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Special Event

Florida Supreme Court Breathes New Life into Gore Candidacy

Aired December 8, 2000 - 4:51 p.m. ET

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: New life breathed into the candidacy of Al Gore with the ruling just 51 minutes ago by the Florida state Supreme Court, saying that there should be a recount of certain ballots in Palm Beach and particularly Miami-Dade counties. It is a stunning development, and I think one place that we have not heard from that we want to hear the reaction is that of the Florida state legislature, Republican dominated both House and Senate

CNN's Mike Boettcher is there.

Mike, any sense yet of their reaction to all this?

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, stunned silence on the Republican side of the aisle and cheers from the Democratic side. Most left today after they opened that special session.

But with me now is Senator Daniel Webster, Republican from Orlando, who, on November 8th had a feeling it would go this far and began talking to the leadership about a special session. What does this do now?

STATE SEN. DANIEL WEBSTER (R), FLORIDA: Well, I think it doesn't produce finality yet. We have said all along December 12th is the date. And if they can get all these recounts done, all the hearings, all the court cases, all the litigations, so forth, done in time, then there's finality. If not, the legislature's going to have to act.

BOETTCHER: Your reaction to the ruling of the Supreme Court?

WEBSTER: Well, I thought it was going to be close. I heard the arguments yesterday, it looked like it was going to be close, and as far as I'm concerned I think it was a picture of the election: 3-3 and a tie breaker.

BOETTCHER: What happens when you go into the special session next week, reconvene, we hit Wednesday, there's been a recount, Gore is in the lead, you vote to certify. Do you vote to certify Bush electors or Gore electors?

WEBSTER: The only reason to me is if there is no finality. If there is finality by that December 12th date, we don't have to meet, no matter who is ahead. If Gore wins, then he wins. If Bush win, he wins, and there is no need to meet. The only reason we would meet is if there is no finality in all of the election cycles. Then our electors are in jeopardy. Our main goal is to protect those 25 electors.

BOETTCHER: But hasn't the position been of the Republican legislators that that December -- November 14th certification that had Governor Bush in the lead is the proper one, because that is the one before the rules were changed earlier by the Supreme Court as the Republicans alleged?

WEBSTER: Well, I think that's part of the issue here, and of course of course we have no disagreement with the court doing something with the lower court decision, the Supreme Court. But what we do have a problem with is when they overstep their bounds. And that was the other case that's now back, remanded to them, and that is the one we're watching. When it goes back to the U.S. Supreme Court, they're going to have to answer that question: Did the law change? That's the one thing that the court asked them to answer, and I guess they're going to answer. And then they'll send it back up, and certainly we'll have an interest there.

BOETTCHER: Senator Webster, thank you. I'm sure you're going to be busy for the next few days.

So they will reconvene on Monday. The ball comes into this court, and it should be quite a debate.

Mike Boettcher, CNN, live at the state capitol in Tallahassee.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Mike.

We continue to scramble for reaction to this very important story -- John King.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, a day of amazing mood swings there in Tallahassee where Mike Boettcher is, here in Washington as well.

On Capitol Hill, some Democrats after those first two decisions were rendered thought this might be the night they needed to nudge the vice president. The mood on Capitol Hill among Democrats was down. They fully expected to lose at the Florida Supreme Court level as well. Some thinking that if the vice president didn't quickly get out, they might have to call him and urge him to do so. Instead a complete reversal now.

A statement from the Democratic leaders from the House and Senate, Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle, applauding the Supreme Court decision they say now calls for a, quote, "full, fair and accurate vote count." They're also trying to defuse all this talk of a crisis with the deadlines approaching in their statement, saying they believe there's, quote, "more than enough time to count thousands of ballots cast but never counted."

We're told quite a festive mood at the vice president's residence as well. He was watching all this play out with his family, his top political advisers now coming around him. They've decided tonight to have the spokesman be Bill Daley, the campaign chairman, not the vice president himself. We're told in his statement he will also make the case that he believes there's plenty of time here and that any moves by the Florida legislature or any moves by the Republicans in Congress to try to take steps before that count is completed, in their mind, would be irresponsible.

So the vice president's team, on a day when many thought things would go against them, given new life. And the mood among Democrats heading up -- Bernie.

SHAW: So, John, instead of getting ready to nudge Al Gore they're hugging him.

KING: They're hugging him, and they're just checking in with people around the party to make sure that everybody understands now this could go on for another week or so and to keep the Democratic support lined up. They're not worried about that now. As long as they're counting votes, they believe the Democrats will stay with the vice president.

SHAW: OK, thank you, John King. Please don't leave. We'll have you back very, very shortly on "INSIDE POLITICS."

WOODRUFF: And, boy, what a lot of questions that ruling by the Florida Supreme Court has raised.

SHAW: Absolutely, and we're going to hear from Washington bureau chief Frank Sesno. We're going to stand down for just a moment.

We'll come back. "INSIDE POLITICS" next, and we're awaiting a statement by Gore campaign spokesman William Daley and many, many other reactions still to be reported.

Back in a moment.

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