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The Spin Room: Post-Florida Certification, P.R. Machine Hits High Gear

Aired November 27, 2000 - 11:00 p.m. ET


BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: Hey, look, Tucker, there's President-elect Gore. Wait, that must be President-elect Bush. No, no, no, no, it is, it's President-elect Gore.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: You're scaring me, Bill.

PRESS: There he is again, President-elect George W. Bush. What's going on?

Al Gore says, "Don't call the movers, George. The fat lady hasn't sung yet."

CARLSON: But the Bush campaign hears her voice. She's humming the tune to "Hail to the Chief."

ANNOUNCER: From CNN Washington and all over the United States, THE SPIN ROOM is open.

PRESS: THE SPIN ROOM is open. Good evening, everybody. Welcome to THE SPIN ROOM. I'm Bill Press here with...

CARLSON: Tucker Carlson, who is here with Bill Press.

Another huge day, huge day in the news. We want to hear what you think of it. So call us, send us your e-mails. You can call toll free at 1-800-310-4CNN. You can join our live online chat at Or you can send us an e-mail. Our address of course is

PRESS: And remember, this is the show where we hear from you. We don't just talk. This is not just people talking to you. This is your show.

You get to participate. But we only have a half-hour tonight, so you've got to get in early, particularly your nominations for "Spin of the Day" coming up.

CARLSON: But let's be honest. There is some talking.

PRESS: There is.


CARLSON: We've got some great e-mails. PRESS: Give them a chance.

CARLSON: We definitely do.

PRESS: May I point out that another nation had an election today? I mean, it was Haiti today. Today was Canada. Canada...

CARLSON: Now you're wounding me, though.

PRESS: ... Canada got it right. They had an election. They know who the winners are. Haiti, Canada, Florida three weeks later we still can't get an answer out of Florida.

CARLSON: You know, Bill, despite the evidence, I'm sticking to my original maxim, which is anything Canada can do, we can do better. I still believe it, despite the fact it doesn't seem to be true.

PRESS: We have improvement over the...


CARLSON: No we haven't. But I'm sticking to my guns anyway.

PRESS: What I want to ask you, Tucker, about these Republican protests, we learned today that these spontaneous demonstrations in Miami-Dade were actually GOP staffers flown to Florida at Tom DeLay's expense and orchestrated out of a Winnebago trailer by Roger Stone (ph), whom I never saw out of a $2,000 suit.

CARLSON: He is the only living American who actually wears a gold pinky ring in the shape of a horseshoe. I love him.

One thing we know from TV, though, Bill, nothing is not staged. And I must say this is so above what I expect of Republicans. I'm really impressed.

PRESS: Are you proud of them?

CARLSON: I really am. This is the sort of thing Democrats do pretty well. And I'm surprised the GOP has finally come around with -- no surprise -- the help of Roger Stone. Amen. Good work, Roger.

PRESS: But it took you this long, this long.

CARLSON: It did. I've come around, though.

PRESS: They were actually making phone calls to local Republicans saying, "Storm downtown Miami."


CARLSON: Run by Roger Stone in the command center.

PRESS: All right, the e-mail is already coming in. Here's one from Shane, Huntsville, Alabama. Thank you, Shane.

"Bill, it was easier to get Slobodan Milosevic to concede."

I agree, Shane, that George Bush is a very stubborn person. He just won't concede.

CARLSON: Well, maybe it's time to send in the Air Force. I have to say it though, I mean...

PRESS: The National Guard.

CARLSON: ... In this case, Gore really is like the drunk guy at the party with the car keys in his hand who won't relinquish them to his friends.

PRESS: I think she was talking about Bush.

CARLSON: No, no, no, I think she was talking about Al Gore. You get the sense everyone is trying to say, "Al, you lost. You lost." But nobody -- he's not waking up to it.

Here's one. And I think he's made other mistakes, or so claims Tony D., who e-mails with this point, which I think is pretty deep. "Gore has made a lot of people mad because he's a sore loser. Now he's made it even worse by delaying Monday Night Football. This is the wrong crowd to get sympathy from. He should have cried to the soap opera watchers at noon."

Tony D., clearly a football man. Good point, Tony.

PRESS: I would just point out to Tony D. that five minutes to nine, five minutes before Monday Night Football. So Gore...

CARLSON: Yeah, but the sentiment still stands.

PRESS: ... It's football adjacency. Pretty smart if you ask me.

Sally from DuBois, Wyoming. We're going to get to our guest right after Sally and another one.

Sally says -- that was an Al Gore sigh -- "When the man who would be king crowned himself last night, he looked like a deer caught in the headlights. What is he going to do when he has to meet with a person who has a name with more than one syllable?"

He won't even meet with Al, who only has one syllable.

CARLSON: Well, no. I mean, I have to say it is, watching Bush speeches is a bit, as someone said to me today, a bit like watching an inept plate spinner. You keep on waiting for something to crash.

But I still think it's charming. He's not glib. Say what you will about George W. Bush. It comes from the heart.

PRESS: Can I agree with you on something?


PRESS: He's not, he's not...

CARLSON: He's not glib. This guy is not going to sell you a used car. There's something appealing about that.

PRESS: It has been a wild, wild 24 hours. And unlike you and I, Tucker, who talk sense...


PRESS: ... and never use platitudes, it has been the most platitudinous 24 hours...

CARLSON: Never once. Yes it has.

PRESS: ... that we can remember. And we thought we'd like to share that with everybody as we introduce our guest tonight.

CARLSON: Just to be mean, let's share it.

PRESS: No, no, just to be nice.


PRESS: All right, let's be mean. Here it is. Platitudes galore.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This country must march forward.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had delays and roadblocks.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That phone call and make that concession.












UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disrespects the process.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Getting ready to be a great president.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fundamental principle.






WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will be over soon. And we'll be ready for the transition.


PRESS: This country, this country...

CARLSON: Notice the one person who's grinning in that. The one person with the chipmunk look on his face is the president.

PRESS: This country must move forward.

CARLSON: Oh, I sort of like that.

PRESS: Save us. Save us.


CARLSON: Well, we are about to be saved. Funny you should say that. We're about to speak to the most widely quoted college professor in America, and for good reason. Joining us from Charlottesville, Virginia, is Larry Sabato. He's the founder of the government studies program at the University of Virginia and the author of many books, including "Dirty Little Secrets: The Persistence of Corruption in American Politics."

Thank you for joining us, Larry Sabato.

PRESS: Thank you for coming back. History made again tonight, second guest to appear twice.


CARLSON: ... every night.


All right, Larry, listen, here's what I want to ask you. You hear all this talk today about transition. I mean, the Bush people are whining because they don't have the keys to the office. They need all this time.

How much time -- look, he's surrounded by all of his daddy's guys. Gore is surrounded by all of Clinton's guys. How much time do either of these guys need for transition?

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Well, honestly, Bill, I'd say that Bush needs a lot more than Gore. And it's not for the obvious reason that he's not as prepared as Gore.

If Gore needs to, he can hold the Clinton people over. For the most part, they're people as dedicated to his goals as they were to President Clinton's goals.

But George Bush has a much more difficult time of it. If he doesn't move forward very quickly, he will be understaffed or unstaffed as the secondary and tertiary level of governments, which is where policy is made.

PRESS: Well, he's had a year-and-a-half he's been running. I mean, haven't both of them really been working on the transition?

SABATO: Well, I doubt it. In fact, I'm sure they've done a little bit of work. And certainly some staff aides have done some work. But in terms of actually nominating people and starting the clockwork on the FBI inquiries and all the ethics papers that they have to fill out and all the rest of it, that can't start until they officially nominate people.

And look, one point, Bill. I think that quite honestly the General Services Administration and maybe the Clinton administration because I suspect there was politics here...

PRESS: Oh, no...

(CROSSTALK) SABATO: Everyone will be shocked. But this was a terrible decision not to give both candidates some office space, not in the same building, but in two different buildings, and give them both a little of that $5.3 million that's been set aside for transition. It's in the country's interest.

And I really think it's outrageous that they're holding back. We need to move forward with the transition.

CARLSON: It sounds like another story for the Clinton annals to me. But it sounds to me -- I still have trouble imagining, Larry, that Gore is going to win. I'm open to convincing arguments.

Can you briefly describe the scenario for the Gore victory? I still don't understand what it is.

SABATO: The only scenario, Tucker, I think is in the courts. I think Bush holds all the aces at this point. It's not simply the certification. It's the fact that he's got the fallback of the Florida legislature.

Even with the balking state senate in Florida, they'll probably come into line if they have to. And then the House of Representatives is the critical body in the Congress. And when you look at the delegations, even with a few switches here and there like Connie Morella from Maryland, the Republican congresswoman who's indicated she'll vote for Gore, it's difficult to see how Bush can lose a vote in the House of Representatives.

CARLSON: But Gore is a very, very smart guy surrounded by people who are even smarter than he is. They must know something we don't know. I mean, what do they -- why are they continuing if it looks so bleak?

SABATO: No, well, I think in the courts they do have a reasonable chance in Florida. Remember, the Florida judiciary by most estimates is about 90 percent Democratic. That's not a bad ratio if you're a Democratic candidate looking for some breaks in the Florida court. So that's why I say Bush is the likely president-elect, but he's not the certain president-elect.

PRESS: I want to show you part of our CNN poll, which was just -- CNN/Gallup/"USA Today" poll, which was just released an hour or so ago. And people were asked, "Should Gore concede?" OK, here's the -- today people are -- yes 56 percent, no 38 percent. Last week it was split just 46, 46. It certainly shows some movement in the public mind toward Gore conceding.

But my question to you is after all the pollsters got it wrong, every poll, not one poll predicted that Al Gore was going to win the popular vote, why should we be paying any attention to polls now?

SABATO: Well, let me add quickly the CBS/"New York Times" poll and the Zogby poll did show Gore ahead by a point or so right before the election. So I do give them credit for that. And others were very close. But I'm with you. I'm a longtime critic of polling. I think it's the science of ABC, Almost Being Certain.

So as far as the polls go, I'd throw them right out. I really would. I don't know why we're even taking them now, although I know the answer. But I wish your polling unit would take a vacation.

CARLSON: Kill all the pollsters. Good work, Larry Sabato. A lot of people would agree with you.

PRESS: That's three of us here.

CARLSON: We'll be back in a minute if you can just hold on. And if you would out there, send us your nominations for "Spin of the Day." Of course, that's the moment that you see something on television that's so appalling you, you toss a beer bottle at the TV. We want to know what it is.

PRESS: Right now it's famous. The definition is famous. You throw a beer bottle at the TV.

CARLSON: Right. And today was...


CARLSON: ... six pack kind of day. So send us your nominations for "Spin of the Day." Or you can call at 1-800-310-4CNN. Of course, you can join our online chat at Our e-mail address needless to say is

And we'll be back, Bill Press and I, on THE SPIN ROOM.

PRESS: Right back.


PRESS: Know when to hold them, know when to fold them, Kenny Rogers indeed. Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM, everybody. Country music, Tucker. Every night this show gets to a higher and higher level here.

CARLSON: Or something.

PRESS: Your show, we want you to join in. Three ways you can plug into THE SPIN ROOM. You can call us toll free at 1-800-310-4CNN. Join our live, ongoing, all-the-time chat at, or send us your e-mail, nominations for "Spin of the Day." That's what we're looking for, to

What have we got, Tucker?

CARLSON: Well, Bill, we have a bit of housekeeping here. Well, for those of you who were watching last night, we had Katherine Harris on the show.


CARLSON: Katherine Harris the marionette. And we had some reaction to that, Bill. And this is in fact...

PRESS: Oh, there she is.

CARLSON: ... Isn't she lovely? We heard in an e-mail today, this e-mail is titled "Uh-oh, Bill." And I'm going to read it to you.

PRESS: Wait, did I really do this last night?

CARLSON: Indeed you really did do it. Here's the e-mail, "Uh- oh, Bill."

PRESS: I love it.

CARLSON: "My family has always considered Bill Press intellectually a cut above most every commentator on any network. Last night, Bill plummeted to beneath contempt. Has he any idea how he seriously offended all women by his juvenile betrayal of Katherine Harris as a garishly painted and grotesque puppet? He should not only sincerely apologize to Mrs. Harris for this unthinkable mockery but to all women."

Now there are two points here. This is from Adelle.


PRESS: There are about 10 points so far, all of them phony.

CARLSON: She accurate says that Katherine Harris does portray all American women. I'm positive that Mrs. Harris is watching this program. I want to invite you to take this opportunity to apologize to her. You can remain sitting, or on bended knee if you like.

PRESS: My word to you is, Katherine Harris, which Bush brother is pulling the strings? Is it Jeb or is it Bush?

CARLSON: It's conspiracy time on THE SPIN ROOM.

PRESS: All right, we get e-mail and we get phone calls like John, John from California.

Hey, John, how are you?

CALLER: All right, thank you very much. Let me just say quickly first, Tucker, you are the only right wing pundit I can watch fairly regularly without gnashing my teeth. So that's high praise.

CARLSON: You're the only left wing caller I can listen to...


CALLER: Thank you very much. I want to offer my "Spin of the Day" and actually the spin of the last week. PRESS: Please.

CALLER: Every Republican operative who has appeared, every Republican official and operative and right wing talk show host engaged in it for the last week. And that is the absurd notion that there is some kind of role equivalence between the storm troopers, the hired storm troopers, who subverted the rule of law in Florida because they didn't like the Florida Supreme Court decision...

PRESS: Hurry up, John.

CALLER: ... and Jesse Jackson leading peaceful protests in the streets for civil rights. And you know, Tucker, that the only acceptable form of race baiting the Republican Party can engage in these days is to bash Jesse Jackson.

PRESS: We've got your point, John. Tucker. You want to apologize?

CARLSON: I'm not going to apologize, John. But thank you for the nice compliment. That was simple.

PRESS: All right, another phone call. Roberta from Kentucky.





PRESS: And I understand you're maybe supporting the other guy, right?

CALLER: Oh, maybe.


CALLER: Gore wants to count every vote. But why is he contesting only three counties and not all 64? Is he afraid that there are some Bush votes out there that have never been counted, like in his words? What about the rest of the country?

There are ballots everywhere that have been discarded or spit out by the machines. People need to be more responsible for filling out their ballots right.

PRESS: I think people should know how to vote right. And in fact, Al Gore did invite a recount of all 67 counties. And George Bush turned it down.

CARLSON: Knowing it would never be accepted because it was a crazy idea. But yes, I agree.

PRESS: A great idea. Standing by to join us again, Larry Sabato, University of Virginia, joining us from Charlottesville.

Larry, you know you're one of the best historians out there, presidential historians out there. Is this a crisis we're going through?

SABATO: No. It's not even close. It's an interesting election. It's an election that we'll be talking about for the rest of our lives. And in fact, think of this. In the last several weeks, I think we've heard more about Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden than the people in 1876 heard.

So we'll hear about this. And our children and grandchildren will hear about it, and so on.

And that's what's really interesting about it. It isn't that it's a crisis. We'll get through it. These are wonderful times. I don't see where a crisis is really.

CARLSON: Now what do you think of the strategy that both of them are trying to apply here of looking presidential? They both appeared in front of flags. They both ended their talks with "God bless America." Does either one of them seem presidential?

SABATO: No. I think the answer to your original question is that both of them deserve the same title that Thomas Jefferson chose, mister. He was always known as Mr. Jefferson. Forget about president-elect. Forget about governor. Forget about vice president. They both deserve mister. If it weren't for the fact that this was a fascinating election as much, I don't think that either would be well remembered.

PRESS: Larry, a quick answer if you can. For the country now, is it more important to get it over with or to get it right?

SABATO: Well, you'd like to have a nice combination. But I'd say we're in the last week or so. We need to get an answer and then go on with it because increasingly I think people are convinced it doesn't matter tremendously one way or the other.

PRESS: We have another week? Do we have another week?

SABATO: About another week. No more than that. No more than that.

CARLSON: It's made for some great shows. That's sort of sad news for us. But we sure appreciate your...


PRESS: Larry, we'll have to find something else to talk about.

SABATO: Yeah, I don't know what we're going to do either. I'm in the same boat.

CARLSON: No matter what it is, we hope you come back.


PRESS: Thanks, Larry. And he'll be back. And we'll be back, Tucker...

CARLSON: Indeed.

PRESS: ... We'll be back with those "Spins of the Day" coming up on THE SPIN ROOM right here.

CARLSON: Send us yours, please.


CARLSON: Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM. Tucker Carlson here with Bill Press. This is the part of the show where we reveal our "Spins of the Day." Send us yours. Call especially if you're from Wyoming. We get a lot of great calls from Wyoming, small state, good callers.

PRESS: Call especially if you're from a bar in Wyoming.

CARLSON: We had one last night. He was terrific.

PRESS: Our first "Spin of the Day" nomination comes from the chat room. Let's look at it here in the monitor.

"Spin of the Day," "Clinton will release the transition keys when he can find them among Lincoln Bedroom Hotel duplicates."

Oh, Greg Ness. Nasty, nasty, nasty.

CARLSON: All right, Greg, got to agree with that. Here's one from Margaret.


CARLSON: "My "Spin of the Day" is Vice President in his staged, poorly rehearsed phone conference talking to what appears to be his imaginary friend. It came off like a really bad segment in a soap opera episode. Gore had to re-inform the friend on the phone of all the details so far just like the soap operas do on Mondays to catch up anyone who missed Friday's episode."

This is a great soap opera.

PRESS: I know. But may I just -- I hate to break the news to Margaret. But every political event is staged. Every political event is staged.

CARLSON: Yeah, but you know, some stage it better than others. With Gore, even the stuff that isn't staged feels it.

PRESS: Oh, yeah, like Bush talking in the teleprompter...


CARLSON: Don't be mean.

PRESS: All right, here he is, Jim in Los Angeles. "Spin of the Day is all your turkeys talking about spin, and you've ignored the biggest spin of all, that by your own network. George W. Bush was declared the winner in Florida by the secretary of state and thus has 271 electoral votes. CNN should have declared him the president- elect."

Jim, there's only one problem. We can't declare him the president-elect because it's not over yet because George Bush went to the Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court has a hearing this Friday. So nobody knows what the final result is going to be. Blame it on Bush. CARLSON: Let me put it this way.


CARLSON: If Bush doesn't wind up as the president -- and you can hold me to this by e-mail -- I will appear on this program in my bathing suit, which is not something you'd want to see, Jim. So I can assure you that this is going to happen. That's my prediction.

And let me give you my spin...


PRESS: ... your birthday suit. All right...

CARLSON: I must control myself. This comes today -- now this is part of this ongoing myth that's been evolving about the Republican lynch mob that appeared down in Florida. We heard this very evening Vice President Bush -- he's still vice president, close to being a private citizen -- refer to it in his address to the nation. Listen to what he said, and then take a look at the thing he was referring to.


GORE: In one county, election officials brought the count to a premature end in the face of organized intimidation.



UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Arrest him! Arrest him!



CARLSON: This is the organized intimidation. These are the ferocious, ferocious, bat-wielding mobs that scared the Florida vote counters into inaction. That's a pretty frightening group, though, you've got to admit. PRESS: That's not the frightening video. You know it's not the frightening video.

CARLSON: Bill doesn't like this video because these people look all too docile. But these are Republicans when they're mad. Watch out, Bill. They're rough. They've got their Polo shirts and cell phones. Whew.

PRESS: These are the Republicans that Tom DeLay took down to the Hyatt in Ft. Lauderdale with the first class hotel rooms...

CARLSON: Those are actual Republicans.

PRESS: ... and meals. All right, here's my "Spin of the Day."

Remember last night I mentioned Dick Armey and Tom DeLay and you said, "Oh, no, no, they're history. They're history." Uh-uh, Tucker, they're right in the middle of this.

Here is Dick Armey's statement today. After Governor Bush's speech last night, or statement last night, Dick Armey put out this statement. Quote, "If Gore doesn't withdraw now, it will be a public relations catastrophe for him. Quite frankly, all he can do is create continued controversy."

Now I just have to point out that when the person who has the lowest ratings of anybody in the United States Congress starts giving public relations advice to George Bush, I just hope that George Bush followed Dick Armey's PR advice right down the line.

CARLSON: But you know, Al Gore needs the advice.

PRESS: I pray...

CARLSON: He bragged that he actually told reporters that he wrote his statement tonight himself. And yet I watched it. I had a kindergarten flashback. I felt like I was in kindergarten again. He was patronizing me again on TV, Bill. This guy needs media training bad, bad.

PRESS: I keep saying keeping calling -- hey, George, keep calling Dick Armey for advice. You'll be as popular as Dick Armey and Tom DeLay are.

CARLSON: You know, he's a better teleprompter reader. But truly, you don't feel patronized when you listen to Al Gore speak?

PRESS: No, I feel...

CARLSON: You don't feel like he's going to come out with milk and cookies for you?

PRESS: ... No, you know how I feel? I feel out of time because we are.

CARLSON: Are we really? PRESS: Great show.


PRESS: But half an hour. It's over. And we're not going to come back until tomorrow night. But we will be back tomorrow night and every night this week at 11:00.

I'm Bill Press. Thanks for joining THE SPIN ROOM. And to all the lawyers in Florida, good night.

CARLSON: Good night, lawyers.



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