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Special Event

The Florida Vote: Democratic California Senator Addresses Legitimacy of Hand Recounts

Aired December 9, 2000 - 12:28 p.m. ET

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

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go now to Tallahassee, Florida. Among the many celebrity observers appearing for each of the two parties in Tallahassee as the counting gets underway is Senator Barbara Boxer of California.

She's being introduced by Lois Frankel, one of the representatives from the state of Florida, also a Democrat -- in Tallahassee, speaking here today. Let's listen.

LOIS FRANKEL (D), FLORIDA HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I'm just going to tell you that we've come over here today to watch what we've been watching on TV this morning, which looks to be a very orderly process of the counting of the votes.

And I just really want to express my gratefulness that this vote recount has finally gotten started, and to say, look, we don't know what the votes are going to tell us , but that's where the real story is. And as legislators we are very hopeful that we'll get the real story through these votes, and that our Republican colleagues in the legislature will take a deep breath, back off, and allow this process to play out, and then to respect the rule of law.

With that, I want to welcome here, via California and Washington, D.C., one of the most outstanding national leaders we have in this country, a former congresswoman and now an eight-year senator and newest member of the Democratic leadership team in the United States Congress, Senator Barbara Boxer.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you very much, thank you very much, thank you.

I have something I want to say to the Bush people, and that is that, if they were up here speaking, I would not boo them. And I also wanted to mention to them that I come from the state that elected Ronald Reagan, whom they revere, and they also, those same people, elected me, so I hope they would have the decency to allow me to speak.

Let me simply say that all we have wanted, those of us who support Al Gore, is a fair count of the votes, a fair count of the votes. And finally, finally, yesterday, we had a decision that recognizes that there were many votes that have not been counted ever, not even once. The machines simply didn't record a vote for president.

Now the maker of these machines has said, over and over again, that those machines don't always count every vote, and that the very best way to count those votes is to do it manually.

Now many of the people who are in elective office whom Republicans support have availed themselves of a manual hand count. And therefore I think it's important that if we're going to use the manual recount for a sheriff's office, or any other office, we certainly ought to do it for the highest office in the land.

I want to say to these women who are standing behind me, who serve with such dignity in the state legislature, how much I appreciate what they do. I know it is difficult to be in the minority: I have been in the majority in my life; I have been in the minority in my life. And what they are doing is saying, day in and day out, that what is important is not what they want, is not what their colleagues want. What is important is what the voters of Florida want.

And you know, I would just simply say this: We all have a vision in our mind of Judge Sauls sending for those ballots, and we will never forget it -- the Ryder truck, the police escorts, the locks on the boxes, the security. They did everything with those ballots: They guarded them, they secured them, they protected them. They did everything but count them.

And now, because of the courage of the Florida Supreme Court, their reading of the statute, we will see a fair count. To me, it is wonderful. Yes, democracy sometimes is difficult, but if you don't want difficulty, I guess you could go to Cuba, you could go somewhere else, to see it very smooth.

We're going to count these votes. We don't know who the winner will be, but we don't want to swear the wrong man in; we want to swear the right man in. And I obviously want Al Gore to win: I want to win fair and square, but if we have to lose, I want to lose fair and square, and we now have that chance

I'm happy to answer any questions you may have.

Yes?

QUESTION: Will you tell us what your understanding is of the standard by which the votes are going to be counted here and in the other counties of Florida.

BOXER: My understanding is very clear, after reading the Florida Supreme Court. These votes will be counted according to what the legislature has prescribed. I think that the U.S. Supreme Court was very clear in their last unanimous, and in many ways advice to the court here, which was to simply read the statute, and that's what will be done. And that is the intent of the voter, and to me, that is paramount.

CHEN: Senator Barbara Boxer from the state of California, but today appearing in Tallahassee, Florida; one of many celebrity figures within each of the parties who are appearing in Florida as the hand count is underway across that state.

Senator Boxer pressing on despite a very noisy protest that faced her as she tried to speak to reporters, saying that all we have wanted -- "we" being the Democrats -- has been a fair count of the votes; trying to make a case for legitimizing the hand count underway and saying, as she noted with the protesters before her, democracy, sometimes, is difficult.

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