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Special Event

Gore Still Alive Pending Florida Supreme Court Decision

Aired December 8, 2000 - 3:18 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: So we've heard from all the lawyers in the Seminole and Martin County cases. Again, the lawyers, Darryl Bristow for George W. Bush, as far as the Democrats arguments that these ballots should have been tossed out. To quote Mr. Bristow, this was a "hypertechnical computer glitch which has nothing to do with the will of the voters." And he called the argument brought by the Democrats bogus.

And Bill Schneider joins us now, our political analyst.

Hi there, Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, I am not a lawyer. How about that.

ALLEN: Yes, I almost made Jeff Greenfield one. He quickly corrected me earlier. We'll talk about the political side of this, but these lawyers did point out that they had invited the Gore team to be a party in this lawsuit, the Gore team had wanted nothing to do with it. Perhaps you can put some thoughts on that.

SCHNEIDER: Well, Al Gore did not want to be part of a case in which they were asking the court to throw ballots out that were cast by legitimate voters. The voters had nothing to do with perpetrating irregularities or frauds, this was done by the election officials and by the party people who came in to fill in the ballot numbers that were missing from the absentee ballot applications,

So the idea was, how do you punish the voters for this? And the courts decided, you really can't, even if something was irregular.

ALLEN: So, Al Gore has one more big legal fight on his hands, and that is before the state Supreme Court, Bill. If he loses here, does Al Gore think of conceding at this point?

SCHNEIDER: I'm sure the thought will occur to him. It'll occur to a lot of Democrats, is it finally time to give up. Gore himself has said that he's going to let every case be decided in the end by the Florida Supreme Court. He's not going to go beyond that court.

If he loses in the Florida Supreme Court, in the current decision announced today or tomorrow about Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County, then the question is will he wait to find out what the Florida Supreme Court says about these appeals in Seminole and Martin Counties? Is he going to wait for that to be decided? My guess is there'll be a lot of pressure on him not to because then he'd be waiting for unlikely opinions in his favor to throw out ballots. What a terrible way of getting to be president by throwing out ballots cast by legitimate voters. So there would tremendous pressure on him to at least consider conceding.

ALLEN: Well, as you say, he doesn't plan to appeal if he loses in this next ruling we expect from the state Supreme Court. Why not? Was there politics involved, PR pressure involved in that decision?

SCHNEIDER: Probably the calendar. I mean, you've got a December 12th deadline when the electors are supposed to be named, December 18th they're supposed to vote. I think it's very unlikely that the Supreme Court would turn anything around. And there just isn't the time to do it. All he needs -- and let's get this straight -- all he needs is for the Florida Supreme Court to say three little words, count the votes.

They start counting the votes, everything changes. Imagine if one of these two decisions in Seminole or Martin County had thrown the ballots out, then right now Al Gore would be leading in Florida, and the whole political calculation would change. Well, that will happen if the Supreme Court today says count the votes, look at the evidence. If that happens then the whole process, the whole dynamic everything gets turned upside down.

ALLEN: And I know you're not a legal analyst here, but to the best of our memory if they say count the votes, there's nothing the other side can do to stop that momentarily, is there?

SCHNEIDER: Well, no. The other side, I think, can seek an injunction from the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent them from doing that because, look, the Bush people know quite clearly that once you unlock the door where the ballots are being stored and you have the magistrate sitting down and staring at those chads, then it's going to be very, very difficult politically to stop them from finishing counting the votes. So they're going to seek, the Bush team would seek an injunction immediately, an emergency injunction. Stop. Don't even get started counting those votes. They don't want that to even begin.

ALLEN: Again, if Al Gore doesn't win in the state Supreme Court today, would you advise George W. Bush to again sit by the phone?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it might be a good idea but he says he's not pressuring Al Gore to do anything. He doesn't want to appear to be putting pressure on Gore. That just makes Democrats angry. They want to fight back when that happens. He's letting Al Gore makes his own decision. But I think there'll be plenty of phone calls coming into the Gore campaign from his fellow Democrats, particularly Democrats from states and districts that George Bush carried. I mean, right now, the fat lady has not sung. We heard a couple tunes from her ugly twin step children in Seminole and Martin counties, but the fat lady has yet to sing and until that happens nothing definitive will be decided. ALLEN: All right, Bill Schneider. We thank you, Bill. Talk to you again. Now here's Stephen with more.

FRAZIER: What those ugly twin step-children, as Bill calls them, just to recap now, did was refuse to throw out about 25,000 disputed absentee ballots in the presidential election in Martin and Seminole counties in Florida. This we see as a blow to Democratic candidate Vice President Al Gore and those decisions were immediately appealed. And all of this we've been saying now for about 30 days has been the most dramatic civics lesson any American can hope to follow, young or old.

And for an example of that let's turn now to Gary Tuchman who's been spending some time with a young person from a kid's TV program.

Gary, is that right?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Stephen. In our effort to give you lots of viewpoints and observations about such an important story, we noted with interest that there was a very young journalist covering the story. A very young journalist that's standing next to me right now. She's a little smaller than me, so let me crouch down. This is Laura Hempel. And Laura's a fifth grader, 10 years old. She has TV station at her school, and you're hear covering this story. What do you think about this story and what's happening in your city?

LAURA HEMPEL, STUDENT REPORTER: It's very different from what happens every day.

TUCHMAN: Is it exciting, do you think?

HEMPEL: Yes.

TUCHMAN: I, mean, what do you think about all the people who've come to Tallahassee, and I mean, this is a nice city, but it's not usually so busy, right?

HEMPEL: Right. There's a lot more traffic and it's just a lot more busy than normal.

TUCHMAN: All right, and you're 10 years old and you were telling me you were born in Romania...

HEMPEL: Yes, I was.

TUCHMAN: ... and your mom and dad adopted you and brought you to the United States.

HEMPEL: Yes.

TUCHMAN: The United States is a special country, and it's never had anything like this happen before, such a wild election. What are you going to say on your TV station at school when you go back to school on Monday?

HEMPEL: I have no idea.

TUCHMAN: You have no idea. You know, that's what happens to me sometimes. I go on the air and I have no idea I'm going to say, but you have to say something, Laura. So, what do you think? What's the first thing when your teacher ask you what is going on in Tallahassee, what would you tell all the viewers at your grade school?

HEMPEL: I'm going to say I interviewed the guy from CNN.

TUCHMAN: That me, OK. Well, that was fun for me to talk to you, also. But what would you say about the presidential race? What is the first thing would you say about what is going on here?

HEMPEL: I would say, let the votes count.

TUCHMAN: Let the votes count. OK, one thing I've got to tell you, Laura, and this is a very important thing when you become a journalist because I know you will, is that our main job give both sides of the story. So, how would you give both sides of the story? What would you say the George W. Bush side of the story is? What does he want to do?

HEMPEL: He wants to -- he says that -- he says that he thinks that the votes shouldn't be counted.

TUCHMAN: And what does Al Gore say?

HEMPEL: He says that they should be counted.

TUCHMAN: And do we though what's going to happen yet?

HEMPEL: No.

TUCHMAN: No, because we have to wait for the Florida Supreme Court ruling, right.

HEMPEL: Right.

TUCHMAN: Laura, it's a pleasure talking with you. I hope you hire me when you get older, wherever you work.

HEMPEL: OK.

TUCHMAN: OK, Laura Hempel, fifth grade journalist, going to go on TV at her school Monday to tell them the whole story of what happened here in Leon County.

Stephen, back to you.

FRAZIER: Gary, while you're still with Laura, you might want to point out to her how we transfer power the United States is a little different from her native country of Romania. You will recall, yourself, that about a decade ago when they had a revolution in her country the long-time Communist dictator and his family were taken out and shot by the people who revolted in the streets. A little different here. (CROSSTALK)

TUCHMAN: Let me ask you -- let me ask you that question. Do you know who Nicolae Ceausescu is?

HEMPEL: No idea.

TUCHMAN: She was the -- he was the leader of your country, Romania, when you lived there. He was taken out and shot. Then they got a new leader did you know that.

HEMPEL: Yes, I heard of that.

(CROSSTALK)

TUCHMAN: You did? Yes, you've heard that. That's when you were a little baby. You can't possibly remember. Well, things are a lot different in this country, aren't they?

HEMPEL: Yes.

TUCHMAN: Laura, thanks for talking with us. Was that fun?

HEMPEL: Yes.

TUCHMAN: OK. She wasn't even nervous at all, Stephen. A real polished performer.

Back to you.

FRAZIER: And so are you. Gary Tuchman, thanks so much for joining us once again. Take a short break here. We'll be back with much more after this.

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