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The Spin Room: Ed Rendell Discusses Al Gore's Challenge

Aired December 6, 2000 - 11:00 p.m. ET


BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: Can you believe it, Tucker? After traveling all that distance, now they want to throw them all out.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Not rain, not sleet, not dark of night, not even the Statue of Liberty, nothing can stop the ballots, Bill.

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

PRESS: Good evening, everybody. Welcome to this jampacked Wednesday SPIN ROOM. I'm Bill Press.

CARLSON: Stuffed full. I'm Tucker Carlson.

Many things to talk about. We need to hear from you. Call us toll free, absolutely no cost, 1-800-310-4CNN. You can join our live online chat at You can send us an e-mail. Our address is spin -- s-p-i-n --

PRESS: S-p-i-n.

CARLSON: I -- the little @ symbol.

PRESS: You have to spell "spin."

CARLSON: Bill, I want nothing to get in the way of those e- mails.

PRESS: No, nothing to get in the way of the e-mails.

Remember, folks, after 4:00 in the afternoon, at the end of TALKBACK LIVE, there's no other show on CNN that invites your participation, and we do, indeed, tonight. So we need to get those phone -- you need to get your phone -- we only have a half-hour. We need to get your phone calls and your e-mails in as fast as you can.

And I'm sure by now all of you are talking about this. And, yes, this is true. This is a very special night. Last night was our two- month anniversary. Both Tucker and I felt a little peeved that CNN did nothing to recognize our two-month anniversary.

But Tucker, today...

CARLSON: Oh, but they did. This morning, a FedEx package from Ted Turner himself.

PRESS: ... they arrived.

CARLSON: Yes, they did.

PRESS: Here they are.

CARLSON: Our new leather chairs. And the question that confronts us, Bill, is leather or Corinthian leather.

PRESS: I think they're Corinthian leather, but you know, they're -- they remind me of these first-class seats on British Airways. Have you ever...

CARLSON: Oh, yeah.

PRESS: ... flown them? I mean, you can't relax in these chairs, or you'll go to sleep.

CARLSON: This is...

PRESS: I mean, these are...

CARLSON: This literally reminds me of the inside of your Bentley. I mean, it has that same sort of new car smell.

PRESS: Don't -- don't I wish? But let me tell you something. This is serious, because, you know, I talked to Larry King today, and I talked to Regis today, and both of them told me that, when they got chairs, they knew they were on their way to a real show.

CARLSON: Well, these are far better than their chairs.

PRESS: But, I mean, the...

CARLSON: I've seen theirs.

PRESS: ... chairs are the first sign of a real show.

CARLSON: Well, they have pleather (ph) chairs. I think we have real leather.

PRESS: Yes. And of course, if we don't make it on CNN, there's always Canadian TV, too.


PRESS: All right. Now, speaking of chairs, there is a chair -- actually, a chair and the truck that goes with it on auction. This is very, very exciting. We all saw -- now see -- that Ryder Truck making its way from Miami-Dade to Tallahassee. Look at this. This is an actual live shot of the Yahoo! Auctions site. Look, Tucker, what is up for auction, that same Ryder Truck.

CARLSON: The Ryder -- the truck that made history, and the headline says, "Own the truck that made U.S. presidential election history, and support the American Red Cross!" Bill, this goes to my theory that this entire election debacle has been orchestrated by Ryder as a form of product placement.

PRESS: It could be. The item, if you want to check it out, it's called prez ballot delivery truck. I don't know why anybody would want to own it, but, just in case, the price is $15,900. So far, there have been 78 bids on the Ryder Truck, and there are seven days -- only...

CARLSON: Only seven days left.

PRESS: Only seven days left. It would be an unusual Christmas present for the man who has literally everything and doesn't need...

CARLSON: And you get a free set of steak knives if you buy it.

You know, now that -- now that we're pulling in all the news of the day, I didn't want the following quote, mean as it is, to float off into the ether. I want to put up on the screen a line that appeared, for all those that don't read "National Review," in the "National Review" today. This is a description of Joe Lieberman, described him as "All Yarmulke, No Torah."

PRESS: Oh, Bill Buckley Jr., that is below your grade.

CARLSON: I like it. I just -- no, it is so...

PRESS: Buckley -- Buckley usually has more class than that.

CARLSON: ... deeply true. I -- no, I really like it, Bill, because it's totally true.

PRESS: No, it's -- remember -- Trent Lott who is all hat and no cattle, not Joe Lieberman who is all yarmulke and no Torah.

All right, THE SPIN ROOM -- a couple of e-mails, rather, today to start us off.

CARLSON: Here is one from the men's unit at San Quentin Prison. "Bill Press is my nomination for sexiest liberal man. I've only been disappointed by you once, Bill, yesterday when you wore a red tie. Please stop that. There are far too many red ties on TV these days."

I want to reassure the inmates that Bill is all earth tones from here on out.

PRESS: We love San Quentin.


PRESS: All right. Well, thank you. Thank you. I'm blushing.

Bob Cheryl (ph) writes in, "The four horsemen of the Democratic apocalypse -- Press, Schumer, Carville, and Hillary -- cannot save Uncle Al from political defeat." Yeah, but we're trying hard, Bob Cheryl. And by the way, I'm proud to be in such company as Chuck Schumer, James Carville, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

CARLSON: No, you're not really.

PRESS: And I am also proud to be in such company as the general chairman...


PRESS: ... of the Democratic National Committee who joins us as our special guest tonight on THE SPIN ROOM. That is Mr. -- former mayor of Philadelphia, Ed Rendell, who's in Philadelphia tonight.

Mr. Chairman, good evening.


Only in America could we have that truck up for auction.

PRESS: I know.

RENDELL: Only in America.

CARLSON: It's so fantastic.

PRESS: Did you get your bid in yet, Ed?

RENDELL: No. Well, what I want to know is how are they going to get the ballots back to Miami.

PRESS: Now that's true.

CARLSON: Buy another truck. Another product placement.

PRESS: That's right. I also want to know if that truck is full of chads. I mean, it may not be worth having, but -- anyhow...

CARLSON: Mr. Chairman, I want to show you a tape of a special visitor who came to Al Gore's house today. You may have seen this, but it's so wonderful, you just can't see it enough.




CARLSON: Now I think you can guess who this is.


DICKINSON: ... that the person you want to be...


CARLSON: This is the official -- well, we'll say the heavyset woman, and she is, in fact, singing...

PRESS: The fat lady.

CARLSON: That she is. And she's singing outside Al Gore's house. When's he going to hear the music, do you think?

RENDELL: Well, look, as someone who's spent the last 14 months working for Al Gore -- and working for Al Gore without any pay -- I want him to contest this through the Florida Supreme Court.

I think -- I mean, I know there are almost 11,000 votes in Miami- Dade that haven't been counted. It's an election that's been decided by 500 votes. We want to try to validate those votes. Until we get a final decision -- and maybe tomorrow we'll get a final decision -- but until we get a final decision on our efforts to do so, we should press on. If the Florida...

CARLSON: The Supreme Court's the bottom line. Is that it?

RENDELL: I think the Florida Supreme Court -- I mean, we technically could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but we wouldn't have a snowball's chance there. I think that's got to be the bottom line. I think the Florida Supreme Court's going to surprise people. They're the one venue that's shown that they understand that the Florida hand-count statute requires validating ballots that haven't been counted.

And it's interesting. You know, it's interesting. There's hypocrisy on all sides here, but how about the Republican Party going in New Mexico and asking for a hand recount and the governor of New Mexico saying, "You've got to look at the ballots to determine whether there were votes." Well, right on, Governor! Right on.

PRESS: Yeah, I know. Hand count? No. No, you don't understand, Mr. Chairman. Hand counts are OK in New Mexico and...

RENDELL: Right, but not in Florida.

PRESS: ... and in Texas but not in Florida.


PRESS: Now I want to ask you about this Florida legislature today because they -- big surprise, surprise, right? I mean, is it Jeb Bush's legislature that says, "Just in case the vote changes when they count the votes and Al Gore is elected, we're going to -- we're going to have a special session and send Re -- Republican pro-George Bush legis -- electors, rather, up"...

CARLSON: The guy won the state.

PRESS: ... "to Washington."

CARLSON: Come on.

PRESS: Now I want to ask you, Mr. Chairman -- let's take like West Virginia, for example, right, which went for Bush, but the Democrats control the legislature. Any plans, for example, in West Virginia to have the Democratic-controlled legislature elect a Democratic set of electors? Why not?

RENDELL: Well, because...


CARLSON: ... blow up the country.

RENDELL: Because we Democrats understand that this is nation of laws, not men. If, in fact, the court determines a procedure that leads to Al Gore being elected, that's it. If, in fact, the court determines that George Bush is the rightful winner of Florida, that's it.

Independent judiciaries -- and these judiciaries have acted independently. Judge Labarga, Republican in Palm Beach, ruled for us. Judge Sauls, a Democrat in Leon, ruled for the Republicans. The Florida Supreme Court has given a ruling for each side. We have a independent judiciary. It's what makes America different than anyplace else.

The Florida legislature is a disgrace. They ought to butt out.

CARLSON: No, but let -- let's get back to how horrifying...

PRESS: I like that.

CARLSON: ... and embarrassing this is...

PRESS: Butt out.

CARLSON: ... for Al Gore. I mean, this is...

PRESS: Butt out.

CARLSON: Seriously, I am wondering...

RENDELL: It's not embarrassing.

CARLSON: Well, it is embarrassing. I mean, there's nobody who I've met -- and I mean waiters, cabdrivers, up to members of Congress -- who think he's going to win, and yet he's pretending that he has a chance.

RENDELL: Yeah, but, Tucker...

CARLSON: How isolated is he?

PRESS: You see what -- what...

RENDELL: Tucker... PRESS: ... circles he travels in, Mr. Chairman.

CARLSON: That's right. Even the common man knows.

RENDELL: You must ride -- you must ride in some very interesting cabs, Tucker, but -- but look at the...


RENDELL: ... polls. Look at the polls where more than 50 percent of Americans say that the vice president should keep fighting to make sure that every vote is counted, and that's an -- look, we're trying to win, no B.S. about that. We're trying to win.

But, on the other hand, we're also trying to validate these votes in Miami, and I think that those votes ought to be counted, and the only way to count them is to hold them up and see whether, in fact, the Republicans are right, that all these 11,000 people didn't want to vote for president -- they just, you know, went to the polls, and they didn't want to vote for president -- or whether, in fact, the voter left a clear indication of who they wanted to vote for, and if they did, count them. What's wrong with that?

PRESS: All right. Mr. Chairman, we'll get an answer to that when we come back. Stay there because we've got lots more questions for you coming up in THE SPIN ROOM.

We'll be back with your nominations, I hope, for a spin of the day. You can call us toll free at 1-800-310-4CNN, join our ongoing chat room at, or send us, of course, your e-mails, and the address is, as Tucker says,

CARLSON: But, first, there is something taking place in a court room, I believe, Bill, and we're going to take a look at that.

PRESS: All night long. There it is. Tallahassee. That Martin County Case.

ATTORNEY: ... and then by this Republican operative submitting that information, did -- that, in fact, was a -- under those circumstances, a new request, which was a felony under Florida law. Did that ever occur to you, sir?


CARLSON: Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM. I'm Tucker Carlson here with Bill Press.

We're talking with Democratic Party Chair Ed Rendell and, of course, we're reading your e-mail. Dug deep into the e-mail room. We have an entire room filled with e-mail actually.

PRESS: And we've got a lot...

CARLSON: It's excellent.

PRESS: We've got a lot of them right here. We also have a phone call starting off all the way to Alaska with Wayne.

Hello, Wayne.

CARLSON: All the way. Wayne.

WAYNE: Hey. Hey, good evening, sir.

PRESS: What's your take on this?

WAYNE: My question is, if the Democrats' original fight was for the make-every-vote-count, then why are they trying to disenfranchise thousands of absentee ballots?

CARLSON: That is a great question, Wayne. Good question, Wayne. Alaska. The clear air brings out clear thinking.

PRESS: I think the ques -- I think the question is that there's -- there is something called the law, and the law does say that you can't just invite people into a courthouse and let them tamper with ballots, but we're going to answer...

CARLSON: But there is something called rhetoric, and when your own rhetoric is different from your legal strategy, it does...

PRESS: Well, the -- the law does supersede rhetoric. We're going to get an answer from the chairman for that in just a second, but...

CARLSON: We shall.

PRESS: ... Tucker, we do have a couple of e-mails quickly.

CARLSON: Well, let me read one. This is from David Skovan (ph) from Los Angeles, California, addressed to me. "You sound very sure that Al Gore doesn't stand a chance."

Indeed, I am very sure.

"Tell you what. After he takes the oath of office, how about inviting me into THE SPIN ROOM to talk about it?"

I will tell you what, David Skovan from Los Angeles, California, if Al Gore wins, you can move into my house, and that's a promise.

PRESS: Oh-ho. And wear your Speedo?

OK. This one -- we hear -- this is a megalomaniac moment...


PRESS: ... on -- which is -- you're used to that now, a very special part of THE SPIN ROOM, and this is also another special part of THE SPIN ROOM, another word from our Canadian friends, Tucker.

CARLSON: We have many friends in Canada. More...

PRESS: We're big in Canada.

CARLSON: ... popular than maple syrup.

PRESS: "Dear Tucker and Bill, Oh, no. CBC News World airs `Counterspin' right after your excellent 30-minute show. Would you please extend your program for 60 minutes so that all the spin-crazy Canadians can keep their televisions glued to CNN permanently?"

CARLSON: Those...

PRESS: "Christopher (ph) and Sophie (ph)."

CARLSON: Those wily Canadians. We have SPIN ROOM. They air "Counterspin." They are just too clever.

PRESS: Oh, we can't let them get away...

CARLSON: I've got to ask Democratic Party Chairman Ed Rendell a question.

Welcome back, Mr. Chairman.

On election night, I was watching television very closely, and at one point, as we know, it seemed clear that Al Gore was going to lose, and you appeared on the tube with a little after-game analysis, and -- unfortunately, we don't have the tape here, but, essentially, you said Bill Clinton should have campaigned more for Al Gore.

Two questions. Has the Gore campaign ever called you to scold you about that? And, B, do you still think that Clinton should have campaigned and that Gore would have won had he?

RENDELL: Well, actually, what I said -- it was with Peter Jennings, and I said, "Look, there are two divisions of thought. They said -- the campaign -- that if Bill Clinton campaigned, we'd lose undecided voters in states like Pennsylvania and Michigan." The undecideds broke heavily for us in those states, so maybe they knew something that I didn't.

I always believed -- and I told the vice president -- that we ought to use President Clinton in selected states by himself to really spur turnout and to make the case because he made the case for Al Gore brilliantly. I think he should have been used in states like a West Virginia and Arkansas, certainly like a Pennsylvania and a Michigan and Ohio, but I said that night I could have been wrong.

That's my gut. I believed all along that anybody who was going to vote against the vice president for the sole reason that he was vice president to President Clinton had already decided that, and bringing...

CARLSON: And what...

RENDELL: ... President...

CARLSON: Was Gore mad at you for saying so on TV? RENDELL: That night? No. I mean, you know, look, the vice president -- you know, it's interesting. Everyone has this view of the vice president being such a cold, tough, hard guy, and -- he's certainly a fighter, but, you know, he does listen to a whole lot of different opinions. He said to me, "Look, the science, the focus groups, and the polls say that we'd lose undecided voters."

And, you know, it was my gut and the gut of a lot of local politicians against science, and -- I don't know. I don't know. I would have liked -- you know, when you look at what happened in New York when the president came into New York to campaign for Hillary, she was in a 3- or 4-point race, and it blew wide open. She won by 12 points.

PRESS: Yeah. Mr. Chairman, let me ask you this. And you and I are on the same side. We both voted for the same guy. We both want the same guy to be president, and he still may be, but...


PRESS: ... I do want to ask you about this situation in Seminole County that Wayne asked about. I think it's pretty clear that there was either bad judgment or, clearly, the laws were broken there, but is it a proper remedy to disenfranchise, to throw out all the absentee ballots cast in Seminole and Martin Counties. What do you think?

RENDELL: Well, first of all, one thing I want to tell Wayne is that we did not -- the Gore campaign did not in its contest position filed in the courts contest any of the votes in Seminole County. This was...

PRESS: Right.

RENDELL: ... done by individual Democrats and, in fact, one of the Democrats in Seminole was a man by the name of Harry Jacobs who I actually talked into raising a lot of money for us, and I didn't know about the Seminole County suit until I read it in "The New York Times". That's number one.

But, number two, I agree with you. The problem with Seminole County -- the problem with fashioning a remedy in Seminole County is that those votes had been merged into the 15,000 absentee ballots that were cast.

PRESS: Right.

RENDELL: And if you throw out all the absentee ballots, you are disenfranchising people whose votes were cast without any illegal procedures. And, by the way, Bill, don't doubt for a minute those procedures were illegal. They violated the anti-fraud provisions of Florida law. If you...

PRESS: So what's the rem -- what's the remedy then?

CARLSON: Yeah, what do you do? RENDELL: If you -- if there's some remedy being offered that could identify or apportion somehow the illegally procured votes -- because, remember, we weren't given the same opportunity to change the Democratic ballots that came in without registration numbers. Those were just thrown out. If you could adjust that and -- and figure out a formula or find the original votes that the Republicans wrote in that number and cast them out, that might be fair. I don't know if you can do that and --

Look, I want to win this election in Dade County. I believe -- and, Tucker, you can laugh all you want. I believe if you count those 10,700 votes, Al Gore's the next president of the United States. That's why they're battling so hard not to count them.

CARLSON: Well, I have to say I will laugh. And we've got to let you go. My one suggestion, though, is if the lawsuit looks bad, someone from the Gore campaign ought to tell them to knock it off, and they'd probably follow that advice.

PRESS: But I think what you should do is buy that truck because there may be some ballots in that...

CARLSON: Good luck. Check behind the seats.

PRESS: ... that you can get counted. There it is again. You got a chad.

CARLSON: Oh, you -- you've got seven days left to bid, Ed Rendell. Thank you for joining us.

RENDELL: My pleasure, guys.

PRESS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

RENDELL: My pleasure. It's a great show. Great show.

CARLSON: Thank you.

PRESS: Thank you.

CARLSON: And we will be back. And we are avidly, eagerly awaiting your spins of the day.

PRESS: The best part of the show. Spin of the day.

CARLSON: It is the best, the part where you get so upset you whip your bottle (ph) at the TV. E-mail us about it.

We'll be back in just a moment.


PRESS: ... hearing the case about Martin County absentee ballots. That's the director of the Florida Republican Party there on the stand.

CARLSON: In the same position he was.



The Gore lawyers, the other side's lawyers continue to present a lot of spin. The say-anything, do-anything, spin-anything approach runs headlong into the law. That's what we're hoping for here.


PRESS: Welcome -- there you go. Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM.

That was a Bush spokesman, Tucker Eskew, talking to Greta Van Susteren earlier this evening.

You see. Spin, spin, spin. It's become, in fact, part of the American lexicon, after the last two months of THE SPIN ROOM, Tucker.

This is our time for spin of the day, folks. Bill Press here with Tucker Carlson.

CARLSON: That is megalomania.

PRESS: We take credit for all of it.

CARLSON: Of course, we do. The language itself.

And we, in fact, have a caller. Mike from Illinois.

Are you there?

MIKE: Yeah.

CARLSON: What do you think, Mike?

MIKE: First of all, THE SPIN ROOM must go to one hour. It's the only sensible show among all the political spin.

CARLSON: That's the spirit.

PRESS: All right, Mike. Will you take a vote?

MIKE: Here's the spin of the day as well as a suggestion for Mr. Chairman that you just had earlier. Gore and Lieberman should count the Miami-Dade votes personally to assure the count is accurate.

PRESS: Well, I think...

CARLSON: That would be...

PRESS: I think they'd be...

CARLSON: ... a perfect sentence.

PRESS: I think they'd be glad to count them personally, to tell you the truth.

CARLSON: They've got nothing else to do.

PRESS: Now, Tucker, I have to show you something here as we get into our spins of the day. Remember the protesters down in Miami-Dade that went in and slammed and banged...

CARLSON: Yeah, they were a scary crew.

PRESS: ... the door and everything? Well, I have -- we have -- but these are the people from Miami. They were upset, they had to go in and stop this, right? I want to show everybody...

CARLSON: It sent chills down my spine.

PRESS: ... on our screen -- here is a photo, and -- you can see this is the photo of the people banging on the door, and they're numbered. There are 10 of them, and if you look at them, every one of them is from one of the Capitol Hill offices starting with...

CARLSON: You know...

PRESS: ... number one who's from Tom DeLay's office, the guy in back, the House Judiciary Committee. I could -- I'm not going to take the time to...

CARLSON: Bill, this is proving my point.

PRESS: ... read all -- let me just -- let me -- every one of them was flown down there from Washington to stop the legitimate election process. Shame on them.

CARLSON: But, Bill, the -- these people are about as menacing as Hill staffers because they are Hill staffers.

PRESS: They're not Floridians! That's the point.

CARLSON: Well, they're not scary either.


CARLSON: My -- here's -- we have a spin of the day here. "The most interesting spin will be the one my grandchildren will read in their history books." Let's hope it's not spin.

PRESS: That is, in fact, true. They will be reading about all of this in our history books.

OK. My nomination for spin of the day goes to the Senate President -- Florida State Senate President John McKay who -- who wanted to say today that "You know what? We're not going to let Al Gore win this. We're going to insist that it's George Bush. We're going to send our own set of electors up to Washington to make sure that Jeb's brother wins." And this is the spin that John McKay put on it.


JOHN MCKAY (R), FLORIDA SENATE PRESIDENT: The action taken today is done so with considerable reluctance on my part due to the potential far-reaching effects of any actions. What we will do may impact the course of our country, and that is why I've approached the legislature's role in this matter with ca -- in a cautious and thoughtful manner.


PRESS: Why doesn't he say the truth? This is a pure, partisan, political, power play. Get off the spin.


CARLSON: That looked like a man with a heavy heart, Bill.

PRESS: That was a heavy hand.

CARLSON: I want...

PRESS: Heavy hand.

CARLSON: I want -- I want to put a man with a heavy hand on the screen right now. This is a quote...

PRESS: Your spin of the day?

CARLSON: This is, indeed, my spin of the day. It comes from Jesse Jackson, a man from whom we could always expect a spin of the day. It's almost like having it on tap. Here it is.


REV. JESSE JACKSON, FOUNDER, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: This is not about the Gore campaign. It's not about the Bush campaign. It's about civil rights. And the Department of Justice has not done its job. Its job after the '65 Voting Rights Act is to monitor elections and to defend those who are vulnerable and to enforce the law. They've spent a lot of resources and time defending Elian, which was the right thing to do, but not defending the right to vote and have it counted in -- in Florida.


CARLSON: Now, Bill, I had some free time today, so I wrote...

PRESS: I think that...

CARLSON: I wrote a list of all the things that were wrong with that statement, but I'm just going to name two of them because we're running out of time.

PRESS: You pick on Jesse Jackson.

CARLSON: I do! I do! PRESS: You...

CARLSON: Not as much as Jesse Jackson picks on the American people by appearing on television.

"This is not about the Gore campaign." I'm not even going to address it. Everything he does is about the Gore campaign.

But my favorite was "defending Elian." I watched it on TV, Bill. Elian -- that child was dragged out by -- at gunpoint. That's -- that's defending Elian?

PRESS: No. That child was rescued. He was rescued by the...

CARLSON: Oh, at the end of the...

PRESS: ... honorable Janet Reno. And guess what? Today is his seventh birthday.

Happy birthday, Elian.

CARLSON: I hope she never rescues me.

PRESS: And good night, everybody. Thanks for joining THE SPIN ROOM.

CARLSON: And good night. We'll be back tomorrow night and every night probably forever.

PRESS: At what time?

CARLSON: At 11:00 p.m. We'll see you then.

PRESS: Eleven o'clock. We'll see you, everybody. See you later.



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