Tuesday. We don't have an exact time for that hearing, but you can expect that it will be one major hearing.

While all of that is going on, there is a phone bank not too far from us here where members of the Democratic Party are gathering affidavits from people who say they voted for the wrong person just in case there's further legal action.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You feel that you voted incorrectly? And would you be willing to sign an affidavit?


ZARRELLA: Now, that phone bank, rather, got in about 5,000 phone calls during the last couple of days from people who said they picked the wrong person. In fact, a couple of the people who say they picked the wrong person talked with us a while ago while they were there filling out their affidavits.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was pretty stupid the way they arranged it. I think the way it was, I saw Gore as the No. 2 candidate, so I pushed No. 2, and I think that voted for Buchanan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I looked across, I mean, it seemed like I was voting for Gore, but I didn't realize the hole and the name, they just didn't line up.


ZARRELLA: Now, there will also be two rallies here; one on Sunday a little bit further south of us from here, one on Monday organized by Jesse Jackson, who, as he was leaving here today, said that he was very concerned about how democracy is going to be perceived in the rest of the world based the on what is happening here in the United States.


JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION: As I've traveled around the world, and the one the role that Jimmy Carter's played around the world, is to monitor elections: are they open, free, and are the fair? We assume that happens here all the time. And when it's not certified as open, free and fair, we withhold aid and diplomatic relationship. Now this has become an international embarrassment. This was not, in the end, a fair election.


ZARRELLA: No quick end to this story; certainly not here in West Palm Beach -- Lou. WATERS: Yesterday, John, the Democrats requested four counties to be hand-counted. West Palm is one of them, but there was also Volusia, Broward and Dade, I believe. What's happening on that score in those other counties?

ZARRELLA: Don't know exactly when those other counties will get started. A couple of them were supposed to get started today. It's going to take quite a bit of time. The hand counts take longer, obviously, than the machine counts. Here, it's going to take all day to count by hand. If it's in Dad and Broward and Volusia, bigger counties than this, I can imagine that that will take some time.

But they can't certify the results here until the judge on Tuesday hears the arguments in this lawsuit that has been filed. So that could further delay things as far as the state giving a final certified result to the vote because they can't certify Palm Beach County no matter what happens -- Lou.

WATERS: Right. OK, so you'll remain on duty in West Palm. John Zarrella from down there today.



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