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Jonathan Karl: Gore campaign 'bleak' after Supreme Court decision

Jonathan Karl  

CNN Correspondent Jonathan Karl is in Washington covering the presidential campaign of Vice President Al Gore.

Q: Is this the end of the line for Gore?

Karl: Certainly several top Democrats believe it's the end of the line for the vice president. Several in the vice president's inner circle believe it's the end of line.

But his legal team is looking over this decision, trying to see if there's any daylight at all, if the door's open even a crack. In the words of one his very top lawyers, the situation is "bleak."

(Gore attorney Laurence) Tribe said the gracious thing to do is for Gore to concede; he has since retracted that.

(Democratic National Committee Chairman) Ed Rendell himself has come out and publicly said Gore should concede. That prompted a rapid response from the Democratic Party saying Rendell speaks only for himself.

Q: What is the Gore camp going through right now?

KARL: The Gore camp has been through near death experiences several times during this recount period, but there's a clear sense within the campaign that this is over, this is the last chance they had and that the Supreme Court has slammed the door shut on their chances to get the recount they want in Florida.

But his legal team is studying the opinion, looking for any possibility ... They are not prepared to give in, to give up yet.

Q: How did the Gore camp react to Laurence Tribe's early comments?

KARL: When Laurence Tribe made his comments, it prompted a very quick and negative response from the other top lawyers on the Gore team. They got on the phone with Tribe ... and suddenly Tribe was back out "clarifying" what he had said.

You saw some pretty rapid backtracking from Laurence Tribe, but once a statement like that is made it's pretty hard to take it back.

Q: How did the Gore camp react to Ed Rendell's comments?

KARL: The response to the Ed Rendell comments was left to the DNC and to his co-chairman, Joe Andrew, who came out immediately after Rendell's comments and said Ed Rendell speaks only for Ed Rendell.

Mark Fabiani, a spokesman for the vice president, when asked about Rendell and other Democrats who have come out saying similar things, said "In every party there are people more interested in getting on TV than in being fair and reasonable."

Those are pretty tough words. One person that Fabiani was directing his comments at pretty specifically was Sen. Robert Torricelli, Democrat of New Jersey, who on CNN said that the last votes have been counted in Florida and implied that the vice president would need to call it quits by Wednesday.

Q: What about Jesse Jackson's comments on the court's decision?

KARL: Rev. Jesse Jackson has come out and harshly attacked this decision and the Supreme Court itself. He said this decision will go down in infamy with the Dred Scott decision because both disenfranchised black voters. He's called the court an extreme right wing court and said that Bush will have no moral legitimacy.

The Gore campaign is not commenting on Jackson's statements. The vice president has said for some time now that whatever the Supreme Court decides should be respected and he has directed his own staff not to criticize the court. But Gore's top aides are eagerly pointing reporters to people like Rev. Jackson who are criticizing the legitimacy of this decision and of the court itself.

In short, no official reaction from the Gore campaign but many of them eagerly agree with what Jackson has said.

Q: What do you think will happen next?

KARL: It's really speculation at this point. The expectation among Democratic allies of the vice president and among those of his aides who are willing to speculate is that the vice president will concede tomorrow (Wednesday).

But all along the vice president has kept his own counsel. He has not yet talked to anybody about conceding and truly will, as his lawyers tell me, look over this decision very carefully in an effort to see if there is any chance to pursue this case further with the Florida Supreme Court. They believe that the door may be closed, but then again they are working to see if there's a crack that he can get through. But tomorrow all eyes will be on the vice president, waiting for him to make a statement about his intentions, and you can be sure he will make a statement about his intentions, but you can't say with certainty what those intentions are.


Wednesday, December 13, 2000



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