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Election 2000: Joe Lockhart, Scott Reed Discuss Unresolved Presidential Race, Exhausted Campaigns

Aired November 8, 2000 - 8:00 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: I've been in politics a very long time but I don't think there's ever been a night like this one.

DON EVANS, BUSH CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: We hope and believe we have elected the next president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: ... (OFF-MIKE) knows for sure.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. This election is making history. Still too close to call between George W. Bush and Al Gore and it is all boiling down to the state of Florida.

It is now 8:00 a.m. on the East Coast, 5:00 a.m. on the West on November 8, the morning after election day.

HARRIS: That's right, a day where, well, the election isn't even over yet. Live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta, I'm Leon Harris.

FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: And from Washington, this is EARLY EDITION.

LIN: Good morning, Frank.

HARRIS: Good morning, Frank. Good morning, folks.

LIN: Let's take a look at what we're talking about today. We are talking about a presidential race still too close to call. Neither Bush or Gore have enough of the electoral votes. It's all boiling down to who gets Florida's 25 electoral votes. We have a dead man elected to the Senate, and we have a first lady for the first time in history going to the Senate as well. A record, I think, some 10 or 11 women, are going to be serving in the U.S. Senate now.

HARRIS: One of the many different stories we've got out there. Lots of layers to all these stories.

Now, folks, if you're just waking up this morning and you are now tuning in to find out who the new president is, well, we wish we could tell you. You're going to have to wait a little bit longer. It has been a long and confusing night, one that saw CNN, as well as the major television networks, call the election -- major broadcast networks, we should say -- call this election in favor of George W. Bush earlier. Al Gore, in fact, even placed a call to Bush conceding defeat. But that has since been retracted.

LIN: And, of course, as we've just been saying, one state holds the key to victory. The vote count in Florida is so close, a recount is now mandated by law. No one has been declared a winner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DALEY: Without being certain of the results in Florida, we simply cannot be certain of the results of this national election.

(CHEERING)

Let me add that Vice President Gore and Sen. Lieberman and are fully prepared to concede and to support Gov. Bush if and when he is officially elected president, but this race is simply too close to call. And until the results -- the recount is concluded and the results of Florida become official, our campaign continues.

EVANS: Gov. Bush and Secretary Cheney asked me to thank you for all of your terrific support and hard work. We hope and believe we have elected the next president of the United States.

(CHEERING)

The latest count -- latest vote count in the state of Florida shows Gov. Bush winning that state by more than 1,200 votes. They're still counting, they're still counting. And I'm confident when it is all said and done, we will prevail.

(CHEERING)

Thank you again for all your hard work and all your efforts, and we look forward to a great celebration. God bless.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LIN: And there you have it, the two national campaign chairs, the last one Don Evans with the Bush campaign, and prior to that Bill Daley with the Gore campaign.

Now, taking a look at the popular vote -- and this is how it lays out across the country with 98 percent of the precincts reporting in -- 49 percent goes to Al Gore, 48 percent to George W. Bush. So far, Al Gore winning in the popular vote count.

HARRIS: All right, but buried in those numbers are the voters in Florida, and they happen to be the key to the whole map right now. As you see here -- here are the results that we have from Florida for the vote for the election of the president -- we have Gov. Bush with 49 percent and Vice President Gore also with 49 percent. They're separated only by some 1,800 votes. LIN: Remarkable, and that is why there is going to be a recount in that state.

Now, taking a look at the electoral map, this is how it laid out with Gov. Bush in red and Al Gore in blue. You can see that he, Al Gore, pretty much took the Northeast, as expected, as well as the West. California always in Al Gore's -- on Al Gore's side, as well as the state of Washington. Oregon is still undecided because, for the first time in its history, they had an all mail-in ballot, so they're still counting those ballots.

HARRIS: That's right. Only two states right now still too close to call.

Now, we will get reaction to all of this from the Bush campaign in Austin with CNN's Jean Meserve, and from the Gore camp in Nashville. That's where Jonathan Karl is. Let's start now with Jonathan -- Jon.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, this is obviously quite a morning here after an incredible night last night for the Gore campaign. The Gore campaign looking to Florida, obviously looking to those final votes.

I just spoke to one person involved with the campaign in Florida who was working very hard on the minority community of Florida, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who was pointing out that Broward County, being one of the counties where we're waiting for returns to come in, he's saying that that's a county that's heavily Haitian population, got a heavy Haitian population, also a lot of Jewish voters. He believes that if it comes down to Broward County, there's a chance that that recount their could be enough to put Gore over the top. But right now, everybody is just looking -- it's a state of limbo here. They're hoping this will be wrapped up today. They don't know.

Mark Fabiani, who is the deputy campaign manager for the Gore campaign, said last night that reports of the death of the Gore campaign were greatly exaggerated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK FABIANI, GORE DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It was quite a night. We're very proud of Al Gore this morning, all of us who have worked for him. He won the popular vote, he got the most votes across the entire length and breadth of this country. So we're very proud of him and we're looking forward to a quick resolution of the Florida vote count so that Al Gore can be the next president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: And, in fact, it does look like, at least at this point -- and of course nothing is certain in this campaign -- but it does look like Al Gore would have won the popular vote. That's an incredible turn of events because, for some time, there has been speculation that Gore would actually lose the popular vote and win the electoral vote based on what it was looking like in the various large states, states like Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

But we may have the opposite case. If Bush actually wins Florida, he will become the president and possibly not have the popular vote.

An interesting scenario here, but it's one that I talked to Gore about on October 29. I asked him, could a president of the United States who is elected with an Electoral College majority, but by losing the popular vote, could such a president effectively govern? This is what Gore had to say back then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that's an attenuated hypothetical, to coin a phrase. It actually has happened before in our history.

KARL: Right.

A. GORE: I think it's unlikely to happen. Again, it could, but...

TIPPER GORE: We'll never know until November the 7th.

A. GORE: ... we won't know until November the 7th. But in all such cases, we are fortunate as a people to have a Constitution that resolves all doubt as to what would happen in that situation.

KARL: But do you think that president would have a hard time governing if...?

A. GORE: No, I don't think so. But I don't think it's going to happen. If it did happen, I think the Constitution would be respected as it always is.

KARL: OK, well thank you both very much for joining us.

A. GORE: Thank you, Jonathan.

KARL Take care.

A. GORE: Good luck to you.

KARL: Thanks.

A. GORE: In whatever may happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Now, again, at that point, the scenario was that Bush would lose the popular vote and become president and Gore would win the popular vote -- I mean, lose the popular. So it's a very interesting scenario here, much different than what the pundits had thought we'd be looking at.

By the way, there's another situation here. If Gore were to win in Oregon and get those seven electoral votes but lose in Florida, you'd have a situation where the majority was just two votes from the Electoral College.

Now, electors, by tradition and what they're supposed to do is they vote the way their state voted, but that has not always happened. In fact, there have been many cases in history where members of the Electoral College have simply voted the way they want to vote. And there have been some recent examples of that. In 1976, there was an elector from the state of Washington who, instead of voting for Gerald Ford as the state voted, voted for Ronald Reagan. And in 1988, there was an elector from West Virginia whom, instead of voting for Michael Dukakis as his state voted, actually voted for Lloyd Bentsen.

So if you have simply a two-vote margin in the Electoral College, everybody is going to be looking very carefully to how those electors actually vote when they come together in December.

Back to you.

HARRIS: Well, John, with that in mind, then, I have to ask you, then, what happens next with the campaign, beginning with the Gore campaign? Does that mean, then, they could actually get out and begin to hit the airwaves again and try to sort out, I guess, sway opinions with those -- and continue the campaign, if you will, with the electors?

KARL: Well, you could, hypothetically here, Leon, have a situation where you have an intense lobbying campaign, going after those electors to try to get them to change their vote, making the argument, hey, Vice President Gore won the popular vote, don't you think he should be president? More Americans voted for him than voted for George W. Bush.

But I must tell you, Leon, the campaign is not talking about that at all. As you heard, Vice President Gore in that interview on October 29 said that he would respect the decision of the Electoral College, said that he respected the Constitution regardless of what happens in a popular vote. So we don't know. They're not saying they won't do it, but they're certainly not raising the possibility of lobbying the Electoral College.

HARRIS: So even when the election is over, when the voting is over, when the recounting is over, it still won't be over.

KARL: Yes.

HARRIS: Jon Karl, thanks much -- Carol.

LIN: The debate continues.

Well, this morning, all this morning, the Bush campaign has been saying and predicting that they are going to take Florida and they are going to take it by about 1,200 votes.

Let's go to Jeanne Meserve who is standing by in Austin, Texas covering the campaign there. Jeanne, is that premature confidence, or do you think there's a basis for that supposition?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, who knows at this point? The Bush campaign felt the ground fall away from under its feet twice last night. They still don't know where they stand. The governor retired early this morning, but no matter how long he sleeps, when he gets up it's unlikely we're going to know how this concludes.

You mentioned that confidence. We heard Don Evans, the campaign manager, talk about that a little while ago. He said, yes, he is confident they will pull it out. They are pinning their hopes particularly on absentee ballots, particularly overseas absentee ballots. In 1996, more than 2,000 of these were cast and the majority of them broke for the Republicans. They are hoping that the same thing happens in this case.

As you know, there were high hopes for Florida. They that they could piece together an electrical -- Electoral College victory without it, but they thought they would take it. They thought, between the fact that the governor of Florida is the candidate's brother, Jeb Bush, their internal polling showed them up there, they knew that seniors were breaking more favorably to them than anyone expected, they thought that they could take it. But, of course, you know, first Bush heard he lost it, then he heard he took it, and now it's in that undecided column.

You could follow the ups and downs and back and forth of what was happening by watching the crowd that had gathered here at the state capitol in Austin. There were thousands of people huddled under umbrellas listening to the results as they came back on the big screens, also watching some entertainment. You could hear them cheer when a state went for Bush. You could here them grown when one went for Al Gore. In the case of Florida, they groaned, then they cheered, and then they had to groan again when it went back into that undecided column.

Bush himself initially had planned to watch the results last night from a hotel here in Austin. Instead, he hunkered down in the governor's mansion with his wife and with his parents, the former president and first lady. When the cameras went in to visit with Bush last night, Florida at that point was in the Gore column and he said, wait a minute, our people on the ground who are counting the votes are not coming to the same conclusion that your exit polls are. We've got to watch what's happening in that state. Of course, he proved right, but nobody expected that it would go back and forth the way it has, and we still just don't know how it's going to end.

Carol, back to you.

LIN: That's right, not even the two candidates themselves.

Jeanne, I'm going to go out on a limb here. As you know, Vice President Gore made a phone call to Gov. Bush to congratulate him, and then later made another phone call to take it back, as we like to say here, because the votes still were being counted. Do you know what the reaction was by the governor at the second phone call, and the tenor of that call?

HARRIS: Personally I don't know the reaction to that. I can tell you they have to have been mighty disappointed. I was over at a hotel here in Austin where there was a big party for some of the key Bush supporters, including his sister. It was at the point -- I stopped in there at the point when Florida had been put back in the Bush column and, in fact, the race had been called for Bush. People were pouring out of there, including his sister, Doro. They were excited, they were pumped, they were declaring victory, hooting and hollering. And then, of course, this conclusion for everybody, it has to have been absolutely devastating.

LIN: Yes, a huge disappointment. All right, well, the tide could still turn. Thank you very much, Jeanne Meserve, in Austin -- Leon.

HARRIS: That's right, but it takes Florida to turn that tide. And the Sunshine State is going to determine this election.

Let's go now to John Zarrella who's standing by. He's got the details for us on the legal and the political maneuvering that are going to be taking place in Florida -- John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Leon, everybody knew that Florida was going to be a pivotal state in this election, but nobody could have predicted or had any idea just how close it would be, that Florida would end up being the state that is going to probably, most likely, most definitely decide who the next president of the United States is going to be.

And because it is so close, virtually a dead heat in Florida, about 1,200 votes separating the two candidates with George W. on top by those 1,200, that means an automatic recount in Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB BUTTERWORTH, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Now it's down to literally a handful of votes, so we must make sure, for the future of this country and the world, that we make sure that all votes are accurately counted. We owe that to the country, we owe that to the world and we owe it to everyone to do it as quickly as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: Now, "as quickly as possible," no one's sure exactly what that means. They believe that it might be 5:00, 6:00 this afternoon, this evening, and they will have that done. But nobody can really tell as yet exactly when the recount in Florida will be.

How close was it? Well, take a look at the morning newspapers. The "Miami Herald," the very first edition of the "Miami Herald," came out about 1:00, 2:00 this morning: "Bush Wins It." A couple of hours later, by 4:00 in the morning, another final edition of the "Miami Herald," "Not Over Yet: Bush Lead in Florida Dissipates."

The "Sun-Sentinel," the Broward County newspaper, played it a little closer to the vest, calling it a "cliffhanger," "Up in the Air: Bush-Gore."

So still up in the air at this hour. And because it's still up in the air, Florida is a state that, throughout the night last night and even until this morning, has just befuddled everyone.

HARRIS: Well, John, let me ask you, have you had a chance to talk at all with any of the diners there who are behind you? I mean, what's their reaction this morning? Are they as surprised as the rest of us are?

ZARRELLA: Yes, I'm going to turn here and talk to Jordan.

And, Jordan, surprised at what's transpired here in the state?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unbelievable. I never would ever expect that it could be so close.

ZARRELLA: And what do you think is going to happen now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think they're going to have a recount this afternoon and I think Gore is going to come out on top.

ZARRELLA: We were talking to some folks earlier and this really has proven this year that every vote counts, doesn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every vote counts and anybody who didn't vote, it's a shame.

ZARRELLA: George, your feelings on how this is playing out here in this state? Everybody knew it was going to be close, but you couldn't -- nobody could have imagined what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unbelievable. It's so exciting. It's more exciting than the Super Bowl or the World Series. Everybody is participating. The eyes of the world is on the United States. Boy, this is exciting, but our man is going to win.

ZARRELLA: And your man is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gore, of course.

ZARRELLA: Now, we are in Broward County and Broward County, as we've been hearing right along, still some votes to be counted in Broward County. But looking at some of the estimates of the voter turnout, this county, which is Fort Lauderdale and Davie and Plantation and a lot of areas here, very heavily in favor of Gore. More than 60 percent of the votes counted here had favored Gore, something like 377,000 votes for Gore and about 170,000 for Bush. So this state's really kept the vice president in the running.

This is John Zarrella, reporting live in Fort Lauderdale -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right, thank you, John. We'll get back to you a little bit later on.

Now, as we have been saying all this morning, it has been a remarkable night and morning. Now let's take a look and see how it all unfolded on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: A big call to make. CNN announces that we call Florida in the Al Gore column. This is a state both campaigns desperately wanted to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Stand by, stand by. CNN right now is moving our earlier declaration of Florida back to the too-close-to- call column.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Ah.

WOODRUFF: Weird

SHAW: Twenty-five very big electoral votes in the home state of the governor's brother, Jeb Bush, are hanging in the balance. This no longer is a victory for Vice President Gore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: George Bush, governor of Texas, will become the 43rd president of the United States. At 18 minutes past 2:00 Eastern time, CNN declares that George Walker Bush has won Florida's 25 electoral votes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The vice president has re-called the governor and retracted his concession.

DALEY: But this race is simply too close to call. And until the results, the recount is concluded and the results of Florida become official, our campaign continues.

WOODRUFF: Bill Daley, the chairman of the Gore campaign, you just heard it. We're all -- I think we can hardly believe our ears. He said until the results are official and certified in the state of Florida, we are going to continue our campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: For every successive hour from this point on, CNN will be your network to find out what is the latest on that presidential race...

WOODRUFF: That's right.

SHAW: ... in the United States.

WOODRUFF: So stay with CNN because whatever is happening, we are going to be bringing it to you.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: And folks, in the year 2004, please could you make up your minds a little more conclusively...

(LAUGHTER)

GREENFIELD: ... because I think we can't take another election like this one?

SCHNEIDER: No, no, no, no...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: And as you can see, I mean, watching CNN last night was like watching the Nasdaq.

LIN: Yes, and if you ever went to sleep and you woke up, the picture completely changed.

HARRIS: I'll tell you, boy.

LIN: It was amazing.

HARRIS: Well, let's get a different picture for you right now. Frank Sesno is standing by in Washington. He's got a couple of guests with him.

SESNO: Who slept?

(LAUGHTER)

LIN: Touche.

HARRIS: Exactly.

SESNO: Let's put some of these numbers, the popular vote, in perspective for just a moment before I turn to a guest. Keep in mind, now, that in the national popular vote, just about 200,000 votes of 90 million cast separate these two candidates. The closest previous election was back in 1960 in terms of the popular vote when JFK won by 118,000 votes.

And by the way, in this election, those 200,000 votes that separate the two, Al Gore has more votes. He's up by about 200,000 votes in the national popular vote.

In the end, though, that doesn't matter.

We're joined by Joe Lockhart, Scott Reed: Joe Lockhart, former White House press secretary; Scott Reed, Republican strategist, big with Dole the last time around. Gentlemen, Florida. What do you make of it -- Scott?

SCOTT REED, FMR. DOLE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Unbelievable evening. These -- both of these campaigns and candidates have gone through the ultimate political roller coaster, to go through an evening where you think you're going to win, you then are ready to concede, then you come back. And we go into this phase right now where clearly these military absentee ballots are going to make the difference. And if you understand the history of that, that's good news for Republicans right now.

SESNO: Do you have any doubt -- or how much doubt? -- maybe I should rephrase the question -- that Florida goes to Bush?

REED: Well, I do have doubts because I think the whole evening's in doubt and we have to be careful today. But in 1996, there were only a couple thousand of these military ballots and Dole won them even though we lost the state. This year, they're upwards to 25,000 to 30,000 of these ballots out there. Remember, a lot of men and women in the military choose Florida to be a state where they're based because there's no income tax, they're Republican leaning. They probably voted Bush.

SESNO: Joe.

JOE LOCKHART, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: All I can say right now is, boy am I glad we pushed through that pay raise; 4.8 percent, that was a good investment in these absentee ballots.

Listen, you know, at this point, trying to make any sort of prediction after what everyone's gone through over the last 24 hours I think is very risky. I think until they've done the recount, until they've looked at these absentee ballots, we don't know what the final will be. And it's -- you know, it's amazing. I've been through four of these presidential elections. Each and every one of them I knew on election day what was going to happen, and it was still gut-wrenching to go it, losing three, winning one. To think what the Bush and the Gore people emotionally went through during those 12 hours and what they're still going through, it's just hard to fathom.

SESNO: Scott, you were talking a moment ago about President Bush the elder.

REED: Yes.

SESNO: And being an emotional guy himself, this has got to be especially gut-wrenching to watch his son go through this.

REED: Sure.

SESNO: He's been through it.

REED: He's been through it. I mean, here he has the ultimate moment of pride where his son is the nominee and about to be president of the United States, and to go through that evening. President Bush has been very involved in this campaign, watching it every moment, phoning people all over the country throughout the last few months. And as you saw him on television last night, he was on the edge of his seat, as he is this morning.

SESNO: I think Leon Harris is going to jump in here with a question.

Leon, go ahead.

HARRIS: Yes, hi. Yes, Frank.

Joe, Scott, I have one question I'd like to bounce off the two of you, and even you as well, Frank, is something that we heard Jonathan Karl report moments ago, is that even after this recount takes place there is the possibility -- because it has happened before in the past -- where some of the electors get a change of heart in the process. Now, they are supposed to be voting the way their states have voted, but do you think there's a chance here that any of these electors could actually take this race and make a change here in what happens with the results?

REED: Leon, I'm not a lawyer, but I do believe that about 25 of the 50 state electors are bound by whatever happened in the state, where the other 25 can pick and choose. So I'm sure the lawyers are taking over this morning figuring out where those 25 are and how to be very careful about that. But half of them are bound.

LOCKHART: You know, I think that that's -- that that kind of speculation at this point I don't think will come about. I think the electors will go with their state. I do think we're going to have a great debate starting today in this country about the Electoral College because people want to know -- they haven't focused on this and they're going to want to know why the guy who got the most votes maybe didn't win.

SESNO: Gentlemen, quite rightly, we are focused on the result of this presidential election. But if I can use a somewhat inelegant analogy, it's a little bit like childbirth here. I mean, after the moment of birth is open and over -- and this is where we take the pictures and it's what we remember -- we have a child to raise, we have a government to run. In a situation like this with a very narrowly divided House and Senate, with a president who comes in where there is no mandate, how does Washington do business? How will people get their tax cut? How will people get their Medicare fixed? How will people see their Social Security reform?

REED: Well, I think this is going to be good for the country, believe it or not, no matter who wins -- and I happen to believe Bush is going to win at the end of the day here -- that the country, the Congress, everybody is going to get together and get behind whatever mandate the candidate was elected on. I think the Congress and the relationship with the White House is going to be a lot tighter and a lot more positive that it's been over the last few years.

LOCKHART: I think it's going to be very difficult for either of them. I think, you know, Gov. Bush did a good job of sort out papering over a lot of the policy issues. When he gets here, he's going to find out that the party that he's got in front of, you know, the R in front of his name is very much not in the center, they're very far to the right of the center. He's going to have a problem with his party, he's certainly going to have a problem with the Democrats because of this. And I think Vice President Gore will have the same narrow problem where we'll probably see, unless there's something extraordinary, different happens in this town, the same old thing we've seen for the last two to four years.

SESNO: Joe Lockhart, Scott Reed, thanks to you both.

REED: Thank you.

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