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Presidential Race Too Close to Call: Gore Campaign Waiting for Florida Recount

Aired November 8, 2000 - 1:08 p.m. ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: And now to Washington. Joe Andrew, the head of the DNC, is speaking. Let's listen to what he has to say about all of this.


JOE ANDREW, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: ... presidency of the United States of America. We want that process to be transparent, to be credible, and we want Americans to feel confident about that result. And that's why we will respect the process, stand to assist in the process in any way, and make sure that we will continue to follow that process and assist in any way that we possibly can.

Again, what Democrats want is what all Americans want: for every ballot to be counted and for people to have confidence in the outcome of this election.

Now let me run through some of these races. As the chair of the Democratic Party, we're very proud, obviously, of what happened, particularly in the United States Senate last night.

We have one race, obviously, with Marie Cantwell in the state of Washington that is too close to call right now. We may not know until Friday or Monday because of the absentee ballots there as well.

In Missouri, the Democrats won, and we're very proud that the governor of the state of Missouri will have the ability to appoint someone who will continue to fight for the causes that we believe in: a prescription drug benefit, a real patients' bill of rights, to raise the minimum wage, to improve public education, to put more teachers in the schools and more cops on the streets. That is the kind of senator that we will have in the state of Missouri.

We're very proud of Debbie Stabenow winning in the state of Michigan.

Obviously, we are very and extremely proud of Hillary Rodham Clinton winning in New York, Jon Corzine in the great state of New Jersey, as well. And that Tom Carpenter, a great governor, will now be a great senator, as well.

We are also very pleased that Mark Dayton won in the state of Minnesota. He'll be an excellent member of the United States Senate, as well.

Both Ben Nelson in Nebraska and Bill Nelson in Florida will bring, not just the same last name, but the same commitment to the kind of principles that our party has stood for, for more than a generation, and we're unbelievably pleased that they will be there as well.

We obviously want to pay particular tribute to Senator Robb, who is someone who has been a great member of the United States Senate, who we're all extremely proud of his service and all he's done. Obviously, saddened at his loss, and look forward to making sure we can continue to pick up seats in Virginia and win the governor's office there in 2002, as well.

And we're obviously, particularly pleased that Zell Miller was returned to the United States Senate.

All of those, obviously, were good for us, and clearly puts us in this position, to almost have a 50-50 tie, depending upon what happens in the state of Washington there as well. Again, we have obviously very closely contested elections throughout this country, and there is one that we're going to pay a particular amount of time and attention to, as well.

I want to congratulate Tom Daschle on his leadership of the Democratic Senate, and Senator Torricelli for his leadership of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. They obviously did a phenomenal job.

Here we are in a position where all the pundits and political prognosticators never would have thought we'd have an opportunity to do so well in the United States Senate, and we have. And they are clearly ones that we want to make sure that we -- that we focus on as we go through this process, as well.

Obviously, there are a whole set of races there that are all very, very important, and we will continue to talk about each and every one of those as we go forward in this process, as well.

In the United States Congress, we have at least four recounts that are going on right now, as well. In the second district in Minnesota, David Minge is in a recount there as well. The 12th District in New Jersey, Rush Holt is up in recount going on there, as well.

In the Democratic open seat, the Stabenow seat in Michigan, there's a recount that is going on; that is too close there, as well. And we have one Democratic challenger down in the recount in the Clay Shaw seat right now, in the state of Florida, as well.

Obviously, we're disappointed in having lost Sam Gejdenson in Connecticut, someone who has served us very well, but pleased, obviously, that we have a pick-up in seats.

Again, these recounts will determine how much of a pick-up that we will have there as we go forward, but we're very confident that we're going to continue to be in very good position in the United States Congress, and not only in this year, but also going into the year 2002, as well.

In the 11 governors' races, again we saw some dramatic successes there, as well. A great Democratic pickup in the state of West Virginia, where Congressman Bob Wise ran an excellent campaign, came from behind and has done very well.

We held all the Democratic seats, as well. Ruth Ann Minner, in the state of Delaware -- she's also a DNC member -- so we're very proud to have her now as a governor, as well. Bob Holden, who's come on strong in Missouri in his, and now been declared the winner there, as well, will be a great governor in Missouri to take on the legacy of Mel Carnahan and all the successes that we have had there, as well.

Mike Easley, who won in North Carolina, who also succeeded Governor Hunt, someone who has truly been a legend in our party and has pushed for so much of the agenda that has been successful.

And our four incumbents that ran, all of them creating history in one way or the other. Frank O'Bannon in the state of Indiana, my home state, where for the first time since the Civil War, Democrats will go into their 16th year of Democrats in the governor's office in the state of Indiana -- truly a historic win in Indiana we're all very proud of.

Jeanne Shaheen again in New Hampshire, an historic win, doing exceptionally well up there, and I think really promoting the message that we know is going to work so well for Democrats, not just now, in the future.

Howard Dean, who took on a very hard challenge from Republicans and conservatives across this country, as well, held on, got over the 50 percent margin, and will continue to be one of the most popular governors in the United States of America.

And Gary Locke, someone in the state of Washington, who is not just a great leader now but clearly we all recognize has a tremendous future in our party and someone we are all very, very happy will continue to lead the state of Washington.

We fell short in two open seats. In Montana where Mark O'Keefe came very close, ran a great campaign, even a state that George W. Bush obviously, was very, very strong in. And North Dakota, where Heidi Heitkamp again came in just short in a state that George W. Bush did exceptionally well in, as well.

We're very proud -- and I want to thank, obviously, Governor Patton, the head of the Democratic Governor's Association, who did so much. And I think clearly put us in a very good position there, not only to be able to continue to govern in those states that we won in 2000, but for what the big races are in 2002,where there will be 33, I believe, governors' races, or maybe 32 governors' races on the ballot. And we'll be in excellent position under now the leadership of Governor Patton and our Vice Chair, Governor Gray of California, who will be the chair in 2002, for all of our efforts there, as well. Democratic legislative seats all across this country were won and we're very proud of our effort there as well.

Many people perceived this as a status quo election for legislative races, both House and Senate, across the country. But we picked up seats and won chambers in those crucial areas in the South and the West and places where we're going to have redistricting, and we're very proud, obviously, particularly of the Washington House, the Colorado Senate, as well.

We tied the Arizona Senate and the Oregon Senate. And then we've had some both -- other ties now, in the South Carolina senate and Missouri senate as well.

Maine, as you know, is a tie also in the state senate...

WATERS: Joe Andrew, chairman of the DNC, some self- congratulations over last night's election, and some Democratic wins in Senate, governor, House races. He's into state legislative races now.

We have our own Washington bureau chief, Frank Sesno, working on the balance of power in Congress, which will include some races still being decided for recounts -- for legislative seats in places like Michigan, Minnesota and Florida.

And of course, we have the recount going on for president of the United States in the state of Florida. And in that regard, Joe Andrew said we want every ballot counted and we want what every American wants -- we want to be confident about the result.

Now, if Al Gore winds up conceding this election, it will be the second time he has done so in the last few hours. In the wee small hours of the morning, Gore placed the phone call every candidate dreads, only to call back later and retract.

We want to check in now with both camps, starting with CNN's Jonathan Karl in Nashville, Tennessee. Jonathan, how are folks holding up in Nashville?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here in Nashville, Lou, the eyes are firmly on the state of Florida. To give you an idea of just how seriously the Gore campaign is taking this recount in Florida, the Gore team has appointed a delegation to travel to Florida to oversee the recount process and to look into possible legal challenges.

That delegation is to be led by Warren Christopher -- of course, the former secretary of state, the person that led the search for a running mate for Vice President Gore, and also the person that headed up the transition team back in 1992 for the Clinton-Gore team.

So this is a very serious process down there. They raise the possibility this may go on for some time, because they really do see the recount that is currently going on in Florida as a first step. Once that is done, maybe it's time to look at irregularities, look into what's going to happen there.

They are also putting their best face on the situation on the election, pointing out that it looks like Vice President Gore won the popular vote. In other words, it looks like Vice President Gore simply got more votes nationwide than George W. Bush.

They also point out that Vice President Gore got more votes than Bill Clinton got in either 1992 or 1996. They feel very good about that. They think this election is a long way from being over. They still hope it will be them moving in Pennsylvania Avenue in January, not George W. Bush.

But about the split between the electoral vote and the popular vote, you're going to be hearing a lot more about that. Some Gore people are a little upset about that. They think that it's quite possible that you may see a situation, when all is said and done, that some of these individual electors in individual states may in fact decide to independently cast their vote for the person who won the popular vote, for Al Gore.

But on October 29th, CNN asked Al Gore about this situation, asked if it was appropriate if somebody who won the popular vote but lost the electoral college vote would not be president. We also asked if, in fact, the person who lost the popular vote and won the electoral college vote could effectively govern.

This is what he had to say.


ALBERT GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It actually has happened before in our history. I think it's unlikely to happen. Again, it could. But we won't know until November the 7th. But in all such cases, we are fortunate as a people to have a Constitution that resolves all doubt as to what would happen in that situation.


KARL: As for Vice President Gore himself, he remains at the Lowes Hotel, which is where he was watching the returns last night. As of a few minutes ago, he still had not been in touch this morning with his senior aides still here at the Nashville headquarters, resting up, because it was 50 hours straight that he was up, campaigning and watching the results, before he finally got some rest at about 3:45 in the morning -- Lou.

WATERS: All right. Jonathan Karl, keeping watch in Nashville -- Natalie.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Now to the other side. The Bush camp says it's just a matter of time before the Texas governor makes it official. But even in Austin, the strain is showing.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve is there on a chilly day in Austin -- Jeanne. JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bush -- we've just gotten a comment from Joe Allbaugh. He is the campaign manager. He describes the mood as good. He says Bush is confident he is going to be the next president.

The press pool has been summoned to the governor's mansion to talk to Governor Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney. We will bring you their remarks as soon as they make them.

I can tell you what his staff has been saying today. They track along the lines of what Joe Allbaugh just said. They are very optimistic about this race, one staffer saying to me, "This race has been determined. We are up. By state law, there has to be a recount. That is proper. But we see nothing that is going to change the result, except, I might say, possibly in the direction of Mr. Bush."

Right now he's up by something like 1,800 votes. That's with 100 percent of ballots counted. However, still to be counted are absentee, overseas ballots. They expect to have more than 2,000 of these come in.

In past elections, specifically in 1996, the majority of those went to the Republican candidate. The Bush camp believes that is going to be the case again today, and that they will take this election.

Meanwhile, let me tell you that, here in Austin, the word is they want the city to get back to normal. I am told that all the special tents and platforms that were set up for last night's celebration will be coming down starting today. So when and if they celebrate, it's going to be something on a different order than they had planned last night -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Thank you very much. Jeanne Meserve from Austin, Texas.

Little unusual goings-on on this day. Thanks, Jeanne.

WATERS: For Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, the race wasn't so much for the White House as for five percent of the popular vote. That threshold would have qualified the Green Party for federal funding in the next election.

But Nader fell short. Nationwide, he captured 2.6 million votes, or three percent of all votes cast. Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan didn't even manage one percent, winning just 443,000 votes from coast to coast.

At a news conference this morning in Washington, Nader said his campaign was not a lost cause.


RALPH NADER (G), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have sent a message to both the Democrats and the Republicans that the days of the Democratic leadership council and Republican Party setting the terms of the debate are over. I want to emphasize this. Whatever happens to third parties in terms of winning or not winning elections, this is beginning of the end of the two-party duopoly.


WATERS: And in case you're wondering, Nader won 96,000 votes in Florida, far more than the difference between Gore and Bush, and that will be analyzed to death in the days to come.

ALLEN: It will indeed.

Well, we've all been watching another big race, and today we definitely know who won. The first lady marked the first.

WATERS: When we come back, Hillary Rodham Clinton, from the White House to Capitol Hill.



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