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Election 2000: Gore and Lieberman Reviewing Supreme Court Decision Reversing Florida High Court Ruling

Aired December 13, 2000 - 0:25 a.m. ET


BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are now reviewing the 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court. In a statement issued tonight by the vice president's campaign, chairman William Daley said, "It will take time to completely analyze this opinion. We will address the court's decision in full detail at a time to be determined tomorrow." That's the first official reaction from the Gore camp tonight.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: And Bernie and our own Candy Crowley in Austin, telling us that the Bush people, on the other hand, are very pleased by what are they reading in a preliminary way in this decision. They acknowledge that it's a complex ruling, it's a long ruling, but what they see, they like.

Now, we also received -- excuse me -- we were able to hear a statement and see a statement from James Baker, who's been chief legal representative for George W. Bush in Florida, and here, is what he had to say, short and sweet, but here it is:


JAMES BAKER, FMR. SEC. OF STATE: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

I have just spoken to Governor Bush and Secretary Cheney. They are of course very pleased and gratified that seven justices of the United States Supreme Court agreed that there were constitutional problems with the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court. They wanted me to once again express their appreciation to the fine legal team and the hundreds of volunteers who have worked here in Florida on their behalf for the last 35 days. This has been a long and an arduous process for everyone involved, on both sides.

Thank you, and good evening.


WOODRUFF: So, Bernie, James baker not declaring victory, but clearly pleased.

SHAW: And it's clear that the Bush camp is giving Vice President Gore lots of space, not wanting to appear to be piling on. WOODRUFF: At one point, Candy described it as they're backing off the stage, giving him plenty of room in order to make his decision and make his next move.

SHAW: John King HAS just come back into the studio, and that means he has more information -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Bernie. We are getting a greater sense now of the political challenges and the pessimism in the Gore camp. In the past few minutes, I have spoken to two very senior advisers to vice president, both saying the discussions continue at this hour with the vice president and Senator Lieberman, that there will be no definitive word tonight on the plans here, but both of these very close advisers to vice president giving quite pessimistic outlooks for the future. One saying, look, let's be realistic here. What road could be possibly take. We would have to first convince the Florida Supreme Court to order another recount. Then Secretary of State Katherine Harris, no friend of ours, this official says, would have to agree to the mechanism for such a recount. Then, the official said, what would stop either secretary of state's office or the Bush campaign from again appealing to the Supreme Court, and this official and second official sharply critical, saying it is now perfectly clear to us that there are five justices, at least on this court, who simply want this to end and want this to end now.

So a very pessimistic outlook, these officials stressing no decision has been made by the vice president or by Senator Lieberman, but we are told, you heard from Frank and Jonathan Karl earlier, Frank Sesno, and Jonathan Karl and myself, some reporting, some urging the vice president to stay in there. We are told, though, some of his most senior and most trusted political advisers telling him, they see no way for him to succeed here, they will of course leave the final decision to vice president, but we are told that among those who believe not only is there very limited legal recourse, but also, to expect an avalanche of criticism from Democrats if he were to decide to fight on as the campaign chairman himself, Bill Daley.

WOODRUFF: John, just to be clear, are we hearing you correctly, to say that it is primarily the vice president's people in Florida who are urging him to think about pressing ahead?

KING: Not fair to say just in Florida. We know many of those on the ground who have been most intensely involved in this recount, we should make that note, because they are passionately involved in this fight, and they believe and they swear that if all these votes are counted, the vice president would win in the state of Florida. Some of them urging him to fight on. Some others here in Washington, some especially in the African-American community, making the case that the vice president should fight to the very end, to see if he can get every vote counted.

The question here is, what about the vice president's own political viability? What about history's judgment of how long he takes this case on. What about, if he so chooses, to perhaps seek the Democratic nomination four years from now and seek the presidency four years from now if he ultimately loses here.

One of the calculations, we're told, is that they do not believe that they could get a recount conducted in time. They believe even another favorable decision by the Florida Supreme Court would be appealed once again to the U.S. Supreme Court, and they expect if the vice president stays in this race past noontime tomorrow, there will be an avalanche of criticism from fellow Democrats, and that point, how could he possibly sustain any public support for a continued legal fight if he has very limited support within his own party.

SHAW: John, I was just going to ask you, within the inner camp, concern about what's being said by the party regulars, especially the heavyweights tonight?

KING: Well, there was certainly some concern when a member of the vice president's own legal team, Lawrence Tribe, at one point, said, he should get out, then sharp criticism of Ed Rendell and the Democratic National Committee when he said that. For the most part, most Democrats publicly waiting for the vice president to speak first, but again, they anticipate, if he does not speak quickly tomorrow morning, many Democrats will rush out in public to say it's time to fold.

WOODRUFF: Thank you, John King.

All right, we are going to turn it over in just a moment to "THE SPIN ROOM" and our crowd there, of Bill Press and Tucker Carlson. But before we do, I want to tell all of you who are watching CNN, we'll follow this story, we'll stay on top of it throughout this night and into tomorrow. A lot has happened tonight, but of course much more to be developed. But we'll alert you, that joining us at the hour, that's 1:00 Eastern Time, the chairman of the Republican Party, Jim Nicholson. That's it for us from here. Thanks to our colleagues, and "THE SPIN ROOM" coming up next.



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