Tags: Bush | Two; | Last | Stand | This | Weekend

Bush Up Two; Last Stand This Weekend

Thursday, 16 November 2000 12:00 AM

This week Bush has had two good breaks.

Earlier this week a Florida state judge said the Florida secretary of state could, using her discretion, refuse to include votes from manual recounts.

While the judge left some opportunity for appeal, it did give weight to the decision of the secretary of state, Katherine Harris.

The second good thing to happen was Bush’speech to the nation last night.

He was cool, calm and collected. He looked presidential. This was in stark contrast to earlier press conferences.

How Gore and Bush are perceived is critical, because this election may be decided by public opinion.

All the politicians are watching the polls, and whoever starts gaining the support of swing voters will be the likely winner. When the poll shifts happen – and it could come quickly – you’ll see party members deserting their camp in favor of the public interest.

Bush is betting everything on this week’s absentee ballot count. He absolutely believes he will win that count – and thus the state of Florida. At that point Harris will certify him the winner.

No doubt, her certification will be open to challenge and could be overturned.

But Bush may take the gold ring this weekend if, following the certification, his team makes a strong public relations effort to have Gore concede in the best interests of the country.

Bush’s team needs to be lining up big names, people who rise above party politics, to call on Gore to concede as soon as Bush is certified this weekend. If that happens, public support may swell for Bush, and that will be his last opportunity to force Gore to concede.

If public support doesn’t move behind Bush immediately following the certification, Gore’s team will delay and continue its legal efforts. In this case, Gore has stronger legal arguments to have the manual recount included. But this legal effort may take time.

Clearly Gore’s team has prepared several strategies and may be thinking already about taking its campaign to the Electoral College, which meets on Dec. 18.

One possible sign of this tactic was the disturbing report in the Rocky Mountain News about a strange call made by ABC News to Colorado presidential elector Mary Hergert.

Hergert told the paper she found the "questions from ABC News more like veiled intimidation than journalistic inquiry."

She checked her caller ID to make sure it was ABC News.

The caller, "Ed from ABC News," asked her if she would ever consider voting for Gore, and claimed it was unconstitutional for state law to require her to follow Colorado voters' choice of Bush, Hergert said.

I wouldn’t put it past the Gore team to have friendly media calling electors, pretending to be neutral but really on fishing expeditions to see what electors might want to "vote their conscience" – ones who could be persuaded to change their vote if Gore is still ahead in the popular vote.

If Gore is not stopped this weekend, expect the mud to fly for a while. That’s why it’s critically important for the Bush team to make its stand this week.

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This week Bush has had two good breaks. Earlier this week a Florida state judge said the Florida secretary of state could, using her discretion, refuse to include votes from manual recounts. While the judge left some opportunity for appeal, it did give weight to the...
Bush,Two;,Last,Stand,This,Weekend
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2000-00-16
Thursday, 16 November 2000 12:00 AM
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