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Election 2000: Gore Affirms Need to Follow Electoral and Not Popular Vote CountAired November 8, 2000 - 4:36 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We are about to hear from Al Gore on this incredible day. Here is he is at the microphones in Nashville.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yesterday the people of our country joined together to make a great national decision: to choose the next president of the United States. We still do not know the outcome of yesterday's vote, and I realize that this is an extraordinary moment for our democracy.
Joe Lieberman and I want to thank the nearly 50 million Americans who gave us their votes and confidence. And I want to express my deep and profound gratitude to all of those who cast their ballots, however they cast them.
We now need to resolve this election in a way that is fair, forthright and fully consistent with our Constitution and our laws. What is at issue here is the fundamental fairness of the process as a whole. Because of what is at stake, this matter must be resolved expeditiously, but deliberately and without any rush to judgment.
Despite the fact that Joe Lieberman and I won the popular vote, under our Constitution it is the winner of the Electoral College who will be the next president. Our Constitution is the whole foundation of our freedom and it must be followed faithfully, toward the true result ordained by the American people with their votes in our respective states.
We are now, as we have been from the moment of our founding, a nation based on the rule of law. When our founders pledged their sacred honor to bring forth this republic, upon which the hopes of humankind still rest, they affirmed the bedrock principle that Americans have followed every since: The consent of the governed, given freely in an election process whose integrity is beyond question, is the living heart of our democracy.
It is also crucial that the American people have full faith and confidence in the electoral process from which the president derives authority.
Let me make my own resolve clear. No matter what the outcome, America will make the transition to a new administration with dignity, with full respect for the freely expressed will of the people, and with pride in the democracy we are privileged to share. And I want all Americans, indeed the whole world, to be absolutely assured of that.
I don't believe it's appropriate for me to take questions or comment further at this time. But I am going to ask Secretary Daley and former Secretary of State Warren Christopher to follow this statement with comments of their own. Secretary Daley and campaign manager Donna Brazile met with Joe Lieberman and me, and we agreed to ask Warren Christopher to play a key role in the process from here forward.
Thank you very much.
DONNA BRAZILE, GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Good afternoon. Let me start by thanking the thousands of volunteers and staff and supporters across the country on behalf of Al Gore and Tipper Gore and Joe and Hadassah Lieberman for their hard work, for their enthusiasm, and for the excitement that they brought to the political process.
We ran a great campaign, we had great staff and great volunteers and I'm very proud of them today.
Let me turn it over to Chairman Bill Daley.
WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Donna. It is very nice to see so many of you so soon after what I thought maybe would be the last time I would be able -- the chance to see you.
This has been an interesting 12 hours, and as the vice president stated, one of great importance to all of us. It is one that has caused all of us to consider, as we move forward in a dignified and a professional way, how we do that.
Last evening -- or this morning, pardon me, we asked the Secretary Warren Christopher to be the special adviser to me as we move forward in this process. Of course, as the vice president said, we want this to move forward quickly but judiciously. And so we have asked Secretary Christopher to come here.
He and I will be leaving shortly after this gathering to go to Florida. We have a number of people who flew down to Florida yesterday -- early this morning to be part of the process and to try to gather facts and information as to exactly what is the process and how we proceed.
And I'm sure there are a whole host of questions that you all have, and we can get to a few of those. But I'll start with just saying, as you can imagine, in such a short period, there is a whole host of information that none of have right now. And we will not try to get into the guessing game or hypothetical games, as best one can, understanding your need for some clarity through this process.
And at this time, though, let me ask Secretary Warren Christopher to step forward and make some brief remarks.
WARREN CHRISTOPHER, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Thanks, Bill.
I watched the election returns in my home in the Los Angeles area last night. It went on a lot longer than I anticipated it would. Just about the time I was getting ready to go to bed Secretary Daley called and asked if I'd join him down here to serve as his adviser as this process went forward, and I'm glad to do that.
I mention that, though, because for me this is only 12 hours old and I'm beginning to get briefed up on the matter to understand what the facts and issues are.
Our purpose is clear: We want to ensure that the legislative process, a process of counting last night, and the underlying voting process is fair, accurate and that we resolve that in a timely way, given the importance of the issues involved. We'll have that as our target, to try to ensure -- make the American people comfortable in understanding that the process was done in a fair and forthright and honorable way and that we have taken the steps to ensure that.
As I say, I'm just beginning to get briefed up on the matter and will continue to do that through the next 12 hours or so. But we'll be glad to try to answer any questions you have at the present time.
QUESTION: Question for Bill.
Bill, do you believe that Al Gore won this election?
DALEY: There's no question he is ahead in the popular vote and ahead in electoral vote. There is one state left to be decided. We believe, when those votes are counted and that process is complete, totally complete, Al Gore will have won the Electoral College and the popular vote and therefore will be the next president.
QUESTION: Bill, do you (inaudible) that you're undercutting the next -- possibility the next president (inaudible) by challenging this, dragging this out...
DALEY: Wait, wait, wait. No one's challenging or dragging -- trying to drag anything out. There is a process that is moving forward, less than 12 hours old. I think the American people, who voted overwhelmingly and the largest number ever voted for a Democrat, I believe, since Lyndon Johnson, at least, that those people's rights should be protected.
And not only is the vice president ahead in the popular vote, he is ahead in the Electoral College.
DALEY: I think each state has different rules as to the binding of their electoral members. Obviously, I think there is a presumption that those members who are voting, vote based upon the election -- the numbers that come out of that state. But there are different rules for different states. I believe the vast majority of them are legally bound, and I would assume if you're legally bound, you believe you're morally bound.
QUESTION: Secretary Daley, Secretary Christopher, how close is the country now to a, sort of, an unprecedented constitutional crisis because of the situation?
CHRISTOPHER: We're not, I think, on the edge of a constitutional crisis. We're following rules laid down by the laws of Florida. What's taking place here is very much in the context of what is anticipated under Florida law. We intend to follow that.
And so, as I say, this issue is only 12 hours old. I will have to agree, I think all of you would second this, this is really an extraordinary event. Last night was an extraordinary night. None of us have every seen anything quite like it.
But I don't have any reason to think we're on the edge of a constitutional crisis. And we don't intend to try to provoke a constitutional crisis. We want to ensure, as I said before, that the election in Florida, as well as the election in the whole country, was accurately and fairly counted, and to do that in a timely manner, taking into account the ultimate importance of the matter.
DALEY: I think it would be inappropriate at this time. Again, this is all -- people are trying to gather facts, information and then make judgments. So I think to get into some time constraints or timeline would be inappropriate at this time. There just can't -- no one has that amount of information yet to make that judgment.
QUESTION: Could you tell us about the two phone calls between vice president and Governor Bush last night?
DALEY: I think they were pretty straightforward. And I think Chris has talked about them already, and I'd leave it at however he's designated them.
DALEY: I believe that when you look -- when you finish this vote -- looking at the vote that has -- that was expressed by the people of Florida for Al Gore and the different areas of contention right now, geographically within the state, they seem to be areas that have been predominantly for Democrats and especially Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.
DALEY: But that process has to move forward, the process has to be completed, and then a judgment will be made.
QUESTION: Well, Secretary Daley (OFF-MIKE) if the recount may conclude with Governor Bush still holding a narrow lead, could this be over tomorrow (OFF-MIKE). DALEY: I can't say with certainty when this will be over. Governor Bush of Florida just said in a live press conference that this is the first step in the process. And he -- I'm not quite sure, quite frankly, what he meant by that. He knows the process of Florida better than I. But this is the beginning of the process, not the end of the process.
DALEY: Again, there's a fact gathering going on right now in Florida. Secretary Christopher will be there. I think there are -- you all are reporting at different times different allegations or irregularities that have been reported by different people. And I would assume there will already be people in Florida who may determine to do that.
QUESTION: How serious do those allegations have to be? What's your threshold if this recount confirms...
DALEY: Again, this is all -- I don't think anyone's done the research yet on some of these and the fact gathering. Some may turn out to be bogus, some may turn out to be very serious. But that's the process that's moving forward not only within the confines of the people of the government of Florida and those who are responsible for the election process, but also through the media and through other organizations and individuals who may feel that their rights have been violated.
QUESTION: Mr. Daley, do you expect this to be all resolved by January 20?
DALEY: I would assume that this would be resolved well before that. But, again, I'm not going to -- it's not for me to decide.
DALEY: I don't know. He likes the podium.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) in any way symbolic?
DALEY: I think he stood behind this podium probably numerous times. I don't know.
QUESTION: Mr. Daley, (inaudible) the process open (inaudible) voter irregularities?
DALEY: Again, I think that's a question that no one can answer right now because it's not been determined exactly how you would define actually completed a resolution of -- again, individuals can take actions in Florida if their rights are violated, and that may be occurring.
DALEY: We're in the process of speaking with lawyers. Secretary Christopher is one of the top lawyers in America. We have lawyers that have gone to Florida and there are lawyers in Florida who are experts in election laws and so forth that we'll be discussing these matters with.
And I thank you very much.
ALLEN: Bill Daley talking with reporters about where we stand in this election process. We, of course, heard from Al Gore as well. Bill Daley will now head to Tallahassee, Florida, with former Secretary of State Warren Christopher. That's the Gore side of the team that will look over the process that's taking place in Florida, where all eyes will be watching this recount in Florida. The Bush team, from Texas, is sending former Secretary of State Howard Baker to do the same for them.
We heard earlier from George W. Bush from Austin, saying he still believes he will prevail in this recount in Florida. We heard just now from Al Gore, saying this an extraordinary moment for our democracy, the Constitution must be followed. He said, we need to resolve this fairly and expeditiously.
CNN's John King is with the Gore people there in Nashville.
John, it was another incredible moment in this saga, Al Gore, very matter of fact and straightforward as he spoke today.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Natalie.
This is a remarkable day after an incredible night. That was the first reaction we've had directly from the vice president to all of this. Governor Bush and Dick Cheney came out and spoke earlier. The vice president speaking there, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman at his side, but saying nothing. Note the vice president did not only say he was looking forward to an accounting of the vote -- the recounting of the vote -- he also raised questions about another thing the Gore campaign is raising its hand about, what it considers to be some voting irregularities in the state of Florida, specifically some questions about ballots some voters received.
Many Democrats, at least according to the Gore campaign, as many as 2,500 complaining that they thought they were voting for the vice president, but instead found themselves voting for Pat Buchanan. Whether they can do anything about that, though, is a big question.
Jeb Bush, who was live on CNN a bit earlier, the governor of Florida saying that this ballot was published well in advance of the election; if anybody had any questions about it, they should have raised them then. The big issue now, what happens with the recount, the lawyers on their way to Florida. The process scheduled to be completed by this time about an hour from now tomorrow. The question then, once Florida announces the results, will be whether either side decides then to challenge them -- Natalie.
ALLEN: And is the -- are the Gore people saying anything, too, about these absentee ballots that didn't have to be postmarked until yesterday that are still out there?
KING: Well, they certainly concede the point made by the Bush campaign, that the overwhelmingly majority of these ballots -- one Gore campaign strategist in the early morning hours this morning told me he thought probably about two-thirds of them at least would be for the Republican candidate. Those are military, mostly military overseas personnel. And the Bush campaign has had a strategy of reaching out to those voters, actively seeking them to vote by absentee ballot.
So the Gore campaign believes most of those would indeed be Republican votes, so obviously if this recount changes the margin -- the margin about 1,700 votes in favor of Governor Bush now -- if the recount changed that margin in favor of the vice president, the size of that margin could be significant because of those recount votes. But as everyone is saying today, let's deal with the recount first, then we'll worry about those absentee ballots, if necessary.
ALLEN: Both campaigns were all ready for some sort of whatever celebration last night. What is expected to happen there in Nashville? Is this where Gore will stay? And what about all the supporters that had gathered last night?
KING: Well, Gore will indeed stay, and I don't know how much you can see over my shoulder, you might hear a little background noise, they are breaking down the site here at the war memorial in downtown Nashville. This where there was supposed to be a big victory celebration last night, or had the vice president conceded outright, his concession statement would have came from here, and we came just moments from getting a concession statement. The vice president just a few blocks away when he decided, based on new information from Florida to retract the concession he had made to Governor Bush.
So there will be no big outdoor rally here, the vice president, though, we're told will stay in Nashville, in Tennessee at least a few more days, at least until this time tomorrow night when we should have a much better idea what the state of Florida will be saying as it tries to certify its now very controversial presidential election -- Natalie.
ALLEN: And that recount is under way as we speak. John King in Nashville -- thanks, John.
Now for more, over to my partner Lou.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: And CNN's Jeanne Meserve is with the Bush campaign.
Jeanne, how are they holding up there in Austin, Texas?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard Bill Daley a few moments ago projecting that, when all is said and done, Al Gore will win this election. You are getting the exact contrary read on the situation from the Bush campaign.
The governor was sequestered for most of the morning with his senior staff, but he emerged a couple hours ago with his running mate Dick Cheney to make some remarks. What he said was, we're waiting for the recount, but when it's all over, we think we will win; we think this whole matter will be wrapped up by 5:00 tomorrow afternoon. He didn't even discuss the possibility of this going on any further. He certainly is convinced he's got this one, or at least that is what he's saying publicly -- Lou.
WATERS: Are we expecting to hear from George Bush anymore today or tomorrow, or are they pretty much intending to wait for this recount total?
MESERVE: Lou, we never know exactly what they're going to do, but my guess is that this is the last we will hear from him. This is a very public statement. He brought the press pool over. He came over and made remarks, his communications director expanded upon those. They let the pool in to take some pictures of a luncheon and then he shooed the press core out.
My guess is we will not see or hear from him again until there is something more to talk about. That would appear to be 5:00 tomorrow afternoon, but I'm guessing.
WATERS: Do you know if there's any communication between Austin and the Florida Statehouse? We just heard from Jeb Bush, in which he bent over backwards to ensure the public of a fair and accurate recount here. In fact, recusing himself from the commission that, finally, will certify that recount.
MESERVE: Well, we certainly know that Jeb Bush was here last night with his brother. Certainly, they were discussing and looking at the results that were coming in from Florida. He did leave this morning; I have no idea, Lou, whether there has been any communication since then between the brothers Bush.
WATERS: All right, Jeanne Meserve in Austin, Texas; keeping watch down there.
ALLEN: And we will continue to follow this incredibly, amazing story. There aren't enough adjectives.
WATERS: No sleep again tonight.
ALLEN: That's right. Thanks for staying here with us, "INSIDE POLITICS" is next. I'm Natalie Allen.
WATERS: I'm Lou Waters. Stay tuned; take care.
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