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Vice President Gore Calls For New Count of All Florida Votes

Aired November 28, 2000 - 2:03 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Patty Davis is at the vice president's residence at the Naval Observatory.

And Patty, we're on pins and needles here. What's happening?

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have no inside knowledge as to what the vice president is going to be talking about.

WATERS: Here he is.

DAVIS: Lou, go back to you.

WATERS: OK, the vice president is now coming out. We know earlier today he met with the current treasury secretary Lawrence Summers; there's been some speculation about what that might mean. Maybe we'll find out now.

VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello again.

As I described last night, since Election Day we have had a single, fundamental goal: to ensure a complete count of all of the votes cast in Florida -- not recount after recount as some have charged, but a single, full and accurate count.

That is a purpose that extends far beyond the borders of Florida, because we know that what is done in Florida sends a message as to how we will govern ourselves as Americans.

The American people have shown great patience in these extraordinary days. They understand the importance of getting this election right.

That is why we have asked the Florida courts to recognize what observers of this process know to be true; that is, that the statement of Florida has certified a vote count that is neither complete nor accurate.

I understand that this process needs to be completed in a way that is expeditious, as well as fair. We cannot jeopardize an orderly transition of power to the next administration, nor need we do so.

Two weeks ago, I proposed to forego any legal challenge if Governor Bush would let a complete and accurate count go forward, either in the counties where it was proposed or in the full state of Florida.

He rejected that proposal and instead became the first to file lawsuits. And now, two weeks later, thousands of votes still have not been counted.

This morning, we have proposed to the court in Tallahassee a plan to have all the ballots counted in seven days, starting tomorrow morning, and to have the court proceedings fully completed one or two days after that.

Let me repeat the essence of our proposal today: Seven days, starting tomorrow, for a full and accurate count of all the votes.

Once we have that full and accurate count of the ballots cast, then we will know who our next president is and our country can move forward.

Unfortunately, just about an hour ago, Governor Bush's lawyers rejected this proposal. Instead, they have proposed two weeks of additional court proceedings and additional hearings, right up to the December 12 deadline for seating electors.

And under their plan, none of the thousands of votes that remain to be counted would be counted at all.

I believe this is a time to count every vote and not to run out the clock. This is not a time for delay, obstruction and procedural roadblocks.

As I've said, I believe it's essential to our country that there be no question, no cloud over the head of the next president, whether it be me or Governor Bush. We need to be able to say that there is no legitimate question as to who won this election, so that we can bring this country together. That is what we seek.

And so I urge Governor Bush to support our proposal to bring this process to a fair, expeditious and truly democratic conclusion.

Thank you. I'd be glad to take just two or three questions.

QUESTION: Mr. Vice President, in terms of your challenge in Miami-Dade, what is wrong with Republicans showing up at the election canvassing board and expressing their displeasure at the process?

GORE: Well, I think we all saw the videotape and audio recordings of that incident, and I think everybody can make his or her own judgment about it.

But that question is going to be decided, or at least looked at, by the court in Tallahassee.

The more important question is: Why not count all the votes?

As I said last evening, this is America. When people vote, their votes are counted. They're not arbitrarily set aside because it's hard to count them or for whatever reason. They're counted. And these votes were cast and they have not been counted. Why not count them?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Reverend Jackson and Congressman Charlie Rangel are alleging that hundreds of black voters may have been disenfranchised. Heretofore, we've heard allegations that procedures have been violated. Do you believe, sir, that the voting rights law was violated here?

GORE: Well, the right to vote has been protected by the law, and especially in states with a pattern of such problems.

The NAACP had sessions there, where stories were told and evidence of sorts was presented. I do not know whether they plan to go forward with that or not.

Basically, I don't know the answer to your question. I've heard the same stories that you have. But we did not include those matters in the proceedings that we took before the court yesterday, because the evidence was not there in the same way it was with these other matters.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: You keep talking about the importance of fairness. How is it fair for you to support a strategy by your lawyers that would result in the counting of undervotes in heavily Democratic Miami-Dade, but not in Republican counties?

GORE: Well, we offered to have the hand count take place all over the state, Chip.

And one thing to remember is that the old and cheap, outdated machinery is usually found in areas with populations that are of lower income, minorities, seniors on fixed incomes.

For example, if you look at Orlando, the voting machines there are new and modern. And if you make a mistake then it'll automatically, I'm told -- I read this in one of the newspapers there -- that it automatically points out your mistake and gives you a new ballot. In the places where these older machines are found, you have that kind of problem.

But we were perfectly willing, and would still be willing, to have a hand count in the entire state. I know that it's less of a realistic possibility now, but I've always been open to that. The counties selected are ones that have these machines and where there were obvious problems on Election Day.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Mr. Vice President, polls this week suggest that you have -- that 60 percent of the American public is starting to tire of this. And that while they feel sympathetic to your situation and think it's a great idea to count all of the votes, that it's time to move on and put this behind us. You seem to be losing public sentiment. Can you address that?

GORE: Well, I said during the election to many of you that I didn't think the polls mattered. And on Election Day, sure enough, contrary to the polls, Joe Lieberman and I carried the popular vote nationally by 300,000 votes. I'm quite sure that the polls don't matter in this, because it's a legal question.

And the principle again is a very simple one: When people cast votes, the votes should be counted. And there are more than enough uncounted votes to decide the outcome of this election. There are thousands of them, and the margin is in the hundreds.

What is wrong with counting the votes? I'll tell you what's wrong with not counting the votes. If you ignore the votes, you ignore democracy itself. You ignore the will of the people. You ignore the basic principle upon which our whole system of self- government is based.

That principle is the consent of the governed. And the consent of the governed is expressed in elections, through ballots, votes that are cast by the people.

And if those in charge of the election machinery, for whatever reason, decide that, in this county or that, in this area or in that, they are simply going to ignore the votes and not count them, then the will of the people has not been fully and fairly expressed.

And, as a direct consequence, the consent of the governed has not been fully and freely given.

So every vote should be counted.

Thank you all very much.

WATERS: That's the vice president, who took five minutes of prime time last night to state his -- he's coming back.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GORE: Look, I'm not -- I don't think its right for me to be offering people jobs because it's obviously a time when, as I've said before, I think that Governor Bush and I, in the interests of the nation, should both proceed with transition planning and activities. I personally do not feel it is appropriate to announce the names of Cabinet members or to formally offer positions.

Now, most of what Secretary Summers and I talked about had to do with economic policy, with the state of the U.S. economy, what is likely to happen in the months and years ahead here and in other parts of the world.

Many of you know what a close friend and close adviser he is, but we spent most of the time talking about economic policy.

Thank you all very much.

WATERS: All right, the vice president.

Patty Davis working this story at the vice president's residence there at the Naval Observatory.

That's the question I was going to ask you about, the meeting with Lawrence Summers. We already have that answered. It seems as though -- and I mentioned last night's five minutes of prime time -- it seems that this afternoon session today outside his residence was more of the same: count all the ballots, we have the time. It's not the time -- it's not the time, he said -- "it's the time to count, not time to run out the clock." So it seems like this is the strategy here: get out front and push the same old theme.

DAVIS: That's right, the Gore campaign putting out their best spokesperson; that is the vice president. They're going to be putting him out time and time again, they're saying, over the next several days. He's raising his profile. They realize that he needs to make his case here to U.S. voters.

I thought it was interesting that he said in reaction to the polls that are showing public support eroding a bit, that he said that polls don't matter in this, it's legal. And he goes on to say that there are more than enough uncounted votes to decide the outcome of this election.

Certainly the Gore campaign is pinning its hopes on getting those undervotes counted in Miami-Dade County. Palm Beach County as well, some 3,300 votes counted there as well that were disputed, those disputed ballots. But there's also definitely a public relations strategy. You wouldn't see Vice President Al Gore coming out here, making his appeals, calling for public patience, answering reporters questions if they weren't trying to make an appeal to the public and if they didn't know it matters a lot -- Lou.

WATERS: And the emphasis here today seemed to be on the plan that he has in mind. He's saying seven days of counting all the ballots in all of the state, as far as I could tell. Seven days for counting the ballots, two days of court, that's it, we'll meet our December 12 deadline. But he also pointed out he's being pushed back by the Gore team on that score.

DAVIS: Well, that plan that he -- the proposal he talked about today is exactly what his lawyers filed in court today. They filed a motion in Leon County Circuit Court specifically requesting that this matter be taken up on an expedited basis. He mentioned here seven days. They think they could get this done by early December, December 6, December 7, allow the appeals process to go forward. And then they're hoping to have this process done by December 12. That's when the state of Florida would choose its electors, Lou.

WATERS: And what are they chanting there behind you? What's going on?

DAVIS: "We won, you lost." We've also heard over the course of today, "get out of Cheney's house." There's Gore supporters on one side of the street, Bush supporters on the other side of the street. And not a very large crowd today, but they are pretty noisy.

WATERS: OK, we can tell that. Drowned you out there a couple of times, but we got the gist of all you said. Patty Davis with the vice president.

Now to Austin, Texas, Eileen O'connor.

I understand, Eileen, you already have some reaction to what the vice president's been saying here on the East Coast.

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, I spoke with -- by telephone with some of the Bush campaign aides, a spokesperson in Tallahassee. And he continued to basically say that this is a misrepresentation, what the vice president is saying, that these votes were not counted.

And what the Bush campaign says is, look, they were counted twice by machine, they went through the machine. The fact that the machine kicked them out is because they were votes that didn't indicate a vote for president. And they also say that, look, they -- you know, the vice president wanted a hand recount. He got his hand recount in most situations, and now he wants the court to count. And they say, basically that means he wants this election to be decided in court.

The Bush campaign, you know, continues to insist that the certified results show, after three recounts, that Gov. Bush is the president-elect and has won the electoral votes in Florida and therefore needs to be working forward with his transition. It is not likely that he will come out in response to the vice president. He is going to be going to the ranch in Crawford, Texas later this afternoon. And later on this week, Secretary Cheney will be coming here and working with him, looking over lists.

The Bush campaign, too, very careful, as the vice president is, not to be naming specific names for any appointments. They don't want to be being seen as too presumptive, but they also do want to appear to be looking presidential and working on a presidential transition, which they believe is well within their rights -- Lou.

WATERS: Eileen, the Al Gore argument about -- it's about the democracy. I hear more and more of the political class saying that it's a good argument. Al Gore may have the impatience of Americans against him here, but is there any nervousness within the Gore campaign about the argument being presented on the other side?

O'CONNOR: Well, you mean in the Bush campaign about the argument -- about that argument? No, they believe that they are playing by the rules here, that the rules of Florida state that there should be these recounts, and in these instances where they had manual recounts that they went by the rules and that there isn't a specific standard on the so-called dimpled ballots. And they also believe that what was happening -- and they say that what was happening in some of the manual recounts were not that, as you've heard, that people were counting ballots, but they were casting ballots, and that it's difficult to divine, they say, who people wanted to vote for in those undervotes where the machine actually rejected the ballot because it didn't discern a mark on it.

And so, therefore, they believe that looking in Miami-Dade only, a highly Democratic district, is unfair to look at those undervotes. And, yes, they didn't agree to a whole state recount, but they say that's because they just believe that manual recounts of the whole state would have just compounded the problems because, as they say, they believe manual recounts are inaccurate and not fair -- Lou.

WATERS: All right, Eileen O'Connor keeping watch in Austin.

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