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Inside Politics

Presidential Race Too Close to Call: Florida Vote Tally Will Determine Winner

Aired November 8, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm confident that the secretary and I will become the president-elect and the vice president-elect in short order.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We still do not know the outcome of yesterday's vote. And I realize that this is an extraordinary moment for our democracy.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: A question mark looms over the presidential election: When will the Bush versus Gore squeaker finally be decided?

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: The answer appears to hinge on a recount in Florida. We'll have an update on the tally, the controversy, and the unreality of it all.


KAREN HUGHES, BUSH CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN: I thought that maybe it had been a dream. And then I realized I was awake the whole time.


ANNOUNCER: This is special edition of INSIDE POLITICS, with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff at CNN election headquarters -- and analysts Jeff Greenfield and Bill Schneider.

SHAW: Thanks for joining us.

It may be a case of shock or sleep deprivation. But on this day after the vote, it is difficult to adequately describe how exciting and bizarre the presidential election has been -- and continues to be. At this hour, there still is no official winner, as the make-or-break state of Florida presses on with a recount. While Al Gore appears to have won the popular vote nationwide by nearly 200,000 votes, the battle for electoral votes remains undecided.

That is because the results from Florida, as well as Oregon, turned out to be too close to call. With a total of 32 electoral votes in those two states outstanding, Gore has 260 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win. And George W. Bush has 246. But, Governor Bush says he fully expects to win Florida, its 25 electoral votes, and the White House, once the automatic recount now under way in the Sunshine State is completed.

CNN's Mike Boettcher is in Tallahassee, following the recount -- Mike.

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, 18 floors above me in the capital here, Bernie, they are counting bit by bit these counties as they are starting to filter in. We have some late totals for you. Six counties have been reviewed so far. The total right now for Governor Bush: 2,909,153. That's an increase of 18 votes for him. With Vice President Gore, the total is 2,907,403. That is an increase in 52 votes for him.

So both candidates have increased their vote tally in this review. That is a net gain for Vice President Gore of 34 votes. Let me give you a little battleground on how this is going down across the state of Florida. In every county, the election board, Canvass Board there, is supervising this recount. That information is then being faxed or phoned in to the Division of Elections here under the Department of State in the state of Florida.

They're coming in bit by bit, but they should pick up steam here within the next hour. At that point, within seven days, the counties must certify those vote totals. Then the State Election Canvass Commission must certify them. They'll become official at that point. Now, there are three people on that state board. One of them is Governor Jeb Bush. Only about 30 minutes ago, he recused himself from that board. There will be a new member appointed. We don't know if that member will be a Democrat or a Republican.

As far as we know, it has not been named yet. So it's a very fluid situation. But Governor Bush here in Florida, Jeb Bush, was upset about allegations that there was widespread voting fraud in his state. And he said so during that press conference.


GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: I, along with Attorney General Butterworth, are firmly committed to protecting the integrity of Florida's election process and will seek swift enforcement of Florida's election laws. Voter fraud in the state -- in our state -- is a felony. And guilty parties will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Both of us have pledged to work together with Secretary of State Katherine Harris in this regard. Furthermore, to ensure that there is not the slightest appearance of a conflict of interests, I have chosen to recuse myself from serving on the election's Canvassing Commission.


BOETTCHER: Now, Governor Bush pointed out one specific example of where an allegation that there was fraud was not true. For example, there were stories earlier in the day that an election -- a voting ballot box had been found in a precinct in a school in Palm Beach County. He said, when they opened it up, it turned out to be school supplies: crayons, pencils and the like. But the Democratic National Committee was here today, too.

They're starting to pour people in here. They are accusing the state officials of proceeding too quickly in this vote recount. They say there was widespread election abuse, in terms of people being coerced not to vote, problems with some ballots. They made those accusations here. They did not back them up at that time. But they said that they have been getting a lot of allegations. I sat in the attorney general's office here today on a couple of occasions, and there was phone call after phone call after phone call.

Jenny Backus is with the Democratic National Committee. And she made those allegations to us earlier today.


JENNY BACKUS, DNC PRESS SECRETARY: People are talking about taking away somebody's constitutional right to vote. There are thousands -- literally thousands of reports of irregularities. In Palm Beach County -- we spoke about it yesterday during the election -- we got reports of questionable ballots. There is reports of voter intimidation. There is ballot boxes that are missing.

There's the results on the secretary of state's own Web page that seem to have mysteriously increased by a 1,000 votes. These are lots of questions. And I think the voters of Florida and the voters of this country deserve some answers. They need to be done in a timely fashion, but they need to be done in a bipartisan fashion.


BOETTCHER: Now, the Florida Department of State was going post these election results on their Web page. But it crashed -- a lot of interest. They're trying to get that back up. So we're doing it the old-fashioned way: going up and down 18 floors every time there is a new election result. But right now, to summarize, after six counties have been reviewed -- and other counties reported in -- we don't have it yet -- but Vice President Gore has gained 34 votes, so very slim gain there for the vice president -- Bernie.

SHAW: Mike, in summation, when will the American people know the Florida recount results?

BOETTCHER: They have to know by 7:00 p.m. tomorrow night the recount results. I believe -- my opinion -- and in being up there all day and talking to people -- we'll have it much sooner than that. But the recount only includes the physical counting of ballots. It doesn't look into allegation of voter fraud or problems with the process -- just that.

What will happen next are legal challenges. And that was threatened by the Democratic National Committee. They said they had private citizens who would do that. No telling, Bernie, how that's going to slow things up. But, in terms much the state of Florida saying: We have certified these elections, that process will happen in seven days. The recount will happen by tomorrow. It has to -- by tomorrow evening.

And then the certification has to happen within seven days. And then there's a further certification of overseas ballots, which includes military personnel and people who are traveling. That certification is given 10 days after the election. So we -- if this vote tally starts to narrow more, Bernie, and they have to go ahead and count the overseas ballots, we might not know for 10 day.

SHAW: Mike Boettcher, with the up-to-the-minute latest from Tallahassee, thank you -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, all the current election uncertainty comes after a roller coaster of a night. At one point, the television news organizations declared Governor Bush the winner, then retracted it as the razor-thin margin of the Florida race became more clear.

CNN's Candy Crowley has been covering Governor Bush through it all.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The once-declared president-elect hopes to soon regain his title.

G. BUSH: This morning brings news from Florida that the final vote count there shows that Secretary Cheney and I have carried the state of Florida. And if that result is confirmed in an automatic recount, as we expect it will be, then we have won the election.

CROWLEY: After an astounding night of doubt, then triumph, then uncertainty, a sense of the surreal has pierced the trademark optimism of the Bush camp.

HUGHES: It was an amazing night, as you all know, since you lived through it. I watched it this morning on television, some excerpts. And I thought that maybe it had been all a dream. And then I realized I was awake the whole time.

CROWLEY: His running mate by his side, the Republican nominee was low-key, but positive, as he recounted the evening, including that second phone call from Vice President Al Gore to retract his earlier concession.

G. BUSH: I listened to what he had to say.

QUESTION: Were you amazed at (OFF-MIKE)

G. BUSH: Well, I was. I felt like we -- I was fully prepared to go out and give a speech, thanking my supporters. And he withdrew his earlier comments. And now here we sit.

CROWLEY: Sitting and waiting isn't easy, but the hottest spot may belong to Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who spent the long night in Austin.

G. BUSH: There was some consternation with the -- Florida's governor during our family dinner, when somebody jumped the proverbial gun, as we say. And -- he's the person that really went through some -- obviously, some interesting emotions. I was confident that, when it was all said and done, that Florida would be taken off the declared, you know, state roll, and that cooler heads would prevail.

CROWLEY: Jeb Bush left Austin Wednesday morning to return home to Florida. Former Secretary of State James Baker is also headed to the state to look after Bush's interests there. The Bush camp also has a lawyer on the ground in each precinct to monitor the recount. Should Bush prevail, winning may be the easy part. He would assume office having lost the popular vote.

BUSH: I want to assure them that, should the election go the way that we think it will, that I will work hard to earn their confidence. America has a long tradition of uniting once elections are over. Secretary Cheney and I will do everything in our power to unite the nation to call upon the best, to bring people together after one of the most exciting elections in our nation's history.

CROWLEY: Though they concede the unusual circumstances of this election and the unusual circumstances if Bush should be installed in the Oval Office, aides say that a mandate is not necessarily always something you get in an election, though they would love to have had one. A mandate, said one aide, is something you can get when you're in office depending on how you lead -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Candy, what gives the people around Governor Bush and the governor himself confidence that once all these votes are recounted, once all the questions are answered, that he will still be the winner in Florida?

CROWLEY: Well, they say they're confident, but, you know, that's a trademark of the Bush campaign, it always has been. This is a campaign that has talked optimistically. They thought they would win by five or six points in the general election. They thought that they would have a much, much larger victory in the electoral count, even in the one we're talking about.

So they tend to talk optimistically but, yes, I would tell you that publicly and privately, they say, look, most of these recounts, historically -- they've looked it up -- come out the same as they were before the recount. So, yes, they are more up than down.

WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley in Austin, thanks.

A short while ago, Vice President Gore called for the outcome of the presidential election to be decided deliberately, without, quote, "a rush to judgment."

CNN's John King joins us with more from Gore's home base of Nashville, Tennessee -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, we watched here at the War Memorial last night and into the early morning hours as this drama played out. They're cleaning up here now and breaking down. There will be no victory celebration nor a concession speech here. Instead, the Gore campaign huddled at the headquarters watching this, all eyes now, as we've discussed, on the state of Florida.

A short time ago, the vice president gave his first reaction to all of this, his campaign aides still saying they believe he will ultimately win this election; they're highlighting the fact that he did, indeed, win the popular vote. The vice president, though, did not make any public statement of an expectation of victory. Instead, he was very subdued in his remarks, urging Florida to conduct a quick and fair recount. Urging the nation not to rush to judgment about who should be the president-elect.


GORE: Yesterday the people of our country joined together to make a great national decision, to choose the next president of the United States. We still do not know the outcome of yesterday's vote, and I realize that this an extraordinary moment for our democracy.


KING: The vice president left without taking questions; his running mate, Senator Joseph Lieberman said nothing. The Democrats believe the less said by the two candidates the better right now as this remarkable political story -- unprecedented in our history, also looms, now, as a legal controversy.


(voice-over): Former secretary of state Warren Christopher will lead a Gore legal team that also includes two former top vice presidential aides: Jack Quinn and Ron Klain. Before heading to Florida, Mr. Christopher stopped in Nashville for a quick meeting with the vice president.

WARREN CHRISTOPHER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Our purpose is clear: We want to ensure that the legislative process, the process of counting, last night, and the underlying voting process is fair, accurate and that we resolve that in a timely way.

KING: Nashville was a mix of exhaustion, excitement and exasperation. The crowd that waited late into the night, at times seeing victory within reach -- then apparent defeat -- and then again a final reason to hope.

The Gore camp took note that, despite predictions to the contrary, it was the vice president who won the popular vote.

MARK FABIANI, GORE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: 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. KING: But it is the Florida recount that will decide the Electoral College winner. And though the Bush lead is narrow -- fewer than 2,000 votes -- recount veterans say the odds are heavily against the vice president.

BILL CINTURFF, GOP POLLSTER: It's better to be ahead in the recount; and actually if it is, as the Bush people think, 1,800 votes -- it sounds like a little amount but, actually, in a recount, that's a lot of votes to overturn to actually win a state.

KING: The president urged calm and patience.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people have now spoken, but it's going to take a little while to determine exactly what they said. The process for that is in motion and the rest of us will have to let it play out.


KING: Now in addition to watching the recount closely, the Gore campaign raising other questions -- anecdotal evidence, they say, suggests as many as 2,500 people, maybe more, meant to cast ballots for the vice president. Instead, ended up voting for Pat Buchanan. A big question, though, as to whether they can do anything about that after the election. That, essentially, a complaint about the way the ballot was structured physically on paper.

Now, though, the Gore campaign, all eyes on Florida watching this recount. A team of as many as 70 people expected in the state within the next 24 hours. We should note, many have been raising questions as to whether the Gore campaign would try to sway any of those electors in the Electoral College should Governor Bush be certified as the winner of Florida and win by just one or two electoral votes.

The vice president today did not rule that out directly, but if you listen closely, he did say, despite the fact that he won the popular vote, that our Constitution calls the Electoral College winner the true president-elect and aides reminding us today, remember the vice president was prepared to come here last night, was just two blocks away preparing to give a concession speech when he realized Florida was closer than he believed. If Governor Bush is ultimately certified the Florida winner, Gore campaign officials telling us the vice president would quickly be prepared to concede again, but they're not ready to do that just yet. They believe, although they acknowledge the odds are high, that they have a chance of reversing the results and actually winning the state of Florida -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, what gives them that confidence?

KING: Well, simply there was so much uncertainty, so much back- and-forth last night -- I'd call it not so much confidence as just the reality or the unreality of the last few days. They're not ready to give up because nothing has seemed set in stone these past few days. Every time something seems to be locked in, it changes again.

So they say they want to get in on the ground; they want their lawyers to do the research; they say their Democrats in Florida are telling them they believe there could well be a swing in this election. History says there won't be, but history, also, doesn't know what to do with what happened last night.

WOODRUFF: True that is; John King in Tennessee, thanks very much.

And when INSIDE POLITICS returns, Florida again the deciding factor. We'll hear from Bush campaign press secretary Mindy Tucker and Gore campaign spokesman Chris Lehane.


SHAW: With the race to determine the next occupant of the White House still up for grabs, we are joined by two members of the Bush and Gore camps. Bush campaign press secretary Mindy Tucker in Austin, Texas, and in Nashville, Tennessee, Gore campaign spokesman, Chris Lehane.

Mindy Tucker, first to you, and Chris Lehane, I will have the same question for you.

One of you will win and one of you will lose. Will the victory be sullied by this recount process?

MINDY TUCKER, BUSH CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: I certainly hope not. I think we should all be proud of the Democratic process we have here in America. As many people have pointed out today, if there is ever a day to realize that your vote does count, this is it. This has been a hard-fought race on some very important issues. It's close and I think now what is going to be really important is whoever wins is a leader who can really unite this country.

It's one of the things we have talked about throughout this campaign. We need someone who can work with the Republicans, Democrats and independents, because there are a lot of people out there who may have not voted for the winner and he will have to represent all those people. And I think that is something that Governor Bush certainly understands and is looking forward to taking on that responsibility and bringing our country together.

SHAW: Chris.

CHRIS LEHANE, GORE CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: We agree. We think that the democratic process of this country has worked well for over 200 years. This is a nation of laws, we ought to respect our laws. But we think that our victory is going to be sweet. We think we have won the popular vote. That's pretty clear. And we believe we are going to win the popular vote within the state of Florida and thereby win the electoral vote as well.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Mindy Tucker, it's Jeff Greenfield. Last week, when we were all speculating that Bush might win the popular vote but lose the electoral vote. Some people in your campaign were telling journalists that if that happened, they were seriously considering a post-election challenge, radio talk show hosts and the like arguing that the popular vote winner should, in fact, run the country. Now that it's pretty clear that you have lost the popular vote, could you have any objection if some Gore people did exactly what the Bush people were thinking they might do?

TUCKER: Actually we could, because I saw that in one paper and I still have not found one single person here in the Bush campaign who knows what anybody was talking about. That is certainly not the feeling. Governor Bush has been asked several times about it and has said several times that the electoral college has worked. It's part of our Democratic system and that the winner of the electoral college is the winner of the presidential election.

GREENFIELD: Now, Chris, to you, just a few minutes ago, we heard the vice president seemed to suggest that that was his view too. But all day, you, Mark Fabiani, have been at pains to point out that, in fact, more people voted for Al Gore than George Bush. So, let's put it on the line, if you can. Is your campaign flatly ruling out an electoral challenge to the electoral vote count once that count is complete?

LEHANE: Well, obviously, we are going to respect the Constitution, and the precepts that are contained within the Constitution with regard to the electoral college. But we believe it's not going to come down to that. We believe, we believe strongly, that not only have we won the popular vote but we are going to win the vote in Florida and thereby win the electoral vote and the popular vote.

We believe it's extremely close in Florida and if you begin taking a look at some these votes and some of these counties where there have been questions about the votes, those are Democratic counties, those are our base, those our voters and there's a very, very small margin. And we believe that if there's a fair, objective recount, that Al Gore is going to be the victor in Florida.

GREENFIELD: But Chris, forgive an old man's obsession, but the Constitutional process, the last time I looked, also permits electors in many states to vote their consciences. So, what I'm saying is, are you ruling out an appeal to Bush electors within the constitutional process to say, you might want to consider voting for the popular vote winner?

LEHANE: Again, not to belabor this point, but we believe that's a moot question. We believe we are going to win the popular vote and win the popular vote within the state of Florida and therefore win the electoral college. And we are going to do this all consistent with the frameworks laid out in the Constitution. Your reference to the electors, I think the last time I checked, and correct me if I am wrong, I think about half of them are obligated to vote the way they went in and the other half can vote their conscience. And I think that is consistent with the Constitutional framework.

But our viewpoint here is pretty clear and let me be absolutely clear about that and precise. We are going to win the popular vote, which we have done so already and we are going to win the vote in Florida and therefore win the electoral college. SHAW: Last quick question to each of you, starting with you, Mindy, what was your best and worst moment overnight?

TUCKER: Well, it was certainly a strange night to say the least. I think overall, the -- it was a little bit disappointing that so many media organizations decided to call so many races early on. There were, in fact, Florida, for instance, was called before the polls in western Florida and the Panhandle were even closed. I think it was really disappointing that that had happened.

As far as the best part of the evening, just seeing the Democratic process at work. We feel really, really good about our chances in Florida. We have not been set back by this. We are actually looking forward to getting this final recount done because we believe it will only affirm what we already know and that is that Governor Bush has won the state of Florida and therefore won the presidency. We look forward to starting the next phase in this process and look forward to instilling a new president for our country.

SHAW: And Chris, your best and the worst moment overnight.

LEHANE: Well, the penultimate best moment was when we got the popular vote. I think the ultimate best moment is still to come and that will be in the near future when we win Florida outright.

I agree with Mindy in terms of the worst moment and that was when, you know, some of these instant polls and exit polls and network predictions proved to be wrong. I think it's a lesson for all of us on all sides of this that we need to be careful as we move through this process in the future.

SHAW: Chris Lehane, Mindy Tucker, sleep awaits you. Thank you.

Still ahead: understanding Florida. Bill Schneider with a closer look at what the voters had to say. Plus, calculating the Nader effect. The Green Party candidate's results and his impact on this presidential race.


SHAW: As the candidates sit on pins and needles, awaiting results of Florida's ballot recount, our Bill Schneider has been poring over the results of the exit polls from that state.

Any surprises in the Florida vote?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, Florida's African-American vote was overwhelmingly Democratic as usual, more than 90 percent for Gore. But the surprise was that African-Americans accounted for 15 percent of the vote in Florida, which is way up. Blacks were 10 percent of the vote in Florida in 1996. Now, Jews, nationwide voted about 80 percent for Gore and Lieberman. The surprise was the Jewish voters accounted for just 4 percent of the vote in Florida this year, which is down from 7 percent in 1996. Now here's a big surprise. The Hispanic vote in Florida used to be heavily Cuban-American and overwhelmingly Republican; but this year it was expected to be even more overwhelmingly Republican because of anger at the Clinton administration's handling of the Elian Gonzalez matter. In fact, however, Florida's Hispanic vote was evenly divided between Bush and Gore; how could that be?

Because Cuban-Americans are not the only Hispanics in Florida. In fact, they're outnumbered by other Hispanic voters -- Dominicans, Puerto Ricans and South Americans, who tend to vote strongly Democratic. Plus the fact that second and third-generation Cuban- Americans tend to be less Republican than their parents and grandparents. That's why Bush did not carry Florida handily, as a lot of people expected him too after the Elian Gonzalez affair.

SHAW: Now what about seniors in Florida?

SCHNEIDER: Well that is another surprise, Bernie. Seniors' interest in Social Security and prescription drugs was supposed to drive them to Al Gore; but Florida voters 65 and over actually voted for Bush by a narrow majority. Seniors tend to be among the most conservative voters on values, and a lot of them were disturbed by the moral tone set by the Clinton White House. Among Florida seniors, values trumped interests, which is why Gore didn't carry Florida handily.

SHAW: Well, pre-election polls showed, as I recall, that Gore would take Florida. When did the state move into the toss-up column?

SCHNEIDER: Well, you know this happened, Bernie, in just the last three days of the campaign. Most voters who decided how to vote before the last three days were for Gore, but last-minute deciders, 8 percent of Florida voters, tilted to Bush and they made the state competitive. Did you notice that some Bush supporters in Austin last night were carrying signs that said, "Thanks, Jeb"?

SHAW: Remembered; thank you Bill Schneider -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And joining us now to talk more about the election in Florida: Mark Silva of "The Miami Herald" and Tony Doris of the "Miami Daily Business Review."

Mark Silva, to you first: Could this recount that's now under way change the result and give Florida to Al Gore?

MARK SILVA, "THE MIAMI HERALD": Well, it's certainly close enough. The last time we checked it was roughly 1,700 votes that divided the two out of 5.8 million cast between them. So clearly there's the possibility among 67 counties for an advantage to shift. There remains these outstanding military absentee ballots that could have an impact as well.

WOODRUFF: And I want to ask you both about that. But first just about the recount.

Tony Doris, do you believe the recount of the ballots that are already in there could shift the outcome?

TONY DORIS, "MIAMI DAILY BUSINESS REVIEW": Could make a big difference. Now, there's that and there are a number of different irregularities between the ballot boxes that were found and not opened and also the Palm Beach County situation: the numbers of voters that went for Buchanan there could be well out of proportion to any logic that would have withstood the test.

WOODRUFF: But that's not addressing the recount itself. I mean, isn't that what you're referring to, a potential challenge to the balloting?

DORIS: That's correct. I'm referring to an immediate potential challenge in Palm Beach. As far as the count itself, I didn't know that there was any real problems with count other than some missing ballot boxes here and there, which any little irregularity like that, anything having to do with the count when the margin is this small could make a big difference.

WOODRUFF: Mark Silva, what has to happen next? We know that the state officials are saying they're going to try to finish this recount and get it done by tomorrow. But that's not going to be the end of it, is that your outstanding?

SILVA: Well, that's correct. They're attempting to undertake, really, an instant canvass. After an election there's always a canvass to certify the results, an orderly process that takes quietly and over a period of time. Nobody ever pays attention to it because it's generally irrelevant.

This is sort of an instant canvass that they're attempting to complete by tomorrow evening, which they probably will. Friday is a state-worker holiday, I believe. But there remains these outstanding military absentee ballots, which, if this margin remains close, could, arguably, be part of the final outcome. And how can the state of Florida declare its vote if there are still outstanding ballots?

WOODRUFF: Do you have a sense, Mark Silva, of how those outstanding overseas ballots would turn? You're saying most of them are members of the military.

SILVA: Well, we think so, but we really don't know. These are ballots that have been requested among all the 67 county elections offices. We're told there were some 2,300 of these in the last presidential election. We're told by the campaigns that they trend Republican, but that strikes me as a little bit of a campaign spin. I'm told by other people with some familiarity with the Pentagon and overseas voting that they tend to vote like the public in general.

DORIS: And that could shift the vote either way, Judy. I mean, there are a lot of minorities among the military, it's not just the hard-liners that one might normally assume.

WOODRUFF: Well let's just be very specific here. No. 1, we're dealing with a recount -- a simple recount that's now underway. But beyond that, we're looking at these absentee ballots, the ones -- the military overseas ballots as well as, I gather, are there still some in the state that have not been counted?

SILVA: I think overwhelmingly the vast majority of the normal absentee ballots have been accounted for. The question is, as they look at these things, will they disqualify some which don't have the certification. We recently, in this state, went through a tightening of the absentee ballot process after some absentee ballot fraud in Miami which overturned a mayoral election in Miami.

WOODRUFF: So we're talking about the recount. We're talking about absentee counting. We're also talking about potential fraud or, I don't know, what do you want tall call it? The questions about the ballots in Palm Beach County. Whether the place where you marked your vote was exactly where the name of the candidate was?

DORIS: I think there's a real reason to believe that that could significantly affect the outcome in Palm Beach County. It certainly is something that bears investigating right away. Like I said...

WOODRUFF: Why are you so confident that that could change the outcome?

DORIS: Well, Palm Beach County, from what we know, is no great extreme, right-wing, hard-line conservative Pat Buchanan territory any more than any other county in Florida. And yet, if the votes turn out to have been heavily Pat Buchanan, relatively, up in the Palm Beach County, then that does look like there could well have been a lot of people who were fooled in the ballot box, and that might require a legal change.

WOODRUFF: All right, Mark Silva and Tony Doris, we thank you both for being with us; this story just gets more complicated and more complicated. Thanks very much -- Bernie.

SHAW: Green Party candidate Ralph Nader did not reach his goal yesterday of 5 percent of the national vote, but he earned enough support to be considered -- at least by some -- a spoiler in this presidential race. Pat Neal takes a closer look at the Nader factor.


PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If it wasn't for Ralph Nader, Democrats say Al Gore would be president-elect now.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D), MINORITY LEADER: Ralph Nader denied Al Gore a clean victory in Florida.

NEAL: The numbers bear that out. According to the latest tally, George W. Bush is beating Gore by fewer than 2,000 votes. Nader has pulled more than 96,000. Analysts point out Nader supporters overwhelmingly said they would have backed the vice president if Nader had not been in the running.

ANDREW KOHUT, PEW RESEARCH CENTER: Take 80 percent of the 2 percent that Nader polled in Florida, and that's over a point and a half going to Gore. That gives Gore Florida.

NEAL: And what does Nader think?

RALPH NADER, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If Democrats are disappointed with the returns, they need to take a close look at their party and the empty campaign waged by Al Gore in this campaign.

NEAL: The Nader factor also looms in Oregon, where the votes are still being tallied. The latest numbers show Bush with a slight lead and Nader polling 5 percent.

LYNN ROSIK, OREGON ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: It does appear that, based on the earlier polling, that the -- some people did peel away from Nader and go back to Gore, and that was probably based on the fact that they realized yesterday that the race was still very close.

NEAL: Nader's appeal to independents and environmentalists also siphoned votes away from Gore in New Hampshire, which went for Bush. But each though Nader also did well in Maine, Vermont, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Washington, he did not cost Gore those states.

PAT BUCHANAN, REFORM PARTY CANDIDATE: Congratulations, you did a great job, you ran a great campaign.

NEAL: One person congratulating Nader: Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan.

BUCHANAN: And I would currently advise Ralph, given the numbers I've seen, that he may be interested in Secret Service protection.

NEAL: Buchanan, for his effort, only received about 1 percent of the vote.

(on camera): As for Ralph Nader, even if he costs Al Gore the presidency, he didn't get what he wanted: 5 percent of the popular vote. That would have allowed the Green Party to receive federal funds in the next election.

Pat Neal, CNN, Washington.


SHAW: There is much more ahead on this extended edition of INSIDE POLITICS.

WOODRUFF: Still to come, a House and Senate divided.


CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When the last vote is counted, Congress will be virtually split between Democrats and Republicans. Is it a prescription for gridlock or opportunity for bipartisanship?


WOODRUFF: Chris Black on the new balance of power on Capitol Hill. Plus:


JOHN ASHCROFT (R), MISSOURI: And I hope that the outcome of this election is a matter of comfort to Mrs. Carnahan.


SHAW: A concession in Missouri after that state casts a vote for history. Also:

WOODRUFF: The first lady spends her first day as a senator- elect.


SHAW: There will be a Clinton in that capital city after the president leaves on January 20th. Hillary Rodham Clinton capped her historic run for the U.S. Senate with victory on election day.

CNN's Frank Buckley reports.


FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hillary Clinton greeted commuters and thanked supporters at Grand Central Station as a senator-elect. The first lady looking forward, she says, to her new role as an elected public servant.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATOR-ELECT: You know, it's like any new job. I mean, you've got to find your footing. You have to be, you know, willing to work hard to learn the, you know, the ropes and the rules, build relationships with people, all of which I intend to do.

BUCKLEY: Mrs. Clinton telling reporters in her first news conference as a senator-elect that health care, education and upstate New York's economy would be her legislative priorities.

CLINTON: My first bill on my own behalf will concern the upstate economy and also parts of downstate that have not yet realized the full benefit of the economic prosperity that we enjoy.

CROWD: Hillary! Hillary!

BUCKLEY: Upstate voters helped to deliver Mrs. Clinton's victory. The first lady running stronger in the region than Democrats traditionally do. Clinton also won big in New York City, with three- quarters of the vote there. And held her own in the suburbs, losing in Rick Lazio's base by only single digits.

Lazio was back home in the suburbs as Republicans began to consider what went wrong. The Congressman ran as the anti-Hillary, stressing the carpetbagger issue. But exit-polling revealed only 47 percent were concerned. The majority was not.

Women, once a problem in polling for the first lady came home to her with 60 percent on election night. Men were split. Mrs. Clinton said her new role would mean advocating for all New Yorkers.

CLINTON: I intend to, you know, be a senator for everyone in New York and, you know, over the course of time I think people who might have supported my opponent will understand and see that.

BUCKLEY: Mrs. Clinton also acknowledged President Clinton, who for the first time, was the spouse in the background on election night.

CLINTON: I would not have been standing there without, you know, the support and work of my husband.

BUCKLEY: The first lady said she stayed up all night long watching presidential election returns. Her loyalties on the matter very clear.

CLINTON: I'm very hopeful that not only will the lead in the popular vote, which the vice president now has, remain and make very clear that he was the choice of the majority of Americans, but that as a result of the recount and the investigation that will be going on in Florida, he will get the votes that people intended for him to have and will be declared our president.


BUCKLEY: And Mrs. Clinton also answered those wondered whether she has presidential aspirations of her own. Mrs. Clinton today saying no, she doesn't. She intends to fully serve out her six-year term as New York's junior senator -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Frank Buckley, thanks very much.

Another closely-watched and emotionally-charged race was the one in Missouri. The defeat of Republican Senator John Ashcroft also made history in an unlikely way.

CNN's Kate Snow has the story.


SEN. JOHN ASHCROFT (R), MISSOURI: I believe that the will of the people has been expressed with compassion, and that the people's voice should be respected and heard.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Surrounded by teary- eyed supporters, Senator John Ashcroft conceded the race to the widow of his formal rival, Governor Mel Carnahan.

ASHCROFT: And I hope that the outcome of this election is a matter of comfort to Mrs. Carnahan. And I hope that we can all accord her the opportunity to have the kind of necessary recovery time after such a great, personal loss.

SNOW: The one-term Republican is the first person in U.S. history to lose a Senate race to a deceased candidate. It was an incredibly close race, marred by allegations on both sides of voter fraud in the city of St. Louis. But the hundreds of votes in question would not be enough to give Ashcroft a win. And despite lingering legal questions about the constitutionality of electing a dead man to the Senate, Ashcroft said he will not challenge the election in court.

ASHCROFT: But I reject any legal challenge to this election in terms of the election for the United States Senate. I will discourage others from challenging the will of the people in the election of their United States senator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We take that as a good sign and a good faith announcement on their part. And just hope that all of the other folks that may be listening to them, follow, their lead.

SNOW: Still, some have suggested Ashcroft is waiting for someone else to do the job for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says he won't participate. I won't encourage it, but that does not mean that he absolutely would not allow it to take place because other people besides him have the right to make a challenge on behalf of the voters of Missouri.

SNOW: Under Missouri state law, Mel Carnahan's name was left on the ballot when he died less than four weeks before the election. The governor is expected to appoint Jean Carnahan to the seat. She spent the day secluded at the family farm.


SNOW: With the Senate majority now looking to be in the hands of the Republicans, the victory by Jean Carnahan appears a little bit less important to the balance of power of Washington. Still, Republicans likely to go after this seat once again in 2002. Asked today if he would run in 2002, Senator Ashcroft never said no.

Kate Snow, CNN, live in St. Louis, Missouri.

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Kate.

And coming up next, the battle for Capitol Hill. We'll look at what's in store in the House and in the Senate.


SHAW: While we still do not know who will be the next president of the United States, we do know he will face a divided Congress.

CNN's Chris Black reports.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: They don't have the votes, we don't have the votes.

BLACK (voice-over): When the last vote is counted, Congress will be virtually split between Democrats and Republicans. Is it a prescription for gridlock, or opportunity for bipartisanship? DASCHLE: Power sharing is a unique concept. We recognize and, I hope, they recognize that the only way the Congress will accomplish anything is through bipartisanship. It simply will not occur in any other way.

BLACK: The election has left Capitol Hill reeling. The outcome of the Washington Senate race is still uncertain, but the Senate will be divided between Republicans and Democrats next session. And the House Republican margin has most likely been cut to fewer than a handful of votes, potentially making passage of Social Security reform, tax cuts and spending bills tougher than ever.

SEN. ROBERT TORRICELLI (D), NEW JERSEY: This is an American constitutional equivalent of cohabitation.

BLACK: With no mandate for either party, even the controversial senator to be from New York, Hillary Rodman Clinton is adopting a conciliatory tone.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATOR-ELECT: Today, you know, we're New Yorkers, and I'm going to get to work to represent the entire state of New York.

BLACK: Both Democrats and Republicans say the ability to pass legislation in the next Congress hinges on the outcome of the presidential race, and efforts to bridge the partisan divide are already under way.

CNN is told a coalition of moderate to conservative House Democrats are already talking privately about reaching out to George W. Bush if he wins the election. And moderate Republicans who side with Democrats on some domestic issues could prove to be a pivotal swing group.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: The things that we really feel ought to be advanced will be advanced and the centrists in both parties will be a player in those decisions just like they have been in the past.

BLACK: An early test will be on campaign finance reform, with Senator John McCain vowing there will be blood on the Senate floor if his quest continues to fall short.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: I think we will get a campaign finance reform bill done next year.

BLACK (on camera): To top off all the confusion, the current Congress returns next week for a lame-duck session. Lawmakers say the outcome of the presidential race and how it affects the unfinished business of this Congress will provide a good clue into how they behave in the next.

Chris Black, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SHAW: And when INSIDE POLITICS returns: Who will be moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Judy will talk with Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson, they join us to discuss the election.


WOODRUFF: This late word in from Florida, we -- CNN has learned that they have stopped the presidential vote recount for the day. They will resume counting tomorrow morning, and just as soon as we can get hold of the numbers from this day, at the end of the day we will share them with you.

Joining us now, in Washington, Tucker Carlson of "The Weekly Standard"; in New York, Margaret Carlson of "Time" magazine.

All right, Margaret and Tucker, both sides, both Gore and Bush are saying, we're going to win once the Florida votes are counted -- at least their campaigns are saying that.

Where are we headed here, Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, it's interesting. They're both saying that, but the Gore campaign is also saying -- in fact, Bill Daley just said, we have already won. Somebody asked him -- the first question in his press conference was, do you believe you have won, and he said, yes, I do believe that, we have won the popular vote. And you keep hearing every prominent Democrat on television today, including the president and his wife, Gore himself, Fabiani, Chris Lehane, have all pointed out the fact that Gore won the popular vote.

Now, this is true, but it -- on some level, it really is a matter of trivia, because obviously winning the popular vote doesn't make you president. But they keep pointing this out as if it has some significance beyond just being interesting or -- I mean, there -- it is significant in a sense, but it's not, strictly speaking, significant as to who becomes president, so it does make you wonder what is the point here, and I think there is a point.

WOODRUFF: Margaret, are -- is -- are you getting a sense that the Gore people are not going to abide by an electoral vote when, if that's what George Bush ends up with?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, I wonder, Tucker, if the point isn't that they want to, you know, first make -- you know, CNN has all day on its screen, Gore 260, Bush 246, this sticks in people's mind, they won the popular vote. While they're looking for a way to challenge those 3,200 Buchanan ballots in Palm Beach -- I think it's 3,200 -- to find a way -- when Gore came on TV, he's got flags behind him, he's on the podium, there is -- you know, he takes no questions. He's looking presidential and he's leaving it to other people to figure out, well, OK, let's keep this going slowly, let's make sure it's right, but also perhaps let's find a way to challenge it.

WOODRUFF: So, Tucker, where -- I'll ask the question, again. Where are we headed? I mean, are we looking at a process that is going to be drawn out over days and days with an outcome that's not respected by half of the people in the country?

T. CARLSON: Well, of course, it's not clear but that is definitely the direction it seems to be moving in. Bill Daley, for instance, at the press conference, said individuals have a right to take action if their rights have been violated, and it seems to me a clear reference to this Palm Beach ballot, which is, of course, an official ballot.

I mean, it's not as if, you know, some right-wing consultant came in the middle of the night and wrote it up in an effort to, you know, confuse Democratic voters. It is the ballot and apparently a lot of people misread it.

So it is hard, strictly speaking, to see how one would go about challenging that. But that's the clear implication that the Gore campaign is making that people's rights were violated. Jesse Jackson has said that bluntly -- people's rights were violated by this ballot. So it's not inconceivable to me that that's the basis upon which Florida is challenged.

M. CARLSON: You know, here you have this very close race and then you have an anomaly, which is that Pitch-fork Pat managed to get 3,200 votes in Palm Beach. You know, it raises questions. Now maybe people -- you know, I don't know electoral law and I'm not even -- I've never met a member of the electoral college. But we're all going to meet them. They're going to become the new independent voters, and you know, they're going to be is having little coffee klatsches and be hearing from them.

WOODRUFF: I think we just lost Margaret's signal in New York. We apologize about that. But Tucker, let me pick up on the point that you and she were making and really move it maybe a step beyond. What is it going to take for Al Gore, for the country, for the Bush people to accept and respect the results of this election once they're known?

T. CARLSON: Well, again, that's not clear because they will be known fairly soon. I mean, it seems at this point that by the end of tomorrow it'll be clear who won Florida, given...

WOODRUFF: Except you won't have all of the absentee votes counted.

T. CARLSON: Well, as far as I know, the state of Florida was saying -- or at least earlier today that they would be counted by the end of the of tomorrow. But in any case, by certainly the beginning of next week, it'll be clear who won. So the question then is, does the Gore campaign dare challenge it on other grounds?

And I have to say it seems to me that Gore will be under a lot of pressure not to, because, I mean, you know, people obviously are divided about who ought to be president but probably united by the sentiment that there ought to be a president-elect. So it strikes me as a risky strategy if that's what they're planning on.

WOODRUFF: All right, Tucker Carlson, and Margaret, who is no longer with us.

T. CARLSON: Thanks. See you, MARGARET.

WOODRUFF: Thank you, both. We appreciate it.

Well, there is still much more INSIDE POLITICS ahead.

SHAW: In the next 30 minutes, the latest from Florida. Plus a look at the history of recounts, and some thoughts on the electoral college and the popular vote.

WOODRUFF: Stay with us as INSIDE POLITICS continues.


SHAW: Al Gore is facing the unknowns of the presidential election and the prospect he might be a popular vote winner and an electoral vote loser.

WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, George W. Bush stays upbeat that he will be the official victor once a recount in Florida is complete.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): OK, OK, I know it's too close to call. But Florida. Florida is going to pick the next president?


SHAW: Bruce Morton on the election twists and turns befitting the home of Disney World.

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Here once again are Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw,

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to this extended edition of INSIDE POLITICS. All eyes are on the state of Florida where the outcome of the presidential election apparently, apparently will turn on a vote recount. That process has finished for this day. It will resume tomorrow.

With approximately 10 counties reporting their result, Al Gore has gained 109 votes and George W. Bush has added 92. Now Bush still leads Gore in the Sunshine State by more than 1700 votes. This afternoon, Vice President Gore urged that the recount be deliberate and fair -- and it was his first public comment on the fact that in the battle for electoral votes it remains too close to call.


GORE: I want to express my deep and profound gratitude to all of those who cast their ballots, however they cast them. We now need to resolve this election in a way that is fair, forthright, and fully consistent with our Constitution and our laws.


WOODRUFF: Earlier today, Governor Bush expressed his belief that when all is said and done, he will be the president-elect.


G. BUSH: I'm looking forward to this being speedily resolved and that the vote that we believe we've got in Florida is confirmed, and when that happens, I'll be the president-elect and my friend will be the vice president-elect and we'll begin the transition.


WOODRUFF: Both Bush and Gore have sent high-profile emissaries to Florida to help ensure that the recount is handled fairly -- Bernie.

SHAW: You know, while this recount in a presidential election is quite extraordinary, recounts in state and local elections are not by and large that unusual and some in the past have gotten downright ugly.

Our Brooks Jackson flashes back to one example.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you solemnly swear...

BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 1985: Tip O'Neill was Speaker and Democrats had command of the house. Jim Wright was their leader.

REP. JIM WRIGHT (D), MAJORITY LEADER: The election procedures employed in the 8th Congressional District have been neither timely nor regular. And serious questions have been raised with respect to their fairness.

JACKSON: And Democrats refused to seat Richard McIntyre, even though McIntyre had been certified the winner in Indiana's 8th Congressional District. A task force -- one Republican, two Democrats, including future White House chief of staff Leon Panetta, recounted the votes.

REP. LEON PANETTA (D), CALIFORNIA: The decisions were justified. They were supported and they were right.

JACKSON: And on party line votes, the Democrats declared their man, Frank McCloskey, the winner by only four votes. The Republicans called it a stolen election and walked out of the White House.

REP. PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: This wound will not heal without a terrible price and a scar that will be with this House for many years.

JACKSON: And the bitterness didn't stop there.

MARK BRADEN, GOP ELECTION LAWYER: I think it destroyed the personal relationships of many people in the House. It was as bitter a partisan dispute as I've seen in 20-years plus in Washington.

JACKSON: House Republicans were led by moderates then.

BRADEN: That really destroyed those people in the leadership who were believers in reaching across the aisle and dealing with other honorable men. And frankly, I think it played a key role in Newt being elected into the leadership.

JACKSON: That's Newt Gingrich, back then a back-bencher without much power. Indiana 8 changed that.

BILL CANFIELD, GOP ELECTION LAWYER: I would say that it led to the Gingrich Revolution in 1994. It took a while to get there, but in the end, the Young Turk Republicans who felt that the election was stolen from them became the majority in the caucus, the House Republican caucus, and they wreaked bloody hell on the Democrats in retribution for what happened in Indiana 8.

JACKSON: Democrats said at the time it was the right thing to do.

FRANK MCCLOSKEY, FORMER U.S. HOUSE MEMBER: I think it was a fair count, as close as possible, as fair as possible, given all the circumstances.

JACKSON: And Democrats who were involved still say the fight was worth it despite the bitter legacy.

JIM MARGOLIS, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL CONSULTANT: The legacy continues. I think the Republicans honestly, genuinely believe that the Democrats stole it from them. And I think the Democrats honestly, genuinely believe that the Republicans were trying to steal it from the Democrats. And at the end of the day, a decision was going to get made and no matter what decision was made in this race, there were going to be a lot of hard feelings.


JACKSON: The Indiana 8 recount is still remembered by many as the Bloody 8, a seminal event in the history of the House and a reminder that contested elections can stir bitter partisan passions that linger for years -- Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you, Brooks Jackson.

Now turning back to this presidential race. Al Gore is leading George W. Bush in the popular vote. but he may, when all is said and done and decided, lose the battle for electoral votes and, of course. the election to Governor Bush. A scenario like that has played out only twice before in United States history.

CNN's Charles Zewe looks at the electoral college process and the issues it raises.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHARLES ZEWE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Voters Tuesday didn't vote for George Bush or Al Gore, they voted for a slate of so- called "electors" picked by state party conventions. The election in fact produced a potential crisis, giving Al Gore a popular vote win and George W. Bush a victory in the electoral college if he prevails in the vote recount in Florida.

It's all because of the way the framers of the U.S. Constitution set up the electoral college. A candidate who wins the highest number of popular votes in a state gets all of that state's electoral votes. One vote per elector and the number of electors equals the total of the state's and House and Senate members. Two states, Nebraska and Maine, allocate their votes somewhat differently.

Two hundred and seventy votes wins 538 electoral college votes and wins the presidency. In 16 states, electors are legally bound to vote for their party's choice for president and vice president. Thirty-five other states, though, allow electors, some with minimal penalties, to switch their votes. Constitutional experts say the electoral college system is rife with potential for becoming a nightmare.

JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: What you have is a political system designed and functioning for the 21st century. And in that system is a part that was designed in the 17th century, and that part has failed. It is not well-suited for our current sort of pressures.

ZEWE: Three times, in 1824, 1876, and 1888, the candidate who won the popular vote lost the electoral vote and the presidency. Supporters of the system contend it forces candidates to visit less populated states rather than building up huge leads in heavily populated areas.

ALAN LICHTMAN, GEORGETOWN SCHOOL OF LAW: The big population centers would get the most attention under a popular vote system, but it's not clear that states would get entirely neglected. A lot of states get neglected anyway under the electoral college system when those states are locked in for one candidate or another.

ZEWE: Attempts to throw out the electoral college are already planned no matter how this presidential election turns out.

(on camera): That is easier said than done. Any Constitutional amendment to scrap the electoral college must be approved by two- thirds of both houses of Congress and then ratified by 38 states.

Charles Zewe, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: All right, we have more now on this issue of electoral votes and popular votes with Jeff Greenfield.

And Jeff, as I come to you, I want to show our viewers what we now see from Florida. The recount is finished for the day and here are the numbers. I think we can show them to you. Yes, the bottom line is that of the counties they've counted, Bush gains 125 votes, Gore gains 133, a net gain of eight for the vice president. And you have been doing some thinking about this whole electoral college popular vote.

GREENFIELD: Well, it was very interesting today on the show and what the vice president said. You have got to listen to that language carefully. We respect the process. That almost sounds like they are willing to accept whatever the electoral vote count is. The process, as we just heard, includes the very real possibility of electors changing their vote. And the Gore people all day today were saying, now remember, we won the popular vote. If it comes out 271 for Bush, if they can get 2 electors even to switch, or three or four, changes the whole outcome. That's only the beginning.

Say Gore does nothing. Now, let's say there are six of those Bush electors who are committed social conservatives. And they go to Bush and they say, you know, unless you agree to ban RU-486, that pill, we will withhold our votes from you and it will throw it into the House of Representatives. The potential for mischief because of human beings being electors is enormous. One other example: You know, I'm an elector, Governor Bush, and I've always wanted my brother-in-law to be a federal judge. Dealing, intrigue, threats, bribes, political commitment.

WOODRUFF: But aren't these people supposed to be loyalists through and through to their party and then to the nominee?

GREENFIELD: Yes, and they are generally picked for loyalty. They are state officials, local officials, donors. What I'm saying is the human factor can never be ignored. And if it's this close, look, if the spread were 30 or 40 electoral votes, there would be no possibility. If you are talking about two electors who could keep Bush in the presidency, forget bad motives, they deeply believe in something and they go to the Bush campaign and they say, we want your commitment. You said no litmus test on judges, we want a litmus test. We want a new highway in Topeka. Who knows what they could want? The possibilities for mischief now move from satirical novels to plausibility.

WOODRUFF: Boy, I have a feeling we are going to be talking about this for more days than one.

GREENFIELD: I suspect so.

WOODRUFF: Jeff Greenfield, thanks very much.

WOODRUFF: And still ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, what message did the voters send Washington? Our Bill Schneider will be back with a closer look at the national vote.


SHAW: At this hour, the race for the White House is still undecided, and as we've mentioned, the two candidates are separated by a slim margin in the popular vote. Once again pulling up a chair, our Bill Schneider. Why was this election so close?

SCHNEIDER: Well, as usual, once again, it was the battle of the sexes: the gender gap, to be precise. Among men, the election wasn't even close. Men voted for Bush by an 11-point margin. The election wasn't close among women either. Women voted for Gore by an 11-point margin. So the election was a gender showdown, fought to a standoff: Bush, the president of men, versus Gore, the president of women.

SHAW: Were voters trying to send a message?

SCHNEIDER: Not one message, Bernie, two. Voters were clearly of two minds. On the one hand, they never had it so good. A record 86 percent said the economy was excellent or good, and no fewer than half said their own personal financial situation had improved over the past four years. Message: We're fat and happy, keep it up.

On the other hand, there was strong sentiment that it was time for a change in the country. Nearly 60 percent said the nation's moral climate was seriously off on the wrong track. Message: Something is wrong.

The top-rated issue on voters' minds was jobs and the economy. Voters who cited that issue voted strongly for Gore. But the No. 1 quality voters said they were looking for in a candidate was honesty and trustworthiness. Voters who cited that quality voted 80 percent for bush. So the prevailing mood of this election, I would say, was moral drift amidst prosperity.

SHAW: Thank you...


SHAW: ... Bill Schneider.

Up next, our Bruce Morton on Florida's moment in the electoral spotlight.


WOODRUFF: For the next 24 hours or more, Florida will be the virtual center of the political universe. Our Bruce Morton reports.


MORTON (voice-over): OK, OK, I know it's too close to call, but Florida? Florida is going to pick the next president? As Florida goes, so goes the nation? Wait a minute.

Isn't one of the most prominent Floridians a large mouse? Are we all going to take voting orders from the Mickey? Sounds a little "Goofy" to me.

I mean, it's pretty, Florida, all those beaches, all those folks soaking up rays. And they all drop everything, right, and go running off to vote? That's why they came to sunny Florida?

Some vote, sure, seniors. One friend of mine used to say, just poll his father's condo, you'd know how the whole state was going to go. Yes, well, where was his father election day, when we really needed to know that?

Some people are worried about security during the recount. Florida can fix that. Take all the ballot boxes to the Everglades, hire some alligators to handle security. No ordinary political crook is going to mess with them.

On the other hand, Florida has the space center: all those astronauts and shuttles. You could stash any number of ballots up there in orbit somewhere, count them any way you liked, and who'd ever know?

Florida does have serious politicians, the seniors, the Cuban- Americans, who vote and organize, and are usually very loyal Republicans. But this is theme park country, beach country.

Maybe we need a new park: Candidateland, you could call it. Hidden boxes of votes buried around the park, the alligators on patrol, Mickey and his pals to keep things moving. And for the lucky winner who navigates all the political swamps and haunted houses, maybe a prize: a nice white house to live in.

As Florida goes, so goes the nation. OK, Mickey, tell us what to do next.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington. But I can be on the next plane to the beach.



SHAW: Don't do it! That's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Bernard Shaw.

WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff.



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