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Gore Defends His Decision to Contest Florida's Presidential Election; Bush Campaign Begins Transition, Calls for Gore to ConcedeAired November 27, 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 election 2000 special report.
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AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is America. When votes are cast, we count them. We don't arbitrarily set them aside because it's too difficult to count them.
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ANNOUNCER: The public relations battle escalates. Al Gore says count the votes. Republican say accept the obvious.
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DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We believe it is time to get on with the business of organizing the administration.
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ANNOUNCER: The Bush camp demands space and money for the transition...
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CLERK: ... all rise.
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ANNOUNCER: ... while attorneys for all sides go to court trying to settle who really won Florida, and from Jeanne Moos, hail to the almost chief.
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JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bush supporters may already refer to their man as...
CROWD: President Bush! President Bush! President Bush!
MOOS: But those in the news media are more circumspect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CNN "LARRY KING LIVE") LARRY KING, HOST: ... the president -- the president-elect maybe -- I don't know what we'll call it.
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ANNOUNCER: This is a CNN special report, Election 2000: The Florida Vote, with anchors Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff in Washington, and senior analyst Jeff Greenfield in New York.
BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for joining us on a night Al Gore argued his case before an increasingly skeptical public.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: And the vice president's attorneys went back to court to argue the same case, that the Florida vote count still is not over.
The business of choosing the nation's next president is a complex process. Here are the latest developments. Vice President Gore spoke tonight, saying thousands of votes still have not been counted and explaining that he is contesting the Florida vote to make sure all votes for president are counted.
Democratic leaders in Congress, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, told Gore during a conference call that they believe too there are thousands of uncounted votes in Florida.
The Gore campaign is contesting the results of the Florida vote certification in court. The Bush campaign has cases pending in federal appeals court and the United States Supreme Court.
Dick Cheney announced that the Bush campaign will ask for private donations to help pay for transition work after the government said that it would not release federal money until all court challenges are settled.
SHAW: Vice President Gore was trying to persuade the nation to be willing to wait for more challenges before he or George W. Bush becomes president-elect.
CNN's John King is here in Washington following the story.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, this another remarkable moment in a truly remarkable story. The vice president going before the nation tonight, a speech, lasted just under five minutes. Above all else, this was an appeal for patience, the vice president making the case that in his view several thousand, as many as 15,000, his lawyers say in court, votes have still not been counted in the state of Florida. The vice president saying there are some -- an obvious reference to Governor Bush and the Republicans -- who want all this wrapped up as soon as possible.
But in a direct appeal to the American people to support his legal challenge, the vice president saying it is critical in his view that this process continue until all the votes are counted.
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GORE: Ignoring votes means ignoring democracy itself, and if we ignore the votes of thousands in Florida in this election, how can you or any American have confidence that your vote will not be ignored in a future election?
That is all we have asked since election day, a complete count of all the votes cast in Florida: not recount after recount, as some have charged, but a single full and accurate count.
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KING: The vice president obviously sensitive in this address to the growing evidence in public opinion polls that the American people want an end to all this. He made the case in his brief speech tonight that he's not really responsible for the delay. He says that he has been asking since election day for this recount, stymied, he says, by objections from the Republicans.
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GORE: In one county, election officials brought the count to a premature end in the face of organized intimidation. In a number of counties, votes that had been fairly counted were simply set aside, and many thousands of votes that were cast on election day have not yet been counted at all, not once.
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KING: Earlier, as also part of the Democratic strategy, this conference call: Vice President Gore and his running mate, Joe Lieberman in Washington, the Democratic congressional leaders down in Florida, making the case that they believe if the courts allow this count to go forward, as the vice president wants to go forward, there are enough votes to overtake Governor Bush, win the state of Florida, and then, of course, win the White House: all that part of a carefully crafted public relations effort now as this legal fight continues. And it could go on another week or two: the vice president trying to make the case, and fellow Democrats helping him, trying to convince the American people that this is not a waste of time and he is not a sore loser.
SHAW: John, since this could go on, as you say, another week or two, why this sense of urgency to make this statement tonight rather than, say, tomorrow or Wednesday?
KING: Quick evidence that public opinion is swinging against the vice president, that with the official certification of the Florida results, with Governor Bush coming out and claiming that he has won the election and will proceed with his transition, and asking that he be treated as the president-elect, instant evidence, public opinion swinging. Even many Gore supporters now believing this is a lost cause: a majority of Americans saying the vice president should concede. They felt it was urgent that he come right out and explain this legal challenge. Essentially urged the American people to hang in there for another week or two.
SHAW: Thanks, John King.
Judy, to you.
WOODRUFF: Well, George W. Bush is involved in court fights over the results in Florida as well. And he is going ahead, beginning the transition process to put an administration in place.
CNN senior political analyst Candy Crowley -- I should say our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is in Austin, Texas to report on what Bush is doing.
Candy, I've got your title right.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks.
Judy, first, a bit of reaction from the Bush campaign about what the vice president had to say a little earlier this evening. Senior Bush aides said it's nothing new, he didn't substantially advance his cause.
A senior aide also taking issue with the repeated Democratic mantra that what the vice president wants is that every vote should count. The aide said this really rings hollow, because when you look at what they're trying to do in court, what they want to do is negate 218 certified votes in Nassau County -- they say votes certified by a Democratic-controlled board -- that what the vice president wants is new voting standards in Palm Beach County. Yet, those standards were set by a predominantly Democratic board. And again, according to the Bush team, Al Gore wants to undo a decision by Miami-Dade County not to have a recount.
Having said all of that, most of the Bush team focus is on looking ahead.
CROWLEY (voice-over): For reasons both political and practical, the Bush team is moving forward, talking transition in Austin, trying to get things rolling in Washington.
CHENEY: We feel it is our obligation to the American people to honor their votes by moving forward and assembling the administration that they have chosen in this election.
CROWLEY: Not everyone sees things quite so clearly as the Bush- Cheney ticket. The federal agency in charge of providing money, space and assistance for transition says it's not giving out anything until the courts are finished. So the Bush camp has set up a private fund to underwrite the transition, arguing there's no choice but to begin.
CHENEY: These days of transition before a president-elect takes the oath of office are of great importance. The quality of a transition has a direct bearing on the quality of the administration that follows it, a direct bearing on the quality of the people that are recruited to serve in an administration.
CROWLEY: Though they say that beginning work on a new administration is necessary, the transition talk from the Bush team is also the core of political strategy to create a sense of inevitability.
Dick Cheney was the point man, but not the only man out and about Monday arguing that time has caught up with Al Gore.
REP. J.C. WATTS (R), OKLAHOMA: This whole process is probably wearing on the last nerve of the American people. I hope that the vice president will do what's good for the country, and you know, say that this thing is over.
CROWLEY: So far, Republicans are the only ones calling for an end to this, at least publicly, but the Bush team believes that time will bring reinforcement: first from a public showing signs of growing fatigue, and then, the Bush team hopes, from leading Democrats -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Candy, what do the Bush people say to the, I guess, the essence of Gore's argument tonight, that voting is what a democracy is all about, what's wrong with waiting another several days to make sure it's been accurately and fairly?
CROWLEY: Well, I wish I could give you a new line, but it's basically what they have been saying all along, which is, OK, we've had the original vote and then we had a recount, and now in some of these counties we had another recount, that the Florida Supreme Court set a deadline for last Sunday. That deadline was met. That deadline showed that George Bush has won and now that it's time to give it up.
So they really have been saying, as thee Gore camp in many ways has been saying the same thing for the past almost three weeks -- the Bush team is saying it's over, it's time to move on.
WOODRUFF: But we never tire of hearing you say it, Candy.
Thanks very much, Candy Crowley, in Austin -- Bernie.
SHAW: Well, it's an understatement to say this process of selecting the next president is going on much longer than usual this year. CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider is here with more on what Americans think about that delay.
Bill, simply for the record, is the public's patience wearing thin?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it is. A week ago, Americans were split. Just over half said they were willing to wait a little longer, and just under half said, you know, this has gone on too far, too long.
We asked the same question again last night after Florida certified the election results, but -- and again tonight before Vice President Gore's remarks. Let's see what the people had to say.
What they said was their patience is running out. Now, 62 percent say this has gone on too long; 37 percent are willing to wait longer. That is why Vice President Gore came out to speak tonight. He was pleading for more time.
SHAW: Is there pressure on Gore to concede?
SCHNEIDER: Well, yes, there is, at least this is before people heard him speak tonight. Let's hear from the people: 56 percent said Gore should concede the election. That's up from 46 percent a week ago. More than a third of Gore's own supporters say they're ready for him to throw in the towel.
His remarks tonight were aimed as shoring up his base, which is getting a little shaky. Gore tried to make the case tonight this is not about him; it's about you, the voters, and making sure your votes count.
He's hoping that argument will turn those figures around, because his base is getting a little unsure.
SHAW: But do people believe Gore may have won Florida?
SCHNEIDER: No, and that's his problem, and it's a very big problem. We asked Americans, "Who do you consider the real winner in Florida?" We gave them three choices: Bush, Gore, or "Are you unsure?" And the answers are surprising decisive. Let's hear from the people.
Fifty-one percent of Americans believe Bush won Florida. There was a certification, remember. Only 15 percent believe Gore actually won Florida. Thirty-two percent say they're not sure, which Gore was hoping clearly that more people would say.
Gore is fighting the growing perception, Bernie, that it's over.
SHAW: Well, in sum, will whoever wins be accepted as legitimate?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, but with a condition. We asked, "If George W. Bush is declared the winner and he's inaugurated in January, would you accept him as a legitimate president?"
Let's hear it from the people: 84 percent said yes for Bush. What about if Gore is declared the winner? Seventy-four percent said yes, which looks good. But clearly, Gore would have more problems than Bush. Why? Because a majority of Bush supporters for the first time now say they would not accept Al Gore as a legitimate president. Only a third of Gore's supporters say they would not accept Bush as president. This is the first sign we've seen in this whole campaign that one of the candidates would have a serious legitimacy problem if he's declared the winner, and that is Al Gore. So now Gore really has two problems: He's got to find the votes and he's got to establish legitimacy with his opponent's supporters.
SHAW: Bill Schneider, thank you.
WOODRUFF: For more now on the public perception, CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield joins us from our New York bureau -- Jeff.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, Judy, it strikes me that when you listened to Al Gore tonight, what you were hearing was as significant for what he didn't say as what he did say. He didn't say, as he often has, I won the national popular vote. He didn't say, I think I won Florida. What he said was, let's give it a little more time and see.
And I think the tone he was striking tonight really reflects an attempt to reverse the numbers that Bill Schneider just told us about: that if the country is getting impatient, what the vice president was doing was saying, not, I won, I want the transition keys, I want the office, but rather we have to see who won because the vote was that important.
The other thing that struck me in thinking about what Bill was saying was in one sense this could be for Al Gore impeachment in reverse: That is, as long as the Democrats stayed with Bill Clinton during that whole Lewinsky scandal, turned into impeachment, he was going to be fine, there's no way to remove him. And as long as the public stood with Clinton, the Democrats were going to stand with Clinton.
Right now, over the next couple of weeks, Al Gore needs the Democrats to stay with him, as they signalled they were doing today. The dilemma he may have is that if the poll numbers begin to drift the way they seem to be now, how long will it be before one, two, many Democrats begin to say publicly, as a couple did today, "Mr. Vice President, enough's enough"? And I think that is the challenge in sum that faces Al Gore tonight and in the days to come.
WOODRUFF: Well, Jeff, let me turn that around to you. You've been watching politics for lo these many years. You know these people who are elected to office. They do read the polls. How long do you think the vice president can hold on? What is it going to take?
GREENFIELD: I'm going to give you a definitive answer: not that long. I think what would help Al Gore is in the next couple of days if that court in Leon County were to signal that his case has real merit, that maybe the certification was wrong, that maybe in fact ballots need to be counted. And obviously, if the United States Supreme Court says, yes, the Florida Supreme Court was right, we had to have those hand recounts.
I think a decision against the Gore camp in the Supreme Court, even though it wouldn't affect the contest legally, would in political terms, I think, end it. But he needs some kind of action, as the cliche goes, on the ground in Florida so that these impatient people Bill Schneider was telling us about might -- might give it a second look and say, hey, wait a minute, maybe that election wasn't on the up-and-up, maybe there were some things that we need to be patient about and hear.
WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield in New York, thanks very much and we'll see you a little bit later here.
And next, we shift our attention back from the court of public opinion to the court of law.
SHAW: And Leon County circuit court that Jeff just alluded to becomes ground zero in the battle between Gore and Bush. Also ahead...
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WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On election day, every person who voted had a vote that counted just as much as mine...
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WOODRUFF: President Clinton speaks out on the Florida vote and the future transition. We're back in two minutes.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's gone on long enough, the country needs to move on. Get over it. It's over. Done. Finished. You know, how much time do you want to spend in court?
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he should continue. I mean, I think what he's doing and the reasons that he's doing it are the right thing to do. It's making it a long process, but I rather have it done right than done fast.
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SHAW: For the first time in days, it's quiet in the chad counting rooms of South Florida. Now, the focus returns to courtrooms far to the north in the capital, Tallahassee. The state's highest court is preparing to hear challenges by the vice president's lawyers.
Let's get the latest from our national correspondent, Gary Tuchman.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first time since the election of 1876, the results of a U.S. presidential election are being officially contested. Two lawyers for Al Gore came into the Leon County Circuit Courthouse in Tallahassee and filed a complaint contesting the certified vote results in Florida.
JUDGE N. SANDERS SAULS, LEON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: Well, that's -- that's how we'll proceed.
TUCHMAN: Judge N. Sanders Sauls agreed for Gore lawyers to submit a witness list by Tuesday or Wednesday and for the Bush list to come two days later: an expedited schedule. Gore lawyers are asking for some of the contested ballots from Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach counties to be brought here to Tallahassee so they can be examined and presented as evidence in this case.
DAVID BOIES, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: These are obviously ballots that ultimately the court has got to make a judicial decision on. And because of the timeframe, we want to get them here so that that can proceed as soon as the court is prepared to turn to that.
TUCHMAN: In Vice President Gore's complaint to the court, his lawyers state -- quote -- "The vote totals reported are wrong. They include illegal votes and do not include legal votes that were improperly rejected."
The Gore side says if hand counts were completed in Miami-Dade County and the hand counts from Palm Beach County were certified, Al Gore would win the state. The Bush lawyers disagree and have the option of asking the judge, who was appointed by a former Republican governor, to dismiss the case.
FRED BARTLIT, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: The motion to dismiss here is something we'll talk about, but we've made no decisions at all -- none, zero.
TUCHMAN: Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court is considering taking on the case of whether a revote should happen in Palm Beach County because of the now famous butterfly ballot.
CRAIG WATERS, FLORIDA SUPREME COURT SPOKESMAN: I would like to stress that the court has not yet accepted this case for review. The parties will be simultaneously briefing the court as to why it should consider the case and the merits of the case.
TUCHMAN: The state Supreme Court asked for those briefings by Tuesday afternoon.
(on camera): And as for the Gore lawsuit here at circuit court, the next hearing might not be for four days, because that's how long the Bush side has been given to respond to the complaint. Four days is shorter than the usual 10 days allotted, but as the clock ticks, that still means testimony might not be heard until the end of this week, at the earliest.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Tallahassee, Florida. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SHAW: And also in the courts, there is a lawsuit alleging Republicans tampered with thousands of ballots in Seminole County by putting voter identification numbers on incomplete absentee ballots (sic). That case will be heard in the circuit court in Tallahassee. And still unresolved are lawsuits Bush filed in five other counties -- Hillsborough, Okaloosa, Orange, Pasco, and Polk. At issue here are a small number of rejected overseas absentee ballots because of problems with the date or the postmark.
WOODRUFF: In recent days, you've seen many live pictures of courtroom action in our Florida recount coverage. Well, that will not continue when the legal battle shifts to the United States Supreme Court Friday. Chief Justice William Rehnquist today turned down a press request to permit cameras and audio equipment.
Now, late today, CNN filed a motion asking the court to reconsider that decision and to permit audio coverage at least.
Well, of course, we have seen legal battles at just about every level of jurisdiction lately. Which are the ones that bear watching most closely?
For insight, we are joined by CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack.
Roger, let me just tick off some of the things that are under way. No. 1, the Gore campaign seeking in the state courts of Florida to have this Miami-Dade County recount be done, be completed and counted.
ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. That's part of the contest, and what they have done is gone in and said, as Gary Tuchman said, there are a couple of parts within the statute. One part says there have been -- have there been illegal votes counted and have there been legal counts omitted -- or legal votes omitted. And that's one of the things that they're complaining about, is that Miami-Dade, Palm Beach -- these are votes that were legal votes that have not been counted. And that's why we hear Vice President Gore get up and say all the time, count the votes, count the votes: because he believes that there's legal votes that haven't been counted.
WOODRUFF: You mentioned Palm Beach. If you look at what they're asking for in Miami-Dade, Roger, if you look at what they're asking for in Palm Beach County, look at what they're asking for in Seminole County, where they're saying these absentee ballots (sic) were illegally signed off on at the...
COSSACK: Forty-seven hundred of them.
WOODRUFF: ... the initiation of Republican workers, does one of these challenges stand a better chance than the others? Are they all about the same? Or do we just not know at this point?
COSSACK: Well, let me tell you, before anything happens, there's a -- there's a threshold that has to be met, and that threshold is that they have to convince the judge in this case that if in fact what they say is true, that it would make a significant difference, in fact perhaps turn the election around. That's a high standard.
It's the first thing they have to do. And how do they do that? We've heard about testimony being taken, perhaps even as soon as Wednesday and Thursday, and witness lists have to come in, because this judge has to be -- has to be taught, instructed or convinced that look, what we're doing is serious here, that if you count these Miami- Dade votes, if you count these Palm Beach votes, I'm going to win this election. So, that's the first thing that has to happen.
And that's -- whatever ones that they can convince the judge of, those are the ones that will be successful. If they can't convince the judge of any of them -- and it's a high standard to overturn an election -- then they're through.
WOODRUFF: Can you tell anything, Roger, from the course of Florida law in the past, precedence for these kinds of challenges, or similar challenges as to what chance these tight cases have?
COSSACK: There has never been a voter contest, certainly about a national election in the state of Florida. In fact, these laws are not set up for a national election.
Remember, there's only two votes -- two offices in the entire United States of America that the United States of America votes on: the president and the vice president. Everything else is local. So these laws are set up with the idea in mind that you're going to be taking on local elections, not national elections.
WOODRUFF: But there have been contests with regard to local elections. Do those provide any sort of precedent to what the judge is...
COSSACK: Not really. Not really. These are fact-intensive situations. That is they really are decided by the facts of each situation. And that's why I was telling you earlier on that there's an uphill battle here for the vice president, because he has to first convince this judge that what they are saying is so significant that even if the judge says, OK, let's go forward to step two, before that judge can say that, there has to be -- he has to believe that if this goes all the way to the end, Vice President Gore would win the election.
WOODRUFF: All right, Roger, I think Jeff Greenfield in New York has a question.
COSSACK: Fair enough -- Jeff.
GREENFIELD: Roger, this contest, it's specifically provided for under Florida law...
GREENFIELD: ... and the courts specifically given power to decide it. If somehow these courts decide for Al Gore, what federal question could there possibly be for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide under those circumstances?
COSSACK: Well, that's a good question, Jeff, and I've actually been kicking that around trying to figure it out, because I do believe that this is, unlike the first federal -- of the first situation, where there was a federal issue having to do with the reconciliation of the statutes by the Florida Supreme Court, this is a pretty straightforward statute. There's no reconciliation necessary.
This is one in which the judge is given the power -- the loser is given the power to contest the election, and come in and say, we think you should review the election, we think you should recount the votes. And there's nothing to reconcile. This is a straightforward statute.
Now, I suppose the argument could always be made, look, you are, by counting these votes without the standards that we need, you are depriving people of perhaps their vote, because it's, you know, one person, one vote, and without standards you don't really know what they are.
But short of that, Jeff, I don't know what's going to end up in the Supreme Court.
WOODRUFF: All right. Well, Roger Cossack, thanks very much, CNN legal analyst, we appreciate it -- Bernie.
SHAW: A report in today's "Wall Street Journal" says some of the people involved in the loud protest in Miami-Dade County last week were not local demonstrators. The story says the Bush campaign paid for Republican legislative aides to travel to Florida for that and other rallies.
The Miami-Dade canvassing board stopped recounting after this demonstration. The Democratic vice presidential candidate, Joe Lieberman, says the Republicans tried to intimidate the board.
When this CNN special report continues, how the Republican and Democratic parties are lining up behind their candidates. We're going to talk to two members of Congress.
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JIM NICHOLSON, CHAIRMAN, RNC: The vice president should have the honor and the dignity and the respect for the country to now concede and let this thing end so that we can rebuild a new government around Governor Bush.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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ED RENDELL, GENERAL CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: We know there are almost 11,000 votes where people cast votes but where no vote registered for president. So all we are saying is let's examine those votes. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: Republican and Democratic office holders are rallying behind their respect standard bearers. For more on party reaction, we're joined by two members of Congress, Republican Representative Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas's in Fort Smith, and Democratic Representative Bob Menendez of New Jersey is in our New York bureau.
Congressman Menendez, starting first with you. If you had Vice President Gore's ear right now, what would you tell him?
REP. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Well I's tell him he's -- we're behind him because he's fighting for a basic principle. You know, our democracy is based upon the consent of the governed, and that consent is given by their vote. And where their vote is not counted after having been legally cast, you don't have consent of the governed.
So we're fighting for a fundamental principle here is that every vote legally cast should be counted, which is far different than what Governor Bush is doing in the United States Supreme Court, which is to stop the counting of votes. I'd rather be on the side of the principle that says that every vote should count, and we should ensure that every vote gets counted. Then we have legitimacy in whomever the next president is.
SHAW: And if you had the vice president's ear, Congressman Hutchinson, what would you tell him.
REP. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: Well, I don't think he would give me his ear very long, but I think I would encourage him to listen to the American public. The American public has been very patient throughout this process, waiting for a credible certified result in Florida. And they received that. And I think once they heard the credible, and they perceived it as credible, certified result in Florida that they had confidence in, then their message is we need to move on to the next administration.
This is historic, the first time that we've had a contested lawsuit filed challenging the certified results in a presidential election. We believe that every vote should be counted, but Vice President Gore's lawsuit today said there are certain votes that shouldn't be counted. From Nassau County, some votes there should not be counted. And then, of course, the overseas ballots, that's the only way they get the equation that Gore could be a winner is to exclude certain overseas military ballots.
So I think we agree on the principle, but I think Vice President Gore needs to listen to the American public, and I think their patience expired when they saw that credible result in Florida.
SHAW: Congressman Menendez, among the rank and file in the Democratic Party, is the vice president's support rock solid, or do you detect slippage?
MENENDEZ: No, I think it's rock solid at this point. And it's rock solid because, look, we believe that if all the votes are counted in Florida, for example in Dade County, where 10,700 votes have not even been counted once, that in fact the vice president would win this election, and that the American people, not only in Florida in terms of the right of their vote to be counted, but all of us who cast votes in this election across the country, are either validated in our votes or invalidated by the legitimacy of the Florida vote.
And you can't consider the certification legitimate when it didn't count any of the 10,700 votes even once that were cast in Dade County, when you see that they didn't count the votes in Palm Beach, when you see that a certification in Nassau County was decertified, votes were stripped from Gore and a new certification was issued. If you add just those votes up alone, you're within 100 votes of deciding this election without 10,700 votes in Dade County being even counted once.
So I think the Democrats know that in fact this fundamental principle that we're fighting for is essential not only for the result of this election but for future elections as well.
GREENFIELD: And, Congressman Hutchinson, what do you say the contention just made by your colleague there and also the vice president, who at one point tonight said many thousands of votes cast on Election Day have not yet been counted at all, "not once," unquote.
HUTCHINSON: Well, I think we just heard more Gore math in how they would somehow recount these votes to eke out a victory. In fact, in Miami-Dade Country, referenced for my good friend Mr. Menendez, that 10,000 votes were not counted. I was down there in Florida. In fact, these 10,000 votes were run through the counting machine just like every other vote in Miami-Dade County was run through the machine.
The result was that the count was that these were no-votes. In other words, there was no vote cast in the presidential campaign. They voted for -- they did vote for Congress, they voted for their city director, their state Senate seat, but they didn't cast a vote for president. People do that sometimes...
MENENDEZ: Asa, that's not the case.
HUTCHINSON: ... and I think that's what you found in Miami-Dade County. They did vote...
MENENDEZ: Asa, that is not the case. The case is that they did not register a vote for president. And when they began the manual recount, which think stopped, they found over 300 votes cast, and in fact found that Gore was ahead by about 156 votes, which think discarded. And that's why having a count of those 10,700 for the first time fully in terms of the manual recount is so essential, because the legitimacy of the next president...
MENENDEZ: ... of the United States is determined by that.
SHAW: Mr. Hutchinson, a quick response to that before our time expires.
HUTCHINSON: Well, of course, the Gore people got their rules from the Florida Supreme Court. The Miami-Dade County canvassing commission said we cannot physically do that, and at that point they made the decision on their own not to proceed forward. These votes had been counted, they certified the results. It's been counted, it's been recounted. And I think the American people accept that as a verifiable, appropriate result in Florida and we're ready to move on.
SHAW: Congressmen Hutchinson and Menendez, thanks for joining us tonight.
MENENDEZ: Thank you.
HUTCHINSON: Thank you.
SHAW: Quite welcome, sirs -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And up next, the latest on the Florida vote, and President Clinton weighs on the transition to his successor.
WOODRUFF: Briefly, here are the latest developments in the Florida recount. "This is America. When votes are cast, we count them." With those words, Vice President Gore tonight took his case to the American people. gore went on television to seek support for his legal challenge to the Florida election.
Earlier, Democratic congressional leaders Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle told Gore they believe thousands of Florida votes have gone uncounted. And Dick Cheney announced the Bush campaign will pursue private dollars to finance transition work in anticipation of a move to the White House.
SHAW: Cheney acted after the Bush transition team learned federal dollars to help the winner ease into the Oval Office and the current administration to ease out must wait until all is official.
MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not so fast -- that's the word from President Clinton on Governor Bush's request for money and office space to start the presidential transition. But the president did offer this...
CLINTON: I'm signing today an executive order creating a transition coordinating council.
GARRETT: The unprecedented council will not do anything to help Bush or Gore with a transition now, but it shows movement, something White House aides say will help them deflect charges they are helping the vice president by denying Governor Bush's transition request. But the president did put in a good word for Mr. Gore's legal crusade.
CLINTON: On Election Day, every person who voted had a vote that counted just as much as mine. And so they have to sort that out in Florida. Whose vote should be counted? Can every vote be counted? If every vote can't be counted, is there a good reason why you're not counting that vote?
GARRETT: White House Chief of Staff John Podesta sent this memo to federal agencies and executive departments on November 13: "Until a president-elect is clearly identified, therefore, no transition assistance as contemplated under the Transition Act is available."
Dick Cheney is now leading the Bush transition, which is opening an office in Washington with private funds.
CHENEY: This is regrettable because we believe the government has an obligation to honor the certified results of the election.
GARRETT: But no one will receive keys to this transition office, rented by the General Services Administration, until a winner is declared.
BETH NEWBURGER, GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION: Right now, both candidates are in court, each with their own challenges. And as long as that's going on we think that the outcome is unclear.
GARRETT (on camera): The White House says it just doesn't know when the president-elect will be known or what standard it will use to decide. When pressed on this matter, off camera, press secretary Jake Siewert said, I don't know when it will be, I just know it's not now.
Major Garrett, CNN, White House.
GREENFIELD: In a moment, are we at the end of this long and winding road? Fresh answers to that cliche-ridden question when we come back.
GREENFIELD: So are we at the end of the beginning, toward the beginning of end? To make sense of that hash of a question, I'm joined by Rick Stengel of Time.com here in New York. He was a senior adviser to the Bill Bradley campaign. And in Washington, Christopher Caldwell of "The Weekly Standard," which as you probably figured out is a weekly publication.
Rick, this was a tough job for Al Gore tonight, trying to get the public away from its feeling that enough is enough. How did he do?
RICK STENGEL, TIME.COM: I thought he did a pretty good job. It was quite a lyrical speech, as you mentioned before. In fact, I kind of thought this was the speech he would give at the Democratic convention rather than the speech he gave. But what he did was atombraided (ph), underlined the one essential thing that he's trying to get across here: that this is about fairness. He was trying to say, you know what? We're Americans. We vote, we go to the polls. We want our vote to be counted. It's all about fairness. It's not about law, it's about justice.
GREENFIELD: But, Christopher, If I'm right and that the public really doesn't, to use this wretched cliche, have a dog in that fight, was this speech one that convinced the public to sort of stop a minute and say, OK, take a little longer.
CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I think it was very good for consumption within the Democratic Party. I don't think he picked up anybody tonight. I think the tone was a little bit, a little bit bellicose, it was a little bit insulting toward the electoral process.
The lines about the illegitimacy, or the potential illegitimacy, of the election, the inviting Americans to think that their own votes hadn't counted I think risks calling the whole process into question.
STENGEL: But you know, Christopher, I really thought that he was evoking the Constitution, he was invoking the rights and fairness of Americans of this almost beautiful thing when we all go to the polls and how important it is to each of us and represents democracy.
I didn't think it was bellicose at all.
CALDWELL: Well, it's pretty and romantic sounding, but I think if Americans are losing patience with Gore, and there's an indication from the poll tonight that they are, it's not so much because they disagree with his opinion of the result of the election, it's more that they think that the recounting process is introducing a lot of the kinds of unfairness that it was only meant to diagnosis. And they realize that there are -- you know, there are 63 other counties in Florida. The vast majority of them are pro-Bush. And to use only these four to claim a Gore victory is really only telling half the story.
GREENFIELD: Let me turn this to another example of what I guess Sherlock Holmes would have called the dog that did not bark in the night.
I would have thought some years ago that if we ever came close to electing a president who had lost the popular vote, there would at least have been some public puzzlement, if not a hue and cry about it. And yet it seems to have had no impact on public attitudes. Rick and Chris both -- Rick, you first -- why not?
STENGEL: I think because we in the media have actually done our job too well, perhaps. I mean, we've so -- spent so much time explaining to people what the electoral college is and that it's not a popular vote. I mean, Americans now can tell you what 270 is right off the top of their head. I mean, the greatest thing to me now is a high school history teacher. It's just fantastic thing for them. GREENFIELD: I would have thought the greatest thing in the world would be a shortstop from the Dominican Republic, but that's another story.
But, Chris, is that it? Have we just done a splendid job in teaching civics to an eagerly awaiting nation?
CALDWELL: I disagree completely. I think the popular vote total in that election, the nationwide popular vote total, is of mammoth importance in rallying Democrats to legitimacy of Gore. I think most Democrats believe that most Americans believe that the electoral college is constitutionally valid because it's only a formality. And once that -- and once the equation between the Electoral College and the popular vote breaks down, there's a lot of room to get people to accept creative extra-constitutional solutions.
GREENFIELD: So, Rick, we've been talking a lot about the 1876 election, which was soon to be a prime-time sitcom, I think. Rutherford B. Hayes, who came into office under a cloud, was addressed as "His Fraudulency" by Democrats. Do you expect six month from now -- assuming it is Bush -- that Democrats will still be angry with the way he got into the White House?
STENGEL: I think so. I think this is something that's going to haunt whoever is the next president, and I think people will hold it against him. And I think almost there's no way to dig yourself out of this ditch.
GREENFIELD: All right, Rick Stengel in New York and Christopher Caldwell in Washington, thank you very much for joining us.
And finally, listening to the vice president's words tonight, I thought of what a less-retained person might say under these circumstances -- someone, say, like me.
My speech would have gone like this:
"My fellow Americans, you can't be serious. You want me to concede the presidency now? Get real. For the last two years, I have schlepped from one end of this country to the other. I stood in freezing snow in Iowa and New Hampshire, in blistering polluted air in California.
"I've shaken hands at dawn and drank lousy coffee at midnight. I've slept in lumpy beds and endured miserably unfair questions from a smug, smart-aleck press. And now, when I'm this close to the White House and that 747 and power to make the kings of old weep with envy, now you think I should quit, maybe go out and teach somewhere or show up on cable television?
"I've got two words for you, America: Happy holidays" -- Bernie, Judy.
SHAW: President-elect Greenfield.
WOODRUFF: Funny, we didn't so your name on the ballot, Jeff. GREENFIELD: We're working on that, Judy.
WOODRUFF: We want to be the first to know.
Still to come on our special report, a new election-related dilemma.
SHAW: Should we or shouldn't we call him President-elect Bush? Our Jeanne Moos takes the question to the street.
SHAW: There was another national election going on today, and Canada has a chosen a party to form that country's next government. Several broadcasting outlets say the Liberal Party of Prime Minister Jean Chretien will be the first party in Canada to win three parliamentary elections in a row in 50 years. Chretien's Liberals look to a robust economy and strong poll numbers to lift them to victory.
Canadians vote for members of the House of Commons, and the party with the majority chooses the prime minister.
Just what we all need in this election drama, something new to argue about. Should we call Governor Bush President-elect Bush?
WOODRUFF: Just what is politically correct under these unusual circumstances?
Our Jeanne Moos surveys the court of public opinion.
MOOS (voice-over): Remember all that sighing Al Gore did at the first debate? Well, Florida's secretary of state let out a few sighs of near Gore-like proportions as she certified the vote.
Bush supporters may already refer to their man as...
CROWD: President Bush, President Bush.
MOOS: ... but those in the news media are more circumspect.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Here's the president the president-elect-maybe as we -- I don't know what we'll call it.
MOOS: Depends on who's calling it.
(on camera): President-elect Bush, does it have the ring of reality to you yet?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It certainly does.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not. MOOS: Does he seem like he's the president elect yet to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He never will.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President-elect Bush. President Bush. Has a good ring to it. I've heard it before.
MOOS: President-elect Bush.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, don't say it. I'm going for lunch.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You could have waited.
MOOS (voice-over): Whatever you call him, did he look the part as he took to the podium flanked by flags?
BUSH: ... as America's next president and vice-president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He looked like -- very strange.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uncertain of himself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Diplomatic and a gentleman about the situation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Presidential
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was kind of uncomfortable for him.
MOOS: If all the ups and downs of the presidential recount left you feeling seasick, you could always switch to the network premiere of "Titanic" instead. But any decent pundit could find a metaphor in the Titanic. Would Democrats soon be fleeing the Gore ship?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TITANIC")
LEONARDO DECAPRIO, ACTOR: The ship is going to suck us down, take a deep breath when I say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: A deep breath might do us all good.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?")
REGIS PHILBIN, HOST: He got it right.
MOOS: "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" was interrupted for remarks by a millionaire who wants to be president.
ANNOUNCER: This is an ABC News special report.
MOOS: When Governor Bush finished speaking, the network returned to "Millionaire." Unlike the presidential candidates, game show contestants can admit they don't have all the answers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My final answer is to walk away.
MOOS: Now if only one of the candidates would follow suit.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
SHAW: Well and that's it for this special report on the Florida vote.
I'm Bernard Shaw.
WOODRUFF: Love that Jeanne Moos.
And I'm Judy Woodruff. "THE SPIN ROOM" is straight ahead.
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