Tags: Gore | Still | Won't | Concede; | Republicans | Move

Gore Still Won't Concede; Republicans Move On

Monday, 27 November 2000 12:00 AM

Despite Bush's victory in the Florida recount Sunday, Gore said, "I have decided to contest this incomplete and inaccurate count, in order to ensure the greatest possible credibility for the outcome."

Gore said that the process, not the outcome, is what matters. "If the people do not in the end choose me, so be it. The outcome will have been fair, and the people will have spoken," he said.

In a case that seems to pit Republicans against each other in the same cause, the Republican-dominated Florida legislature filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the court should reject Texas Gov. George W. Bush's appeal filed last week because it is the legislature's duty to pick electors.

Republican Florida legislators also said they might intervene as early as this week if it appears that court action is making Gore the winner in the state. They asserted the legislature's constitutional right to determine how electors are appointed and election laws are set. A newly appointed committee is considering the legislature's options.

Attorneys for Gore argued in a Leon County Circuit Court that ballot counts in three Florida counties were mishandled. In Washington, Bush's campaign was blocked by the federal government from taking possession of presidential transition funds and offices.

Gore began contesting the Sunday certification of Florida's popular vote, which gave its decisive 25 presidential electors to Bush. Hearings began in Leon County Circuit Court courtroom Monday where Gore attorneys argued that three counties - Miami-Dade, Nassau and Palm Beach County - failed to either completely count ballots cast in their jurisdictions or include completed counts in the final state totals.

Attorneys for Gore want a hand recount of 10,000 untallied ballots in Miami-Dade; a review of how "dimpled" ballots were counted in Palm Beach County and the inclusion of 200 Gore votes submitted after the certification deadline on Sunday. They also seek a review of Nassau County's vote total.

The lawsuit filed by the Gore campaign also wanted the court to order Miami-Dade to complete its manual count, which was halted last week because officials did not think it could be completed by the 5 p.m. Sunday deadline.

Leon County Circuit Court Judge Sanders Sauls delayed a decision on a motion to bring 10,750 disputed ballots from Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties to Leon County in effort to maintain the integrity of the punch cards. Attorneys for both sides asked the judge for an expedited schedule of hearings to resolve the case as quickly as possible.

In a separate lawsuit, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta rejected a Bush appeal and said the Florida Supreme Court should determine the constitutionality of a revote and of the controversial butterfly ballot. On Monday Florida Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters said briefs in the case were due by Tuesday.

Bush contends the race is over and he is the winner, and that Democratic challenges to the outcome must stop. Gore contends that not all votes have been counted and that Republicans, especially Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, did everything possible to make sure they would not be. A fair count, Gore said, would make him the winner.

Republicans already were moving on.

Expressing "disappointment" that the General Services Administration would not recognize Bush as the winner and release $5.3 million, Republican vice presidential candidate Richard Cheney announced the formation of a private fund to pay for the transition effort. House Republicans said they would launch an investigation into whether GSA's denial of funds was proper.

"We will accept individual contributions within the limits specified by the statute of $5,000," Cheney said. He also said it's "conceivable" that some Cabinet nominees could be announced in coming days.

Cheney named Clay Johnson, Bush's Texas chief of staff, to be executive director of the transition. Ari Fleischer, a Bush campaign spokesman, will be press spokesman for the transition, Cheney said.

"There's been a tendency for many people to believe that there is, quote, plenty of time before we begin to pay any kind of a price for the delay in certifying a winner in the Florida election," Cheney said. "That may be true if one looks only at the timetable for the Electoral College. But we will pay a heavy price for the delays in planning and assembling the next administration."

The Republican chairman of the House Government Management Subcommittee announced Monday that he will hold hearings next week into the decision by the GSA not to provide funds to the Bush-Cheney campaign for a transition office in Washington.

The White House said Monday it would prepare transition materials for the next administration, but also maintained the election result is still too unclear to begin full cooperation with either Gore or Bush.

"At this point, given the unclarity of the elections and the lack of a final winner, and given the ongoing litigation that's being pursued by both sides, we can't provide information to just one candidate," said White House spokesman Jake Siewert.

"But we're going to do everything we can to proceed on a parallel track and make sure that the eventual winner has the information that he needs to conduct their business."

Monday, Andrew Card, named by Bush as chief of staff and co-chair of the transition, said Bush "knows how important it is to move that forward and he's getting ready to be a great president."

Democrats scrambled to stop that scenario by trying to block Florida's electors from going to Bush. Barring successful court challenge, Bush has 271 electors, an Electoral College majority that would make him the 43rd U.S. president. Electors meet to cast their ballots Dec. 18 in their state capitals. A joint session of Congress counts the votes Jan. 6.

The Gore campaign also acted swiftly Monday to try to prevent a swing in public opinion against further court challenges to the outcome three weeks past Election Day.

"Joe and I believe very strongly that every vote has to be counted," Gore said in the conference call between himself, vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri.

"What we're talking about involves many thousands of votes that have never been counted at all," Gore said. "And if we ignore the votes that have been cast, then where does that lead? The integrity of our democracy depends upon the consent of the governed, freely expressed in an election where every vote is counted."

Gephardt said that if Gore were to concede now before the votes are counted, "wouldn't it be a terrible thing from the country to find out a month or two months from now that you got the most votes, you already had the national popular vote by 300,000 votes in the country, how terrible would it be to find out that you also had the most votes in Florida and should have won this election."

"In order to win, you've got to have the votes, and I think you've got the votes," Daschle added.

In other developments Monday: A suit by a Democratic lawyer challenging all absentee ballots submitted in Seminole County, Fla., was moved to Tallahassee to be heard on a state level. The decision was made because the state capital is where votes are certified.

Sanford attorney Harry Jacobs filed the suit because Republican Party workers were allowed to sit in the supervisor of elections office and add missing voter identification numbers to 4,700 absentee ballot requests. Without these numbers, the requests were incomplete and no ballots would have been sent. He claims this is ballot tampering.

In Nassau County, Supervisor of Elections Shirley King said Monday she wants to recount the votes again. The Democrats challenged the number certified there Sunday because it was based on the original Election Day vote count rather than the mandatory recount.

(Tom Hopkins in West Palm Beach; Les Kjos in Miami; and Mike Kirkland and Shaun Waterman in Washington contributed to this report.)

(C) 2000 UPI All Rights Reserved.

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Despite Bush's victory in the Florida recount Sunday, Gore said, I have decided to contest this incomplete and inaccurate count, in order to ensure the greatest possible credibility for the outcome. Gore said that the process, not the outcome, is what matters. If the...
Monday, 27 November 2000 12:00 AM
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