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Special Event

Congressional Black Caucus's Election Objections Reveal Bush's Lack of Minority Supprt

Aired January 6, 2001 - 2:23 p.m. ET

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

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Usually at this time we bring you "YOUR HEALTH." We will bring that back to you at its scheduled time next week.

But if you're just joining us, you are watching live coverage now, where a joint session of Congress is counting the votes of the Electoral College. And while the outcome is pretty certain, hard feelings left over from the post-election struggle in Florida has definitely provided for some dramatic tension and lots of emotions during a press conference held by the Congressional Black Caucus.

Twelve members of the black caucus came before Vice President Al Gore and objected to the counting of the votes, a big statement on behalf of the African-American community.

And we are going to go to Tony Clark now, who's live in Austin, Texas.

We have been wondering what President-elect George W. Bush is thinking about this as he watches it. I'm assuming he's watching it, Tony. Any comment from him?

TONY CLARK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, probably not, Kyra. He's been meeting today with 18 Republican governors from around the country, thanking them for their support. But, you know, I think perhaps it is a sign of the difficult challenge the president-elect will have when he goes to Washington to smooth over what we have heard are very hard feelings on the part of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The president-elect did say when asked about the Congressional Black Caucus's objections that he never expected to get 100 percent support. But he did say that he was honored for the support that he did get.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT-ELECT: This is the date it was scheduled to be certified. This is nothing unusual, but I am honored and I am -- I guess I better go write an inaugural speech. I am honored. This is a humbling experience to become president of this great land. And I want to reiterate what I said before, I'm going to be the president of everybody, whether they supported me or not. And people need to know that. People need to know this will be an administration that will make decisions on what's best for America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLARK: But as I say, the kind of objections we heard, especially in the press conference from the Congressional Black Caucus, indicating that the president-elect, when he does go to Washington, may have a tough road to hoe to try to win their support -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Tony, I took down a couple notes from the press conference of the Congressional Black Caucus, particularly one thing that Representative Bernice Johnson from Texas said. And that is that she marched in the civil rights march for her children, and now she feels she that she'll be doing the same thing, but this time for her grandchildren -- just a small sample of what the representatives had to say with regard to this election.

What type of message does this send to President-elect Bush? What is he going to need to do to satisfy the African-American community and politicians?

CLARK: I think it is clear that it is a message that he will have to reach out to African-Americans. But, you know, we've already seen him do some of that with the nominations of Colin Powell to a position, Condoleezza Rice, Rod Paige, African-Americans, to try to be reaching out to the African-American community.

But also, what I think you may see is the president-elect as president going and reaching specifically to members of the Congressional Black Caucus, trying to win them over.

You know, one of the things that he did even before he was elected governor of the state of Texas was to reach out to Democrats, to go and say he wanted to work with them. And so I think what you may see, especially early on in the session, is Mr. Bush going to members of the Congressional Black Caucus, trying to talk to them, trying to win them over. But what we heard today shows that he will have a difficult task ahead of him.

PHILLIPS: Tony, do you think President-elect Bush will also make it a priority to revamp the whole voting process, make it a -- put it No. 1 on his agenda?

CLARK: Well, it's not going to be No. 1, but I think it is certainly on the agenda. And, you know, we've already seen it in the state of Florida. Just days after the Supreme Court ruling, Governor Jeb Bush coming before the cameras saying that they're going take a new look, they're going to revamp the election process in the state of Florida. And I think you may see that in other states as well, taking a new looking at how votes are actually cast and then also how they are counted. And so I think that's an issue that I think will be at the forefront of the public in the months ahead.

PHILLIPS: Tony Clark, live from Austin, Texas, thank you, sir, for the insight.

And before we go to a quick break, we're going to take you once again back to live pictures as the joint session of Congress continues to count the votes of the Electoral College with Vice President Al Gore presiding.

Right now, they are counting Oregon votes.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: ... for the vice president by distinct ballots. And we further certify that the following are two distinct lists, one for the votes for president, the other for the votes for vice president. Mr. President, the certificate of the electoral vote of the state of Oregon seems to be regular in form and authentic and appears there from that Al Gore of the state of Tennessee received seven votes for president and Joe Lieberman of the state of Connecticut received seven votes for vice president.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Is there objection? Hearing none, the chair hands to the tellers the certificate hence to the gentlemen from Pennsylvania, Mr. Fattah, and the other tellers, the certificate of the...

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