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U.S. Supreme Court, The Decision: Gore Suspends Recount Effort, Plans to Address Nation

Aired December 13, 2000 - 10:42 a.m. ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Once again, word that Vice President Al Gore has suspended his efforts to have a recount in the state of Florida. Also receiving word here at CNN, that the vice president plans to address the nation between 8:00 and 9:00 Eastern tonight. This news fast breaking and developing. Getting reaction as we go.

For reaction from the Bush camp, let's bring in our Jeanne Meserve from Austin, Texas -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, formally no reaction at all as yet. The only on-the-record comment that's come out of this campaign since the Supreme Court decision came last night from former Secretary of State James Baker down in Florida, who announced Bush and Cheney very pleased and gratified. Of course they privately were saying they thought the Supreme Court ruling was a win, but they've been very circumspect in their public comments, and that will, I think, probably continue through the day today.

I'm only guessing here because we have not gotten any official notification from the Bush campaign about what's on the governor's schedule beyond a couple of hours at his office at the state Capitol. But my guess is you will hear very little from them until you hear more from Gore or his campaign -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Jeanne Meserve in Austin, Texas, thank you very much. We will keep you on standby if we get any more reaction there out of Austin.

Meanwhile, we have our John King working the phones in Washington, D.C. Keeping an eye on you, John, while you're on the phone. Also our CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider joining us from Washington as well.

Bill, good morning to you. Can you hear us? I don't think we can hear you.


KAGAN: There you go. Now we can you hear you. Good morning.


KAGAN: Good to hear you. Hearing that the vice president will address the nation between 8:00 and 9:00 Eastern tonight. As you listen to that speech, Bill, what kind of language will you be listening for?

SCHNEIDER: Well, a couple of things. One is will he in any way question the legitimacy of Bush's election if Bush -- if he decides to withdraw from the race? Will he raise any issues about whether Bush is a legitimate president, or will he accept it and say, he is our president, he is my president, we all have to rally around the president, because this will be a signal to Democrats whether they should be cooperative with the Bush presidency and essentially unite behind it, or whether there's still some lingering issues.

Also, for Gore's own sake, I'll be listening to hear whether he defines a cause bigger than himself that he's fighting for here. He has been fighting, he says, for the principle that every vote must count. The Supreme Court last night said essentially, we agree with that principle, but we don't see any way to do it. The question is, will Gore essentially be able to say, this cause will endure, we will fight on, this wasn't just about me it was about you? And he we will define a bigger issue that he thinks defines this election.

KAGAN: Because, Bill, he does have a tough balancing act to try to pull off tonight. He has to talk to those people who did support him, who did vote for him, and even for those people who still want him to fight on. And yet if he wants to have a political future and go out as the proverbial class act, he has to throw his support behind who will be President-Elect Bush.

SCHNEIDER: Not throw his support necessarily, but essentially say that we must unite...

KAGAN: As an American.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, all Americans must acknowledge we have one president, he's the only legitimate president, and he doesn't want anyone questioning the legitimacy of this president because, for the sake of the country, we have to unite. Yes, I think we'll be waiting to hear those words from Gore. And every nuance, every word that he uses will be parsed very carefully to see if there's any lingering doubt or bitterness or questions that he puts on the table.

KAGAN: All right, Bill, you stand by. Let's bring in John King.

John, what do you have?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, I just asked a senior Gore adviser what the vice president would say tonight, and this adviser said, look, these words haven't been written yet. But he also said the vice president is resolved to move on here, and other senior advisers telling us that the vice president certainly understands, after reading this decision, after reviewing it with both his legal and his political teams, that there's no viable way to proceed.

As Bill was pointing out, I would not look for the word "concede" tonight because it is the view of the vice president and those in his campaign that he has not lost. But I also would look and point to you to statements the vice president has made before this as this legal drama played out, that if in the end he were to come out on the short end, if the court were to rule against him, or if had he preferred the votes be counted, in his view, and he still be on the short end, that he would recognize Gov. Bush as the president-elect and urge his supporters to support a Bush presidency, rally around.

So I think the vice president will go out of his way to try to make the case that the court has spoken and the American people should respect that -- not necessarily agree with it, but respect that. The key thing I think would be watching other key Democrats and other key Gore allies around the town, many of them already coming out and publicly criticizing this Supreme Court, one Democrat putting it this way last night: Here is a court that on Saturday stopped the counting, and then with just an hour and a half left before Dec. 12 expired comes out with a statement that says, well, we see no way you can finish the count by the end of the 12th and that's the deadline. The Democrats view that as a raw partisan move by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Look for that debate to continue as this one chapter comes to a close.

KAGAN: All right, let's bring Frank Sesno back in -- Frank.

FRANK SESNO, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: I want to play right off of that point, Daryn, because we've been talking about how bitter the feelings are within the Gore campaign toward the Supreme Court, and it's unusual animosity that's been directed.

I'm just getting an e-mail from Marc Ginsberg. He's been a senior adviser to Al Gore on foreign policy matters, and he writes as follows: "I was willing to accept a loss on the merits. Indeed, I understood the issues of equal protection and due process. But after being up all night," he writes, "and giving it a lot of consideration, I'm intending to resign today from my appointment to the Bar of the Supreme Court as a lasting testament to my belief" -- this is Marc Ginsberg writing -- that a majority of the justices were more interested in the due process of George Bush over the due process of the voter. I'm ashamed to have any professional relationship with the court that I believe has dealt out injustice rather than justice. This is not a proud moment for either the Democrats or Republicans. The Supreme Court," he writes, "has failed this country in one of its greatest hours of need."

Now, that from Marc Ginsberg, a senior adviser, as we mentioned, to Al Gore. So this is the level of emotion.

In talking to someone in the legal team, Daryn, just a few moments ago, hearing about the meeting that they had where they were told that the operation was being suspended. They'll be withdrawing about 30 lawyers and support staff from Tallahassee; dozens more for around the state. They'll be leaving within 24 hours. I was told there were no tears, but emotion and exhaustion at that meeting just a short time ago.

KAGAN: Frank, I want to go back to Austin, Texas and bring back in Jeanne Meserve. Jeanne, we've heard a lot of talk of what a Bush presidency would do in terms of legislation, what the first move would be. Seemingly with a bitter, divided, partisan country, the first move has to be for George W. Bush to give the impression and the idea that he is the legitimate president of the United States.

MESERVE: Obviously that is one of his first concerns. What the Bush campaign has said, that this whole question of legitimacy has been somewhat overblown. They have pointed out -- I know you've heard it a hundred times in the past month -- that they won the vote in Florida, they won the recount, they won selected hand recounts. Now they can say, we have the Supreme Court in our corner; they can say it is perfectly legitimate, this election.

Of course he has this problem with the country and with the Congress of trying to unite, trying to bring together. You know that was a theme of this campaign. Over and over again we heard George W. Bush say, "I'm a uniter, not a divider," talking about his record here in Texas of working with Democrats in the legislature. He hopes very much to be able to do the same with the Democrat in Congress.

We know that today Dick Cheney is going up to Capitol Hill. He is meeting with some Republicans who have not been key players. They are the moderate Republicans. They're a small group, there are only five of them, but Dick Cheney taking the time to sit down with them today and hear their ideas, knowing that they provide the best opportunity for working across the aisle for delivering the bipartisanship, the cooperation, the unity that the Bush campaign has been promising -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Jeanne Meserve in Austin, thank you very much.

Once again, the vice president, Al Gore, will be addressing the nation between 8:00 and 9:00 Eastern tonight, talking about pulling out his support troops, pulling out and suspending his efforts for a recount in the state of Florida.



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