Tags: Bush | Rejects | Gore | Offer | Statewide | Hand | Recount

Bush Rejects Gore Offer of Statewide Hand Recount

Wednesday, 15 November 2000 12:00 AM

He rejected Vice President Al Gore's two plans for settling the Florida vote recount. Earlier in the evening Gore promised:

"I would also be willing to abide by that result and agree not to take any legal action to challenge that result.''

"We need a resolution that will be both fair and just," Gore, appearing with running mate Joe Lieberman, told reporters from the vice presidential residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory. in Washington.

Democrat Gore offered to meet with Texas Republican Gov. Bush.

"I propose that Gov. Bush and I meet personally, one on one, as soon as possible, before the vote count is finished, not to negotiate but to improve the tone of our dialogue in America.''

"I am willing to go to his house or meet him wherever he wants to meet, not to negotiate but to improve the tone of our dialogue in America," Gore said.

Gore said that, in addition to an immediate meeting, he and Bush should meet again once the election is settled "to reaffirm our national unity.''

"If I turn out to be successful, I'll be ready to travel to Governor Bush's home. If I am not, I'll be ready to meet him wherever he wishes,'' Gore said.

Gore said he was trying to honor the Constitution.

"This is the time to respect every voter and every vote,'' he said.

"This is the time to honor the true will of the people. So our goal must be what is right for America.''

Earlier in the day, the Democrat-appointed Florida Supreme Court denied the request of Secretary of State Katherine Harris to stop the recounts in the Democrat-dominated counties.

The justices also denied the top state election official's request to move all lawsuits regarding the election to a state court in Tallahassee.

Harris' action was supported by the Bush campaign.

Minutes after that decision, a state court in Broward County rejected a lawsuit aimed at stopping the recount there.

Earlier in the day, a federal appeals court said it would consider Bush's request to stop the hand recounts.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta says motions must be submitted by 7 a.m. EST Thursday. But there was no word on when – or if – a court hearing would be held, CNN reported.

The announcement came at the same time Bush and Gore were calling on the Florida Supreme Court to decide on the legality of the recounts.

The court developments came as the 2 p.m. deadline passed for counties either considering or carrying out a hand recount of votes to justify their actions in writing. At least two counties – Republican-minority Broward and Palm Beach – have done so.

Bush had a 300-vote lead over Gore, but the count was still subject to innumerable legal twists.

Nationally, the electoral vote stood at 255-246 for Gore, with Florida, New Mexico and Oregon still in doubt. Florida's 25 electoral votes would give either candidate enough to claim victory.

Close races in Wisconsin and Iowa – both in the Gore column – could lead to recounts and further muddle the situation.

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris asked the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to centralize all legal aspects of the presidential election in Leon County Circuit Court in Tallahassee. She also asked for an order suspending manual hand counts.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said Democrats were making their own request of the Supreme Court, including a determination on whether hand counts are appropriate under the state's laws.

"We'll be responding today to Mrs. Harris' petition today with our own petition," Christopher said.

"Instead of sending the matter to a trial court, we'll be asking the Supreme Court of Florida itself to resolve critical questions."

Harris had said that counties still involved in manual vote recounts must explain in writing by 2 p.m. EST why they planned to continue hand recounts after the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline. Palm Beach and Broward Counties both sent her explanations citing the uncertainty of the ballots in Palm Beach County, and the large turnout, as reasons for the delays.

Miami-Dade County has decided against hand counts, but that could change.

Harris said that unless she determines the statements justify the recounts, the State Elections Canvassing Commission will certify the current results as final. She said they would be changed only by the count Saturday of overseas absentee ballots that must have been postmarked by Election Day and received by Friday.

In another development, Circuit Court Judge Jorge Labarga in West Palm Beach, Fla., ruled Wednesday that the County Canvass Board has the authority to determine the method it deems necessary to determine the intent of voters in a manual recount of ballots.

The ruling cleared the way for a full manual recount of the hundreds of thousands of ballots.

Labarga also scheduled a hearing for Friday to determine whether a revote in Palm Beach County would be legal. The hearing would be part of a lawsuit filed by Democrat voters who claimed the county's Democrat-approved butterfly ballots were so confusing they voted for the wrong candidate.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday that all 12 members will consider a Republican appeal of two Florida election cases in which judges have refused to issue injunctions against a hand count. Lawyers on both sides were told to have their briefs in by 7 a.m. Thursday.

In addition to Florida, the winner remained uncertain in Oregon and New Mexico, where an apparent counting error discovered Monday unofficially shifted the state back to Gore's column by a few hundred votes.

Gore's narrow margins in Wisconsin and Iowa made those states targets of possible recount requests from the Bush campaign if the battle expands from Florida.

Gore led by 6,099 votes in Wisconsin, where Republicans were studying reports of vote fraud in Milwaukee. He also led by 5,121 votes in Iowa.

Gore led by 5,756 in Oregon with 99 percent of votes counted. Oregon Republicans Monday asked the Democrat secretary of state to bow out of the election process, claiming he was too close to the Gore campaign.

Republican spokeswoman Karen Hughes said that Bush was at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. "He's upbeat. He's enjoying the tranquility of central Texas … while keeping in constant touch with us in Austin and with Secretary Baker and his team in Florida."

She said the governor had discussed several issues, including the state budget, with a visiting group of Texas officials.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke on Wednesday assured the Security Council, "We have an administration in place" undiminished by the presidential election recount drama.

He said, "I need to underscore that, because it has been raised by so many people recently."

Copyright 2000 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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He rejected Vice President Al Gore's two plans for settling the Florida vote recount. Earlier in the evening Gore promised: I would also be willing to abide by that result and agree not to take any legal action to challenge that result.'' We need a resolution that...
Wednesday, 15 November 2000 12:00 AM
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