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Election 2000: Former Republican Senator Bob Dole Calls for End to Florida Recount

Aired November 24, 2000 - 11:05 a.m. ET

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

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Now based on the Florida Supreme Court's ruling, recounted results must be submitted to the Florida secretary of state by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time Sunday to be included in the official state total. But of course all that could change depending on what happens in the court cases today -- Leon.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: In between now and that deadline, there will be plenty of legal activity. Let's get the latest on how all of that is shaping up right now.

Bill Hemmer joins us from Tallahassee -- Bill.

BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Leon. Good morning, once again.

I was just watching the podium down there from the live picture in Broward County, and it said, it was talking basically about the military vote. That's an issue here in Tallahassee as well. Leon County is where we are. Circuit court had this motion filed by the Bush campaign two days ago. We're looking for more than a dozen counties in different pars of Florida to go ahead and revisit the issue of those military ballots. They were not counted, and the total recount here in Florida, for a number of different reasons; some of which was a missing postmark on those military ballots.

The Gore campaign did indicate earlier today they will respond to the motion filed by the Bush camp in circuit court, but as of this time, over at circuit court across the street, it hasn't happened just yet.

What we know right now is a 2:00 local time hearing is scheduled in circuit court with local judge here in Leon County. Again, that's about three hours from now. We'll track that, and let you know what we get on that. Terre Cass, who is the clerk over there at court -- you may remember her name from two weeks ago -- she indicated the court is closed today, but a judge will take the case, and indeed, the judge will work throughout the weekend, if necessary. They understand this has got to be a rather expeditious matter at the present moment.

Now as for the state Supreme Court, you may remember yesterday, the Gore campaign came here on Thanksgiving day filing a petition to get Miami-Dade to continue its hand recount. Miami-Dade stopped about midday on Wednesday. The court dismissed that petition. As a result, the Gore campaign, again, indicated that they will on Monday contest the results of Miami-Dade.

What's going to happen on Sunday, we expect here in the state capital for the secretary of state to certify that vote at 5:00 local time. After the certification, the contest here will begin, and again, we expect, according to David Boies and other attorneys for the Gore campaign, that they will file a contest period as of Monday, whether or not Al Gore has a lead on Sunday night or not. The Gore campaign is concerned about the military ballots right now. They say that on Monday, that still be an issue out there. But they believe the Bush campaign may pursue and they say, they're trying to take proactive action at this time.

So again, 5:00 p.m. deadline on Sunday here in Tallahassee is when the state is expected to certify the vote. Again, the amended certification from the three counties on Sunday.

And one thing here, Leon, before I give it back to you, you talked about the souvenirs and the protesters throughout the area. This is the latest one: A silver coin produced in Dallas, Texas that has Al Gore on one side, George W. Bush on the other. I don't know if it's come to that just yet. I'll watch it for you.

You know, in New Mexico, there is a state law in the constitution there that gives you a variety of issues on the election and how it may be settled. One includes a poker hand. We haven't gotten that far yet. We'll let you know, 30 bucks what a bargain.

HARRIS: I bet if you flip that coin, it lands on its edge, too.

HEMMER: It may come down this way, right, right on the side.

Listen, we've been promising the vote-a-matic. We hope to get that at half hour coming up here shortly. So we'll give you a bit of a demonstration what we have found according to the vote-a-matic machine. We'll let you know what we know on that shortly here. So stay tuned, back in Tallahassee in just a bit.

HARRIS: Good deal. See you in a bit, Bill.

For now, let's go back to Broward County. Susan Candiotti standing by there, where as we said, we're expecting any moment now, a press conference with Bob Dole and Asa Hutchison -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Leon.

Yes, while we wait for that news conference to begin, let me bring you up to date on some of the numbers so far. Over the past two days, they have been counting those questionable ballots and they've gone through about 455 of roughly 2,000, and so far, this day anyway, Vice President Gore has picked up another 29 votes, with a net gain of 254 votes throughout the Broward recount here.

Now you're hearing a lot of noise and you're seeing a lot of people around me, because this is a group of about 100 or so Bush supporters who arrived by tour bus this morning. And they have been carrying signs and chanting like this in support of their candidate. Their argument is that the hand recount business must stop, that Vice President Gore must concede the vote, and that what's happening here is an illegal process.

Throughout the morning from time to time, we've been conducting interviews, but it's been hard to hear when we interview. For example, Democratic Congressman Peter Deutsch and his reaction to how the hand count is going.

Do get think that you can pick up enough ballots -- counts rather, votes, here in Broward County, as well as in Palm Beach County to get to the -- to beat George Bush?

REP. PETER DEUTSCH (D), FLORIDA: Well, obviously, the Republicans think that's what's going to happen. And as you look at progress precinct by precinct, the vice president's picking more and more votes up.

Tell you what, Congressman, we will come back to you. We're going to a live event, and we'll come back to you right after that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congressman Buyer is here making an official inquiry on behalf of the House Armed Services Committee. He is the chairman of the subcommittee on military personnel. Steve Buyer was a captain during the Gulf War. He's a decorated veteran, received the Bronze Star there as a result of his activities. I'd like to now turn the podium over to Congressman Steve Buyer.

(APPLAUSE)

REP. STEPHEN BUYER (R), INDIANA: Thank you.

What many in America perhaps don't know about the governor of Montana is that he also was a Army JAG officer. So we appreciate his insight into the military.

I came down to Florida this past Saturday because I was very concerned about the state of Florida actually disenfranchising the military vote. I have been very bothered to arrive in this state and learn that a presidential campaign was actually behind this scheme that targeted our military and confused these canvassing boards in 67 counties in the state of Florida.

Joe Lieberman then on Sunday, on the Sunday talk shows, then agreed that these military votes should not be denied for lack of postmark. The following day I sought to call Senator Lieberman's office. I wanted the Gore-Lieberman campaign to take an overt act.

You know, my mother taught me, if you clean up the mess -- if you made the mess, you clean it up. And he took no overt action.

The attorney general here in the state of Florida sought to issue an opinion for these canvassing boards to go back and revisit this issue.

Now, one thing that is extremely disappointing to me is that a lot of these canvassing boards haven't done that. Now some are, but you shouldn't wait for a lawsuit. These canvassing boards can go back on their own and do the right thing. And doing the right thing is permitting the United States military, who've earned their right to vote, that their votes should actually count here in the state of Florida.

(APPLAUSE)

BUYER: Now what I have learned -- what I've learned is, that the Gore campaign has a theme, and the theme is that every vote counts and that no vote will be disenfranchised. So the Democrat canvassing boards are counting hanging chads, swinging chads and pregnant chads. But if it's "Sergeant Chad" that's in the DMZ in Korea, then that vote doesn't count.

(APPLAUSE)

BUYER: I think what we're learning is, is that perhaps the Gore campaign, they don't want a recount, they just want a new result, and that's wrong. You don't use the United States military in this fashion.

To America I want to introduce someone that is a household name. He comes from a small town in Russell, Kansas. He's a former Senate majority leader. He served his country in times of war and peace. He's a disabled veteran from the Italy campaign in World War II.

Let me introduce Senator Bob Dole.

(APPLAUSE)

BOB DOLE (R), FMR. U.S. SENATOR: Thank you very much. And I always love coming to Florida. I've been coming here for 35 years.

I came here 55 years ago in a body cast from Italy -- or in fact, from Africa -- and I was brought to a hospital in Miami, having been wounded in Italy. And my first stop was in Florida.

Now, what does that have to do with what's happening today? Well, I was a serviceman, I was a second lieutenant, I'd been brought home to America, the greatest country on the face of the Earth, and it's been that way ever since.

And I must say, looking back on it, and looking back on not my service, but just service of men and women throughout these last 55 years, whether it's Vietnam, or the Gulf crisis, or the Korean War, or whatever it may have been, they are special people. They are not entitled to special rights, but they are entitled to rights. And they are entitled, when they vote, their vote ought to be counted. And if there's any doubt about whether their votes should count, why don't you just call them up on the telephone? You can get hold of these people. They are alive, and they'll tell you whether or not they voted. And it seems to me that now we're, as Steve just said, we're throwing out military votes on technicalities, while we're over here divining votes, what somebody intended to do, when they have no idea what they intended to do.

(APPLAUSE)

DOLE: I hope, along with all these other people, that I can speak for the service man and the service woman who's proud of his country, proud to serve, proud of what he or she does, and also proud to vote for candidates. Not all these people voted for George Bush; some voted for Vice President Gore.

But the point is, let's count their votes, let's count their votes, let's count their votes.

(APPLAUSE)

DOLE: And finally, I'm a little confused. Of course, I'm in Florida, and I'm in Broward County, but...

(LAUGHTER)

DOLE: ... Bush won on Election Night, Bush won after the machine recount...

(APPLAUSE)

DOLE: ... Bush won after all the absentees are counted...

(APPLAUSE)

DOLE: Gore has never been ahead in this state. When is it going to stop?

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

HARRIS: We've been listening to comments from Senator Bob Dole, addressing this crowd of protesters there in Miami, outside of the Broward County Courthouse.

CNN's Susan Candiotti has also been listening in, and she has a guest along with her -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Leon, and by the way, we recognize at least some of these people as participating in that demonstration in Miami-Dade County just last week, when there was a disruption inside the government building. So far all these demonstrators have remained outside the Broward County courthouse. And as you can see, it's gotten to the point where I counted a dozen police officers who are keeping the crowd back from our interview position, because they have been surrounding Congressman Peter Deutsch, who is a Democrat from South Florida. Every time he has conducted an interview, the crowd has surrounded him.

But it's pretty quiet now, so we'll take advantage of that To ask your opinion of what Senator Dole just said about the failure to count so many overseas military ballots?

DEUTSCH: Let me be clear about something. The accusation that Vice President Gore tried to stop military ballot is the most outrageous allegation I've ever heard in my life it literally raises to the level of blood libel. And unfortunately, that's what I heard from my Republican friends from Indiana just said. Al Gore did not reject any ballots. The canvassing boards and the 67 counties in Florida rejected those ballots. Most of those counties are Republican counties. I'm not accusing any of those Republicans of trying to stop the votes from American military men and women. I don't think anyone in that country wants to see that happen. And in fact, there does seem to be a conflict between federal law and state law, and in those cases, we should count. But I think, you know, Bob Dole accusing that is just absolutely ridiculous.

CANDIOTTI: I'd like to know what you make of the crowd that is here all day. Certainly, they have the right to voice their opinion?

DEUTSCH: Unfortunately, what happened, though, in Dade county, is there are out of state, paid political operatives. In the case of Dade County, they came to Dade County, and unfortunately, they literally stopped a fair and accurate count, and you know, in an illegal activity in which I do not believe the courts of the this country or the people will allow.

CANDIOTTI: Why is it illegal?

DEUTSCH: Well, you cannot have out of state, paid political operatives come into the building as they did in Dade County here and stop the election process, which is exactly what they did in Dade County. They illegally stopped a fair and accurate count going on in Dade County, contrary to what Senator Dole said.

Florida law provides for a manual recount, because it is a fair way of doing it. Nine other states do it, and the computer cannot read a partially detached chad. You can only do that by visual inspection. That's exactly what's going on up there. We have not concluded the manual recount. That's exactly what we expect to do in Broward, and hopefully, we will do in Dade as well and in Palm Beach.

CANDIOTTI: Representative Deutsch, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

The counting continues here. They expect to work a 12-hour day and wrap up around 8:00 tonight.

Leon, back to you.

HARRIS: All right, thanks, Susan. Appreciate it.

Susan Candiotti reporting live from Ft. Lauderdale -- Carol.

LIN: All right, let's go to Washington, and that's where CNN's Patty Davis is standing by, covering the Gore campaign.

Boy, Patty, I feel sorry for Congressman Peter Deutsch. He's the lone Gore surrogate outside, faced with all those demonstrators, as you saw with Susan Candiotti. Are we likely to see the vice president today, to hear from him and hear him respond? PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We haven't heard yet what the vice president is planning to do, if he's planning to come out and appear in public. So far, not today, but you're going to be hearing a lot more of what that congressman is talking about from Democrats and from the Gore campaign today, what they are alleging here, and they have been alleging it in court filings up to now as well, that there was intimidation by those Republicans in the Miami-Dade County canvassing room when they were counting those ballots, the disturbance that took place earlier in the week. They're saying that soon thereafter, Miami-Dade canvassing officials decided to drop the hand recount, and they say that's just not fair -- Carol.

LIN: Thank you very much, Patty Davis, in a city, in a district where we're still waiting to hear from the U.S. Supreme Court on Governor Bush's petition to stop the recounting altogether.

HARRIS: In the meantime, speaking of Governor Bush, let's go check and see what the latest is from his camp.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve standing by in Austin, Texas this morning -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Leon. You just heard a press conference talking about the issue of overseas military ballot, this a very big issue for the Bush campaign. They have been hammering on it for just about a week now. They believe there are 900 to 1,100 overseas military ballots that were kicked out for lack of a postmark, and they have gone to court, seeking a declaratory judgment on exactly what the law is. There are contradictions between federal and state law, and within Florida law. All of this made very confusing for the canvassing boards, and so many of these ballots were rejected. The Bush campaign wants to see them back in, not only because they believe servicemen should be able to vote, servicemen and women, especially because they are serving the country, but also they believe that if these votes are counted, the majority of them will come to George W. Bush.

I am told that sometime later today, the Bush campaign will invite the Gore campaign, specifically the vice president, Senator Lieberman and also William Daley, to join with them in this court action. This may be in part an effort to put the Gore campaign on the spot. It has said that it is in no way been engaged in systematic effort to exclude these ballots. In fact, they said, they would like to see the issue revisited. Apparently, the Bush campaign testing their mettle at this point.

Back to you, Leon.

HARRIS: All right, thanks much, Jeanne Meserve, reporting live this morning from Austin, Texas.

LIN: We'll have much more on MORNING NEWS when we come back.

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