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Election 2000: 400,000-Plus Ballots on the Road to Tallahassee; Florida Legislature Closer to Appointing Electors

Aired November 30, 2000 - 1:21 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: If you have been waiting for some kind of movement in this 23-day old presidential election standoff, this is your day. More than 400,000 ballots are on the move from Palm Beach county to Tallahassee in big yellow truck. Tomorrow, even more ballots will make the trip from Miami-Dade.

In other action, the Gore team is asking the Florida Supreme Court to order an immediate manual recount of the so-called undercounted or otherwise disputed ballots as they arrive in Tallahassee. A trial judge insists on holding hearing first, on Saturday.

A so-called emergency hearing is due to start any minute now, and we'll see what that's about when it happens.

As we've been talking about, Florida's legislature is one step closer to appointing the state's presidential electors itself. A special legislative session is being recommended for early next week.

Back in Texas, George W. Bush is having Colin Powell down to the ranch for what's being called an extended discussion of national security matters. Powell is believed to be Bush's first choice for secretary of state should the Texas governor become president.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A little bit more about the big yellow truck: Not since O.J. Simpson's slow-speed chase have so many watched so few do so much driving. As we said today's roadtrip consists of every ballot cast in Palm Beach county -- 462,000 ballots of them -- should take about seven hours, depending on rest stops and traffic, to get those ballots to Tallahassee.

Tomorrow's convoy consists of 654,000 ballots cast in Miami-Dade. That trip should take about eight hours. Sheriff's deputies will ride shotgun. Observers will make the trip, too, but not inside the truck with the ballots.

While campaign lawyers fight over the Florida vote in court, the two candidates try their best to look presidential. George W. Bush scheduled a meeting at his ranch today with running mate Dick Cheney and retired general Colin Powell.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve joins us from Austin, Texas. JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, that meeting should be getting under way just about now at Bush's ranch near Crawford, Texas. As you mentioned, the participants will be the governor; Dick Cheney, his running mate, and the head of his transition team; and Colin Powell, the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

Powell may be the most prominent African-American Republican. He was an adviser to the Bush campaign. He campaigned with Governor Bush, and he has been prominently mentioned as a possible pick for secretary of state.

We will be seeing pictures of these men meeting, we may hear them speak, but do not expect an announcement today. Dick Cheney has said it wouldn't appropriate to name any members of the Cabinet until the situation in Florida becomes more clear. But they are anxious for all of us to see the picture of the three of them meeting. This, of course, gives a sense of inevitability to a Bush presidency -- Lou.

WATERS: All right, Jeanne Meserve, in Austin, Texas.

Natalie, what's next?

ALLEN: Well, the Gore campaign today urged the highest court in the land to keep Florida lawmakers on the sidelines. As you know, both sides will argue, tomorrow, over recounts and deadlines and separation of powers.

And CNN's Charles Bierbauer will join -- joins us now from Washington with that -- Charles.

CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, you're right. Part of what was filed by the Gore campaign today, and what is known as reply brief, does address the question of the Florida state legislature seeking to appoint an electoral slate outside of the process which is being debated in the courts. And in that brief, it says that any state legislative attempt simply to appoint electors after the fact would appear to be federally preempted by the Constitution.

The essence of this brief is to reiterate the positions taken by the Gore camp in its primary brief filed two days ago, and that is to say, to the U.S. Supreme court, simply affirm what the Florida Supreme Court has done. And the Gore argument is that Florida law, passed by the Florida state legislature, allows for judicial review.

In contrast, the Bush argument has been that the Florida state Supreme Court, in essence, made a new law by extending the timeframe for recounting ballots. We have not yet seen a reply brief today from the Bush campaign. We could expect to see one in the course of the day, although they're not obliged to file one, but everyone has filed everything they possibly can in this whole process of leading up to tomorrow's arguments -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Charles Bierbauer -- thanks, Charles.

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