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Election 2000: Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist Discusses His Reelection; Party Affiliation of Florida Absentee Ballots UncertainAired November 8, 2000 - 11:52 a.m. ET
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FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: Much talk this day of the results in Washington here, especially in the United States Senate, very, very close.
We're joined now by Senator Bill Frist. He joins us from Tennessee, won an overwhelming reelection last night.
Congratulations to you on that, sir.
SEN. BILL FRIST (R), TENNESSEE: Thank you, Frank.
SESNO: And -- well, thanks very much for spending some time with us. Let me get right to the question at hand, and that is the presidential race, your take on just how much in play Florida still is based on these incredible numbers we're seeing?
FRIST: Well, clearly Florida is the state that everybody's going to focus upon and that will determine the outcome of the election. What is interesting here in Nashville, Tennessee and representing Tennessee is that Al Gore was not able to carry his own state in Tennessee for lots of different reasons. But those 11 votes that we were able to deliver right here I think will speak loud and clear that, ultimately, I predict, that Gov. Bush will be out there. But we're all following Florida.
SESNO: All right, now, you are very much Governor Bush's point man in the United States Senate. If he comes to Washington, if he prevails and is the next president, he will be facing a very, very evenly divided and potentially divisive Senate and Congress. What's your take?
FRIST: Well, you're exactly right. I predict that we will have the House, we will have the Senate and we will have the presidency, yet all of the margins are very narrow. The good thing is that Gov. George Bush is the candidate, the person, unlike Al Gore, who has campaigned on uniting people, on bringing people together. And that's exactly what he did. He has a track record in Texas to do just that.
SESNO: We have about a minute left. Let me jump in here with two particulars, if I may. First, if it is Bush who is President Bush, take a program: $1.3 trillion tax cut. How much of that does he get? FRIST: I think that he will eventually get, if the economy stays strong, the whole thing. I think he will have 50 percent to take care of Social Security, 25 percent for education, prescription drugs, and 25 percent for the tax cut.
SESNO: OK, and if it's President Gore, what does he get? He says campaign finance will be his first item. It is. His agenda is very different. It's campaign finance, it's increased spending, it's more government programs. That's going to leave less tax cuts for those hard working Americans, Tennesseans, Americans who are out there.
SESNO: All right, Sen. Bill Frist, thanks very much. Limited time, but we appreciate your thoughts.
FRIST: Thank you.
SESNO: Thank you.
We want to switch over to Jamie McIntyre, military affairs correspondent -- he's at the Pentagon -- because there is much talk as we look at Florida of these overseas ballots, especially overseas military ballots, the Bush campaign saying that those votes traditionally cut for the Republicans, for them; if there's a close vote, it cuts in their direction.
Jamie, what do you know about all this?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Frank, there's a lot of things we don't know. We don't know exactly how many of those outstanding ballots are from the U.S. military. Interestingly, there are quite a few U.S. military members who list Florida as their state of residence. Florida is an attractive place to be a resident from because it doesn't have a state income tax. Some 176,000 U.S. military personnel list Florida as their home, and 149,000 of them are deployed -- are stationed somewhere outside Florida.
But as for the conventional wisdom of whether the military vote cuts more Republican or Democrat, it's hard to say. The traditional -- the conventional wisdom here is that among the officer corps, among officers, there are more Republicans than Democrats. But many people here at the Pentagon point out that the majority of military members are, in fact, enlisted personnel. Many of those come -- many of those are younger people who come from urban areas or from working-class families and they may tend to skew more Democratic.
So as for speculating about where the military vote might come down, it's hard to say. Also, we don't know whether all the overseas ballots -- well, we know they're not all military. Some may be other Americans overseas and also some may be, for instance, State Department personnel, which may tend to be more Democratic since they may be working for a Democratic administration.
So the answer, just like we've been hearing all along, is that we don't know at this point what effect those outstanding ballots may have.
SESNO: OK, Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon tracking that story, many parts of this. Appreciate it.
We're going to go back now to Atlanta to Bill and Daryn and see what they can take up there. Quite a story, quite a story.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Boy oh boy, Frank, indeed.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for your help, Frank.
It has been a truly fascinating night and a following morning, hasn't?
HEMMER: Not a day that we will soon forget, will it?
KAGAN: Not for a long time.
HEMMER: You know, we said at the beginning of the broadcast three hours ago, in an age where everything seems to move at the speed of light, we have slowed to a crawl, folks. In fact, we're on pause right now. But we appreciate your time. And certainly from Washington and here in Atlanta, we'll be tracking it all for you. Also, Nashville and Austin as well; and certainly Tallahassee, where everything's centered on right now.
KAGAN: Across the country.
HEMMER: Indeed, yes.
For Daryn Kagan, I'm Bill Hemmer, thanks for being with us. We'll see you again tomorrow. Bye-bye.
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