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Election 2000: The Florida RecountAired November 25, 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: This is a CNN Special Report.
Vote counters pick up the pace as the deadline nears in Florida. Passions rise as the seconds fall away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE ROBERT LEE, BROWARD COUNTY CANVASSING BOARD: All right, Mr. Scherer (ph), you're out of line, OK? We'll go ahead and recess. I'll ask the deputies to clear the courtroom and Mr. Scherer is not welcome back in this room. He can watch the proceedings from outside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Out on the streets, protests on both sides grow louder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Give me a man, a stout-hearted man...
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Hey, hey, how many votes did you steal today, ho, ho...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Meanwhile, Vice President Gore spends a day with the family. And Texas Governor Bush gets a rousing welcome home.
Plus, will the eventual winner be able to govern effectively, or will the next occupant of the White House be badly burned by the legal wrangling?
This is a CNN Special Report, "Election 2000: The Florida Recount," with Joie Chen from the CNN Center in Atlanta.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. Thanks for joining us. Welcome to viewers in the United States and those around the world watching on CNN International.
The battle over ballots is engaged on several fronts in Florida at this hour. Right now, election workers in Palm Beach County are fighting to beat Sunday's recount deadline while it looks like their counterparts in Broward County will rise to the challenge. They plan to finish in plenty of time.
At this point, George W. Bush leads by an unofficial total of 485 votes. Election workers have until 5:00 p.m. on Sunday Eastern to come up with their final numbers.
Meantime today, Bush camp pulls the plug on one legal skirmish only to engage in some others. On Saturday afternoon, it dropped a blanket lawsuit regarding absentee military ballots, but refiled similar suits in at least four separate counties hours later.
All the while, attorneys for Governor Bush prepared to take their objections to the recount process to the U.S. Supreme Court, whereas some Democrats ready themselves to answer. The high court will hear the case on Friday.
And here's the latest on the hand recounts. Bush has an official statewide lead of 930 votes in Florida, but eight counties have revised their totals, resulting in a net gain of 91 for Bush. Ongoing hand counts give Gore a net gain of 546 in Broward County, and Bush has a net gain of 10 in Palm Beach County. So the unofficial Bush lead for now is 485.
Now, the numbers released by canvassing boards do not include about 150 disputed ballots in Broward County, and Palm Beach County has still to (ph) review about 215,000 ballots which are counted but they're not finalized and as many as 8,000 disputed ballots. Based on the Florida Supreme Court's ruling, results must be submitted to the Florida Secretary of State by 5:00 P.M. Eastern tomorrow to be included in the official state total.
Election workers in Palm Beach County therefore have no choice but to pick up the pace. They have just hours now to get the job done.
CNN's Bill Delaney is in West Palm Beach and joins us now -- Bill.
BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Joie.
You know, there are two kinds of numbers here. The thousands of disputed ballots still being counted at the emergency operation center just behind me here, and they're going to count all through the night, and the numbers on the face of the clock.
(voice-over): All night if we have to -- words that hovered in the air at Palm Beach County's emergency operation center as recounting many had counted on to be finished by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Sunday became problematic.
It was Palm Beach County canvassing board chairman, Judge Charles Burton who, Saturday afternoon, announced the possibility of a recount all-nighter despite for days indicating the deadline set by the Florida Supreme Court would be met. The urgency leaking out amid what remained a generally remarkably composed, good-natured atmosphere. Democrat and Republic observers watching the historic high wire act said however it turned out next time around, there needed to be a better way.
GOV. CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN (R), NEW JERSEY: I do believe every vote should count, but you don't get to count every vote again and again and again and again.
ELEANOR HOLMES-NORTON (D), D.C. DELEGATE: In our country, in order to get a major change, it takes a crisis. We do not do changes on a routine, as-needed basis. And a change is needed here.
DELANEY: Agreement on the need for change, while outside the gates ringing the recounting center, lots of disagreement. Bush and Gore partisans -- not much mingling, keeping a few blocks apart for the most part. This may be symbolic of how far apart the two sides may remain, no matter who the next President turns out to be.
DELANEY: Now with more than half the precincts here in Palm Beach County counted, there has been no dramatic shift to Vice President Al Gore, as Democrats had hoped. Now that, of course, can change overnight as we - and as we move into Sunday and that 5:00 Eastern Time deadline tomorrow, Sunday -- Joie.
CHEN: And, Bill, what happens if they don't reach the deadline - if not all of the ballots are counted by then?
DELANEY: Well, you know, canvassing chairman Justice Charles Burton did address that earlier. He suggested, Joie, that it might be possible to include the manually recounted ballots and combine them with the remaining machine counted ballots to come up with a final sum. Very unclear though, Joie, like some many things here, whether that would fly, whether the two sides would go for that, whether that would be the proper way to present the votes here and have them certified by the Secretary of State, let alone accepted by the Democrat and Republican parties. So that's really very much up in the air, although Charles Burton has said possibly they could recount, they could add up what they recounted so far, add on to that the machine votes that are remaining, and come up with a number -- Joie.
CHEN: Bill, we understand the exhaustion both for you, the folks working with you outside the court there, as well as those doing the counting inside. I wonder how they're responding to that? I mean, is there a way to keep them from getting a little too punchy in there? A little too exhausted to keep this work going, particularly if they're going to go all night long as you say?
DELANEY: You know, Joie, there are beds - cots, I think would probably be a better word - for any members of the canvassing board - those three members of the canvassing board who might want to take a nap. But they have stressed to us again and again through their spokesperson that they intend to really try to keep at this as much as they humanly can. So, yeah, there's - there are cots for them to resort to, but they seem very determined to try to finish this up tomorrow at least having given it as superhuman a try as they can to finish this manual recount -- Joie.
CHEN: Do you have the sense that they're examining things as closely now as they get more tired, as they've been doing this longer? Or is it moving a little bit quicker as they understand a little bit more about what they're looking for?
DELANEY: You know, it's tough to gauge. Judge Burton told us earlier that, yeah, I mean, they've been doing this for several days now. And he said they - he used the word "getting in the groove" - that they are kind of in the groove. And they know there's an urgency about this. They are trying to move it forward.
Now, a Republican observer here did express some concern an hour or two ago that as this night wears on, it's only going to get more difficult to do this very meticulous, demanding, exacting work. They're only human beings and no matter how hard they're trying, they're going to get tired. And he expressed some concern about mistakes being made.
But that's from a Republican observer. We haven't heard that from the Democrats. And the canvassing board themselves are insisting that if they need a nap, they'll take it; but that they're able to continue this thing and they're able to continue it at a faster pace than a day or so ago. The question is whether that pace will be fast enough to carry us toward a complete manual recount at 5:00 Sunday Eastern time.
CHEN: Bill Delaney for us -- reporting from Palm Beach -- West Palm Beach, Florida.
The counting continued throughout Saturday in Broward County as well -- into the night there, as well. But the process is not without its share of problems.
CNN's David Lewis is there.
DAVID LEWIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It all seemed to start so calmly, as the Broward County Canvassing Board attempted to finish their hand count.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those of you that have been watching process this morning, it has actually picked up a lot of speed.
LEWIS: Dimple after dimple, chad after chad, the process seemed to be taking it's final steps toward resolution.
But outside the courtroom where the vote was being counted, a different scene. Several hundred Bush supporters exercised their right to free speech, a of handful Gore supporters responded in kind. But the noise on the street was just the sideshow. The real action was upstairs. And things didn't stay so calm up in the courthouse either, as the board began to consider how to count some 500 absentee ballots that had been challenged or could not be read by a machine. Republican observers tried to object to counting any of the dimpled ballots. They said there was no way to determine the voters's intent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've told these lawyers to go bring you more votes. And I assume we're going to keep bringing them to you until such time as you've got a thousand votes. I think that's what you are looking for.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll go ahead recess. I'll ask the deputies to clear the courtroom, and Mr. Scherer is not welcome back in this room. He can watch the proceedings from outside.
LEWIS: Afterwards, each side put their spin on what had happened.
GOV. FRANK KEATING (R), OKLAHOMA: This ballot, as Governor Racicot pointed out, to suggest just bumping it is a vote, just touching it is a vote is a manifest injustice.
CHARLES LIGHTMAN, ATTORNEY, FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: The bottom line is the process is continuing. It will continue. We have counted votes, we will count votes.
LEWIS: As the day wound down, protesters maintained their noisy vigil, and the locals in charge of keeping the peace hoped for it all to end.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're hopeful that very soon they're going to go back to their homes.
LEWIS: David Lewis, CNN, Broward County, Florida.
CHEN: And so, with the hand counting nearly over, more legal challenges begin.
On Monday, Vice President Gore is expected to contest results from Nassau and Miami-Dade Counties. In Miami-Dade, canvassing board officials stopped counting earlier this week, saying they couldn't meet tomorrow's deadline. The Democrats say that the board was strong-armed into stopping.
CNN's Frank Buckley has the story.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican protesters demonstrated against the Miami-Dade County canvassing board Wednesday morning. Early Wednesday afternoon, the canvassing board decided to halt the manual recount. And Democrats say the board was intimidated into its decision by the Republican protesters.
REP. ALCEE HASTINGS (D), FLORIDA: here's something drastically wrong when bullies can override ballots.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: The whiff of fascism is in the air.
BUCKLEY: Republicans say protesters were simply demonstrating against a process they felt was unfair.
TERRY HOLT, VICTORY 2000: While we hope we don't have to have a demonstration about the fairness of an election, in this country under this constitution and with our guaranteed freedoms, we have the right to protest and to make our voice heard.
BUCKLEY: One member of the three-member canvassing board, election supervisor David Leahy, tells CNN the board's decision was not influenced by protesters.
DAVID LEAHY, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY CANVASSING BOARD: I was not intimidated. My vote to suspend the hand tally of the votes in Miami- Dade County had nothing to do with the protests. It simply had to do with not enough time or logistical support to complete the hand recount by the deadline set by the State Supreme Court.
BUCKLEY: Still, Democrats are critical of the board for quitting before the count was complete and for not submitting at least a partial recount.
KENDALL COFFEY, DEMOCRATIC PARTY ATTORNEY: They had an important duty in a time of crisis, and they walked off the job.
BUCKLEY: Leahy says submitting a partial recount of the ballots would have been unfair.
LEAHY: A good number of the precincts that we've done thus far and the unvoted ballots that we looked at thus far are from heavily Democratic precincts. I would be uncomfortable and unwilling to certify unless we finished the entire county and everybody's vote got a fair chance to be counted.
BUCKLEY: Leahy says it would take ten days to complete that process, but it is one that will not take place unless a court orders the canvassing board back to work.
Frank Buckley, CNN, Miami.
CHEN: Attorneys for the Bush campaign filed lawsuits late today against four Florida counties in an effort to force them to count discarded military absentee ballots. As national correspondent Gary Tuchman reports, this comes on the heels of a GOP rally to get those ballots counted.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They had a message to send, and they sent it from the sky and from the ground. The main street in front of the old courthouse in Escambia County, Florida, was filled with George W. Bush supporters convinced Democrats are trying to keep overseas military votes from being counted.
REP. JOE SCARBOROUGH (R), FLORIDA: Will all former Marines give us a big yell? Let me tell you something, anybody that tries to take their votes away from them -- not too smart.
TUCHMAN: The Bush campaign had filed suit in an attempt to force 14 Florida counties, most with large concentrations of military employees, to reexamine overseas ballots thrown out for lack of a postmark or similar flaws.
But following a hearing in which the judge hinted he might not rule in their favor, Republicans have dropped the suit and instead are filing cases in individual counties to try to get the ballots counted.
BEN GINSBERG, ATTORNEY, BUSH CAMPAIGN: Some boards have met or plan to meet to reconsider counting the ballots of U.S. servicemen and women on duty overseas. Therefore, it appears the many wrongfully excluded ballots from U.S. military personnel serving overseas will now be counted through voluntary compliance.
TUCHMAN: At the Pensacola protest, Bush supporters said there's no comparison between their asking for military ballots to be included and the hand recounts in south Florida.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A military man signing that ballot -- that's clear intention.
TUCHMAN: The stated purpose of this rally was to protest the disputed military ballots. But it became a much broader demonstration with anger and passion spilling out about the election in general.
REP. JERRY MAYGARDEN (R), FLORIDA: We've come together to express our collective concerns over the manner in which our votes are being systematically devalued in favor of dangling chads, pregnant chads and dimpled chads. Well, they can kiss my chad.
TUCHMAN: Here in Escambia County, one of the original counties in the suit, 154 overseas military ballots were accepted -- 112 were disqualified. Protesters here say they won't be satisfied until all of those 112 ballots are included.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Pensacola, Florida.
CHEN: Six days from now, the focus will shift to the U.S. Supreme Court. On Friday, the justices will hear oral arguments challenging the Florida Supreme Court decision to allow hand recounts of the state's presidential ballots. The Gore campaign says the Florida high court correctly and consistently interpreted state law. Attorneys must file briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court by Tuesday. And our focus shifts from the news to analysis. Next up here is CNN's Roger Cossack and Bill Schneider with their insight.
Later here, Al Gore and George Bush, the two contenders and their camps prepare for the upcoming battle.
Also ahead, will whoever finally moves into the White House be too damaged to rule effectively?
CHEN: It's late now in what has been a dizzying week of developments in election 2000. For some perspective on what's happened and what lies ahead, we turn to CNN Legal Analyst, Roger Cossack. Also with us, senior political analyst Bill Schneider.
Gentlemen, we thank you for being back with us.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening.
CHEN: Good evening, again. Let's talk about the latest developments first, and what it means both from a political and a legal standpoint. This notion of filing over the military overseas ballots in individual counties -- Roger, let's talk first about the political -- the legal significance of that. And then we'll let Bill talk about the political.
ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: OK, well, the legal significance is that initially the lawsuit was filed about 15 or 20 different counties in Florida yesterday. And they went into court and we were able to actually to see some of it on CNN and they weren't having such a great time with the judge who seemed to be having a difficult time understanding that the law -- or, understanding their point of view which was that the law apparently said that they had to be postmarked and these technicalities called for it the way they should be done.
Nevertheless, several of the counties reviewed the way they were doing things. To the Republicans satisfaction, many of the counties were dismissed from the lawsuit and they have there -- I think about four counties left that they're concerned about. And the lawsuit is going on.
Now they are apparently going to have, I would say, if seeing the judge yesterday continue on in the same vein, then the Republicans may have a problem because he seemed to be very, very strict in the interpretation of what the statute is, and the statue requires for, you know, postmarks and signatures and dates, and if they're not there, he did not -- at least, apparently, did not seem to be wanting to give in.
CHEN: I guess, Bill, that we have always interpreted those overseas military ballots as being more likely to go for the Bush side. So if those numbers are not particularly going to change things greatly, isn't the more significant development on the political sphere, we saw in Gary Tuchman's report, the level of energy and passion about this issue among the masses who are coming out to join the rallies for this.
SCHNEIDER: Well, absolutely. I mean, look -- there are lots of technicalities regarding count of overseas ballots. But more responsible legal issue is if the law supposes that, the law is a ass, which is what Charles Dickens wrote.
Because the fact is -- the political reality is people are outraged to see military ballots coming from people serving their country overseas being disregarded -- being set aside because they're not witnessed properly -- because they don't bear proper postmarks. And this has been a public relations bonanza for Bush and the Republicans.
They trotted out Medal of Honor winners -- Congressional Medal of Honor winners to protest this. John McCain -- all kinds of major figures. Bob Dole was out there. This is an outrage and Republicans have made a lot of hay on this public relations issue.
CHEN: In effect...
COSSACK: I want to point out that I had nothing to do with this, Bill Schneider. It wasn't my decision to do this. I'm just telling you the judge interpreted the statute pretty narrowly and he said postmarks mean postmarks and that signatures mean signatures and that that's the way the law is written. And, you know, we don't call judges those names so easily.
SCHNEIDER: I do. I'm not a lawyer. You are.
CHEN: All right. Let's talk about some of the other lawyers in all this. And what their position is going to be -- the justices, for example, and the Supreme Court entering into this case -- a big surprise to people both in the legal and political communities. But, Bill, you say that it's really because Supreme Court's the only folk left with moral authority here.
SCHNEIDER: Who else has that kind of authority? The president? No. Bill Clinton can't really settle this. He's very partisan on this issue. The former President George Bush? He has an obvious interest in the case. There's got to be someone who speaks for the Constitution, really, for the procedures that govern the election in this country. And that has to be the Supreme Court.
It's something the Supreme Court has assumed because I believe they feel they have to play that role in this kind of a dispute. No one else has that voice. It doesn't mean they're going to do it properly or correctly. They could end up sounding terribly partisan. They could be attacked by the losing side as being a Republican court or an irresponsible court.
And frankly, the Supreme Court of this country has done some pretty stupid things. A couple of years ago, they said that if President Clinton is allowed to testify in the Paula Jones case, it will not be a big problem and it wouldn't be a big distraction on his presidency. Well, ha ha -- it took up his presidency for about a year-and-a-half. But we hope the Supreme Court will take this seriously, will rise above anything that appears to be partisan, and will give this case some finality.
COSSACK: Well, Joie, this is probably one of the few times I happen to agree with my friend, the law attacker, the judge baiter. And by telling you that I think this is a perfect place for this decision to be made in the Supreme Court, even though I must say that many of us believe that this case was never going to end up in front of the Supreme Court because from a precedent setting value and from the Constitution, presumptively these kind of matters end up in state courts. And when there's a dispute within a state and the Florida Supreme Court or the state Supreme Court makes a decision -- a unanimous decision, it's a very, very rare occurrence that it would end up in front of the United States Supreme Court.
Now, having said that, I have a feeling that one of the reasons that the United States Supreme Court got involved in this is that they also know what's going on, they are the Supreme Court, they know that this is, perhaps, the biggest fight that will ever go on, and, you know, the fact that they're not going to be part of it may be just too difficult for them to handle.
And so in many ways, it does -- it gives the imprimatur of legality and of finality. And when the Supreme Court talks, I think most Americans will say, well, look, that's it.
CHEN: Does the Supreme Court, I mean -- do the Justices, you know, really like to be involved in political situations, Roger? I mean, I almost have the sense that this is something they would want to shy away from and it would have been fairly easy for them to say, "No, we don't want to hear about it."
COSSACK: Well, you're right. It would have been easy. And when you study the Constitution and you study jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, one of the things they do not traditionally get involved with is politics. But there were questions presented to them that if they wanted to view them in that way, did present federal issues.
Look, there is nothing, perhaps, more important in this country than the notion of one man, one vote. And that means that that vote has to count. So the idea of how Florida handled its votes, the notion that it was put to them by the Bush campaign committee saying "Look. They changed the rules after the election to hurt my person, therefore denying people their votes." You know, that's an important issue.
Do they want to get into it? Who knows? But, you know, they're in it and they will speak and we will hear from the United State Supreme Court and, you know, frankly, that's where this should be heard.
SCHNEIDER: It's a political necessity for the Court to be involved in this because the voice of the Constitution, which is the sovereign authority in this country, must be heard. And the Supreme Court is that voice. CHEN: You know, there -- I hear this fear voiced over and over again from lay people that the courts are taking this out of the hands of the individual voter -- that the voter is losing control over this and that everything is being decided by the courts.
Do you think the courts have consciously acted with that understanding -- with the understanding that that fear is out there? Or do you think that they have just moved on to take care of business with a disregard for what the voter's will might or might not be...
SCHNEIDER: Well, I think...
CHEN: ... looking purely at the legal argument?
SCHNEIDER: Yeah. The Florida Supreme Court, I think, was very conscious of its role in trying to establish the primacy of the voters and the voter's voice. That's why they gave time for the recount. That's why they said the voter's will must be paramount, overriding any legislative statutes. Which is why, of course, their decision is being questioned.
But it's the candidates who have really relied on the courts to adjudicate this and that so has been very, very frustrating, I think, for most Americans who do not think the courts should be part of this dispute. It really is a political matter and that's why I think the only route left has to be the Supreme Court.
COSSACK: And that's right. I mean, look. This is a political matter, but let's -- as we lawyers like to say, let's get a little real about this. You know, it wasn't the lawyers on their own who decided to go to the courts. And it wasn't the judges who decided to get involved in this. It was the candidates who went to the lawyers who then went to the judges.
And, you know, where else is this dispute going to be settled? There's only so many ways you can settle a dispute like this. You know, in other countries they have tanks in the streets. In our country, we go to the lawyers and the lawyers go to the judges.
SCHNEIDER: The founding fathers might have had a duel. They settled a lot of disputes that way. But we don't do that anymore.
CHEN: A quick word here...
COSSACK: We don't do that anymore.
CHEN: A quick word here on somebody else who's in the streets and those are the cameras. I think you both -- I know where you're both going to stand on bringing cameras into the Supreme Court. But how likely is that to happen?
SCHNEIDER: I don't think it's likely.
COSSACK: You know, I agree with Bill that it's not likely, and it's a real shame. And the interesting thing is that it's probably be the Supreme Court that makes the decision as to whether or not the Supreme Court gets to have a camera view it. I don't know any other body that could make that decision, but it just seems wrong to me that we will not be able to see the discussion that may decide who the next President of the United States is.
CHEN: Thank you two -- both of you -- for staying up late with us. Roger Cossack, Bill Schneider, we appreciate your insight.
COSSACK: Thank you.
CHEN: We have heard from the politicians, the protesters, and, of course, the pundit. Next up, the public speaks out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want all of those votes counted. I don't want Jacksonville to be left out, I don't want Lakeland to be left out, I don't want Miami Beach to be left out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very much one of those people that I do think make up the masses, that just say let it -- let is play itself out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: More voices, more thoughts from the masses about the Florida recount when we return.
CHEN: Former President Jimmy Carter has urged patience in dealing with the Florida recount. He pointed out that more than two weeks remain before Florida's 25 electors must be named. And then it's more than two months more before the new president is to be sworn in.
Mr. Carter urged the nation not to sacrifice speed for accuracy. He said, "The right to vote is a precious gift of democracy. And in a closely contested election, there is no alternative to deciding the intent of each voter. This may take time, but it is time well spent."
It has already been, though, nearly three weeks since the presidential race went into suspended animation. In that time, voters' attitudes have ranged from fascination to frustration.
To get an idea of where the mood is now, here's CNN's Brian Palmer.
BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As they carry on with their everyday lives, Americans may be getting tired of the electoral stalemate. But they're still following events in Florida.
Out in Los Angeles, musician Kyle Roland (ph), a dyed-in-the-wool Republican from Georgia, says he doesn't mind the recounts, unlike his candidate, George W. Bush.
KYLE ROLAND, VOTER: I think they could do the recount as many times as you wanted. You've got a dozen eggs, you can count them as many times as you want just to make sure you got a dozen eggs.
PALMER: At Sylvia's Restaurant, a Harlem New York landmark, 61- year old lifelong Democrat Willie Davis (ph) may be sick of the process, but he grudgingly supports it.
WILLIE DAVIS, VOTER: I want all of those votes counted. I don't want Jacksonville to be left out. I don't want Lakeland to be left out. I don't want Miami Beach to be left out.
PALMER: From Mary Waddell (ph) and her husband, David (ph), Bush supporters from Richmond, Virginia, some measured words from a different perspective.
MARY WADDELL, VOTER: Christians really need to just really pray that whoever God wants in that seat will be in that seat no matter who it is.
PALMER: On Manhattan's upper east side at a weekly football game, a take on the political infighting from referee Rafael Ponce (ph).
RAFAEL PONCE, VOTER: Every vote counts. I mean, are we in the twenty-first century? You've got to be kidding me. You know, you can't even get these ballots going? There's computers now. What are we doing with these old machines?
PALMER: After nearly three weeks of electoral indecision, America's reservoir of patience has proven to be deep but not bottomless.
In a Washington D.C. cafe, that sentiment was echoed by Thea (ph), a women's organizer and graduate student.
THEA, VOTER: There is a lot of pressure being created by the, you know, the partisanship of it, but at the same time, I'm very much one of those people that I do think make up the masses that just say let it - let is play itself out.
PALMER: And at Barney Greengrass (ph), a popular New York City deli, approval from Seth Rosen (ph), a Democrat lawyer, of the Supreme Court's decision to get involved.
SETH ROSEN, VOTER: I think to put arbitrary deadlines is inappropriate. We're looking at the leader of what is essentially democracy on the planet. To stop too early would be really inappropriate. We need to come to the conclusion of the will of the people of the United States.
PALMER: Brian Palmer, CNN, New York.
CHEN: Still ahead here, the candidates keep low profiles, while their legal teams fight for the White House.
More on the Florida recount when we return, and more on the story at any time at our Web site, CNN.com.
CHEN: Now here's a look at the latest on the recounts.
Bush has an official statewide lead of 930 votes in Florida. But eight counties have revised their totals, resulting there in a net gain of 91 for Bush. Ongoing hand counts give Gore a net gain of 546 in Broward County, and Bush has a net gain of 10 in Palm Beach County. So the unofficial Bush lead for now is 485.
Now the numbers released by the canvassing boards do not include about 150 disputed ballots in Broward County. Palm Beach county must still review about 215,000 ballots -- which are counted but not finalized -- and as many as 8,000 disputed ballots.
As you can see in this live picture from West Palm Beach, that process does go on now, as it most likely will throughout the night, according to officials there. And even then, they may not finish before the 5:00 deadline on Sunday.
However, over in Broward County, they are also working quite late there. They think, however, in Broward County, that they will be able to finish maybe at some time late tonight; certainly before the 5:00 deadline on Sunday.
CNN news keeping an eye out on events in both of those counties. We'll bring you the latest developments as they become available to us.
The candidates themselves have kept rather low profiles since Thanksgiving. They've left much of the work to their surrogates. Campaign staffs and lawyers now preparing for an array of court battles, the biggest, of course, being Friday's hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a moment, CNN national correspondent Tony Clark with a look at the Bush team's preparations.
First, though, congressional correspondent Chris Black on the vice president's weekend in Washington.
CHRIS BLACK, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vice President Al Gore got in another kind of licks, heading out for an ice cream cone at a neighborhood shop in Washington with members of his family.
QUESTION: ... Court is hearing the case, sir.
ALBERT GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Chocolate chip. BLACK: But on this holiday weekend, his lawyers and campaign operatives are preparing to contest the Florida election results after certification, arguing every vote should be counted.
GEORGE MITCHELL (D), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The overriding objective of all concerned should be a full, fair and accurate count of the votes. Because in our Democratic society, the will of the people is and ought to be, in the words of the Florida Supreme Court, the "paramount consideration."
BLACK: Gore campaign lawyers say they are certain to contest the results in Miami-Dade, where the recount was canceled, and Nassau, where a machine recount showing a Gore gain of 52 votes was thrown out, and almost certain to contest Palm Beach County results. They are charging county officials are ignoring the standards set by the court for judging ballots.
DOUG HATTAWAY, GORE CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: We fully expect to file a contest under the Supreme Court's guidelines by the end of Monday at the latest.
BLACK: So far, Democrats standing with the vice president, with some members of Congress lending a hand in the public relations war, complaining GOP-organized demonstrators caused Miami-Dade to stop counting votes.
REP. ALCEE HASTINGS (D), FLORIDA: What happened in Dade County is stunning. It smells. There's something drastically wrong when bullies can override ballots. That to me doesn't sound like the America that I know.
BLACK (on camera): Campaign officials say the gains Gore is making in Broward County prove they should contest the results in other counties. And they say by scheduling a hearing for Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court has done the campaign a favor by giving them a few more days to make their case for a recount of all the ballots in Florida.
Chris Black, CNN, Washington.
TONY CLARK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Tony Clark in Austin, Texas. Governor George W. Bush arrived back in Austin to the cheers of supporters who encircled the governor's mansion.
Though the demonstrators' signs called for Vice President Gore to give up and Bush to become president-elect, the Bush campaign has made public no plans to declare victory or conversely to begin challenging election results once Florida's votes are certified Sunday night.
DON EVANS, BUSH CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: We won the count twice, and, you know, I think we'll win it again a third time tomorrow night. CLARK: Campaign Chairman Don Evans and strategist Karl Rove thanked supporters for coming out Saturday. Meanwhile, Bush lawyers were preparing their briefs for the upcoming legal battle in U.S. Supreme Court and changing the arena for their state court battle over counting military ballots.
MINDY TUCKER, BUSH CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: There are counties where the Democrats are still very active in keeping the canvassing boards from going forward. And even when the canvassing boards decide to go forward, the Democrats are protesting those votes. So instead of -- instead of filing suit against all the counties here in Leon County, we're going to the individual counties where we haven't been able to get action yet.
CLARK: In addition to the courtroom press on the counties to reconsider excluded military votes, the Bush campaign upped the public pressure, bringing out Medal of Honor winners to make their case.
RON RAY, MEDAL OF HONOR WINNER: I believe that actions must be taken immediately by our county canvassing boards to ensure that our servicemen and women are treated fairly in this voting process. Anything less is totally, totally unacceptable.
CLARK: Demonstrations have become a key factor in this public relations war. While Bush supporters in Florida have been accused by Democrats of trying to disrupt the recount process, Saturday's marchers in Austin tried to show that anger over the recount isn't limited to Florida.
(on camera): And once the vote is certified in Florida, feelings here as well as in Florida will likely grow even stronger.
Tony Clark, CNN, Austin, Texas.
CHEN: Coming up here, whoever wins the White House faces quite a partisan mess left behind by all this. But will it be too much for him to govern? We'll have more on that.
Also ahead, we'll shift focus to the bloodshed in the Mideast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NETA GOLAN, END THE OCCUPATION COALITION: Yes, Barak is responsible. But we are all responsible for this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: Ahead, a look at the humanitarian effort pouring into Gaza and the West Bank.
CHEN: And welcome back to our special report on the Florida recount. Should update you now to say that officials are still recounting ballots in both Broward and Palm Beach Counties, even at this hour. We'll get an update on that in a few minutes.
First, though, a look at some other stories in the news today.
The United States denounces former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's return to the political spotlight. On Saturday, he was reelected to lead Serbia's Socialist Party. Milosevic was pushed from power after elections in September. He has rarely been seen in public since then.
On Saturday, he blasted Yugoslavia's new President, Vojislav Kostunica, characterizing him as a traitor and a puppet ofthe West.
There was yet more bloodshed in the Mideast on Saturday. At least four Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank in Gaza Strip. Thirty others were injured. This fighting came as local Palestinian and Israeli liaison offices were supposed to be reopened. Much of the fighting centered around those offices.
Comprehending the part of both Israelis and Palestinians from half a world away can certainly be difficult. So human rights activists are now visiting occupied and disputed lands in the Middle East.
CNN's Jerusalem bureau chief Mike Hanna has their insights from the front lines.
MIKE HANNA, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): A Palestinian mother tells of the Israeli attack that paralyzed her husband.
"I saw my father with a missile in his leg," says her seven-year- old son. "The glass of the window hit me in the face, and the stones fell on me, and I began to cry."
An Israeli woman weeps as she listens.
GOLAN: Yes, the Israeli army is responsible. Yes, Barak is responsible. But we are all responsible for this. And if people don't believe, you know, us, you know, then people should come here and see for themselves, you know, how these people are living.
HANNA: Neta Golan, an Israeli human rights activist, has come to see for herself. She spent four days and nights with Palestinian families in the West Bank village of Harris (ph).
"The Israelis that want peace and want to live with us, we put them in our eyes," says the head of this household. "We will be like brothers, and they are welcome in our homes." He shows a picture of his 14-year-old son, who was killed by an Israeli bullet. "I worked in the settlements. I used to take care of their kids," he says, "feed them and take care of them. But they killed our children."
During the day, a group of fellow Israeli activists joined Neta Golan in the village. The Israelis have little difficulty passing through Israeli security force roadblocks but have prevented passage by all Palestinians since September. Effectively, the village of Harris has been totally sealed off.
Both residents and Neta Golan say the village has been subject to nightly gunfire from both army troops and settler militia units. They are adamant the army and the settlers are working closely together.
This activist rabbi says he has no doubt about the truth of the allegations.
RABBI ARIK ASCHERMAN, RABBIS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: I have a responsibility as a rabbi to speak to the Jewish people. And, therefore, my message to the Jewish people is, understand that we have to open up our hearts. We need to understand the pain and trauma that Palestinians are experiencing. And we have to take responsibility for the acts that we have taken -- both during this intifada and through the years -- which have contributed to the situation we're in."
HANNA: The Israelis go to an olive grove owned by one of the villagers, next to the Jewish settlement of Revava (ph). They say that they are here to help harvest the olives and to protect the Palestinians who want to do so from attack by those in the settlement.
Settlers make their objections to the presence of the activists clear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They didn't come to speak with us. They do not sit with us and ask us, how do you feel about it?
HANNAH: In the settlement itself, residents say they do not want violence, but argue that they themselves are under threat from their Palestinian neighbors.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They come with guns here, and they shoot people! They stand, and they throw stones at cars with children inside, with women driving alone. How can we trust them not to come into our houses and kill our children?"
HANNA: The owner of the olive grove swears to God that neither he nor any of his 10 children have ever thrown a stone at settlers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I want peace. I want peace. I don't want war. Because peace is very important for us, for Jews and for Arabs also.
HANNA: But he points to the stumps that are all that remain of his olive trees, that he says the settlers have chopped down.
Outside the village, a group of the Israelis joined Palestinians in demolishing one of the roadblocks that seals Harris (ph) off from the rest of the West Bank. UNIDENTIFIED: The army is here. But since we are here, they're a bit more hesitant about asking, about opening fire. They threaten us also, but they are much less easy on the -- with their weapons when there are Israelis around.
HANNA: But the army and the police move in, and say the Israeli activists are breaking the law by being here. "This is a closed military area," they state. Netta Golan disagrees.
GOLAN: You can't talk about peace when there's an occupation going on. You can't on one hand negotiate peace, and on the other hand keep -- in marching settlements -- keep taking land, keep demolishing houses, keep villages, you know -- I mean -- keep shooting at people.
HANNA: An attempt is made to arrest Neta Golan, but she runs back down the road and seeks shelter in the village with her new Palestinian friends.
GOLAN: How can they believe in a peace process, you know, when all they feel is -- the occupation is strengthening its grip around their lives?
HANNA: But others among the Israeli activists are arrested. They are later released but told they will face charges.
This episode evidence that the swirling vortex of violence defies easy analysis. It's not always Jew against Arab. The struggle is also between those who support ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and those who do not.
Mike Hanna, CNN, in the West Bank.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: And ahead here on CNN, we return to the story in Florida. Looks like it may be a very long night underway in Palm Beach County, and perhaps Broward as well. We'll check in with both of those communities and get the latest, coming up next.
Also ahead, the next man to take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has his work cut out for him. Coming up: What will it take to govern effectively?
CHEN: Those of you just joining us, let's take another look now at the latest developments in the Florida recount.
At this hour, election workers in Palm Beach and Broward Counties are still on the job trying to come up (ph) with their final tallies in time for Sunday's five p.m. Eastern deadline.
Texas Governor George W. Bush now has an unofficial lead of 485 votes. The Bush camp drops a blanket lawsuit on military absentee ballots, only to re-file several more in individual counties. Republicans want military ballots included in the final count, even if they don't have the validated marks. The Bush campaign has filed individual suits in four counties in hopes of achieving that goal.
After the votes are finally counted, and the winner is finally declared and sworn in, what can the next president hope to accomplish? Some have argued not much, noting the president-to-be faces a divided Congress and a divided nation.
We get another perspective from White House correspondent Kelly Wallace.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When either Al Gore or George W. Bush is eventually declared the winner, he will have overcome one extraordinary challenge in Florida, only to face another one once inside the White House.
ROBERT DALLEK, HISTORIAN: When the vote is so indecisive, then the man entering the office loses a certain credibility, a certain legitimacy. And it makes it difficult to govern.
WALLACE: Difficult, but not impossible, political experts say.
Take the case of President Clinton. Elected with just 43 percent of the vote in 1992, he watched his party lose control of Congress in 1994 and faced the embarrassment of impeachment four years later.
DALLEK: Clinton's service as President demonstrates that you can survive an awful lot of problems.
WALLACE: Some Republicans, though, say the only lesson to be gleaned from Mr. Clinton is that some of his major accomplishments such as trade deals and welfare reform would not have happened without Republican support.
VIN WEBER, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: The next president ought to learn from President Clinton that he needs to govern in, as much as possible, a bipartisan way to accomplish things.
WALLACE: That's even more essential now with Congress sharply divided, and neither party likely to hold a working majority. But each man could restore some goodwill by appointing members of the opposing party to his cabinet.
One Democratic pollster says the longer this goes on, the less public trust the next President will have on day one.
GEOFF GARIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: There is a growing view that these guys are only playing politics here, and not trying to come up with a result that's best for the country.
WALLACE: Add to that growing distress of one side for the other, and you have what will be the biggest test of either Gore or Bush's political life. However, the next President also faces a slew of unfinished business. And any legislative victories could turn a weak President into a man who gets things done.
Kelly Wallace, CNN, the White House.
CHEN: And that's it for this special report on Election 2000. Thanks for being with us.
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