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Leftists Try to Sabotage Bush's Presidency

Thursday, 30 November 2000 12:00 AM

"At this point, it seems unlikely that Gore will pull out a victory," said a Republican media consultant who worked with the Bush campaign.

"But if they make enough noise, they'll weaken Bush in his dealings with Congress and the public. That's what they're after."

No group has been as active in Florida on Gore's behalf as leftist black groups.

In Miami, Al Sharpton's National Action Network filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of three Miami residents claiming that minority voters were "disenfranchised" because Bush was certified as the state's winner without a completed manual recount in Miami-Dade County.

Sharpton will lead a protest Friday at the U.S. Supreme Court during proceedings on the Florida vote.

And Jesse Jackson has been a constant presence in Florida, leading marches in Miami, West Palm Beach and Tallahassee. Tuesday, he criticized Bush's transition planning and complained that a "victory lap without a victory is just jogging."

Jackson will conduct a prayer vigil in front of the Supreme Court Friday.

According to David Koczar, a political scientist at Gannon University, the presidency becomes far more important for leftist interest groups because of the Democrats' failure to take Congress this year.

"Unions, for example, spent an enormous amount of money trying to take the House. They don't want to be shut out of both elected branches," said Koczar.

Officials at United Auto Workers in Michigan confirm they have sent organizers and union activists to Florida to help in the legal efforts and demonstrations supporting Gore. Other groups, including Teamsters and the national office of the AFL-CIO, plan to send groups to the Supreme Court on Friday.

The AFL-CIO's president, John Sweeney, has been a staunch Gore ally throughout the election season. In a statement issued Monday, Sweeney said the union "stands firmly with the Gore campaign for the right of every citizen to vote and to have his or her vote counted. There is no other path to fairness and a legitimate outcome."

Shortly after Election Day, the AFL-CIO set up a toll-free phone line for Florida voters to report irregularities or problems with the "butterfly" ballot in Palm Beach County. The hotline, said Florida AFL-CIO President Marilyn Lenard, received more than 15,000 calls, many of which became the basis of class-action suits filed throughout the state.

Another leftist interest group supporting the Gore legal challenges is American Trial Lawyers Association, whose president, Richard Middleton, gave more than $20,000 to Democrat politicians last year. ATLA's political action committee gave more than $2.3 million in the past year, 87 percent of it to Democrats.

Shortly after Election Day, ATLA asked members to travel to Florida to assist with court filings and legal advice, according to Carlton Carl, spokesman for the organization.

"We've had more than 200 members spend time in Florida over the past several days, and we've been able to put the various plaintiffs in touch with members in Florida," said Carl. He said that ATLA did not endorse the vice president. He added, however, that the group "clearly appreciates the vice president's stance on a variety of issues."

Among those issues: the filing of nuisance lawsuits that cost consumers and businesses billions of dollars a year.

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At this point, it seems unlikely that Gore will pull out a victory, said a Republican media consultant who worked with the Bush campaign. But if they make enough noise, they'll weaken Bush in his dealings with Congress and the public. That's what they're after. No...
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Thursday, 30 November 2000 12:00 AM
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