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Presidential Race Too Close to Call

Aired November 8, 2000 - 5:15 a.m. ET


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: We are now looking at the raw vote total across the United States of America with 97 percent of precincts reporting. Look at this: Vice President Gore has 47,730,089 votes; Texas Gov. George Bush with 48 percent of the vote, 47,462,532.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: The vice president's lead has been steadily widening ever since he took the lead. At one point, it was 20 -- it was 60,000, then it was a 100,000, now it is about 270,000,

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Two-hundred and sixty-eight.

GREENFIELD: And, Bill, I just -- I'll say it again, it looks to me more and more evident that the vice president, unless something radically changes, will end up the night or the morning as the popular-vote victor.


GREENFIELD: But we cannot say anything about whether he will be the next president of United States, because that's up to Florida.

SCHNEIDER: That's only up to Florida. And, of course, as we've said many times, it's been over 100 years that we have had an anomaly, which is one candidate wins the electoral vote, another candidate wins the popular vote. And if that's the case, even though the electoral vote is the only thing that counts constitutionally, I think the legitimacy of the election would be very much under challenge.

GREENFIELD: As would the Electoral College itself.

SCHNEIDER: And the Electoral College would be under challenge.

WOODRUFF: Because there are people -- increasingly, you hear voices saying we should either do away with the Electoral College, at least revisit the whole idea of the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which calls for electors to be elected. And when you go to the polls to vote, you're not voting for the candidate, you're voting for electors who are chosen in your state, and those people subsequently go, what is it? December the 18th, they show up at the state capital and cast their votes.

SHAW: And we heard Bill Daley, the Vice President's national campaign manager, indicate that there would not be any concession coming from the Gore side. And shortly thereafter in Austin, Texas, Don Evans, Gov. Bush's campaign chairman, came out and made this very succinct statement.


DON EVANS, BUSH CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Gov. Bush and Secretary Cheney asked me to thank you for all of your terrific support and hard work. We hope and believe we have elected the next president of United States.


The latest count -- the latest vote count in the state of Florida shows Gov. Bush winning that state by more than 1,200 votes.


They're still counting, they're still counting, and I'm confident, when it's all said and done, we will prevail.


Thank you again for all your hard work and all your efforts, and we look forward to a great celebration. God bless.


SHAW: Candy Crowley in Austin, John King just told us from Nashville that the vice president has gone to bed. The Gore campaign has shut down business for now. Everybody's going to get some sleep. What's your situation there in Austin?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the situation here is that the staff is still watching that Florida vote very carefully, just calling me a couple of minutes ago to say, look, here's what -- the count we have in Florida, 1,784 votes up for Bush. They say that there are two counties, one of the named Hendry and one of the named Volusia. I hope I'm pronouncing that right. If you're from Florida, please don't call me.

Hendry is described to me as a small county where Bush led 58 to 40; Volusia a larger county, 49 to 42 for Gore. There are absentee ballots that have not yet been counted there. They're not sure how many.

Beyond that, they also want to point out that in 1996 there were about 2,300 overseas ballots that came in over the course of time, and 54 percent of them went to Bob Dole who nonetheless lost the state, gathering only about 43 percent.

So you can see the detail at which they are looking at these poll results. Much of the staff will be up most of the night watching that. The governor and Mrs. Bush, we must assume, have gone to bed.

Beyond that it occurs to me standing here that about 13 hours ago we started out and it was rainy and cold and we didn't know what was going to happen. And now it's rainy and cold and we still don't know what's going to happen. So they have gone to bed here. They don't know what they're going to do tomorrow. This is a work in progress. Obviously it's never happened in electoral history. It certainly never happened to Gov. Bush. So they're just going to kind of play this by ear and see what happens tomorrow morning.

WOODRUFF: Candy, what are they saying about the popular vote now being in -- now that Al Gore has the larger popular vote?

CROWLEY: I have to tell you it was a very quick phone call and I didn't talk to them about that. Obviously you want to, you know, want to move in with the popular vote. But, you know, at this point, that's the way the elections are worked and I'm sure that the Electoral College in place is what they'd go by.

SHAW: Well, everybody is watching this big question mark here in the United States from coast to coast. Also...

GREENFIELD: Bernie, just -- and before we go I need to make a point, because I want to make sure that those voters did not misunderstand what I was saying when I offered a hunch. There are 5 million popular votes out there that have not yet been counted, and I was surmising that, based on the trend, Al Gore might well wind up the popular vote victor. That is not only not a projection, that is nothing more than a semi-educated guess. And if I left the wrong impression, I want to quickly correct it.

SHAW: From Asia to the Middle East to Europe, people in other capitals around his world are watching and wondering what is going on in the United States.

Let's check in first in London with CNN's Walter Rodgers -- Walter.


Well, the British, of course, have a long tradition of loving good theater, and the U.S. presidential election overnight has given them more than their share of good drama.

The British have long believed they had a proprietary interest in the United States, with some justification because American democracy was spawned by the British parliamentary system.

Having said that, there are few who have not taken sides in this country. Interestingly enough, it's the establishment here, that is to say the news media and the British government, which have the greatest stake, or perceive of themselves as having the greatest stake in the U.S. presidential election. I'm not sure in the pubs this election is all that important, unless, of course, the English have a wager on it, which is one of the national pastime's here anyway.

But, still, the British establishment, the incumbent Labor Party, has an interest in this. They have not interfered publicly in the American election. They got burned like that once before, and so they're staying clear of committing themselves. Still, we can imagine most ministers in the Labor Party, the labor government here, have a tilt clearly towards Al Gore, and the news media as well; that is to say there is a conservative news media here, the Tories. They might take pleasure in a Bush victory, but that hasn't happened yet. And the Labor press, the center left press here, has gone out of its way to tilt toward Mr. Gore.

Take this, yesterday, the "Mirror," which said, "Don't dump W. on us." This is a clear plea on the part of the British newspaper not to elect George W. Bush. Indeed, it said, "For the sake of the world, don't do it," don't -- they pleaded with Americans not to elect Mr. Bush. The editorial -- this front page editorial said, "we would trust George W. Bush to run a fruit farm." One of the other interesting papers here, another center party, had a bittersweet tone to it. It had -- this is the "Guardian," and it said, "We're missing you already, Bill Clinton" -- Bernie.

SHAW: OK, thank you, Walter Rodgers reporting live from London on initial responses to what's happening here in the United States.

WOODRUFF: And from Europe, we want to move over to the Middle East. And just before we go to Tom Mintier, our correspondent in Jerusalem, we would point out that the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on his way to Washington at this hour to meet with President Clinton about the ongoing crisis, unresolved situation there in the Middle East.

Tom Mintier, you're with us from Jerusalem?

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am. You know, when Yasser Arafat got on the plane, he may have thought one person won. By the time he lands in America, it maybe somebody else.

I can tell you that the last two times the Democrats lost the presidential race, which was 1984 with Walter Mondale and 1988 with Michael Dukakis, I was on both of those campaigns. We were in bed before midnight. This time, as America is going to sleep, if anyone could indeed go to sleep, Europeans, and especially those in the Middle East, are waking up and scratching their head and saying, what is going on in the United States.

Now, when you talk in Gaza and the West Bank to the Palestinians, they see little difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush. The Israelis have a different perspective. Many might see George Bush as having interests in the oil business and may also see his running mate as -- you know, the long record of Congress -- selling AWACS to Saudi Arabia. So they lean more towards Al Gore.

Now, what may hang in the balance here is the peace process that is under way with both the Palestinian president and the Israeli prime minister going to Washington and meeting with Bill Clinton. Now, who is the next administration going to be? A lot hangs in the balance as far as the peace process whether there is a continuation of a Democratic president or there is a transition to a Republican president. I think a lot of people look at either side taking power is going to mean a delay... (AUDIO GAP)

... the administration is put in while either transition is going on, and it could be a long time before the Middle East is on the front burner -- Bernie.

SHAW: Tom Mintier, thanks very much.

Let's go quickly now to Moscow and Steve Harrigan.

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, there's been tremendous interest here in Russia in this campaign, Russian television and radio stations offering round-the-clock coverage. So not just in the Kremlin, but really all across Russia people following this campaign eagerly.

A lot of Russians puzzled; puzzled first by the Electoral College, not really understanding how that works. So we're seeing a lot of explanation on Russian TV to explain that system. Also, they're also puzzled with America's technology. With computerized voting, why are these results taking so long?

As far as the Kremlin goes, they've been very cautious throughout this election, Russian President Vladimir Putin saying nothing so far, Russian officials saying either candidate would be acceptable to Russia, but really not making any statements so far.

As far as former Soviet republic goes, well, the leader of Maldova has already sent a congratulatory telegram to George W. Bush. It's not clear yet whether that telegram will hold or whether they'll have to send another one -- Bernie.

SHAW: OK, thank you, Steve Harrigan. I just had one question. You remember during the presidential debates, at one point Gov. Bush indicated in his response to a question that it could've been that Mr. Chernomyrdin had pocketed some International Monetary Fund loans, and the word from Moscow was that Mr. Chernomyrdin was thinking about suing Gov. Bush?

HARRIGAN: Certainly Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russia's former prime minister, was outraged by that remark. He said he is going ahead with a lawsuit. So that lawsuit could be against the next president of the United States. It created a real scandal here, but basically most Russians are still split between the two candidates. Some people see Al Gore here as a known quantity, as a friend of Russia. Others see George Bush as a Republican, and in the past Russians have had great success with Republican administrations, with the Nixon administration, with the Reagan administration. Also, Bush being new and somewhat inexperienced in foreign policy, that could go well with Russia's new inexperienced president, Vladimir Putin, perhaps a chemistry between the two, some people say, perhaps a new start for Russian-American relations -- Bernie.

Steve, thanks for the view from Moscow. Steve Harrigan.

WOODRUFF: And now we want to go to South Korea by telephone. And I want to preface this by saying George W. Bush has talked about pulling some U.S. troops out from different parts of the world. In South Korea and along the border with North Korea, there is something like, I believe, 37,000 U.S. troops stationed there on a rotating basis.

Our correspondent Sohn Jie-Ae is there.

And, Sohn, you've -- Jie-Ae, you've been talking with U.S. servicemen who voted absentee. Tell us what they're saying and what your impressions are from talking to Korean officials as well.

SOHN JIE-AE, CNN SEOUL BUREAU CHIEF: Yesterday we were up their in Pamunjam (ph), the border area where the large percentage of the 37,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea work. The overall feeling we got from talking to these soldiers who voted as overseas absentee voters was that they were more for George Bush than for Al Gore. Their reasons ranged from his favorable position on the military to his personality to his position on arms control. One young soldier said that some days he feels like asking himself what exactly is he doing here, a position that's very akin to what Gov. Bush had said earlier. But then, in the long run, he feels that the U.S. military here is doing a long-term good for South Korea and the nation as a whole.

For South Korea, this issue is very important, the issue of military withdrawal or reduction here on the Korean peninsula, because the new -- the South Korean Kim Dae Jung administration is looking very closely at what a new administration in the United States would have on the ongoing process of reconciliation that is going on between South and North Korea -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Sohn Jie-Ae reporting by telephone.

GREENFIELD: Can I just show you one quick thing?

WOODRUFF: Go right ahead.

GREENFIELD: "New York Times" Wednesday morning op-ed page, point of agreement: "We're glad it's over."

WOODRUFF: But it's not.

GREENFIELD: There's one safe thing you think you can -- might say about this election, but guess what?

WOODRUFF: If you're just waking up and you thought the election was either resolved or it was in the hands of George Bush or Al Gore, the answer is neither. It's in no one's hands right now because neither Al Gore nor George W. Bush have the official 270 electoral votes because of a very, very, very close race in the state of Florida.



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