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Special Event

Election 2000: The Florida Recount

Aired November 24, 2000 - 10:00 p.m. ET

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

ANNOUNCER: A historic move as the United States Supreme Court steps into the Florida recount even as a state court grapples with which ballots to include and which to ignore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 5A11 is a vote for Gore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The hand count goes on as the controversy buitds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT DOLE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're not counting votes. They're casting votes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Demonstrators' tactics provoke a candidate's rebuke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a time to honor the rule of law, not surrender to the rule of the mob.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: And as Dick Cheney heads home from the hospital, questions about the disclosure of medical issues in a campaign. This is a CNN special report, ELECTION 2000: THE FLORIDA RECOUNT. From New York, Anchor Perri Peltz and CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: And thank you for joining us. And we extend a special welcome to our international viewers.

PERRI PELTZ, CNN ANCHOR: At the end of another day or rapid fire developments, it appears a final resolution to the presidential election is being pushed still further away.

GREENFIELD: That is because the United States Supreme Court has scheduled a December 1st hearing -- a week from today -- a hearing that for the first time in our history could directly affect the outcome of a presidential election. Now the justices today agreed to take a petition from the Bush campaign, a petition that argues that hand recounts are unconstitutional because they're only happening in select counties and thus violate the equal protection clause. The court will also decide whether this Florida court ruling violated a provision of a 19th century federal law.

In Tallahassee, a state court judge today listened to arguments surrounding another Bush campaign challenge. The issue here, whether to count overseas absentee ballots from 13 counties with heavy military populations. Democratic challenges led to hundreds of these ballots being rejected.

And as hand counts continue -- hand recounts continue in West Palm Beach and Broward Counties, Al Gore is slowly chipping away at George W. Bush's narrow statewide lead. The unofficial tally puts Governor Bush 704 votes ahead. Democrats are criticizing the tactics of Republican protesters who showed up at the recount sites.

Vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman and some Democratic members of Congress accused the GOP of trying to intimidate canvassing board members. And Republican vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney went home from the hospital today, saying he's under no restrictions after suffering a mild heart attack Wednesday.

OK, that's the quick overview. Now for a closer look, we begin with CNN national correspondent Bob Franken on what the United States Supreme Court will be doing one week from today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. Supreme Court hearing will revolve around the decision of the Florida Supreme Court to allow hand-counted ballots. The justices will consider three questions. Did the Florida Court's ruling unlawfully tread on the authority of state elections officials and violate the due process clause as a result?

Did it overstep, contrary to federal law requiring disputes be resolved before the election? And what are the potential consequences of that? And was its ruling inconsistent with Article Two of the U.S. Constitution. Article Two specifies that each state shall appoint in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct a number of electors.

The Republican speaker of the Florida House says the legislature will try to be represented in the U.S. Supreme Court proceeding.

TOM FEENEY (R), FLORIDA HOUSE SPEAKER: The legislature's participation is intended to make the United States Supreme Court aware of the legislature's concerns and possible consequences that may flow from the state judicial actions to date.

FRANKEN: This was a big loss for the Gore legal team. Still, one of the vice president's chief lawyers tried to put the best face on it. BOIES: I believe that it is right for the United States Supreme Court to hear this appeal because it's a serious question that has been presented for its review. But I believe that the law is clear. And I believe that the Supreme Court will not reverse the Florida Supreme Court.

FRANKEN: But the Gore lawyers in their briefs opposed U.S. Supreme Court involvement, arguing it "would only diminish the legitimacy of the outcome of the election."

President Clinton had this reaction:

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The courts are going to decide that, not me. But I think everybody that showed up, took the trouble to vote, their vote should count just as much as mine and if we can tell who they voted for, their vote ought to be counted.

FRANKEN: The justices are moving at lightning speed. Briefs are to be filed next week, in time for an open hearing next Friday. The high court was not asked to stop the hand recounts, which will continue up to this Sunday's deadline, when the final tally is expected to be certified.

(on camera): By taking such quick action, the highest court in the land has made it clear that it fully intends to weigh in on this matter, but the decision does not mean that the Bush side will prevail, only that its case will be heard.

Bob Franken, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PELTZ: While lawyers for the Bush and Gore campaigns prepare to do battle before the highest court in the land, other attorneys were arguing before a Florida state court today. At issue are hundreds of overseas absentee ballots that did not get counted by last weekend's deadline.

CNN's Kate Snow explains why they may remain uncounted.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Attorneys for George W. Bush came before the court seeking emergency relief, asking the judge to order 13 counties to immediately count overseas military ballots they had previously rejected.

FRED BARTLIT, ATTORNEY FOR BUSH CAMPAIGN: We're not asking this court to look at any ballots. We're not asking this court to look ballot by ballot. What we're asking this court to do is to hear some of the things that have taken place and send an order down to these counties simply saying, will you please take" -- please -- will you take another look at the ballots...

SNOW: Bush attorneys say they're talking about some 500 ballots rejected statewide for one of the following reasons: no postmark, no date, problems with the signature on the ballot, or there is no record in the county of a voter's request for an absentee ballot.

The Bush team argues those rules are too strict. They told the judge Florida law requires only that an overseas ballot have a postmark or a date and signature, not necessarily both. And they said a ballot shouldn't be excluded because it lacks a date.

BARTLIT: Unless there's some indication that there's some hanky- panky, that there ought to be a presumption that if it's received in time, if it's received by the 17th, that it's OK.

SNOW: Judge L. Ralph Smith seemed at times perplexed by that argument.

JUDGE L. RALPH SMITH: How are you going to assure that if it doesn't have a date on it and doesn't have a postmark?

RON LABASKY, ATTORNEY: Your honor, I think that's what brings us here...

SNOW: Attorney Ron Labasky said there was no evidence Leon and Pasco counties had done anything wrong, and other counties agreed. Their canvassing boards had done everything possible to comply with the law. They refuted the argument from Bush attorneys that Democrats had orchestrated an effort to disqualify Republican votes.

MICHAEL CHESSER, ATTORNEY FOR OKALOOSA COUNTY: The problem with this litigation, it seems to me, is that the complaint creates the impression that there is some widespread conspiracy in which these canvassing boards are somehow involved.

SNOW: But at least one county was looking for guidance. A frustrated voice representing Escambia County piped up over a speaker phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us what the rules are and we'll follow them.

SNOW (on camera): But the judge insisted he had no power to offer advice and he indicated he may not do anything to tell counties how to consider overseas military ballots. He said he would be hard- pressed to offer any relief because he had heard no hard evidence to prove the canvassing boards had broken the law.

Kate Snow, CNN, Tallahassee.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PELTZ: And CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack joins us now from our Washington to help us sort out all of this day's legal wrangling and Roger, there's a lot to sort out.

ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: A lot of wrangling today.

PELTZ: No kidding. The case that most people, certainly most Democrats thought would never ever wind up at the U.S. Supreme Court is where else? The U.S. Supreme Court. The Republicans are saying this is not about state law. This is about constitutional issues. What do you say about this?

COSSACK: Well, you know, beauty, I guess like constitutional issues, are in the eye of the beholder. And this is one of those ones where the Republicans say this is a federal law that we're trying to protect and of course the Democrats are saying, no, no, these are all about states' rights. So it's a juxtaposition of usual positions, the right to begin with.

But here's what the issue is or at least one of the issues that the Supreme Court seemed to gravitate to. There is a concern that the Republicans put in their brief that perhaps the Florida Supreme Court by making the decision that it did change the rules after the election, something that could not be permitted.

That it's in the hands of the legislature to make these decisions and only the legislature and they made a decision that said seven days after the election there will be certification. That's what Katherine Harris tried to do that started this whole thing.

And then the Florida Supreme Court reconciled a couple statutes and said no, there's extra time and go ahead and have the hand count and that's where we are now and that seems to be one of the issues that the Supreme Court is concerned about. Was there a change in rules after the election? Obviously, something that cannot happen.

PELTZ: The Gore camp, obviously, Roger, does not know how the U. S. Supreme Court will rule on this, so they say they say they will contest the Miami-Dade's certified results. Tell us, Roger, about that process. How difficult is it to contest those results?

COSSACK: Well, it's not an easy process. The Florida statute allows for a contest of an election after the winner is certified and usually then of course it would be the loser who would bring the contest. The statute allows for a contest to be brought when there are either illegal votes that are counted or in this case, as the Gore team would claim, that there are legal counts that did not get counted.

And consequently, they're saying that it would be all of the ones -- for example, Miami-Dade County -- and any other votes that were not counted should have been counted, and they would contest the election on those grounds. Now, what happens is this is a real lawsuit, and you go into court and evidence is taken, something that we haven't seen too much of so far, where testimony is given and cross- examination is held, because it's a very high threshold. You have to show and convince the judge initially that if you are right, you could -- your side could conceivably change the outcome of the election.

So it's a high threshold to get over, and we could see testimony and a real court battle.

PELTZ: And of course, when we hear those words, lawsuit, we think that these things certainly take a lot of time. How much longer does this stretch out this whole process?

COSSACK: Well, that's a good question, Perri. I wish I knew the answer to that one. We know that the Supreme Court is meeting next Friday, is having a hearing next Friday, and we know that they have indicated they want to move as expeditiously as possible. So we also know that we can expect an opinion from them very quickly.

Now, if they give Governor Bush everything he's asking for, in many ways we would go back to square one, which would be that Katherine Harris should have been allowed to certify the election and this whole controversy would be over. On the other hand, they could give part, they could do some, or they could absolutely refuse to give Governor Bush and say, we've reviewed this case and the Florida Supreme Court is correct, in which the -- Vice President Gore's contest of the election would go forward.

It's a -- it's a large and long scenario. But we have to have this over with. You know, we need a new president inaugurated on January 20th.

PELTZ: All right. Well, then, on that note, let's move from Miami-Dade over to Leon County. The Republicans say there were lots of military ballots that got thrown out because of postmarking and the rest, and they say, you know, if you're really going to look at the intent of the voter, which is something we continually hear about, then why aren't we going to count those military ballots? Roger, what are the chances that those get put back in the mix?

COSSACK: Well, I was able to see some of the hearing today before the Supreme Court decision came down, and we seem to have a judge there, who, while sympathetic to the military ballots, felt -- at least initially -- that he didn't have the power to do anything. He felt -- he seemed to be indicating that the statute said there are certain things that have to be done, and if they're not done, kind of too bad but these votes do not get counted.

The Republicans say, look, these are technicalities. These are the kinds of statutes that are more instruction than to be followed to the letter of the law, and that the judge has wide discretion. After all, what we really want is ballots to be counted and votes to be countered, and judge, people should not lose their right to vote on technicality, particularly those people who are overseas or particularly the armed forces personnel.

This is a hard decision, because if the judge follows the statute very carefully, which he seemed to want to do today -- and I say seem, because we don't know what's going to happen -- these ballots may not get counted. Yet, on the other hand, here we go with statutory construction again -- the same kind of mess that got us up to the United States Supreme Court. So it's a hard one to call, Perri.

PELTZ: And that's the one thing that we do know, that we don't know what's going to happen. CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack. Roger, thanks so much.

COSSACK: Thank you. PELTZ: Jeff.

GREENFIELD: As Roger often says, it's a long way to certiorari.

Well, despite all the legal and political maneuvering, the recount efforts are forging ahead in Broward and Palm Beach counties. When we come back, we will update on how it's going, with the deadline now less than 48 hours away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PROTESTERS: Let us in! Let us in! Let us in!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREENFIELD: And did Republicans orchestrate the demonstration this week to intimidate Miami-Dade officials? Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman says they did.

And now that he's out of the hospital, should Americans have known more about Dick Cheney's health? We'll talk more about that with "TIME" magazine medical writer Christine Gorman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PELTZ: The tedious job of examining thousands of ballots grinds on in Palm Beach and Broward counties, and today officials of several other Florida counties also took second looks at their vote totals. As a result, George W. Bush's 930 vote lead in the official count is shrinking.

Governor Bush picked up 90 votes after revisions in seven counties. Vice President Gore's total in Broward County increased by 324. And the Governor added a vote in Palm Beach County, all of which put Bush's unofficial lead at 704 votes.

Still outstanding are 850 disputed ballots in Broward County and about 275,000 ballots plus 6,000 disputed ballots in Palm Beach County.

GREENFIELD: And speaking of Palm Beach County, canvassing officials there started assessing those 6,000 disputed ballots today. They say there is no faster way to do it than to consider each and every ballot.

As CNN's Mark Potter shows us, this is slow-going.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The day was spent counting contested votes, one ballot at a time, hour after hour, trying to decide from partial evidence exactly what the voters meant. In one case, confusion surrounded an absentee ballot cast at home.

JUDGE CHARLES BURTON, PALM BEACH COUNTY CANVASSING BOARD: I have no idea how this is accomplished unless they have a Votomatic machine in their home, which I don't think is...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No home should be without one.

(LAUGHTER)

POTTER: The day began with lawyers from the Democratic and Republican parties arguing over what standards to use in determining whether dimples and partial punches should be counted as votes. Among those testifying was the man who helped invent the Votomatic voting machine used in Palm Beach County. In a sworn affidavit, he said, if the machine isn't maintained or used properly, chads can fail to separate from the ballot, a point he urged the canvassing board to take into account when judging dimples and pregnant chads.

WILLIAM ROUVEROL, VOTOMATIC DESIGNER: In my opinion, dimpled or pregnant chads, if the only discernible mark for a given race in a given column, should qualify as a vote.

PROTESTERS: No more Gore! No more Gore! No more Gore!

POTTER: As Republican protesters gathered noisily outside, the count resumed, and the canvassing board tried to divine the will of the voter by reading chads and other signs. Republicans continued to complain the process was flawed and too subjective.

REP. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: What's difficult here is that these canvassers have been given an impossible task to review ballots and try to determine the voter's intent.

POTTER: Democrats complain not enough dimpled chads were being counted as votes. They say they may go back to court, asking a judge to put more pressure on the board to count the dimpled ballots.

BEN KUEHNE, DEMOCRATIC PARTY ATTORNEY: Well, there are three options. One is to go back to Judge LaBarga and say, Judge, they're still not doing it right.

POTTER: Other options mentioned include revisiting an appeals court or contesting the final Palm Beach County vote.

(on camera): The canvassing board has now finished counted 1/3 of the Palm Beach County precincts, including the contested ballots there. And so far, there is no discernible change in the votes for either Al Gore or George W. Bush.

Mark Potter, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PELTZ: And now to Broward County, vote counters are trying to concentrate on the job at hand, but there's been another distraction. Protesters are making life noisy as CNN's Susan Candiotti reports from Fort Lauderdale.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A tour bus arrived outside the courthouse where inside the hand recount was under way. The bus, filled with out-of-towners, Bush supporters who want the process to end.

This man recognized as part of the same crowd organized to protest inside the Miami government center earlier this week. In Broward County, protesters stayed outside the courthouse, where local Bush supporters joined in. Nearly every hour, Bush aides managing the event from a nearby recreational vehicle came outside to hand out free T-shirts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came down here on my vacation to help out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole country ought to be just -- just enraged at the idea that this is going on.

CANDIOTTI: Police estimate the crowd grew to about 350 at one point. When a Democratic congressman came outside to defend the recount, he was surrounded by hecklers. As soon as Congressman Peter Deutsch finished his interview view with CNN, he moved onto other news outlets and the crowd moved with him, the chanting get louder and louder. At one point, at least a dozen police officers had to surround the congressman as he made his way through Bush supporters.

Citing similar demonstrations in Miami, Deutsch and five other Democratic congressman have now asked the Justice Department to investigate -- quote -- "what appears to be a shocking case of undermining the right to vote through intimidation and threats of violence."

Republicans insist these Bush supporters are simply exercising their right to free speech and call themselves the new face of the Republican party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is ground zero for a national election, so people have come from all over the country to show their support for the Bush-Cheney ticket.

CANDIOTTI: Senator Bob Dole defended their right to protest after spending some time watching the recount for himself.

BOB DOLE (R), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: They're not counting votes. They're casting votes.

CANDIOTTI: No violence here, but police investigating an incident at a Democratic headquarters in a Fort Lauderdale suburb, a brick thrown through the window that read, "We would not tolerate an illegal government."

Protesters left the area not long after nightfall, promising to be back in the morning when the canvassing board's recount resumes.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Fort Lauderdale.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GREENFIELD: Those protesters drew the wrath of Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman today. He took aim at those demonstrators, accusing the Republican crowds of using intimidation to prevent the vote counts from going forward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a time to honor the rule of law, not surrender to the rule of the mob. This is a time for patience and respect, not intimidation and violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREENFIELD: Republicans dismissed complaints about the street protesters. They pointed out that the Reverend Jesse Jackson has been in Florida to arrange demonstrations on behalf of the Democrats.

And just ahead on this CNN special record, is Democratic Party for a sustained Gore challenge eroding? That and other political questions considered when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GREENFIELD: Well, as the struggle rages on, Republicans appear ready for a fight to the finish, but are they really prepared for the so-called "nuclear" options to gain the presidency for Bush? And what about the Democrats? Are some within their ranks prepared to say enough is enough?

Well, joining us from our Washington bureau, Bill Turque, the Washington correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine, author of a biography of Al Gore, and from "The Wall Street Journal," political editor John Harwood.

John, because we've heard so much about Republicans in -- in absolute rage at what they see is an election being taken from them, you helped write an article today in "The Wall Street Journal" that suggested when it comes to the big stuff, the state legislature appointing electors, a congressional challenge, maybe among some Republicans there's a little wariness about how far they're prepared to go. Give us your sense of that, please.

JOHN HARWOOD, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, there is, but only a little I think. I was struck in conversations the last couple of days by how Republicans across the ideological spectrum, different parts of the country, places where Gore did well, places where he didn't do well, all seem to share this conviction the Democrats are trying to hijack the election, and I didn't get a whole lot of sense of reluctance about what you described as the nuclear option.

Bill Owens, the governor of Colorado, said, maybe if it was 1980, when the Cold War was still going on, we'd be a little more concerned about -- about harming the presidency. But it doesn't seem to have that same sense of drama that it did back in those days, and so they're willing to play this out a little bit further and tougher.

GREENFIELD: And that includes, John, I guess what we -- people we've come to think as moderates. Chris Shays, the Republican congressman from Connecticut, Governor Pataki of New York. So they all seem to be, at least rhetorically, quite furious about all this.

HARWOOD: Yes, and you don't, when it really comes down to it and if the Congress decides to try to block, say, the votes of Florida electors should Gore end up being the winner of that state, you know, will those moderates hang in there with Tom DeLay and the more aggressive conservatives in the caucus. We're not sure about that. But for now, they're doing a remarkable job of presenting a united front.

GREENFIELD: And yet, Bill Turque, by contrast we keep seeing these stories every few days, every time the news goes bad for the Democrats, that this Democratic senator -- Robert Torricelli pops up again, others -- counseling the Gore campaign, you know, maybe if Sunday doesn't work out for you, you'll stop.

Is -- first of all, is that your sense, that there's less passion among Democrats to go to the finish line for Al Gore?

BILL TURQUE, "NEWSWEEK": I think that's right, Jeff. I think in a lot of ways this is the same dynamic that it has been all along for Al Gore. This is a party that has never really fallen in love with Al Gore, and I think what you're seeing now is some of the same ambivalence about a Gore candidacy and a Gore presidency that there's been from day one.

GREENFIELD: So, if we can flesh this out -- as I said, we know about Torricelli. If you can tell us, who are the other Democrats of note that you might would go to Gore and say, sheath the sword, Mr. Vice President, or if not by name, then what kinds of Democrats?

TURQUE: I -- I don't know for sure. I strongly suspect you might see some of the moderates perhaps do that. But I think right now, I think the Supreme Court matter now, the granting of cert for this case, sort of freezes the environment a little. I think this gives cover to a lot of Democrats who might have otherwise wanted to jump ship perhaps, to say, well, look, this is in the hands of the Supreme Court now.

I think it buys everyone a little time that didn't exist a day ago.

GREENFIELD: John, I have to ask you, given the traditional way this issue has broken down for the last 30 or 40 years, is there something a little ironic about the Democrats being the party of states' rights and Republicans hoping that that big old federal court in Washington will slap down those pesky state judges?

HARWOOD: It's a total role reversal, but this is a situation where partisans on both sides are taking their best hold and they're looking at wherever they can get it. I think on the point that you raised earlier about Democrats, there's a little different posture between the two parties, of course. The Republicans have been out of the White House for eight years. They really want to get that back.

Democrats, on the other hand, have been out of control of the Congress for six years, and a lot of Democrats were thinking, you know, the ideal situation for a congressional party might be to lose this thing, and two years from now, come roaring back and take the majority. So those things are all going to weigh on their willingness to give Gore a little more breathing room over the next few days.

GREENFIELD: But Bill, that's an interesting point, because you were suggesting that part of the reason for Democrats being a little less impassioned was that they really aren't big fans of Al Gore. If they loved Gore more, would they like the idea of retaking the Congress in two years less? In other words, is part of their calculation we can get the Congress back and we're not so hot about this guy?

TURQUE: I suspect that. If they did love Gore a little more, I think, if there was a little more loyalty, a little more passion for Gore, you might see that manifested in what's been going on in the last few days. But I think the ambivalence about Gore tends to make them look a little more fondly of prospects for 2002 and 2004. And I think that they would, especially Joe Lieberman, I think especially in the Senate is where Gore really has some missionary work to do. I think a lot of people in the Senate would like to have Joe Lieberman in the Senate and not sitting in the -- sitting in the vice president's office.

GREENFIELD: All right. We're going to take a quick break and we'll be back to look at these politics in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GREENFIELD: And we are back with Bill Turque of "Newsweek" magazine and John Harwood of "The Wall Street Journal," talking about the politics of the current crisis, problem, dilemma -- you fill in the blank.

John Harwood, we talked a few minutes ago about the fact that there's a near Republican unanimity on how convinced they are that there is kind of an election being taken from them. Do you sense as of today any concern that the rhetoric of the Republicans and some of those street scenes we saw today, first in Miami-Dade and now in Broward, may be giving some Republicans second thoughts about the intensity of this campaign?

HARWOOD: I have to say I haven't heard much of that today, and the comments that I've heard from most of the Republican officials are defending this as similar to what Jesse Jackson and Democratic protesters did a couple of weeks ago. But I have to wonder whether George W. Bush in Austin is happy about those pictures of people pounding on the door and screaming at the canvassing board at Miami- Dade. This is a guy whose won stock and trade that he's had throughout the campaign is trying to reach across the aisle, bring people together. He may survive this thing, but he may not be too happy about how he did it in the end.

GREENFIELD: OK. So now, we have the Republican Party embracing both the Supreme Court and demonstrators in the streets. When you talk about role reversal, you ain't kidding.

But speaking of how people feel, Bill Turque, you literally wrote the book or a book on Al Gore. If it's possible to tell us how this guy who has looked at the presidency as within his grasp, in his future for decades, now sees that he's won the popular vote, four electoral votes shy, and it may elude him -- can you -- can you possibly take us into where his -- where his mind is at this point?

TURQUE: Well, he's a complicated guy, as you know. I think that right now, in the midst of something like this, he is by all accounts pretty focused, pretty intent on the task at hand, perhaps not dwelling a whole lot on the big picture, but taking this a step at a time. I think he feels that winning the popular vote vests him with moral authority to sort of push this thing perhaps farther than he might under other circumstances be able to.

And he feels that buried -- buried somewhere in all those ballots in Florida are more for him than there are for Governor Bush. He's been resolute about that, and he's a driven. He's a driven, intense guy, and this is -- he feels this is his time.

GREENFIELD: In fact, he supposedly told your magazine in a quote that Republicans have been delighted to spread around, he said: "You know, the difference between Bush and myself is that if Bush doesn't make this, he'll go back to his life. I'll do anything to win."

First of all, did he -- is that an accurate quote, and if so, does it mean what the Republicans seem to be suggesting it means?

TURQUE: To the best of my knowledge it's an accurate quote, but it certainly does not mean what the Republicans think. I mean, I certainly think that committing felonies or violating the law is not what he would define as anything to win.

But this is an intensely competitive guy and has been from grade school. He likes to win. Losing is an alien experience for him, and he is going to fight this thing until the absolute -- the absolute bitter end.

GREENFIELD: John Harwood, when you talk to Republican sources and you hear this -- the commitment or the anger, whatever you want to call it, I want to offer a hypothesis that to some extent Bill Clinton is no small part of their anger somehow, even though he's not on the ballot. Do you think there's something to that idea?

HARWOOD: Oh, sure. They think Bill Clinton, he eluded them in the impeachment saga. He bested them during the budget fights of the Republican revolution. Gore is an easier target, and they're homing in with everything they've got on him.

I was surprised the other day to talk to Olympia Snowe, the moderate Republican senator from Maine. She said there's greater hostility in this current situation now than there was during impeachment, and I think a lot of that is pent-up frustration over losing to Bill Clinton.

GREENFIELD: Bill Turque, if it does follow that Al Gore will not win this, if in fact the certification goes through, the Supreme Court turns it over, what does he do?

TURQUE: I think that he sees himself as someone with a political future. You're talking about whether at the end of the day he's just not president this time? Is that what you're saying? Is that what you're asking?

GREENFIELD: Yes, yes.

TURQUE: I think, as a friend of his in Tennessee told me the other day, I think the next campaign begins the day after he concedes. Again, I think that he comes away with this in his own mind as the winner of the popular vote, having been cheated out of this in Florida, and I think that those are two strategic assets he's not going to be able to walk away from. I think he will try to get the nomination again. Whether he succeeds is another matter. I tend to think this is a one-bite-at-the-apple culture in terms of getting the nomination.

GREENFIELD: And John Harwood -- and John Harwood, if it falls to Al Gore that he is the president, I don't want to ask about G.W. Bush but rather the folks in Congress you've been talking to. Is there any chance that six months or a year from now, they'll say, OK, he's the president, we've got to work together? Or do you think this is going to be like those 19th century fights when the president is just absolutely incapable of getting anything through the Congress?

HARWOOD: It's going to be very difficult. Again, another moderate governor, John Rowland of Connecticut, said it's going to be World War III in the Congress if Gore is sworn in given the level of hostility toward this guy, who was polarizing even before this particular episode came up in the weeks since the election.

You know, Republicans would say, yes, I'll salute him, he'll be my president, but I'll spend every day for the next four years trying to beat him. I think it would be a difficult time for him.

GREENFIELD: John Harwood, Bill Turque, thank you for joining us. Have a good Thanksgiving weekend -- Perri.

HARWOOD: Thank you.

PELTZ: All right, Jeff, thank you.

George W. Bush has his No. 2 man back. Dick Cheney leaves George Washington Hospital with a mandated for improved nutrition and exercise. That's just ahead on this CNN special report. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PELTZ: George W. Bush says he's looking forward to getting back to strategizing with his running mate. GOP vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney went home from the hospital today after suffering his fourth heart attack.

CNN medical correspondent Rhonda Rowland has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHENEY: President of the United States, the honorable George W. Bush.

RHONDA ROWLAND, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Secretary Cheney joined the Bush ticket last July, doctors gave him a clean bill of health, despite his history of three heart attacks and quadruple bypass surgery. Cheney never released specifics on his heart condition such as blood pressure or cholesterol levels, or which medications he was taking.

CHENEY: I'd had a treadmill in July and it hadn't shown anything.

ROWLAND: Cardiologists say that's not unusual. The exercise stress test only looks at how the heart performs under exertion.

DR. JAY MAZEL, CARDIOLOGY ASSOCIATE: Well, a stress test is really an indirect look at a blockage within a vessel.

ROWLAND: Dr. Mazel says it's likely some atherosclerosis or narrowing of the artery, existed in July and progressed during the past six months.

MAZEL: It can be very unpredictable. Often atherosclerosis has a tendency to be progressive but occasionally it can occur quite suddenly.

ROWLAND: The only definitive way to find out if an artery is narrowed or blocked is to do a heart catheterization or angiogram.

CHENEY: So I signed up for the angiogram. We went in, did the angiogram. While they were doing the angiogram, found a blockage in the branch of the LAD.

ROWLAND: In a statement, doctors said: "We feel this has been a trivial cardiac event and there's no indication of significant damage to his heart muscle."

Cheney was asked if the stress of the election recount contributed to his heart problems.

CHENEY: I don't think so, but I -- you know, that'd be speculation on my part. I've been in much more stressful situations in my public career. I mentioned the Gulf War, for example.

ROWLAND: Doctors say it's difficult to measure the role of stress in a particular individual.

DR. REDMOND WILLIAMS, DUKE UNIVERSITY: There's clear evidence that emotional upsets can contribute to the development of coronary disease as well as the precipitation of acute coronary events.

ROWLAND: Cheney's physicians are recommending medications, exercise and diet changes to help prevent further heart problems.

(on camera): Cheney says he'll take the weekend off, but plans to return to work next week. His doctors say he'll have no restrictions and will be able to resume a full, active life.

Rhonda Rowland, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GREENFIELD: Now this issue of disclosing medical facts comes up in politics with surprising frequency. Back in 1944, for example, FDR ran for a fourth term with a very serious heart condition, His doctors knew it was highly unlikely he could even survive a fourth term. In 1960, JFK adamantly denied he had Addison's Disease. Turned out he did.

In 1981, after Ronald Reagan was shot, his campaign released this reassuring photo -- actually, the White house Released this photo. It turns out he was being assisted in standing up. He came much closer to death than had been known. Back in 1992, ex-Senator Paul Tsongas ran for president and assured voters his lymphoma was under control. Three weeks after the November election he suffered a relapse. Later admitted he had been less than frank about his health.

In this year's primaries, ex-Senator Bill Bradley suffered what his campaign saw as a major political setback when he was treated for an irregular heartbeat -- a condition he had not disclosed to the public. And finally, imagine what would have happened if Senator John McCain had won the nomination this year and then had to undergo treatment for melanoma just before the fall campaign was to begin.

These are intriguing issues and here to discuss these matters, "Time" magazine medical writer Christine Gorman. Thanks for coming by.

CHRISTINE GORMAN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: It's my pleasure.

GREENFIELD: You wrote back in July when Dick Cheney was picked, hey, you know, they're not telling us some stuff, right? Specifically?

GORMAN: They weren't telling us what his cholesterol level was, what his blood pressure was, what his ejection fraction was, which is number that tells you how efficiently the heart pumping. These are some key things along with medications that he's taking that would tell us how aggressively the doctors were treating his condition.

GREENFIELD: Well, that's what I wanted to focus because we go statements from Dr. Denton Cooley, the famed heart surgeon, that he reviewed the medical records and said no, there's no obstacle to Dick Cheney's leading a strenuous life. But would a physician, an independent physician, not a politician, been able, had he had all those medical facts you mentioned, be able to say something about Cheney's condition more than yes, he looks OK to me?

GORMAN: Well, that's the interesting thing, Jeff, because currently cardiologist are showing in research, in fact, just at that the American Heart Association meeting last week, they were talking about more aggressive type treatments for people in exactly Secretary Cheney's position where they have some chest discomfort.

He was very clear that it wasn't chest pain, the kind where you grab, you know, your chest and fall to the ground. It was discomfort almost like an indigestion. This sort of situation where you have chest pain, you're not sure -- I mean, chest discomfort, you're not sure it's a heart attack or not.

For a long time, doctors have said, well, we can take a wait-and- see approach and try some treadmill tests and see if a blockage has occurred. But now it's becoming clear that a more aggressive approach where they look immediately for a blockage. They do what's called a catheterization to see what the shape of the arteries are in the heart, has been shown to decrease both your chance of dying and you chance of developing another heart attack.

GREENFIELD: Well, another question arises, though, which is according to some press reports Dick Cheney had not had a full cardiac work up since 1996.

GORMAN: Right.

GREENFIELD: I would have assumed if you're going put a guy on the ticket with a history of three heart attacks and a bypass, maybe you would want to put him through a full checkup.

GORMAN: Well, that's something that once again we'd have to talk to his doctors about, but the cardiac catherization is not a trivial procedure. And, you know, there are always risks of perforations and things like that.

GREENFIELD: So in other words, the only way they could have discovered this is through a very invasive procedure?

GORMAN: Or it could also be that everything was fine and it was just a build up of inflammation or something that has happened since July, since his last treadmill test.

GREENFIELD: Let me take you back to July because you write about medicine for "Time" magazine. Did you ask the Bush campaign for fuller access to Dick Cheney's medical records?

GORMAN: Oh, sure we asked for that, we and others.

GREENFIELD: What did they tell you?

GORMAN: No. You know, that they had given us the two letters that they had given us and that was enough. That he was in good health.

GREENFIELD: Because what occurs to me is here's Senator Bill Bradley who goes into the hospital in the middle of his primaries with an irregular heartbeat, which at least he said and his campaign said is not a real -- really serious condition. The Bradley campaign thinks that was a very devastating political event.

Right.

GREENFIELD: So I guess the question is, you know, if we had known the full facts about Dick Cheney, even as doctors say, OK, he can continue a full life, but I'm just wondering if part of that was that they just didn't want people to draw disturbing conclusions from those facts.

GORMAN: Well, I mean, we already knew that he had three heart attacks, his first at the age of 37. He had quadruple bypass. I mean, if that doesn't give you pause, I don't know what will.

I think Mr. Cheney was lucky in many ways. I mean, he was lucky that he had this very mild -- and we have to say it was a very mild heart attack -- after the election and not during the course of the campaign. Who knows how things would have played out otherwise?

GREENFIELD: We're down to our last few seconds, but very quickly, is there any reason to doubt his doctors when they say he can go back and within a matter of days start participating in the transition, if there is one?

GORMAN: Provided he gets good, aggressive treatment there's no reason to think otherwise.

GREENFIELD: OK, Christine Gorman, thanks for coming in. I appreciate this very much.

And just ahead on our special report, we will recap the latest developments in the Florida recount.

And then, it is your turn to weigh in on the election spin of the day. You can join Bill Press and Robert George for an interactive discussion on "THE SPIN ROOM" at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PELTZ: Recapping the latest developments on the Florida recount, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments next Friday surrounding a petition by the Bush campaign to overturn a Florida Supreme Court decision to allow manual recounts in the state. The court will decide if doing hand recounts in only select counties is unconstitutional and whether the Florida court ruling violated a provision of federal law.

Representatives of Florida's legislature announced they will join the Bush campaign's case in the U.S. Supreme Court. They say the Florida Supreme Court changed the rules when it moved the date election returns were due to the secretary of state. Al Gore is slowly gaining votes as hand recounts continue in West Palm Beach and Broward counties. The current, unofficial tally puts Governor Bush 700 votes ahead.

Democrats, including vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, are criticizing the tactics of Republican protesters at the recount sites. They say the GOP is trying to intimidate canvassing board members.

And Republican vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney went home from the hospital today, two days after what doctors call a mild heart attack.

GREENFIELD: And finally, here we go again: an impassioned national debate over the role of the courts. If it's any consolation, there is nothing new here.

Just in this century, courts have blocked the New Deal and later ratified it, ended school segregation and official school prayer, limited the power of police, enshrined the right to an abortion.

More than 150 years, Tocqueville -- you have to quote Tocqueville at a time like this, you know, noted, scarcely any political question rises in the United States that is not resolved sooner or later into a judicial question.

Next Friday, Tocqueville will be proven right again.

And that is it for this CNN special report on the Florida recount. I'm Jeff Greenfield.

PELTZ: You know, I had Tocqueville on the tip of my tongue.

GREENFIELD: Don't we all.

PELTZ: Get ready for "THE SPIN ROOM," because it's next.

Good night from New York.

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