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Bush and Gore Campaigns File Briefs With U.S. Supreme Court; Bush Campaign Rejects Gore's Plan for Manual Recount of Disputed Ballots

Aired November 28, 2000 - 4:00 p.m. ET


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Three weeks after election day, the battle over the presidency goes on, and at this hour, a key deadline passes at the U.S. Supreme Court.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Amid the latest legal turns, a new move by George W. Bush to fend off Al Gore's challenge of the Florida vote total.

Well, welcome to our special report on the Florida vote. From CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Joie Chen.

ALLEN: And hello to you. Thanks for being with us. I'm Natalie Allen.

Well, another new week brings more twists and more turns to the still-undecided presidential race. Among the latest developments, for the second time in less than 24 hours, Al Gore publicly appeals for what he calls a "full and accurate" count of the votes cast in Florida. Gore says a cloud will hang over the next president unless that goal is met.

As Gore keeps up his challenge of the vote total in Florida, George W. Bush is adding some high-powered lawyers to his legal team, and a Florida legislative committee meets to discuss a possible special session that would appoint the state's 25 presidential electors.

Well, just moments ago at the U.S. Supreme Court, the deadline passed for the Bush and Gore campaigns to file briefs in a case involving hand recounts in Florida. The Bush campaign wants a challenge to those recounts.

We have one of the lawyers, we're told, Laurence Tribe, coming out to talk at the Supreme Court. We'll listen in/

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Professor Larry Tribe, here with the Gore campaign, did you make the 4 o'clock deadline?

LAURENCE TRIBE, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: Yes, we did. We just filed the brief on behalf of Vice President Gore electronically, and within about 1 1/2 minutes we'll be filing the hard copies. We believe that the court was interested in hearing this case for obvious reasons, although we can never know all its reasons, and we believe that we have made a very compelling argument as to why the decision of the Florida courts not to treat elections as some kind of game in which one side can say, "Got you. You didn't quite make the deadline," but instead to try to count every lawfully cast ballot is a perfectly lawful decision, consistent with everything in the Constitution and laws of the United States.

And the more we researched the arguments that the lawyers on behalf of Governor Bush are making, the more we became convinced that they were distorting the language and the history of all of the provisions that they are relying upon.

I can give you one simple example. They're placing heavy reliance on a law that Congress passed in the 19th century to deal with the problem of contests in Congress between competing groups of electors, a problem that arose during the Hayes-Tilden controversy. That law provides a safe harbor for states. It basically tells them that if they can get their act together by December 12 and make a clear choice, then that choice will be conclusive in Congress. But if they don't quite make it, then there may be conflict.

And the Bush campaign has distorted that law which is designed to give an option to the states into some kind of straitjacket for the states, requiring them to proceed on the basis of legislation without the benefit of judicial interpretation to solve the problems the legislation poses.

We conclude in the brief that we have just filed on behalf of the vice president that there is really no legal basis whatsoever for the governor's claims -- the claims of Governor Bush that either considerations of fairness or considerations of federalism or the laws of Congress require any interference with what the courts of Florida have done.

QUESTION: But what Article 2, sir? The Republicans claim that it very clearly specifies that it's the legislatures in the state that determine. It's not the court; separation of powers.

TRIBE: That's right. That's one of the flimsier arguments that the governor makes. It may pass the laugh test, but then when you look at it, it turns out that what the Constitution says in Article 2 is simply that the states must rely on their legislative process, their legislature, to lay down the rules by which electors are chosen. But there is no suggestion...

ALLEN: There you have it, Laurence Tribe, attorney for Al Gore. That team has filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. We expect to hear from a Bush lawyer when we see them right now. We'll hear from Karen Hughes, spokeswoman for George W. Bush in Texas.


KAREN HUGHES, BUSH CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: ... questions and bring you up to date on progress of the transition. Earlier this afternoon, Vice President Gore made some additional comments about his challenge to the outcome of the election in Florida. Having failed to make his case with the American people last night, he apparently felt the need to restate his arguments.

The vice president said today that he wants the process to arrive at, and I quote, "a fair, expeditious and truly democratic conclusion." As people across America are realizing, it already has.

We had a count of the votes in Florida, and then a complete recount of all those votes, and then a selective manual recount of some of those votes. We had one deadline for certification of the votes that was set by Florida law before the election, and then we had another deadline for certification of the votes that was ordered by the Florida Supreme Court after the election.

The original count, recount and certification deadline are all behind us. The selective manual recounts and the post-election court- imposed deadline for certification of Florida's votes are behind us. And now, having come up short in all those counts and all those times, Vice President Gore is proposing to make up yet another set of rules. He proposes yet another count and yet another deadline. Common sense does not allow it and the rights of the citizens of Florida to have their votes count do not allow it.

We have previously talked about attempts to change the rules in the middle of the game. Now, regrettably, it appears that the vice president wants to go back and change the rules after the counting is over. The vice president has now instructed his lawyers to go back to court to try to overturn the certified results of the Florida election.

Now that he, by his own action in demanding a manual recount of the votes, has delayed the amount of time available for his contest, he wants to short-circuit the amount of time that we have to answer his challenge.

The law allows up to 10 days for us to respond to the vice president's challenge to the outcome of the election. The judge, in his order yesterday, cut that time by more than half to four days. The judge set forth a timetable yesterday of having us come to court by Friday, and we will abide by that timetable.

I'll be glad to answer your questions.

QUESTION: Are you going to delay naming any prospective appointments until the Supreme Court has its hearing?

HUGHES: Well, as Secretary Cheney said yesterday, I believe what he said that he did not feel it was likely that the governor would make any announcements, although he would not entirely rule it out. That's, of course, a decision the governor will have to make.

But at this point, I think that Secretary Cheney has said that it does not appear likely. QUESTION: Did Colin Powell tell you he's reluctant to participate in anything before -- while there's so much court stuff still going on?

HUGHES: I'm not aware of that, but I think I'm going to defer to Ari to answer any questions on transitions.

QUESTION: What are the plans for bringing people down here?


ARI FLEISCHER, BUSH CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: I have no information on that. I have not heard that.

QUESTION: What about plans for bringing people down this week? Is he one of the people that might come down?

FLEISCHER: Secretary Cheney, as you know, will be coming down here at the end of the week to meet with the governor at his ranch. And they will be discussing transition efforts. And if we have any additional announcements to make we'll, of course, always keep you posted.

QUESTION: Karen, a class action suit was filed today, saying the Bush-Cheney ticket is unconstitutional, claiming both are from Texas, and, therefore, the electors in Texas may be in jeopardy. I know you looked at this at the time the Cheney appointment was made. Do you have any concerns that this could sabotage you now?

HUGHES: No. As you noted, that was reviewed. Secretary Cheney is a resident of the state of Wyoming. He has maintained a residence there for a number of years. He served that state in Congress. And this was all looked at prior to his selection as the governor's running mate.

QUESTION: Karen, if, as you suggest, in essence, the game is over, if Gore's trying to change the rules after the game, why is that Governor Bush still is asking aides to call him governor and not president-elect? Why is he not resigning as governor of the state of Texas?

HUGHES: Well, as I think I told you all the morning after the certification or late that night, the governor has asked us all to be humble and to be gracious. He felt it's most appropriate while this contest is under way that we continue to refer to him as Governor Bush. And he will make decisions about the governorship at the appropriate time.

QUESTION: Is it still under way? I thought the contest is over.

HUGHES: Well, the vice president has gone to court to challenge the outcome...

QUESTION: So he doesn't consider himself a president-elect until that has run its course?

HUGHES: Well, I think that, as we stated the other night, that the votes of the people of Florida have now been certified. QUESTION: Right.

HUGHES: The votes of Florida elected Governor Bush and Secretary Cheney, but he feels that it's the responsible thing to do to move forward with the transition, but to do so in a humble and gracious way.

HUGHES: We recognize that Vice President Gore has gone to court in Florida to try to overturn the outcome of this election, and there's been a hearing scheduled in that, I think, for later this week. There's some deadline been set by the judge for later this week.


QUESTION: ... he considers himself a bona fide president-elect, do you consider yourself part of a new administration?

HUGHES: Well, I think you can try to argue all the semantics here. I think Governor Bush has asked us to be humble, to be gracious. As Secretary Cheney said yesterday, we feel a responsibility to begin the tremendous work of preparing a transition.

As Secretary Cheney outlined yesterday, there's a great deal of work to be done. There are a lot of decisions to be made, there are a lot of staff selections to be considered, there's just a lot of work to do. And they feel, Secretary Cheney and Governor Bush feel a responsibility to begin that process of preparing to govern.

We are, however, mindful of the fact that the vice president, obviously, a little more than an hour ago, reiterated that he is continuing in court to challenge the legitimate outcome of the election.

QUESTION: Karen, according to some who are associated with this campaign have said that the Democrats are trying to steal this election?

HUGHES: I don't believe I've ever said that. What we have said is that the vice president has now instructed his lawyers to go to court to try to challenge, to overturn the outcome of the election.

QUESTION: What was the governor's reaction last night to the vice president's remarks, when he talked about, you know, it's a democratic thing to count votes, that everybody in the country is at risk if all votes aren't counted? He seemed to be questioning the legitimacy of the government without the counts that he wants.

QUESTION: What is his gut reaction to that?

HUGHES: Well, I think his reaction is the same as what I outlined here today. And that is, again, that the votes have been counted. And the votes have all been recounted. And in some cases they've been again manually recounted, in some counties I think as many as four or maybe even five times by the end of all the process.

Clearly, as we saw on television the other night in a ceremony that I described to the press as more formal and more -- I had a greater sense of finality than I expected to see, you saw the canvassing board certify the results of that election.

But we are now in uncharted waters. We're in an unprecedented period where a presidential candidate is going to court essentially to try to contest and overturn the results of an election that has now been certified.


QUESTION: ... the governor resigning so the state of Texas can get rid of all uncertainties as to who's going to be in charge here for the upcoming session?

HUGHES: Well, again, he will make that decision at the appropriate time.


QUESTION: ... the timetable for the announcement of potential Cabinet people.

HUGHES: I'll refer to Ari on that transition question.

QUESTION: Insofar as the governor has already named Andy Card as his chief of staff and that Secretary Cheney has said it's not likely until after the legal wrangling is over, is any delay or any immediate announcement considered in the context of the legal wrangling or is it just a question of the administration timetable? What's the consideration there?

FLEISCHER: The governor's focus, as far as the transition personnel is concerned, is really on two areas. One is beginning the process so we can build a White House staff, a senior White House staff, as well as selecting members of the president's Cabinet.

And the governor is going to make his decisions in a deliberate fashion, as events warrant and as he sees fit.

FLEISCHER: And we'll announce that timetable to you at the appropriate time.


QUESTION: ... that doesn't clarify whether or not the secretary's remarks, it's not likely until after the legal wrangling is completed, is an expression of concern that it would be inappropriate or whether it's just a question of all the dominoes falling in a chronology.

FLEISCHER: No, I think again the governor is focused on what he needs to be focused on, along with Secretary Cheney, which is this process is now 1/3 over for a transition. Typically, you have about 75 days, now we're down to about 50 days. And it is the responsibility of the two to proceed. And they, as always, even as the process had begun right after Election Day, would make announcements on a timetable that they had arrived at and they thought was a most appropriate timetable. They'll share that with you at the appropriate time.


QUESTION: ... at the ranch, potential?

FLEISCHER: Whenever we do have guests, we'll be sure to advice you, of course.

QUESTION: On intelligence briefings: Is Condi getting the briefings first and then passing it on to Governor Bush or will he get them directly from Sandy Berger? Has that been worked out?

HUGHES: Do you know that? I don't know.

FLEISCHER: Yes, I think that process is still being worked out for the process of notifying the governor and appropriate staff of what security briefings will be available. That process is still in a state of flux, it's being determined...

QUESTION: There's been no briefing yet?

FLEISCHER: No briefing yet.

QUESTION: I realize this is kind of unchartered waters, but I mean how would this normally work? I mean, normally would it go through staff to the governor or, you know, in this case, the president-elect? How would this normally go through?

FLEISCHER: Normally go through staff to the governor -- or to the president-elect.


HUGHES: I want to make sure you all also note that Governor Bush, this morning, called President-elect Vicente Fox in Mexico, in advance of his inauguration later this week on December 1 to offer his congratulations. And they had a brief telephone conversation.

HUGHES: But Governor Bush did call him to offer his congratulations.


QUESTION: Is he sending anybody to Mexico for the inauguration?

HUGHES: Not that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: Has he talked to any other heads of state, any foreign leaders called the governor to offer congratulations... (CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: Not that I'm aware of. Not that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: Has he gotten congratulations from any high-level people in this country...


HUGHES: Well, he's been making a series of telephone calls. I think he's called fellow governors, members of Congress. He's been making a series of telephone calls. I'm sure he's been receiving some congratulations and some advice and recommendations as he works on transition business. But I'm not aware that he's been called by other heads of state. We probably ought to double-check with Condi about that, but I'm not aware that he's -- I was briefed this morning that he had spoken with President-elect Vicente Fox.

QUESTION: Karen, why is he going up there? Is he sick of the fish bowl here? Is he trying to bring people in? What is the purpose of him going to the ranch?

HUGHES: I think that it's a tranquil place where it's easy to do some thinking and reflecting and to spend time on the telephone and to call around the country.

As those of you who've been parked outside across the street from the mansion know, the mansion has been somewhat hectic in recent days, with very enthusiastic crowds gathered around, which is great, except for when you're inside trying to think or work. It's sometimes a little hectic. So I think it's just a tranquil place.


HUGHES: Very, very much so, yes. Yes. When you're in a meeting inside, you can pretty much hear the...

QUESTION: Chanting.

HUGHES: ... chanting and things outside, right. So it's just a more tranquil place, I think, in which for him to reflect and think as he prepares to...


QUESTION: Karen, does the governor feel like he's got an arm tied behind his back as he tries to move forward? Is it weird? Is it strange? What's the feeling?

HUGHES: Well, it's certainly unprecedented. I don't know if I'd describe it the way you did. But I think it is -- it's obviously, we all recognize that this is an unusual circumstance, as both Secretary Cheney and Secretary Baker described it yesterday.

It's unprecedented. So we're all trying to operate as appropriate as we go forward. Thank you all very much.


HUGHES: We're trying to work out a system of regular briefings, yes. I appreciate your patience very much. I think once Ari gets to Washington, we're trying to work that out now. When we get our transition office opened there, we will try to have regular briefings for you.

I imagine we will have some regular briefings on transition from Washington, because that is where Secretary Cheney will be located most of the time, and that is where he will be. And that's why Ari will probably travel up there.

Ari, do you know yet?


HUGHES: Have suitcase, will travel.

QUESTION: When the governor has announcements to make, would he be making them here or in Washington?

HUGHES: Again, that has not been decided yet. But we'll do our best to keep you advised. And I'm going to stay here. So I will be here and Ari will be in Washington, so we should have both...

QUESTION: ... the Supreme Court suit. You said that you're worried about the Gore people trying to lengthen the court battle. Would you be willing to drop the Supreme Court suit for the sake of time?

HUGHES: Well, the governor brought that based on some important principles, and he feels those are still important principles. And so long as the vice president is continuing with contesting the outcome of the election in Florida, we think it's important that we remain before the nation's highest court.

Thank you all very much.

ALLEN: Karen Hughes talking about George W. Bush reacting to Al Gore's statement today. First, George W. Bush headed back to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, he'll be joined by Dick Cheney later this week, where they will discuss what's going on in the transition. She also talked about what Al Gore said.

Al Gore said earlier today that he wanted this election to have a fair and accurate conclusion, and the message from Karen Hughes is it already has. She also responded to the vice president saying that he still wants to change the rules. Earlier today, it was the vice president who was saying that it was the Bush team that is elongating this of being the first to file a lawsuit. She maintains that the judge in Tallahassee has shortened the time that the Bush team has to respond to the contest that Gore is pursuing.

So it goes back and forth and we continue to cover it, and for more now here's Joie.

CHEN: Speaking of back and forth, Natalie, we've heard from two key players on the Bush team. Now we want to go and check in on what the Gore camp is doing late this afternoon, CNN's John King is standing by in Washington for us now -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joie, a war of words today and a war of images as well. Both campaigns trying to project their message through what they say and do in public. From Karen Hughes, the Bush campaign theme that this is over and Governor Bush should be allowed to move on to be President-elect Bush and plan a government. From the Gore campaign today, the message, not so fast.

This dispute over the rules that Karen Hughes was just talking about, the vice president is asking the Florida courts to put his challenge of the election on a fast track, he wants all the decisions made in the next week to 10 days, part of that is because of the looming December 12 deadline for certifying Florida's electors, that's a legal deadline, as well as a political deadline, but it is much more a reflection of the political urgency within the Gore campaign.

They realize here that public opinion is beginning to swing against the vice president. Our own polling here at CNN showing 56 percent of the people now believe it's time for the vice president to concede. A fair amount of Gore's own supporters saying they believe this is now a lost cause, even if they agree with the vice president.

So as the vice president presses on in court, he has to press on in the arena of public opinion as well. Once again, he came out in public today, this after his nationally televised address last night. The vice president saying he believes that there are still 13,000 or so votes that have never been counted. The Bush campaign obviously disputes that. And Mr. Gore telling reporters he will not be guided by the polls here as he continues to press his court challenge.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm quite sure that the polls don't matter in this -- 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.


KING: Now one of the things and one of the most important things politically that the Gore people are asking for in their expedited request in the legal challenges, they want the court to begin reviewing the so-called contested ballots as soon as tomorrow.

Now, there's a legal reason for that. They want this case dispatched with quickly, but there's also a political reason. Against this growing tide of public opinion, people believing this race is over, the Gore campaign wants public images from the courts in Florida of a judge reviewing votes, believing that would send the signal that they are still counting votes, therefore the election cannot be over. So, the fight over just the scheduling of this legal matter in Florida very critical politically to the public debate over all of this -- Joie.

CHEN: John, let's talk a bit more about the spin question and the use of Mr. Gore himself to come back and speak today, less than 24 hours after his rather extended address last night to the nation on this subject. What is the thinking here, that Mr. Gore himself has to be the one to bring the message?

KING: Well, yes, they believe he needs to be the best spokesman. There are times when to put him out and when not to put him out on. But on this day they wanted to send the impression: a) that they have a chance, that this is not a fool's errand, this challenge they filed in Florida. So, you want to show a confident vice president saying that he believes he is the winner in Florida. Number two, they wanted to make the case that he wants this sped up. That he's not trying to slow this down, as the Bush people say, but that he wants to speed it up.

So, in the public relations war, they decided last night, obviously, in the nationally televised appeal and today it was important for the vice president to be the one out front saying that he believes that he still has a fair chance of winning this and he believes this could all be over in a week or 10 days if -- and he's blaming the Bush side and the Bush side disagrees, of course -- but if the Bush campaign would agree to this expedited schedule.

We also saw the vice president having lunch with the Treasury secretary, Larry Summers. Why? He wants to make the case to the American people it's still possible he might win. Mr. Summers one of the people who has voiced interest in staying on if there ultimately is a Gore administration. So, a war in the courts, but also very much a war of public image.

CHEN: Our senior White House correspondent John King for us in Washington -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And now let's go to CNN's Eileen O'Connor, who is in Austin, Texas to get her perspective on what we heard from the Bush team just now -- Eileen.

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John's absolutely right. This is a battle for the public opinion and the weapons are the words and the images. And as you heard Karen Hughes, one of the most commonly used words from the Bush campaign is overturning the certified results of an election.

That's the message they want to get out. That basically this is a done deal. This election has been decided. These votes were counted not once but twice by machine, in some cases by hand and now they say that the vice president wants to change the rules and wants to have them counted in court. And now they're saying, too, that that will mean the court will decide this election.

Also, on the image front, you have Governor Bush standing above the fray. It wasn't he who came out to respond to the vice president. It was Karen Hughes, his campaign spokesperson. Now, he himself has been carrying on with the business of a presidential transition, they say poring over lists of varied lists of the kind of people who they say could unite the people after this kind of political crisis. Very important, the words and the images to project that this is a race that's finished and that now it's time for the public to move on -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Eileen, and we said, he's off to his ranch now for a quieter place to hang out during these times.

O'CONNOR: Yes, he is, and you know, he's going to his ranch this afternoon, but another important point, Natalie, that the Bush campaign is wanting to point out on the so-called undervotes and they've been actually sending out e-mails on the subject just as the Gore campaign, you know, sends out e-mails on the facts they want presented. That this is not unusual for people to have -- they said, these were ballots that were counted.

They were ballots that people intended not to vote on, that 5 percent of the votes cast in places like Idaho, where people filled out the ballot, and 5 percent of the ballots they did not choose a candidate for president. And they say that there's a poll done by the Voter News Service in Florida that showed that 2 percent of the people polled said that they didn't choose a candidate for president.

So, they say that that 1.6 percent of the votes cast in Miami- Dade, those 10,000 votes that the Gore campaign says were never counted, they said that's because they weren't votes. No one voted on those ballots, and so that is what the Bush campaign is trying to emphasize here today -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, thank you, Eileen O'Connor in Austin.

CHEN: We're going to take a break here, take a deep breath after this very busy first half hour. We'll look away from the U.S. Supreme Court coming up after this break to the challenges now under way, legal challenges under way in Florida. About 35 minutes away now for another deadline, a Florida state Supreme Court deadline coming up at 5:00 Eastern.

ALLEN: Hang in there with us. We'll be right back.


CHEN: Briefs are due in the Florida Supreme Court just a short time from now -- coming up at the top of the hour -- on the suits that challenge the legality of the so-called butterfly ballot used in Palm Beach County.

CNN's Kate Snow joins us from Tallahassee, Florida, with that part of the story -- Kate.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joie, I just talked with one of the attorneys, Bill Cornwell, who represents some of the plaintiff, the voters in this case who are from Palm Beach County and are suing because they feel the butterfly ballot was unfair. He says that they have just submitted electronically their brief. The brief was due here sometime before 5:00.

Another set of lawyers I've just spoken to, Gary Farmer and David Craven, they represent a different group of citizens who are suing and they say their brief will be in momentarily as well. Now, the argument from them, basically, that they think the butterfly ballot was so poorly done they should get a revote; that a revote should occur in Palm Beach County. Just do the whole thing all over again.

A new addition to one of these briefs, an affidavit from an accounting firm that says that if it were ordered by the court, this accounting firm says they could come in and they could do a new election in Palm Beach County. They could do it on December 1st, they say, and they say they would do it by hand. None of those punch card ballots. They would have paper ballots that people could fill out and they look them over and have a decision by December 2nd, within 24 hours. That an affidavit included in one of these briefs to the Supreme Court.

Now, they say if Theresa LePore, who is the Palm Beach County elections supervisor, didn't want to do a revote, that they could do it for her, essentially. LePore has decided not to issue any kind of brief here to the Florida Supreme Court. She is named as a defendant. However, we do understand that the Bush legal team will be submitting a brief sometime before 5:00. They also are named as defendants in this case. The argument from Bush Attorney Phil Beck -- he made the argument this morning about these butterfly ballots. He says it is simply too late now to look at the butterfly ballot.


PHIL BECK, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: The law is that if anyone has a concern with the form of the ballot, that has to be expressed before the election, not after the election. It is not according to law and it is not fair to wait until the votes have been counted and then if you don't like outcome, to say that the ballot -- that there was something with the form of the ballot.


SNOW: Now, the Florida Supreme Court has not yet said whether it will take this case. That is indeed why they wanted to have these documents submitted to them. If the seven justice did, they would be ruling essentially on whether a lower court judge, circuit court Judge George Labarga, made an error in his decision. He said some time ago that he felt the butterfly-ballot issue wasn't even his to decide.

He couldn't call for a revote because voting is something mandated by U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Congress. He thought he couldn't even intervene. So the Florida Supreme Court would be asked to look at whether he made the right decision. Also, one other note: It would be very unprecedented for a revote to occur. It has never happened in a presidential election, although it has happened a few times that we know of on a local level, and once at least that we know of in a congressional primary -- Joie, back to you. CHEN: CNN's Kate Snow for us in Tallahassee, Florida -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And Gore's campaign team filed an emergency motion today asking for an immediate recount in three Florida counties. For more about this, let's go to CNN's Gary Tuchman, who is also in Tallahassee for us -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, first of all, we are at the court, where the contest, the Al Gore contests against the presidential election results are taking place. But there's also something going on inside the Leon County courthouse that is not part of that, that could turn out to be very significant.

It is the suit of one voter against Seminole County. That one voter has said that Seminole County has allowed 4,000 absentee or so Republican votes -- Republican absentee ballots to be counted. But those absentee ballots -- the applications for them -- were not filled out properly. Republican workers filled out the I.D. numbers after the votes were cast.

And this voter wants those thousands of Republicans votes thrown out. So a hearing was held today at 2:00 Eastern Time. And in that hearing, there were five attorneys for George W. Bush, two attorneys for Katherine Harris, an attorney for Seminole County, all participating against the two attorneys for the plaintiff.

Now, all of those Bush attorneys and the secretary of state attorneys asked for the court to make this part of the Al Gore contest. And they did that for two reasons. Number one, the lawyers said they have a lot of work here to do. They have to go scrambling between courtrooms. And they just want to have it all consolidated into one case. Another reason, though, this gives George W. Bush two chances to lose.

Presumably, if you have this in one courtroom and a judge ruled against everything against Al Gore, that would be easy for George W. Bush to deal with. But in this, if you have it in two difference courtrooms, he could lose one and win one. Well, the George W. Bush attorneys lost their first battle. The judge ruled it will be not to be consolidated. This will be a separate case. The Republicans say it's a hyper-technicality, this issue. These votes should definitely count.

But Democrats say they are illegal votes. So the hearing is continuing as we speak. It's likely testimony will take place next week in this case, with depositions occurring later this week. Meanwhile, a motion was filed today by the Al Gore team. They are asking for an immediate hand count of 10,500 votes that were not hand counted in Miami-Dade County, when they were doing their hand count. Those are the votes that weren't counted after they decided to stop because they said they didn't have enough time to finish.

In the motion also, they also asked -- the Gore team -- for a recount, a hand recount of 3,300 disputed votes in Palm Beach County. Those are votes the Gore says had dimples in them, or indentations, but were not counted for Gore. They wanted a more liberal method, like was used in Broward County. That will be held until 25 minutes from now, where a judge is expected to decide about if he will rule that an immediate hand count is necessary.

Meanwhile, there was another motion before. And John King alluded to this before when he was speaking. Al Gore wants the proceedings speeded up. He submitted his own schedule, so this could be done by next week. The George Bush forces says they do not agree with it, that it's going too fast. They blame Al Gore for a lot of these problems. They say, if he didn't spend so much time protesting before the certification, he would have more time to be contesting after the certification.

And finally, we have the 5:00 U.S. Supreme Court deadline for everything to be submitted for the butterfly-ballot case.

So that is the situation here, Natalie. Back to you.

ALLEN: OK, Gary, I think we follow it. Thanks so much. We just want to know how you know which court to go to when. Good for you. Thanks a lot, Gary.

My goodness, a lot for our...

CHEN: How does he stay up on all that?

ALLEN: And how did he do that so well? -- a lot for our correspondents to pay attention to in Tallahassee.

CHEN: You know, if you have been listening to our coverage over the past day or two, you would think this is all now in the hands of the courts and the lawyers. But the lawmakers want in on this as well.

ALLEN: That's right. The Florida legislature is talking about what they may or may not do involving the electors. We will hear from CNN's Mike Boettcher, who is covering that angle, in just a moment.


CHEN: Going back to Florida's capital city now -- we have heard so much from Tallahassee in the course of the last few days. State lawmakers there are considering their role in settling the disputed presidential election.

We check in now with CNN's Mike Boettcher, who is in Tallahassee -- Mike.

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joie, the legislators believe they have the ultimate and only role in this if this goes past the contest period. The whole election is thrown up into doubt. There were 14 members of the House and Senate who met today, the majority of them Republicans, because the majority of the legislature here is Republican.

Their goal, they say, is to determine if they have the right by law to call a special session and then name the electors that will be named on 12:01 a.m. December 12. They came to the conclusion that they do. But they will have another day of hearings, although Democrats there -- specifically Democrats Senator Tom Rossin asked: Why are we here in the first place?


STATE SEN. TOM ROSSIN (D), FLORIDA MINORITY LEADER: There is no constitutional crisis. The only way that there could be is if the Florida legislature creates one for the wrong reasons. Again, we have already certified a vote. The only change could be if our courts rule to certify the other candidate. It is both illegal and improper for this body to interfere with that process in any way.


BOETTCHER: Now, the Republicans on the committee called expert witnesses, a couple of them who are constitutional experts. One is John Yoo from the University of California at Berkeley. He was, again, requested to be there by the Republican membership. And he said that the legislature has a duty, that they must call a special session and name those electors.


JOHN YOO, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY: Two things could happen to trigger your responsibility. First, if you, as the legislature, passed preexisting rules to govern controversies, and you believe says that those rules have been changed by the state Supreme Court in this instance, you have the legal right, and, indeed, the constitutional duty at that point to intervene.

Second, if you think that those rules are not going to function properly, that they will not yield a result by December 12, then you, again have, I think, a constitutional responsibility to make sure that your electors are chosen. And again, you don't have the discretion not to send electors. The Constitution says that the state "shall" send electors.


BOETTCHER: Now, let me give of you the timeline for what to expect. Tomorrow, that committee will meet again. They may or may not, at end of that, go ahead and vote to call a -- to recommend to the leadership to call a special session.

If they do that -- and all indications are that they will -- the Republican leadership has been wanting to do this since the Supreme Court intervened -- if they do that, that could come as early as Friday or over the weekend. They want to give themselves enough time then to debate a bill that would name the electors, and then to pass that bill before December 12, before the date that Florida must name their presidential electors.

So it's going to be interesting here over the next few days exactly how they proceed. But, Joie, it looks like they're going ahead, they're determined to call a special session. And they believe they have the ultimate authority by the Constitution to name those electors. The Democrats, however, disagree -- Joie.

CHEN: CNN's Mike Boettcher for us in Tallahassee, Florida -- Natalie?

ALLEN: Well, we're 40 minutes past the deadline when both sides were ordered to issue briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court for oral arguments to begin this Friday.

Let's go to CNN's Charles Bierbauer for the latest -- Charles.

CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Natalie, I'm juggling about 200 pages worth of briefs that just reached us and certainly have not had the chance to go through all of them. But I'm trying to find the kind of bottom line which the U.S. Supreme Court asked of both the Bush and Gore camps, which was: what would be the consequences if, here, this court were to reverse the Florida state Supreme Court on the order which allowed the hand recount to continue an extended period of time.

Now, I find it in the Bush brief filed with the court just short moments ago, that what the Bush people are asking, of course, is that the judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida be vacated and that the count revert back to the November 14 vote. And it says, "if this court vacates the judgment and the election's canvassing commission takes such action to revert back to November 14, some of recently filed election challenges to the election results may be mooted."

Now, what that means is that the Bush people feel that some of the challenges which the Gore folks have filed over the hand count proceeding, may no longer be valid. That would be significant to the Bush people, of course, because that would limit Mr. Gore's opportunities to recapture any votes down there.

And then if you flip through, as a will try to do, the Gore brief, I come to the conclusion, as they do here. It says that, "to hold the decision violates due process" -- in other words, to hold that the Florida court was out of order, "would do violence both to principals of federalism and to the independence of the judiciary throughout the United State," casting a much broader scope to that.

But, perhaps, more succinctly, the matter was put to us a short while ago by Laurence Tribe, the very notable professor of law from Harvard who will be arguing the case here, and took the unusual step of actually coming to the court to deliver his briefs and make a statement. Basically, he said, this court really doesn't have anything to do, that there is no particular requirement of this court, other than to let the ruling of the Florida Supreme Court stand.

This is very much what we had anticipated. One side saying the Florida Supreme Court is out of line, the other one saying that they were merely interpreting the law. And, of course, it will be up to the U.S. Supreme court on Friday to hear those arguments and make a judgment probably sometime next week -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And Charles, what's the final word from the Supreme Court on whether to allow any sort of media coverage of Friday's arguments? BIERBAUER: Glad you asked; the Supreme Court has just put out an announcement saying that they will provide an audio tape of the proceedings before the Supreme Court on Friday, that's an hour-and-a- half's worth of arguments. Yesterday, Chief Justice Rehnquist said he'd stick by his long-standing view that cameras do not belong in his courtroom.

So what we will get, in addition to those of us who'll be inside listening to the arguments, there will be an audio version, there will also be a transcript of the arguments made available in the course of the day on Friday -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Charles Bierbauer, and we wish you well in reading the rest of those briefs, and we know you'll continue to report on what you see in that; thank you.

CHEN: It's been a busy hour of events here -- the last 45 minutes, everything from every courthouse in the country, it seems like.

ALLEN: And we'll have more for you in just a minute.


CHEN: At first, the public certainly seemed fascinated by the election stand off; and now, three weeks after the election, some of that fascination is fading.

CNN's Anne McDermott reports this hour on a sampling of opinion taken before Vice President Al Gore's speech last night.


ANNE MCDERMOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's gone on too long, at least that's how 62 percent in the latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup Poll feel about the presidential election. And, as for Al Gore, well he should concede the election, that's what 56 percent of those polled say, and that's more than last week, when folks were evenly split on that.

Kathy Korvo (ph), a pet shop manager, is one of those who say it's time for Gore to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like he's being a baby, you know. I think he lost, just like a junior high school election. It's over.

MCDERMOTT: But Sharne Jeffers (ph), a fast-food employee, says not so fast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm willing to wait because we don't really have to worry until January because right now we have a president.

MCDERMOTT: The good news is, only 10 percent of the people polled consider what's going on a constitutional crisis, though 50 percent do consider it a major problem, like Logan Williams, a flight attendant who's just come back from a trip to Asia. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It almost seems ridiculous. I mean, this isn't a Third World country, this is a very sophisticated country. It shouldn't happen.

MCDERMOTT: But it has. And now most people say they would accept either George W. Bush or Al Gore as the legitimate president when one is eventually declared the winner. But in what may be a sign of growing partisan feeling among Bush supporters, only 46 percent of them would accept Al Gore as legitimate president, 53 percent would not.

Some though, like Ruby Kim (ph), can't seem to muster the energy to care much anymore. And why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the same old story every single night: Gore's leading, then Bush is leading. The same old thing every single night.

MCDERMOTT: But this seasonal employee says, give it some time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They keep saying, you know, it's taking too long. Well, a couple of hundred years ago, it took months for people to find out. Come on, give me a break.

MCDERMOTT: And with that, he got back to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want for Christmas?

MCDERMOTT: Anne McDermott, CNN, Los Angeles.


ALLEN: Even Santa Claus has weighed in. Let's talk with CNN's Bill Schneider about what's going on in the country and what people are saying about this -- what the perspective is from people and how much that should matter to Al Gore.

Let's see if Bill Schneider -- there he is.

Hi there, Bill.


ALLEN: We know we're in trouble when even Santa Claus is weighing in on this, but let's talk about what everyone else is saying. And I was watching "TALKBACK LIVE" this afternoon, and you'd see one e-mail saying, it's got to be over, then the next one would say, let's give it some time.

I guess it depend, does it, on your political leaning, how much time people are going to give Al Gore here?

SCHNEIDER: Well we certainly do find that division in the electorate out of the Gore supporters -- the hard-core supporters are saying, let's wait, let's let everything play itself out, let's make sure all the ballots are counted; and the Bush people, especially the hard-core Republicans are saying, it's over, he's been declared the winner in Florida, let's get on with things.

That division is there. But what we're finding is, in the vast middle between those two extremes, we're finding evidence of growing public impatience because they watched that Florida certification the other night and they believe, well, isn't it over?

ALLEN: And does it matter? Does is really matter what the public thinks in this as Al Gore continues on?

SCHNEIDER: Well, there are those who say this is just a legal fight and it's really all up to the courts; but, no, it matters a great deal. It's really a public relation's issue as much as a legal issue because, if a president attempts to take office or be declared the winner and the public is thoroughly opposed then, No. 1, it could create a lot of jam-ups and, you know -- you could find pressure on Congress not to count the votes, or ways to waylay the courts. And even if the person managed to be declared the president, he'd have a very serious legitimacy problem.

So public pressure, though it has no legal standing hear -- the votes have already been cast -- it has a great deal of political meaning.

ALLEN: And we heard from CNN's John King earlier that even some of Al Gore's supporters are saying that his battle is a lost cause.

What are you hearing as far as his legal fight and the chances he has?

SCHNEIDER: Well, since -- as far as the legal fight, it looks like a difficult battle, the legal fight. The political battles, there is evidence that some of his supporters are beginning to say, look, it's over, throw in the towel, you lost Florida. He has tried to staunch the bleeding by going out before the public last night and making the case that not all the votes have been counted. Well, that's not quite true. They have been counted by machine, but the machine did miss some ballots where it could not detect a presidential vote, and Gore is saying those ballots deserve to be counted by hand. That's how he's trying to shore up his base, so he doesn't continue to bleed supporters away who say that really the election is over.

But he's stepping in now to try to save this situation, and it still could be saved. What he's got to do is have the courts say, you know, Mr. Gore, you have a point, not all the ballots were counted, we're going to take the next two weeks, we're going to count them, and let's see what happens. If the courts say that, then Gore has found a very, very important ally.

ALLEN: Bill Schneider -- as always, thanks, Bill.


ALLEN: Now to Joie.

CHEN: Back on the subject of those butterfly ballot in Palm Beach County. A conservative watchdog group is weighing in with its opinion about them.

CNN's Bill Delaney is standing by in West Palm Beach now -- Bill.

BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Joie, what's going on here is not going to change any ballot counts. What's going on in the Emergency Operations Center behind me, that's the same building where that climactic manual recount was concluded on Sunday, what's going on in there is a re-examination of votes. Now, as a citizen, you are allowed to ask for that here in Florida.

The group that asked for it here is Judicial Watch, Incorporated, out of Washington, D.C. That's a largely conservative leaning group. Their chairman and chief counsel, Larry Klayman has been leading the charge here. And all day -- several hours today in that room, they have been re-examining ballots. They're not allowed to touch the ballots.

Theresa LePore, the election supervisor -- some of our viewers may remember, who was a member of the three member canvassing board, who took part in that marathon manual recount here -- holds up a ballot, they examine it. Now, Mr. Klayman and his colleagues here have been concentrating on 5,900 disputed ballots, ballots that were counted but objected to by either the Democrat or Republican Party. They say they need to do this because in the manual recount here in Palm Beach there were simply too many sliding standards as to what a vote amounted to.


LARRY KLAYMAN, CHAIRMAN, JUDICIAL WATCH: Ms. Theresa LePore is having a hard time articulating what the methodology was for selecting one vote for Al Gore and another vote for George Bush, or disqualifying a vote for both of them. Apparently, from what we have been able to discern so far, there was no real methodology used, that this thing was basically just a crap shoot.


DELANEY: Tomorrow in circuit court, at 9:00 a.m. here in Palm Beach, Judge Jorge Labarga will take a Democratic request for a protective order to bar anymore examination of those disputed ballots. But Mr. Klayman has already been through half of those 5,900 ballots, he says, and he'll be finished with them tomorrow, so that request by the Democrats for a protective order may be moot. We shall see tomorrow.

Bill Delaney, CNN, reporting live from West Palm Beach, Florida.

ALLEN: Thanks, Bill.

Still to come, the lighter side of this roller coaster presidential election.

CHEN: Thank goodness there is one.

We'll get the late-night talk show perspective, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: Another good one.

Everybody continues to weigh in on this and have some fun and, of course, the late-night guys are eating it all up.

CHEN: And thank goodness we're still able to laugh about something in all this, at least with some help from Jay and Dave.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: How many of you saw George W. Bush last night on television after they certified the...


George was unveiling his new presidential deer in the headlights look.



JAY LENO, HOST: I guess you know, the results are in. They have been certified. The wait is over. It looks like the San Diego Chargers finally won a game. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!



CHEN: Did they recount that for the San Diego Chargers?

ALLEN: Good one, Joie.

We'll continue to bring it all to you, CNN, of course, the straight stuff and the late-night guys.

CHEN: And the all-important stuff. "INSIDE POLITICS" is coming up next with their view. Stay tuned for that.

ALLEN: See you around.



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