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Special Event

Bush and Gore Campaigns Await Florida Supreme Court's Decision on Manual Recounts

Aired November 21, 2000 - 4:00 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: The waiting game continues. Florida's Supreme Court considering a case which could make or break the presidential race, and its seven justices are working on no one's timetable but their own.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Across the street, a rousing show of support for a key figure in Florida's recount controversy. The new state legislature on its feet for Secretary of State Katherine Harris.

ALLEN: And a Thanksgiving travel crush under way. A word to the wise: don't be surprised if it's not all smooth sailing.

Hello to you. I'm Natalie Allen.

CHEN: I'm Joie Chen, in this afternoon for Lou Waters.

Two weeks to the day after nearly 100 million of us cast our ballots for president, the world still awaits the judgment of Florida's Supreme Court. The seven justices are still considering what should happen with thousands of ballots being counted by hand now in Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties.

When the court's decision will come is anybody's guess, but the process is now less of a mystery: The justices meet and somehow are able to reach a majority opinion. One justice is chosen by lottery to write it. It could be several pages long; it could be a single sentence. Whatever is written will be the court's ruling. Both sides in the ballot dispute will have to accept it, unless one or the other seeks further review in the federal courts.

The Florida Supreme Court carries out its business in Tallahassee, that is the state's capital city and that is where we find CNN's Deborah Feyerick, who has the latest on a new action filed in the Florida Supreme Court by the Bush camp regarding the ballot counting.

Deborah, tell us what it is.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

Well, the Bush team just filed a new addendum just a short while ago, basically they're telling the justices that they have no authority to set rules on which ballots can and cannot be counted, and they filed this paper saying that the court is without power to decide this question of ballot standards, because there's no case before them raising that question.

And this was an argument that was put forward very forcefully by the Democrats late in yesterday's oral argument. It was also made in the brief filed at 3:00 on Sunday, the Republicans saying that they did not have a chance to answer that reply brief, because they just didn't have the time to look at it.

Now, the brief says that Bush's lawyers should be given a chance to argue this if, in fact, the justices do rule on the ballot-standard question, and they want to make sure that they have this part of their case heard before those justices. Right now, though, all relatively quiet here at the Supreme Court, no word on when the decision will be made. All we are told is that the media, and therefore the public, will be given a 30-minute warning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRAIG WATERS, FLORIDA SUPREME COURT SPOKESMAN: After an argument, the justices will meet in conference and go over their initial impressions about the case. They sometimes will make an initial vote. There is a justice that is assigned to write a majority opinion; some justices may agree with that, but want to write a separate opinion of their own; some may disagree and decide to write a dissenting opinion. Typically, they break up and go back and start doing research and start drafting opinions. They sometimes write memoranda and circulate those to other members of the court just to get feedback on particular issues. Eventually, there will be a majority opinion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: The new lawmakers were sworn in today as part of the Florida legislature, among those in the crowd, Secretary of State Katherine Harris, she was given a standing ovation. She has been very popular around these parts. She's received dozens and dozens of roses in her office, but again, the lawmakers there giving her that standing ovation.

Now, one outstanding question -- or actually there are several -- but one other outstanding question, of course, that on the military overseas ballots, the attorney general today said that they should be counted. Yesterday, he had urged the counties to take another look; today he is saying, yes, as a matter of law those ballots should be counted. He's also saying that when this comes up before the governor and the legislature, it is an issue that he will raise so that it doesn't happen again.

And one point of clarification, Joie, that you mentioned and that is that the person who writes the opinion may not necessarily be in the majority, and that's what's a bit interesting about all of this, they are chosen by lottery and so if it's 4-3 -- well, somebody who is not in the majority could be writing this ruling -- Joie.

CHEN: Deborah, does that mean then that the other justices would then -- I mean, they -- would they consent to the opinion as it's written, even if it's written by a dissenting member?

FEYERICK: Sure, they all take a look at it. And as a matter of fact, according to the court's spokesperson, the name of the justice who writes the opinion doesn't even necessarily need to be on it, we'll most likely see the chief justice's name, but the other name may not appear.

CHEN: Interesting.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick for us in Tallahassee, Florida -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Well, as for those recounts: In Broward County, manual inspections give Gore a net gain right now of 115 votes, with 585 of 609 precincts counted. They are getting close there. In Palm Beach County, Gore has a net gain of 3 votes, with 104 of 531 precincts counted. And in Miami-Dade, Gore picks up a net gain of 72 votes, with 78 of 614 precincts counted. Altogether, that's 190 unofficial new votes for Gore.

The official but not yet final statewide tally has Bush in the lead by 930 votes. The recount figures come from the local canvassing boards. And until the state Supreme Court rules, we do not know whether they will be included in the final tally.

George W. Bush is waiting, along with everyone else, for some definitive word from Florida. Today, the Texas governor spent some time in his offices at the state capital.

For more about his day, here's CNN's Jeanne Meserve from Austin -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And before we get to that, Natalie, I asked a Bush aide about those numbers coming out of the Florida recounts, he said he refused to play the numbers game and pointed out once again, as the Bush campaign has repeatedly for weeks now, that they believe this is an extraordinarily flawed process. The governor is now at campaign headquarters here in Austin saying thank you to some of the people who have been working so hard for him well past the date they thought they might be.

We've seen actually quite a bit of the governor today as compared to previous days, he went to the state house to work this morning and did some state business, and when he came out there was a big crowd on hand to meet him, he did a lot of meeting and greeting and shaking of hands, took some encouraging words from them, and they did give him a big ovation. This is, after all, the home town crowd.

He went to his state house office early this morning, as I mentioned, did some state business, but he was doing other things as well. We know that he met with some of his top campaign people, including Karl Rove, the campaign's chief strategist. He also met there with Andrew Card, Card was the transportation secretary in his father's administration and we do know that he is rumored to be Bush's pick for White House chief of staff if there is a new Bush administration. You'll recall that transition planning was going on quite openly in the early stages of this dispute and Bush came under some criticism for being a little presumptuous, and so the transition planning is continuing, but being done much more quietly now. And so, the governor trying to present an air of normalcy here, but waiting and watching as we all are to see what that Florida Supreme Court rules.

Natalie, back to you.

ALLEN: All right, Jeanne Meserve in Austin.

Now to Joie.

CHEN: Bush isn't the only candidate, of course, waiting to learn what the Florida Supreme Court will decide. The vice president is going about his business in Washington while he waits for word there.

CNN White House correspondent John King has been following the Gore camp, he joins us now from Washington -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And, Joie, the vice president keeping very quiet until the Florida state Supreme Court rules, his camp believes that's the best thing to do, try not to interfere in the court's deliberations. But they do have surrogates out making the vice president's case on the two big controversies before the court and involved in the recount effort: one is those overseas military ballots -- over the weekend quite a storm, hundreds of those disqualified because they did not have a postmark, Republicans screaming that Democrats are anti-military, that's one controversy.

The other one, as Deborah Feyerick discussed, whether the court will give any guidance on whether we should count those ballots that are dimpled but not punched all the way through. Sent into this ballot -- into this fight today -- excuse me -- for the vice president, Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, he is, most will recall, a decorated Vietnam veteran, he was sent down to Florida, he made the case that the vice president has no problem at all with going back and taking a second look at those disqualified military ballots and seeing if they should be counted.

But, Senator Kerrey said, and this now a key part of the Democrats' strategy, that if you are going to take a second look at them, then why not also take a close look at those dimpled ballots, the ballots that have a clear mark or a push next to a candidate's name, but are not punched all the way through.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ROBERT KERREY (D), NEBRASKA: Governor Bush is willing to say that we ought to take intent into account for overseas voters; then I would challenge him to do the same thing for other voters in the state of Florida. On that basis, I think we could have this thing wrapped up in very short order.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Now, it is those dimpled ballots, the contested ballots that are key for the Gore camp. Some Democrats in Washington discouraged that those early preliminary numbers we are hearing from the county-by-county recounts, they clearly show the vice president not making up as much ground as many Democrats had anticipated.

What the Gore camp says is this, that you have in the middle of these recounts the contested ballots, those dimpled ballots, or some sort of marking next to a candidate's name, but the chad not punched all the way through -- the Gore camp voicing confidence that if those ballots are counted in the counties where the recounts are under way, that the vice president will make up more than enough ground.

They are pushing for the counties to do that on their own, but they very much hope not only that the state Supreme Court rules in their favor and says the secretary of state must consider the recount results. They also hope that the state Supreme Court issues some guidance urging the counties to look at the intent of the voters as the Gore camp says Florida law allows. That's one of the reasons the Bush camp went back to court today, because they believe if the state Supreme Court says, look at those dimples, see if you can judge the voters' intent, that the vice president will in the end make up that lost ground -- Joie.

CHEN: John, as you so rightly underlined, there has been no sea change in the numbers for the vice president. There are complaints on the military ballot question as well, complaints, charges against the Gore campaign in terms of involvement in the courts.

No matter what the legal outcome is, does the Gore camp feel that it is effectively fighting the PR war, the hearts and minds of the voters and the American public?

KING: The hearts and minds of not only the voters, but also Democrats, who the vice president needs their support to keep this process going. All along they have said that the keys to keeping public and party support are for the recounts to continue, that if the Supreme Court shuts them down, then most Democrats would concede this is over, and also to show evidence he is making up ground. That's why they think it is so critical to start counting those contested ballots, because they understand, even as we await this big legal decision, that yes, on the public relations front, they need to be showing progress to justify to the American people and to fellow Democrats that the vice president should stay in there and keep fighting.

CHEN: John King for us from Washington.

ALLEN: When we come back here, we'll talk with Roger Cossack, who will share his insights on the Florida recount and the legal maneuvers surrounding it.

CHEN: And in the Middle East today, Israeli-Palestinian tensions continue to grow as Egypt deals a diplomatic blow to Israel, calling its ambassador back to Cairo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHEN: Continuing our special coverage now of the Florida recount, CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack is keeping a very close watch on the latest developments in that election battle in Florida. He joins us now from Washington.

Roger, just a few minutes ago, we heard from CNN correspondent Deborah Feyerick, who's in Tallahassee at the Supreme Court, and she told us a bit about the latest filing from the Bush lawyers. It seems to sort of get a last word in from the proceedings yesterday. Can you explain to us what the significance is?

ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: well, this is -- this is exactly what you said, Joie. This is sort of a last firing before hoping that they can get this in before the Supreme Court makes their decision.

What this is, is the Bush camp coming back and saying to the Supreme Court, look, one of the things you cannot do that you've been asked to do is set some standards on what the intent is of the voters during the recount. In fact, what they say -- I have the motion right here in front of me. What they say the court is without power to decide this question on ballot standards, because there's no case before them raising the questions.

So what they're saying is, look, this is an intensely fact-bound situation. The intent of the voters is fact-bound. This isn't the kind of thing that you can decide on previous cases, on previous law. You would have to have evidence placed in front of you. You would have to have testimony. We don't have that kind of time, judge. We've got to have a decision right away.

And so in a vacuum, you just can't be setting out, the Supreme Court can't be just setting out standards for how and when to decide what the intent of the voters are.

The Gore camp, of course, replies and says, look, they're just trying to delay this court from making their decision.

It's actually not a bad argument. It's something that we have talked about. It's very difficult, I think, for the Supreme Court to set up a series of standards of what the voters when they maybe half- punched the card or dimpled the chad or whatever the case may be.

CHEN: The questions of interpretation, I guess, Roger. But looking at it as a layman, I'm a little puzzled that lawyers would try to tell the Supreme Court this is what we think your limit is, and what you can decide, and what you can do. That seems like a little bit of dicey business, telling the justices what the limits are.

COSSACK: Well, you know some might use the word chutzpah in a situation like that. But...

CHEN: Well, that's your word. I am not going to try that, Roger. COSSACK: But I might tell you this, Joie: that lawyers tell the Supreme Court or courts all the time that they don't have the power to go ahead and do things that the court may try and do or try not to do. I mean, one of the things we talk about -- lawyers talk about all the time is jurisdiction. Do you have the jurisdiction to do this? Do you have the power to do this?

And so it is a -- it is a legitimate legal argument to go to the court say: You know, judge, no disrespect, but we just don't think that the jurisdiction or the limitations of this court are such -- or we think they are such that you just don't have the power to make this decision. And I -- there's nothing really wrong with that argument. And it's not as insulting as it may sound.

CHEN: CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack joining us from Washington. Thanks, Roger -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Wall Street closed up a little while ago. Let's get the latest numbers from Fred Katayama -- Fred.

FRED KATAYAMA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Natalie.

Investor caution was the name of the game here on Wall Street. The major indexes spent most of the day searching for direction. Now, while the Dow Jones industrials managed to eke out a modest gain, the Nasdaq composite slipped back into the minus column. The Dow ended a three-session losing streak, adding 31 points. But don't be fooled by today's gains. Trading volume was relatively light ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. And Big Board losers outpaced gainers. Analysts say that means today's gains lacked any true conviction.

Boeing led the Dow's advance, jumping three points. Agilent Technologies rose four. The Hewlett-Packard spin-off easily beat quarterly earnings estimates, as sales rose 36 percent. Nortel Networks also closed solidly higher. The networking-equipment company said it's on track to meet fourth-quarter earnings and sales forecasts. On the flip side, investors got more bad news from Lucent Technologies.

Its shares plunged to their lowest level in 3 1/2 years. The company says revenue from last quarter might have to revised down by as much as $125 million due to an accounting problem. IBM was the biggest loser on the Dow, dropping more than four. Now, for the second day in a row, the Nasdaq composite closed at its lowest level in more than a year. The tech-dominated index shed just four points on top of yesterday's 151-point rout. Yahoo! fell $7 a share after negative comments from Morgan Stanley.

And that's the latest from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Now to Natalie in Atlanta.

ALLEN: And we take a look at other news around the world: the Clinton administration urging all sides in the Middle East to remain engaged in the peace process -- this after a player in the talks was called home following an escalation in the violence between Israelis and Palestinians. For more on the latest developments, here's CNN's Jerrold Kessel in Jerusalem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The aftermath of Israel's retaliatory missile strike at select targets in Gaza, an attack which has prompted Egypt to recall its Tel Aviv ambassador, Mohammed Bassiouni, a protest against what Cairo calls Israel's escalated aggression. It's not clear how long the ambassador will be kept away.

Taken aback, Israel's prime minister expressed regret that this could hamper Egypt's role as a mediator.

EHUD BARAK, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Egypt contributed a lot to the peace process and has a role in it all along the way. But, you know, we can just hope that in a certain time he will come back.

KESSEL: The Israeli prime minister was visiting Israeli troops near the area where, the day before, a bus taking Jewish settler children to school was bombed. Two settlers were killed, nine wounded, mostly children, in the attack which prompted Israel's airstrike on Gaza.

Even as Mr. Barak was speaking, not far away, another Israeli motorist shot and seriously wounded. Israel says he was ambushed by gunfire from a Palestinian police position.

Palestinians bury a member of their security forces killed in one clash, even as at least six more Palestinians were killed in a spate of fresh confrontations around the West Bank and Gaza.

In Gaza, Yasser Arafat visited the wounded from the Israeli airstrike.

AHMED ABDEL RAHMAN, PALESTINIAN CABINET SECRETARY: For us, I think it is the end of the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis. They want to destroy the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KESSEL: But Yasser Arafat is still committed to the peace process, says Mohammed Dahlan, one of the Palestinian leader's top security men. He added, "he has still a tiny, a very tiny hope for the peace process."

With either assessment, Palestinians say, the recall of the Egyptian ambassador reflects increasing concern in the entire region.

SAEB ERAKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: It's really a clear message that Mr. Barak cannot continue dancing in accordance with the rhythm of Israeli extremists because this Israeli government's action is really pushing Palestinians, Israelis and the Middle East region as a whole in the direction of darkness, in the direction of anarchy, chaos, violence and counterviolence.

KESSEL: Israeli officials dispute that. ALON LIEL, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY: We have this violent conflict for eight weeks already, and there was no spillover. Not to Jordan, not to Lebanon, definitely not to Egypt. It's between us and the Palestinians.

KESSEL: But now Egypt's recall of its ambassador makes clear the dilemma Prime Minister Barak feels he faces.

(on camera): He is seeking to contain the Palestinian intifada forcefully, but in so doing his concern that that may further alienate Israel's other Arab neighbors and so risk the battles with the Palestinians being transformed into a region-wide conflict.

Jerrold Kessel, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHEN: We'll return more with more of our special coverage of the election recount in Florida. When we return, CNN's Mark Potter is going to interview Senator Bob Kerrey, who's working on behalf of the Gore campaign. as an observer in Florida now.

ALLEN: We will get the latest on the counties that are counting when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHEN: While they await the decision from Florida's Supreme Court, elections officials in three big south Florida counties continue to count presidential ballots by hand.

CNN's Mark Potter is covering the recount in Palm Beach County and he joins us now from West Palm -- Mark.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joie, there are two things going on here. There's the count inside, and then there's everybody outside talking about it. Criticizing, and complaining about it, and believe me, that's been going on all day today. That's the bottom line, here.

As for the count, it is progressing. They are inside doing the count, trying to get as many of the precincts taken care of before the Thanksgiving holiday as they can. They're not going to finish by Thanksgiving and the canvassing board has said that it's going to be here over the weekend trying to take care of some of those contested ballots. In fact, more than some. There are thousands of them that they have to deal with. So, we're going to be into this process probably until next week.

Now, as for the criticisms and the complaining and the talking, that's clearly a bipartisan effort. The Democrats are saying that they're concerned about those dimpled chads, and they're very worried that the canvassing board is not including them in the final count as a judge had instructed them to do or at least to consider them. And they're going to go back to court to deal with that issue.

And we have visitor here from the Democratic Party, Senator Bob Kerrey. You came down here not just for the weather, I presume.

SEN. ROBERT KERREY (D), NEBRASKA: No, no.

POTTER: Well, well, what's your thinking about what's going on here?

KERREY: What we were just talking about it. I mean, the Democrats are saying that voter intent matters, and if you're going to do a recount, the intent of the voter should be considered. You've got elderly voters who were not able to punch all the way through and not break it, and we think that Florida law allows that discretion to be made by local people, and the local people are making that discretion.

On the Republican side, I've got to say they are not doing the same thing. They are questioning Al Gore's legitimacy to be commander in chief of the United States of America as a result of disqualification of some overseas and military ballots.

They are saying that Al Gore's engaging in fraud, that's he's trying to steal the election. They're using language that's inaccurate, and that if Gore is declared the winner -- and one of these guys is going to win, and this is just a thousand voters out of 6 million -- if Gore is declared the winner, they're going to make it more difficult for him to govern.

I mean, any Democrat that gets up and says that George Bush can't be commander in chief as a consequence of what he's doing or he's trying to steal the election, I would criticize as well. None of it should be making that sort of thing. This is an orderly process. I've been in here, and I've been in the one in Dade County. It's an orderly process and we'll eventually figure out who the winner is.

POTTER: Well, the Republicans are saying the Democrats are doing anything they can to fish for votes.

KERREY: That's just not true. That's exactly what I'm saying, it's not true. We had a machine count on Wednesday and Thursday after the election. They found 4,000 votes. Were those machines fishing for votes? No. They found 4,000 votes that were not counted. Now, that's four times the number of the current margin.

I mean, we didn't fish for votes. We are just trying to get an accurate count of the votes and if George Bush is the president, God bless him. But if it is Al Gore, God bless him as well.

POTTER: Thank you very much. Appreciate that.

Now, not to be outdone, the Republicans have been trotting out their luminaries as well. We heard a little while ago from former Labor Secretary Lynn Martin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYNN MARTIN (R), FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: Who are we to judge fully the intent of the voter? How many times are you going to handle a ballot? How do you make a dimple? Is a half dimple, is it a Kirk Douglas dimple? Is it a terrific dimple? How pregnant are you? We used to ask that question. You know, a little pregnant, a lot pregnant. The answer is there is not even in the score of the heavens above someone who would be able to figure out the intent of a voter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POTTER: Now that item that the Democrats are taking to court involving the dimpled chads, that will be heard by Judge Jorge Labarga tomorrow at the Palm Beach County courthouse at 10:00 in the morning.

This is Mark Potter, CNN, reporting live from West Palm Beach, Florida.

ALLEN: The partisan P.R. battle in full force there. Thank you, Mark.

Well, the hand recount also going on in Broward County, but much of the work there has been completed.

Let's talk about that with CNN's Susan Candiotti -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Natalie.

Indeed, they are closing in on completing all 609 precincts, 99 percent now done with 605 of 609 precincts having been reviewed. And so far, a net gain of 123 votes for Vice President Gore. So, there is light at the end of the tunnel for these 70 or so teams of people that you see working now consisting of ballot counters and partisan observers.

Canvassing board officials project that once these workers finish recounting about 50,000 absentee ballots, and more than 1,160 have been done so far. They plan on shutting down these floor operations and these people will be able to go home.

Now, tomorrow morning, the canvassing board expects to begin taking up the issue of dimpled ballots here in Broward County. That, of course, will be a tougher call to figure out what the voter was thinking. And given the small number of votes for Vice President Gore in the recount here in Broward County Democrats of course are pinning hopes on picking up many more votes for Vice President Gore.

The Republicans are charging here as they are elsewhere that this recount is way out of hand, far too subjective and are hoping that the Florida Supreme Court will shut the process down or at least throw out consideration of those so-called dimpled ballots or partially punctured ones.

Now, they did announce just a few minutes ago that the canvassing board discovered two or three absentee ballots with tape on the back of them where someone had punched out a hole in the ballot, taped it up and then punctured another hole for a different candidate. Those two or three absentee ballots have been rejected by the canvassing board, counted as overvotes.

Susan Candiotti, CNN reporting live in Plantation, Florida.

CHEN: And the hand recount also continues in Florida's biggest urban area, that's Miami-Dade County.

Joining us now from Miami, CNN's Frank Buckley -- Frank.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joie, the vote here in Miami- Dade County expected to continue until 8:00 p.m. Eastern. So far, the tally after 78 precincts of 614 precincts have been recounted, the tally shows Al Gore with a net gain of 72 votes here in Miami-Dade over George W. Bush.

The hand counting began again this morning as Republicans were ratcheting up their criticisms of the canvassing board here. Republicans say the process is flawed and prone to human error. And they were in court this morning to convince Judge David Tobin of that and to ask for the collection of what it considers evidence, or what the Republicans consider evidence, the chads that fall to the ground.

Ultimately, Judge Tobin ruled against the Republicans. Democrats saying it was just the latest in a series of legal maneuvers by Republicans to stall the process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN ZACK, DEMOCRATIC PARTY ATTORNEY: I think each judge has clearly seen what the endgame is, and that game is to delay the process at any cost as opposed to finding out what the voters decided in this election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKLEY: Again, voting here in Miami-Dade County expected to continue for another three and a half hours or so. Then it will continue every day with one day off for Thanksgiving. The elections officials here expecting the job to be completed here by December 1st.

Frank Buckley, CNN, reporting live from Miami.

ALLEN: And we've got a different topic now to talk about, because snow is usually not a big deal in Buffalo, New York.

CHEN: Well, this was no ordinary snowfall, however. Coming up here, we'll tell you about problems folks in Buffalo are having after their first snowstorm of the season.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: Well, this is quite the snowstorm, even by Buffalo standards. Over two feet of snow blanketed the Upstate New York City in less than 24 hours. That is almost a record. Yesterday's storm caught people by surprise. And wherever they were when it hit, in their cars or their offices was where they woke up this morning. How about that.

Crews are making some headway today in clearing up the main roads. They plan to tackle the side streets next.

CHEN: That is a lot of snow, even for Buffalo.

ALLEN: Quite a doozy. Let's get latest on this snow and whether it's going to be any more from Orelon Sidney.

ORELON SIDNEY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Thanks a lot. Of course, this is only the third record snow. There is actually two other snows that were heavier than this one. And this brought you 24.9 inches of snow in 24 hours. These are lake-effect snows, of course.

That means, as the winds blow across the Great Lakes from the West to the East, they pick up moisture and warmth over the lakes. And then, as the winds go across the shore, they start to cool off. And that drops all of the moisture right out of the atmosphere in the form of snow. And some indeed can be very heavy, as we have seen in Buffalo. Notice that the snow is expected to continue all around the Great Lakes for the rest of the day today.

Elsewhere, it's very quiet. There is a little low pressure system with some rain and rain-snow mix across the Basin and Range and High Plateau of the West. But, indeed, this is going to be the trouble spot for the next 24-48 hours. We have lake-effect snow warnings in red. We have winter-weather advisories in blue -- and lots of snowfall continuing now: stretching from Waterton, not too much in Toronto. It looks like, of course, the windward side -- leeward side of the lakes actually getting all of the snow -- Cleveland with some snow right now -- same thing for Grand Rapids.

And up towards Hancock, they are still going to see snow. And you will still see it by tomorrow morning: this area of low pressure, with the trough extending down into Lake Michigan. It's going to be slow to make progress off to the east. So snow will be in your forecast for tomorrow evening and probably through much of Thanksgiving, though it is going to taper off as head into Thursday.

There will be a mix of rain and wind out across the Northeast -- some very cold sir settling down into the Southeast. And a low- pressure out in the West is going to cause a problem on Thursday with some heavy rain for the Southern Plains -- freezing conditions tonight for the deep South. Keep that in mind as we head on into Thanksgiving -- Joie, Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, thanks, Orelon.

CHEN: And this still-to-be-decided presidential election is dividing many people across the United States.

ALLEN: Coming up: We will hear what people in Los Angeles think about this ongoing drama.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHEN: While the counting and considering is underway in Florida, it is business as usual for the presidential candidates as they wait out the Supreme Court decision in private. Al Gore is at work today at the official vice presidential residence in Washington. He plans to spend this Thanksgiving in the Capitol.

As for George W. Bush, there is no more to do but wait. He was back at work today at the governor's office in Austin, Texas. Like Mr. Gore, Mr. Bush is keeping a fairly low profile. The governor wouldn't comment to reporters about the upcoming court decision, but when he was asked what he would do for Thanksgiving, Mr. Bush gave an uncontroversial answer: he said he would be spending it having dinner with his family.

ALLEN: Well, since Election Day we've been talking with Americans about what they think about what's going on in Florida, so we want to talk again today.

CNN's Jim Hill is at a restaurant in Los Angeles, sampling the food and the opinions.

JIM HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right; downtown Los Angeles is Filipe's (ph), a popular breakfast and lunch spot. Today they're serving pastrami and politics, I guess you could say. A lot of people here around the tables talking about the developments of the day: the case now before the seven justices of the Florida Supreme Court, the latest papers filed by the Bush camp.

Two people have agreed to talk with us about this situation. First of all, Angela (ph), you are a Gore supporter. Tell me, do you think that the court is the proper place to discern ideas of how to visually inspect a ballot, for example?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I do. I believe that they should go ahead and do the count and once it's finished have an overall set of standards of how they will do the count in the future.

HILL: Now, you realize there are some people who say this is changing the rules in the middle of the game. You don't agree?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't. Since there were people who said that the their votes were not counted and that they were misread and that they didn't understand the procedure of the chad and how it was on the ballot -- so I feel that they should go ahead and redo the count by hand.

HILL: OK, thank you, Angela.

On my right here, Joe (ph), you're a Bush supporter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I am.

HILL: Do you agree with the papers most recently filed to the Florida Supreme Court -- that the court really does not have jurisdiction when it comes to defining how to examine ballots and what standards to use?

UNIDENTIFIED MAKE: Yes, I do. And I feel that they wanted -- the Democrat Party and the Gore supporters want to change the rules in the middle of the game, and they are completely out of order. They should have to give up the election and know, by all means, Bush is the elected president.

HILL: Well, of course, people who disagree with that would point out that, when you have a recount, when you have a manual recount, you do come up with different numbers and that this shows that all the votes are not being counted, and that is really the issue: You must make sure all votes are counted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's fine; but those ballots were not made to be counted by hand, it was made to be counted by computer. And when the count by hand, that's going to come out with a different counting and discrepancies, which its -- that's point of contention, that's the issue. We have automatic ballots, not hand-count ballots.

HILL: OK, thank you very much, Joe; thank you Angela, very much.

Natalie, back to you from downtown Los Angeles.

ALLEN: All right, thanks, Jim.

CHEN: When we come back we're going to take a look at some of the other news of the day.

ALLEN: And if you're flying over the Thanksgiving holiday, we'll tell you how you may experience some turbulence at the airport, long before your plane takes off.

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CHEN: Now, presidential problems far away from Florida. Peru is dealing with its own political mess. The leader of that country's opposition-controlled Congress is poised to become interim president until new elections are held in April.

Meantime, Alberto Fujimori, who resigned as Peru's president yesterday, remains in Japan, and he's speaking out about his decision to do so and his future.

Our Tokyo bureau chief Marina Kamimura has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARINA KAMIMURA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alberto Fujimori broke his silence, speaking in public for the first time about the resignation he had sent to Peru by fax.

ALBERTO FUJIMORI, PRESIDENT OF PERU: I feel very sorry because of the confusion, uncertainty, and even indignation that it caused to the Peruvian population, mainly to my followers. But I have some reasons that I cannot express right now. It's hard, and it will take maybe some time that the population may understand.

KAMIMURA: Mr. Fujimori denied his stay had anything to do with the scandals at home, especially the money allegedly laundered by his intelligence adviser, Vladimiro Montesinos, a scandal that eventually engulfed his presidency. He looked slightly strained and tired after spending the better part of five days in a Tokyo hotel, a stopover ostensibly on the way back from the APEC summit in Brunei last week.

The Peruvian president's extended stay, officially due to deteriorating health, sent the rumor mill spinning that he may be seeking asylum here. But in his statement, Fujimori stressed that he is not seeking asylum. Instead, he said he hoped to approach local officials about obtaining residency status because of his parents' roots in southern Japan.

Asked whether he could go back home, Mr. Fujimori said someday, but that he was not sure when that may be possible.

Marina Kamimura, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Back here in the U.S., people are saying a final goodbye to a leader of the civil rights movement. The body of Hosea Williams is being taken through the streets of Atlanta, Georgia on a wagon drawn by mules. It is the same kind of wagon, following the same route, that was used for Martin Luther King Jr. 32 years ago.

At the funeral today, the Reverend Jesse Jackson called Williams a hero who helped give people in the U.S. the right to vote.

Hosea Williams died last week of complications from kidney cancer. He was 74 years old.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHEN: Thousands of holiday travelers in North Carolina's largest city had to deal with an unexpected delay this morning at the airport, and it was a toy gun to blame. Air traffic at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport was brought to a standstill for about two hours after a security screener noticed a gun or what appeared to be one, anyway, in a passenger's bag.

Before the screener could check it out, though, the bag and the passenger disappeared, entering the concourse. The airport was evacuated. All passengers and their bags were checked and as it turns out, the toy gun belonged to a 9-year-old boy. By the way, it is not illegal to carry a toy gun in an airport, but the FAA says it is not recommended.

ALLEN: Well, airports, bus stations and, of course, highways will be very busy over the Thanksgiving weekend. The AAA predicts almost 39 million people will be traveling. That is a record -- 31.6 will be driving, that's million, of course. Everyone else, another 7.3 million, will go by plane, train, or bus. How do they know that?

Anyway, if you are flying, listen up to CNN's Jim Morelli. He will tell you what you could face at the airport.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JIM MORELLI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A combination of forces is coming together this Thanksgiving weekend that could affect your air travel plans. First, there's the anticipated volume: more than 2 million flyers expected in one day.

MICHAEL WASCOM, AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION: This Sunday, after Thanksgiving, is expected to set the record for the busiest travel day in the history of U.S. aviation.

MORELLI: Then there are the labor troubles. At nearly every major airline in the country, some group of employees is unhappy. At Delta, it's the pilots. Some are declining to work overtime and the airline is now warning passengers to expect delays and cancellations this weekend.

At United, it's the mechanics. The airline accuses them of engineering a slowdown, causing numerous flight cancellations. The union denies it.

(on camera): Regardless, United now has a court order to prevent what it's calling illegal job actions, and it does address the issue of union-engineered slowdowns.

(voice-over): The notice also states it, in no way, is meant to have any impact upon each mechanic's usual diligence in providing safety for all aircraft.

If labor problems at any airline do cause your flight to be canceled, you could be stranded.

TERRY TRIPPLER, ONETRAVEL.COM: When an airline cancels a flight due to shortage of labor or weather -- they both fall into the same category -- it is called a force measure event. And, unfortunately, according to the rules, if a flight is canceled due to a force measure event, all bets are off.

MORELLI: The airline has no obligation to put you on another flight, nor to provide a hotel room or a meal. But they do have one responsibility:

TRIPPLER: They must refund your ticket if you request a refund; and this applies to nonrefundable tickets, too.

MORELLI: Of course, giving up your ticket might mean giving up your weekend out of town. Most planes will be flying at full capacity through the holiday, though,,.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: The spokesmen for the state Supreme Court is coming out to say something to the news media. So we will listen in.

CRAIG WATERS, FLORIDA SUPREME COURT SPOKESMAN: I know there have been some of you and some people in the public that are having trouble getting into both of our duplicate web sites. We started out on November the 13th with about 2,000 hits per day on our main web site. We are now receiving 3.5 million hits per day on our main web site, and we do not have figures for the duplicate web site.

The servers continue to operate normally. What is happening is, if people try to get into the site at the same time, they collide and they get bounced back. So I advise people to keep hitting the buttons and eventually you will get through. Our servers are operating.

We continue to have trouble with our photocopying process, so paper copies also may be somewhat delayed at times. But we will again try to get those for you as soon as we can.

I do want to announce that our clerk's office will close for business today at 5 p.m. However, the court continues to deliberate. There has been no decision yet whether an opinion will be released tonight. If a decision is made not to release an opinion tonight, I will come out here later and tell you that. If an opinion is released tonight, we will follow the procedures that I've already announced to you earlier in the day.

Are there any questions?

QUESTION: How late can you come out and (inaudible) how late can you be when you come out?

WATERS: I just don't know at the present time.

Any other questions?

QUESTION: Anything on the holiday schedule?

WATERS: Still nothing on the holiday schedule. But again, as I've told you, we will do everything we can to make sure you know if the court will be closed for any period of time during the holiday season.

OK? Thank you very much.

ALLEN: Straightforward from Craig Waters, the spokesman for the Florida state Supreme Court, letting us know that the clerk's office will close in just nine minutes now. But the court apparently continues to deliberate. He does not know if there will be a decision reached tonight. But, as you have heard, we should find out tonight if there will or won't be.

So we continue to wait. We'll take a break. In just a moment here, we will talk about the decision before this state Supreme Court with a guest. We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: For more now on all that's going on in Florida, we're joined by CNN election law analyst David Cardwell, a former elections director for the state of Florida. He's in Miami.

Hi there, David.

DAVID CARDWELL, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: Hello. ALLEN: Well, we just heard from Craig Waters, everyone stops and holds their breath when he steps out, just basically saying that the wait continues. We don't know what will happen. But let's talk just for a moment about what's before the state Supreme Court here. The "USA Today" said it's looking at "a three-headed dragon, fuzzy law, credibility, and lack of time."

How would you like to be sitting on that court right now?

CARDWELL: Well, it probably would be an exciting time, but also a difficult one.

Election law cases very often are -- could be characterized the way that you just described it, they tend to come up very short notice, they're on very short time frames, and very often there has to be, by the court, some reconciliation of either conflicting statutes, or statutes that have never been thoroughly fleshed out before in litigation. So it's a difficult task, but I think by -- the fact that the court is taking its time, it shows that it recognizes the seriousness of the matter and it wants to be sure it gets it right.

ALLEN: And one of our analysts said today that this court probably does not want a 4-3 decision, that they would rather have a different split than that, maybe not so much of a split.

What is your opinion on that?

CARDWELL: I think that's probably the case. The other orders that have been issued by the court were all unanimous. I am sure the court is trying to get as -- if it can't get to unanimous, as close as possible. Very often during the appellate process, when an appellate court has a case, as the court is grappling with its decision and how to describe it in the opinion, votes may change or they may come to some consensus, so that may be going on.

ALLEN: And now we know there is going to be a hearing, I believe in Palm Beach County. I may have my counties mixed up at this point. But they're still trying to decide which of those ballots to count, the big chad controversy. And something I read today said that, from the questioning yesterday in the state Supreme Court it raised the possibility that the decision would not be a straight yes or no from the state Supreme Court on whether to count, or how to count those contested votes.

Any idea who's going to be the last decision maker on that?

CARDWELL: Well, if the court is following the historic precedent in the state, they'll leave it to the discretion of the local canvassing boards. While that does result in the possibility that you could have a different standard in one county from the adjoining county, that historically is the way it's been done and the courts have shown a great deal of deference to the local canvassing boards so long as they did not do something which was either illegal, or which violates some previous court order.

So I would not be surprised if the court didn't leave the discretion still up to the local canvassing board member in their effort to try to determine the intent of the voter.

ALLEN: David Cardwell -- thanks, David, we'll talk with you again.

CARDWELL: OK.

ALLEN: And that's it for this hour. There is much more ahead. I am Natalie Allen.

CHEN: And I'm Joie Chen. Please stay tuned, an expanded 90- minute edition of "INSIDE POLITICS" is coming your way next.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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