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Presidential Race Too Close to Call: Ret. Florida Sen. Connie Mack Discusses ElectionAired November 8, 2000 - 12:25 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: If America made history with this as yet inconclusive election, Florida was the catalyst. We are joined now by retiring Senator Connie Mack, Republican from Florida. Senator, thanks very much for joining us.
SEN. CONNIE MACK, (R), FLORIDA: Thanks, Frank.
SESNO: First, the take on the presidential in your state, what this recount is going to mean and anything you can tell us about these just uncovered ballot boxes and some of the other things we've been hearing about.
MACK: Well, I can't tell you about the most, apparently most recent ballot box issue. But what has happened so far is that the Secretary of State has certified the count with Governor Bush, 1,780 or 1,785 votes ahead, with some outstanding votes, roughly 2,300, 2,700 votes, we believe, that traditionally trend Republican.
So I think that the number just grows as opposed to shrinks and so I think it is time for people to at least recognize that Governor George W. Bush has won the State of Florida and will win the election.
SESNO: Do you think Al Gore should be conceding at this point?
MACK: Well, I'd like to hear him say that but I think it's probably, that's a decision for him to make in a race that -- as you probably were aware, I went through something very similar to this in 1988 where I was declared having lost the race in early evening with the next day when the absentee ballots were counted, in fact, I won the race by less than a point.
So I've gone through this. The recount, I think, will confirm the vote that has already been tallied. And so again, I believe that George W. Bush will win.
SESNO: Do you think that causes any problems for you to be sitting there and saying the recount will merely confirm what we already know as opposed to saying it's going to be a recount, let's wait and hold our fire?
MACK: Well, I think that, again, from my own experience, and that's what I'm referring to, is that I believe, in fact, it will do as it did in my race in 1988 and so I'm quite confident that he's going to win the race.
SESNO: OK, thanks very much, Senator Connie Mack. We're short on time but I appreciate your input and thanks very much for being gracious enough to spend a few minutes with us.
MACK: Sure. Glad to do it.
SESNO: All right, we want to go right to the phone right now because our Senior White House Correspondent, John King, joins us. He's been talking to some of the members of the just forming legal team looking into this on behalf of Vice President Al Gore. John, what have you got?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Frank, a high powered legal team already en route to Florida now. The voters have spoken. This election might be decided, or at least in the next phase of this election lawyers will be playing a very prominent part.
Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who led the vice presidential search for Mr. Gore, is now on his way to Florida. He has agreed to serve as a "special advisor" to Campaign Chairman William Daley. Traveling with him, Jack Quinn. He's a prominent Washington lawyer, a Democratic activist, served as not only a top aide to the Vice President, but was also the White House counsel during the Clinton administration.
And traveling as well down there, Ron Klain, who was once Janet Reno's chief of staff at the Justice Department. Again, Mr. Klain a prominent Washington attorney who was the Vice President's chief of staff in the Vice President's official office for some time, working in this administration.
They will lead the legal team now going down to Florida not only to oversee the recount, but campaign officials saying they go down there with a number of questions about what they believe to be balloting irregularities, the Gore campaign saying there have been a number of complaints from Democrats who say the ballot in some parts of the state written in a way in which they thought they were voting for the Vice President but instead ended up voting for Pat Buchanan.
Now, they go down there saying the Vice President won the popular vote. They say they're emboldened by that. At the same time they acknowledge even as they send this very high powered legal team down there to oversee the recount and to perhaps mount some legal challenges of their own, there is not a great track record of election results being overturned during recounts.
SESNO: Yeah, if I can just jump in here, John, are they saying anything about these ballot boxes we've been hearing about? Are they saying anything about that to you?
KING: Largely what they're saying, Frank, is they keep hearing reports from various news organizations about this precinct and that county where people are raising questions about were all the ballots counted, have we found a box here, have we found a box there. They say the number one reason they want to get their attorneys on the ground is so that they can work with Democrats in Florida and the election officials to get a more accurate presentation.
As we went through last night and into the early morning hours, in a situation like this often confusing and conflicting reports. So they're very interested in getting a legal team that they trust in on the ground very quickly in Florida.
SESNO: All right, John King calling in with the latest breaking information. Warren Christopher heading the legal team headed to Florida even as we speak.
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