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Special Event

Election 2000: Bush, Gore Locked in Unprecedented Fight for Control of the White House

Aired November 8, 2000 - 1:45 a.m. ET

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

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: The American people, indeed people around the world, are watching a historic unprecedented fight in a number of ways, a fight for control of the White House. Vice President Al Gore and Governor George Bush are locked in battle right now.

Taking you to our electoral vote map, at this hour, Governor Bush four electoral votes ahead of the vice president. Bush 246, Gore 242.

Florida, a state too close to call at this hour, is one of four states still outstanding. Here they are: Florida, 25 electoral votes. Iowa has seven, as does Oregon. Wisconsin, 11.

Look in the upper right-hand corner of your screen, the governor has 246 electoral votes. He only needs 24 to go to the White House. On the left side up there, Gore, 242 electoral votes. His key to the White House, 28 electoral votes.

Now we mentioned Florida is too close to call. This is the raw vote. Look at this: With 94 percent of the precincts reporting in the sunshine state, Governor Bush with 49 percent, or 2.6 million votes, to the vice president's 49 percent and 2.6 million votes.

Ralph Nader, 2 percent of the vote. Pat Buchanan and Hagelin, but Nader the factor there as we've been noting all this evening.

In Washington, Mary Matalin, Mike McCurry, what are you thinking now? -- Mary.

MIKE MCCURRY, CNN ANALYST: Let's go home!

MARY MATALIN, CNN ANALYST: We're thinking we're going to send you some of our cold pizza. Would that make you feel better?

SHAW: No!

(LAUGHTER)

MCCURRY: Look, let me -- let me say something, since we're sitting here, and we obviously are killing time because we don't know what the result is going to be at this point: that there is one thing that you can definitely say about either Bush or Gore. They are going to inherit a very divided federal government, a very divided electorate, a Congress that is split right down the middle between Democrat and Republican. And what are they going to do the day after tomorrow, when one of them is elected president? I think that's the question we ought to start asking now.

Now, the only thing clear about this election at this point is the agenda, because both of these candidates and many members of the new Congress ran on basically the same agenda. They're going to have to do something to preserve Social Security, they're going to have to do something about prescription drugs, especially for the seniors, who are on the Medicare program. They're going to have to think about how to improve education in this country, and they're going to think about how do we extend the benefits of a prosperous economy to more people. That's the agenda, and that's the only thing that's settled now. The differences is between Bush and Gore on those were frankly at the margin, because they both basically are centrists running from the center of the political spectrum.

So we are now left with a very, very divided government, and no choice yet of who are next president is going to be. But one thing's certain, what the American people want this new crew to work on. The question is will they be able to work together to get some things done?

MATALIN: Let me disagree slightly with my esteemed and sleepy colleague here. There was a movement for the kind of market-based solutions in Medicare and social security that Bush put on the table before there was a campaign. There were bipartisan commissions, which this president kyboshed because he wanted the issues. Those were not things that Gore ran on. They were very different solutions. Gore's were all government based. Bush's were all market based. There is no opposition evident in the exit polls for the type of solution. And back in Florida, the very state we're waiting to come in for now, which we thought was going to be one lost over social security, there was a support from seniors for Governor, soon to be president, Bush, in my opinion. So, I don't feel as negative about where this -- where the government action is going to go, despite the slim margins, because there was an effort for -- a bipartisan effort to reform market based solutions, particularly on Medicare and social security.

Also, you'll note in all the exit polls the second issues cited for support of Governor Bush was that tax relief or a tax code reform. So, I think Bush will be -- this is not a status quo vote, despite the evenness or the equalness in the vote outcome.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN ANALYST: Let me suggest to both of you an idea, and either one of you or both can rip apart if you would like. And that is if you're trying to read anything into this election -- and by the way, based on the raw vote numbers it doesn't look like turnout has gone up much at all, if at all -- that maybe one of the things that's being said by this incredibly close election is a plague on both your houses, enough with talking points, enough with people coming on television and spinning the line of the day, enough with characterizations of the opposition that don't bear that much relationship to the truth. What do you think? Michael, go ahead.

MCCURRY: Yes, Jeff, I think that is right. There's a lot of wisdom. It's nothing our friend Ron Brownstein pointed out a long time ago. I think that this election was about the American people saying they liked the way things are going in this country. It's one of the reasons why they approve of the performance of Bill Clinton in office as president, but they want things to change here in Washington. They want people to work together. And at the end of the day, that may have been the thing that helps push Governor Bush over the top because his message was more aimed at bringing people together to do the business of the country, Democrat and Republican together.

Now, he is going to be put severely to the test. His very first assignment, if he ends up winning Florida and winning the presidency, is going to be to put the strong people in his party in the congress, like DeLay and Armey, in a box and tell them that they have to learn how to get along with their neighbors across the isle. That's going to be very, very hard to do, but I think you may be on to something there, that what the message of this election might be is the country is fine, we're going along well, we appreciate the performance we've had, but we really now really need to get down to business in Washington and start solving some problems.

GREENFIELD: Mary, just -- there I want to phrase it and just get your reaction to it is that the thing that Americans see about politics every night on the cable news networks and in the congress the kind of -- what George Bush, the father, called as a bickering -- is something that drives people crazy independent of ideology. And I don't know whether or not you think that's right and if it is whether Washington can break the habit like you have to break a drug habit sometimes.

MATALIN: Well -- and we bear some responsibility in that because we cover -- we kind of -- there's a chicken or an egg thing going on here. They know if they say things in an acrimonious or provocative way that they're more likely to be covered. But I do think Bush was onto something when he said, "Look, we just got to break this habit. We who have been here for a long time," -- we're kind of like -- I don't in any way mean to make this a frivolous comparison, but we're kind of like the Mid East. We just have these inescapable reactions to each other, which, I think, this whole new crew coming in will be able to change. Changing the tone requires bringing new people in it who don't have these kind of old grudges. And I think that'll work. And I really believe this, having been here for 20 years, people who come to Washington, public servants are -- it's a noble profession and they make a lot of sacrifices. They want to serve the public. They don't want to behave like this anymore. They want to get their job done. They come with ideas and idealism. And, I think, on both sides of the isles they'll be looking forward to working together. I really believe that. Either I believe that or I'm really tired.

MCCURRY: Well, one thing is really true is that nobody is going to be elected with much of a mandate, neither Vice President Bush if he's -- or, Vice President Gore, if he's elected, or Governor Bush or the congress, which is split down the middle. They're going to have to work together to fulfill the wishes of the American people.

GREENFIELD: I'm curious, I know when you're not on CNN you're on the telephones. At this late hour, what are you hearing? MCCURRY: We're hearing the same thing that we've had guests on CNN and elsewhere say tonight that they are -- both campaigns, I think, desperately watching those returns from those final states that are out there with no better idea than we have here right now what's going to happen. Long ago in the evening, their models, their projections, their turnout, variances that they were measuring all went by the wayside because it's now down to those handful of votes in some of these places that are still undecided.

MATALIN: But Bernie, I want to tell you specifically in the outstanding states, Jeb's people -- Governor Jeb Bush's people really feel confident, as they have all night, about what's left out in Florida coming home for the other Governor Bush. The field director feels and was saying in the middle of my conversation about, "Look, if CNN is saying there's a 20,000 vote disparity in Wisconsin," she said, "hang on." And the next time you came up there was a 2,000-vote disparity. So, they're feeling good about Oregon, Wisconsin and still confident about Florida.

GREENFIELD: Mary Matalin, your bed awaits you, as does yours, Mike McCurry. We thank you for being such real stallions tonight in our coverage of this fascinating story.

MCCURRY: And I hope you get released soon too.

GREENFIELD: You're not the only one hoping that. Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, we hope that you're not abandoning us. Does this mean Mike and Mary are leaving us?

GREENFIELD: Yes, they're going to bed.

WOODRUFF: Uh-oh. Can't we persuade you to hang around a few more minutes? Thank you both. Fascinating.

Let's take -- we're talking about numbers. Let's take another look at the raw vote numbers in the state of Florida, with 95 percent of the precincts reporting, 49 percent to 49 percent. I think Mary just referred to this. It's a 20,000 -- no, I think she was talking about Wisconsin. But this is a 20,000-vote separation among over more than five million votes cast.

We're going to go directly to St. Louis, Missouri to the man who would like to have been speaker of the House of Representatives. Let's listen.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: I want to thank all of the people here and some not here who helped me win this campaign. I want to thank every worker. I want to especially thank Joyce Abuzzi (ph), who's the best political director in the entire world, and I want to thank every one of you who helped me, who went door to door with us, who helped us make telephone calls, who took us to the picnics, who helped us talk to the people about the issues that mattered to the people in this district. And I will work every day to help the people of the 3rd District of Missouri. WOODRUFF: Dick Gephardt, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, re-elected to another term in the U.S. Congress, two year term. As I mentioned a moment ago, he would have liked to have been -- have an additional title there, to be speaker of the house, but as CNN is projecting -- we've said this earlier -- we think the House will remain in Republican control.

We are going to look again at those numbers coming in from the state of Florida. And to help us do it, we're going over to that map and to Hal Bruno. Hal, what is left to come in?

HAL BRUNO, CNN ANALYST: Judy, the lead has been cut now to about 20,000, Bush over Gore, in Florida. And what is outstanding is basically Democratic territory along the gold coast. Let's look at the map here. All right, it's this area here from Miami up to West Palm Beach. Now, 26 percent of what's outstanding is from Broward County, and that's heavily Jewish and that's heavily Democratic. Forty five percent is from Dade County. Dade County splits two ways. Part of it is African American, which is Democratic, part of it is Cuban American, which is Republican. We don't know which part of it is still outstanding. But the thing is Florida has gotten so close now that there's just absolutely now way of counting it until probably every last vote is in.

WOODRUFF: We just -- we did hear Mary Matalin say, and then earlier tonight, Carl, we've heard other folks who represent the Bush campaign say that they are still optimistic, that they think there are either enough absentee votes, enough of a Republican presence in those areas to give the state to George W. Bush.

BRUNO: They've got two reasons to be optimistic. One is it could be some of that outstanding vote is from the districts that are Cuban-American, which is Republican, and a lot of it could be absentee, which tends to be Republican. On the other hand, Gore's got some reason for optimism, too, because some of what's outstanding is from very solid Democratic territory.

WOODRUFF: And tell us again how long may it be before we know the answer to how Florida goes.

BRUNO: One hour, 14 minutes and 20 seconds. Judy, I don't have the slightest idea how long it's going to be.

WOODRUFF: I was -- hope springs eternal, Hal. All right, we said there are four states out. We've said it over and over again. It is the state of Florida with the 25 votes -- that is the crucial state -- and there is Iowa, Wisconsin and Oregon. And Bill Schneider, you've been looking at some exit polls.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN ANALYST: Well, we've looked at some exit polls in Florida. And what we find in Florida is that Jewish voters are about 80 percent Democratic, blacks are about 90 percent Democratic. You know -- Hal mentioned the Cuban-American vote. People think that most Hispanic voters in Florida are Cuban-Americans. In fact, a lot of them are not. The Hispanic vote in Florida in our exit poll is breaking just about 50-50 for Bush and Gore, which has got to be good news for Gore because Bush is probably counting on a heavy Cuban-American vote, which is historically Republican. But a lot of Hispanic women, particularly in Florida, have been voting Democratic in recent elections, so it looks like the Hispanic voters are not as reliably Republican as it used to be in Florida.

WOODRUFF: This Hispanic vote in Florida, we've learned, is a vote -- these are people who have come from other parts of Latin and South America, people from Central America, South America.

SCHNEIDER: That's right.

GREENFIELD: We also know that the Cuban's second and third generation vote is not as Republican than the older.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. Now, we have seen (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that the Elian Gonzales issue might have driven a lot of Cuban Americans back to the Republican party because they split pretty closely between Clinton and Dole last time. But it appears the Hispanic vote in Florida, which is concentrated in south Florida where Hal said the vote is still out, that vote is splitting a lot closer than people expected it to.

GREENFIELD: I would just make one other point, that this -- for some of us, this is very reminiscent of 1976. There, there was no question that Carter had won the popular vote but it was in the middle of the night or in early morning when the votes from Mississippi and Ohio came in, both states in a matter of a few thousand votes that put Jimmy Carter into the White House. So, when Judy plaintively asked when will we know, history may not be kind to your hopes for an end to this.

SCHNEIDER: Well, I have some information. The Florida election authorities report that it is likely that close to one million absentee ballots were sent out statewide in Florida. Almost all of them, including the absentee ballots, will be counted by 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, including the overseas ballots, military and non-military, that were received by election day -- 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, they say, almost all of them will be counted.

WOODRUFF: And it's just 1:45 Eastern Time, so we may only have an hour and 45 minutes to go.

SHAW: Well, one man who won't go to sleep is a man in Aurora, Illinois, the speaker of the house of representatives in Washington.

When we come back, Dennis Hastert will join us. Our coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We are back. It's 1:46 Eastern Time. We're still waiting to find out who the next president of the United States will be. We can tell you that CNN does estimate -- well, before I give you the turnout estimate, let me show you what the raw vote numbers are. Eighty three percent of the precincts reporting across the nation. George W. Bush 42.1 million votes, 49 percent to Al Gore's 41.4 million, 48 percent. This is one close election.

GREENFIELD: Six hundred and fifty thousand votes spread out of 83.5 million votes cast.

WOODRUFF: We can tell you on the turnout -- and I don't know whether we're going to show you any other numbers at this point, Ralph Nader -- probably not. But we can tell you is that CNN is able to estimate that the turnout among the voting-age population in the United States is going to be around 50 percent. Now, that is an increase from the turnout in 1996, the year of the last presidential election, but only a very slight increase.

So all the reports we've been hearing all day long about how the voters are turning out in record numbers, Jeff Greenfield, as you're so fond of reminding me, let's wait and see how many people actually turn out.

GREENFIELD: We go through this every two or four years, then the middle day people see long lines and they say record turnout. But the experts are wrong. When you think about this, four years ago it was a slam-dunk for Clinton to beat Dole. Everyone knew how that was going to come out. Now, you have, and we've all been predicting, it turns out these predictions were right, one of the closest elections in the history of the United States. And the turnout went from 49 percent in 1996 to 50 percent in the year 2000. That is not a huge vote of passion and interest in the political process when you think about this election.

WOODRUFF: Now, there had been predictions that the turnout would be even lower, though. So, if you're thinking in that direction you could say this was an improvement.

We want to go right now to our balance of power area over there across to his room to CNN's Wolf Blitzer for an update. Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, we want to take a look at the U.S. senate right now to see where that balance of power in the senate is stacking up in the U.S. senate. There were 35 Republican holdovers, 31 Democrats. The Republicans have won 14 seats. The Democrats tonight have won 16 seats. That brings the total to what we know right now 49 seats for the Republican, 47 seats for the Democrats. Four seats are still undecided. The Democrats would have to win all four of those seats in order to become the majority in the senate.

Let's take a look and see how close those four seats are. In Missouri, right now, Mel Carnahan, who died in a plane crash two or three weeks ago, he is getting 51 percent of the vote to Senator John Ashcroft. The Republican incumbent 49 percent. But look at that actual vote total. Very close. In Michigan right now, the incumbent Republican Spencer Abraham 51 percent to Debbie Stabenow, the Democratic challenger. But look at that number, still very close with only 68 percent of the voters tallied so far. In Nebraska, the open seat Bob Terry vacated that seat. The Democrat Ben Nelson is slightly ahead of Don Stenberg, the Republican, but look at the number with 82 percent reporting. Very, very close. Only 6,000 votes or so making a difference in Nebraska so far. In Montana, Conrad Burns slightly ahead of the challenger Brian Schweitzer, the Democrat. Once again, only 62 percent of that number is there.

Let's talk to Stuart Rothenberg and see what's happening with those four senate seats.

STUART ROTHENBERG, CNN ANALYST: Well, Wolf, obviously, these are just too close to call. It's amazing the narrow margins, given the considerable votes already cast. Clearly, someone like Conrad Burns is better, in better position. He's an incumbent. It's a conservative state. But none of these races look locked up at the moment.

BLITZER: It's going to be a long night for a lot of these races. They're going to be looking at absentee ballots. They're going to be looking at every precinct.

ROTHENBERG: Oh, absolutely. And I'm sure you're going to have the legal themes flying out of there from the Democratic Senate committee and the Republican Senate committee to make sure they're checking with ballot security and recounts and soiled ballots, things like that. So, I think some of these races could drag on definitely. And I would just add, Wolf, it's not just these races. I was noticing a couple of the House races. I would refer to a New Jersey race, Dick Zimmer against Rush Holt. And my computer showed 100 percent of the vote in and I looked a few minutes later and saw 100 percent of the vote in still and a slightly different result. The latest result has -- actually has Rush Holt ahead of Dick Zimmer by 56 votes. I don't know if that's a final final or just a preliminary final.

BLITZER: Although we will recap, we are projecting that the Republicans will maintain the majority in the House of Representatives.

Back to Judy on the national votes.

WOODRUFF: All right, Wolf, thanks to you and thanks to Steve Rothenberg.

A little while ago we were in Aurora, Illinois, speaking with the speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert. We're going to go back to him now. Mr. Speaker, as you look at more of these numbers coming in and as you look at this very undecided presidential race, what are you thinking about in terms of making government work in the next few years?

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, clearly we have to reach across the isle and try to do things on a bipartisan basis. I think the president, whoever he's going to be -- I certainly hope it's George W. Bush -- is going to have to do the same. And I think we're looking for people and I think the American people are looking for people who are willing to bring people together and get things done. And that's what I have tried to do since I've been speaker and I think that's what we'll continue to do.

WOODRUFF: We've noticed a number of Democrats who work with you in the House have commented on the difference in style between you and your predecessor, Newt Gingrich. Did you go into this position deliberately wanting to be a different kind of leader in the congress?

HASTERT: Well, I felt very strongly when I became speaker that we had to prove to the American people that we could get some things done. And I talked about a better education in this country for our kids. We talked about supporting out men and women who serve this country and our national defense, we talked about balancing a budget, we talked about paying down the debt, and we talked about not taking a penny of the social security and Medicare trust fund and spending it in general revenue funds. We did those things, and especially balancing the budget, paying down the debt and protecting social security. That's never been done before by any congress. So, I think that type of getting things done is what the American people wanted.

WOODRUFF: Some people have had the impression that Governor Bush, and I'm not clear on this, did not campaign or spend much time campaigning with and for Republican members of congress. Set me straight on that. How much campaigning did he do with members of the House and members of the Senate?

HASTERT: Well, he actually campaigned with a lot of our members. And when he was in a district our members were there with him, and especially our members who were vulnerable and our challengers that we needed to get out and get some recognition. He did a very good job and we're pleased with his cooperation.

WOODRUFF: Do you agree with his characterization that there has been too much partisanship, too much just bitterness and fighting and division in the nation's capitol that needs to be healed?

HASTERT: You know, I try to get beyond that when I became speaker. But clearly, Dick Gephardt wanted to be speaker. He set down a policy of trying to stop everything so that we would have what they called a do nothing congress and try to blame that on us so that they become the majority. That didn't happen. And in spite of what those tactics were, we did get a lot of things done and the things that we did do were done on a bipartisan basis. The marriage penalty was done a bipartisan basis. Tax relief on death was done on a bipartisan basis. The PNTR for China was done on a bipartisan basis. The sweeping banking reform was done on a bipartisan basis. So, we will continue to do that.

WOODRUFF: Well then, does George W. Bush's characterization hold up?

HASTERT: Well, I think sometimes the people don't really see what goes on, but I think the president can be helpful to us in trying to help and reach across the isle in the House and in the Senate to try to get things done on a bipartisan basis.

GREENFIELD: Mr. Speaker, it's Jeff Greenfield. Some of your colleagues have said that the culture has changed, that there was a time when people would battle politically and then go home and have dinner together and meet each other's families and that there was a kind of much more collegial atmosphere and that, without putting blame on one side or another, that it's become a much less civil place, that is to say the congress of the United States. Is the closeness of this election, do you think, potentially a piece of evidence that says to people on all sides that the culture just has to change, that the sniping and the partisanship and going on television and yelling at each other with talking points is just had it?

HASTERT: I think you've watched my performance. I haven't been on television every time you turn around. I've tried to make the House work and to bring people together to make that House work. I think that's what the American people want. The people -- a lot of the people who are shrill aren't there anymore. We've had some real changes. And some of them even lost in this election. So, I think we're well on the way. I would certainly offer my hand across the isle so we get some things done.

WOODRUFF: Well, that's ...

HASTERT: But you have to realize -- one other thing there is, there is a difference in philosophy between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, and we do that fighting. It's for philosophical differences as well.

WOODRUFF: Well, when you point out that some of the shrillness is gone and some of the bitterness has faded perhaps, that's why I'm asking this characterization that George W. Bush was talking about out on the campaign trail repeatedly day after day during this campaign. I guess I'm asking you does it match the reality of what you've lived with in Washington the last two years?

HASTERT: It's been a tough time in Washington the last two years. We had a 1.2 percent margin of error. Any time that four members or five members of congress got on -- up on the wrong side of the bed, the whole balance of congress shifted. So, we had to work hard to keep our people together to move an agenda for the American people and a better agenda for our children and our grandchildren. It was tough to do, but we didn't lose many votes.

WOODRUFF: Mr. Speaker, today in talking with one of the people around Vice President Gore, he said, "If the Vice President wins," he made a bold prediction and said, "the Patient's Bill of Rights will pass in a lame duck session of congress." Is that the way you see it if the election were toe fall to the vice president?

HASTERT: Well, we passed a Bill of Rights for patients in the House. We passed one in 1998. And we're ...

WOODRUFF: No, he's clearly talking about the one the Democrats preferred.

HASTERT: Well, we'll see.

WOODRUFF: All right, Mr. Speaker, we appreciate your joining us from Aurora, Illinois. It's late there, or I should say early there in the morning. It's early here. But we all want to keep a close watch on these results. Thank you very much ...

HASTERT: Maybe not so early in the morning before we finally see how all of this works out. So, it's good to be with you. WOODRUFF: Are you hearing anything we're not hearing?

HASTERT: No, just pretty -- we're waiting for Florida.

WOODRUFF: All right, Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the ...

HASTERT: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: ... House. Thank you so much. We appreciate that.

GREENFIELD: Judy, that conversation you had with the speaker reminds -- should remind us of a word that has not been heard for a very long time -- impeachment. To think that a presidential election could have been conducted about a year and a half or a little less than two years after the president was impeached. Amazing. Bernard Shaw, sir?

SHAW: We have a call. Let's go out to the Show-Me state, Missouri, and that senate race in which a dead man, Governor Mel Carnahan is on the ballot. CNN is calling this for Mel Carnahan. His widow, as you know, agreed to run. And Mel Carnahan and his memory and those who support him have defeated, turning out Senator John Ashcroft, a first term Republican Senator. What a development. Takes no -- let's go quickly to Kate Snow in St. Louis.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, I think you can hear the crowd here. They've got CNN on in the background and with your announcement a lot of excitement here. Mrs. Carnahan spoke to this crowd just a short time ago to talk about carrying on the fire, carrying on her husband's dream. She, of course, has not been very public in this whole campaign. In fact, voters here in Missouri only saw Mrs. Carnahan a very few times throughout this race over the last three weeks since the death of her husband. They saw her in one ad that aired on local television here. They saw her in her announcement last week when she decided that, yes, she would take the position if the votes were to go to her husband.

But other than that, they haven't seen much of Mrs. Carnahan. She is right now at home with two of her daughters in Rolla, Missouri. That's about an hour and a half south of where we are in St. Louis. This race has been close all night long. Senator John Ashcroft just a short time ago telling his supporters that they can go home now, that he would have more news for them in the morning. We don't expect to hear from him again any time soon. Again, very good news for the Democrats here in Missouri, especially in light of the fact that George W. Bush seems to have won this battleground state.

Bernie.

SHAW: Kate, even though she didn't campaign, per se, that much, she did put up one ad, did she not, within the past seven days?

SNOW: She did. Last week she started running one ad where she talked straight into the camera, a very personal kind of ad talking about a remembrance of her husband and talking about her goals for Missouri. She does not have a public record. She has not served in public office, but she has been very vocal about the kind of issues that she wanted to take to Washington.

She's talked about education, about women's issues, about children. She's talked about reform in social security and some other issues -- tax cuts -- targeted tax cuts because she has said all along that she carried her husband's mantel and that she wanted to take that to Washington -- Bernie.

GREENFIELD: Thank, Kate, it's Jeff Greenfield, Kate. But, we know that Mrs. Carnahan and the Carnahan people adopted that slogan, keep the fire going. But, we've heard that some Republicans were threatening a legal challenge on the ground that a dead person is not an inhabitant of the state, which Missouri Law requires. Can you tell us anything about whether they intend to pursue that legal challenge?

SNOW: I've asked that question all night. They will not comment on what kind of legal challenge they might mount. But, I might add, Jeff, that in addition to the Constitutional question, there's been a lot of local news here tonight about the polling places and about the numbers coming in and people being allowed to vote or not allowed to vote. The Republicans voicing some concerns -- they say that they think there has been some potential fraud here in St. Louis -- in the city of St. Louis.

You'll recall that they kept the polls open a little bit late tonight because a judge earlier in the day -- a state judge ruled in favor of the Democrats who had argued that they needed a little more time because some of their folks hadn't been able to vote. There's been a lot of back and forth today about whether there were any irregularities. I would expect that we might hear more about this tomorrow -- Jeff.

SHAW: Kate, are the Carnahan people banking on the fact that when this woman goes to Washington, Senate Republicans have already indicated the obviously, that they control the rules and the seating in the Senate. Are the Democrats and the Carnahan supporters banking on the fact that who is going to throw a widow out of the Senate seat? Who's going to refuse to seat this woman?

SNOW: I'm sorry. I can't hear the last part of your question.

SHAW: Are the Carnahan supporters banking on the fact that it's unlikely the Republicans would want to take on all the public relations heat, if they would not let this woman take this seat.

SNOW: Bernie, it's too loud in here. I'm sorry. I just simply can't hear.

SHAW: Why don't we call time--out and we'll call time--out and thank you in that cheering ballroom -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. We've -- as Bernie said, we've called Missouri for the late Governor Carnahan and as Bernie's been pointing out, in this case, been discussing it is his widow who has said that she will accept the seat if appointed.

Let's go over to our Balance of Power area to Wolf Blitzer for some examination of this and some of other Senate and House and Governor races -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, with the call for the late Mel Carnahan to be the winner in Missouri -- let's take a look at the balance of power in the Senate as it now stands. Coming into this evening there were 35 Republican holdovers, 31 Democratic holdovers. The Republicans so far tonight have won 14 Senate seats. The Democrats have won seven seats -- 17 seats. That brings the new number of Republicans with 49 seats. The Democrats now have 48 seats. There are still three undecided seats -- three undecided seats that we'll talk about in a moment. But, only a little while ago, before this call by CNN in favor of Mel Carnahan, Mrs. Jean Carnahan did speak out. She had some emotional words on a speakerphone. I'd like you to listen to what she had to say a little while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEAN CARNAHAN, GOV. MEL CARNAHAN'S WIDOW: Lincoln never saw his nation made whole again. Susan B. Anthony never cast a vote. Martin Luther King, Jr. never finished his mountaintop journey. My husband's journey was stopped short too, and for reasons we don't understand, the mantle has now fallen upon us. We remain heirs of a legacy -- heirs of a dream. On this night, I pledge to you -- rather let us pledge to each other, we will never let the fire go out. God bless you always. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER : Mrs. Jean Carnahan, the widow of Mel Carnahan, speaking out a little while ago. Let's go back to the National Desk and Bernard Shaw.

SHAW: Thank you, Wolf, because we're making a call in Iowa -- in the Hawkeye State. CNN declares that Al Gore has won Iowa's seven electoral votes. When we last reported, this was how the electoral map looked, but now if you add Iowa seven, Mr. Gore now has gone back on top. The Vice President with 249 electoral votes to Governor Bush's 246.

GREENFIELD: And we can now say with absolutely certainty, I believe that unless one of these states that we have called changes, whoever wins Florida will be the next President of the United States.

SHAW: That's right and the states still outstanding -- Florida, 25 electoral votes, here you see it. Oregon, 70 electoral votes and the badger state, Wisconsin, 11 electoral votes. It is that close in this country.

GREENFIELD: But the key here is Oregon and Wisconsin -- no offense to those good people are now irrelevant. The only way, either George Bush or Al Gore gets to be President, is to win Florida and Florida looks like it is going down to the very thinnest of wires. This thing literally could not be any closer. Florida is the ballgame.

SCHNEIDER: And we are told that South Florida, Dade and Broward Counties, where the vote is yet to be counted. WOODRUFF: Yeah. Well, I suppose it could be closer if the stake had fallen a different way and we were facing a tie, 269 to 269, but -- That's not what's happened.

Here is -- here is a look at -- with 85 percent of the precincts reporting across the nation look at how close this election is -- 49 percent George Bush -- Al Gore 48 percent. What is it? Who's good -- who's good at Math? That's about ...

GREENFIELD: It's a 603,000 vote plurality for Bush out of 85.83 million ...

WOODRUFF: Million votes.

GREENFIELD: ... votes cast. Humphrey and Nixon were a shade closer, although we don't know that...

WOODRUFF: Does anybody have a calculator? Can they tell us what that -- what that is.

GREENFIELD: Yeah, it's -- No, it's about -- it's way under one percent of the.

SCHNEIDER: It's way under one percent -- yeah.

SHAW: But slowly it's changing and who knows...

SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Not quite as close as Kennedy and Nixon, but it's still very, very close.

WOODRUFF: I want to ask -- you know, one of the states we're waiting for is Oregon. Bill, we've saying all night that Oregon's the one state in the country where they're mailing in the ballots ...

SCHNEIDER: Right.

WOODRUFF: ... in some cases delivering them today. How long before we know about Oregon? It's a different counting thing there.

SCHNEIDER: Well, it is supposed to count pretty quickly, but apparently the vote is very close there and I mean, they haven't ever had, I think, a presidential election with an all mail--in ballot. They're supposed to count the ballots as soon as the polls close, so to speak, today and they were supposed to go right away. So, we should have a result from Oregon pretty soon. Washington is the state that is supposed to be slow, but we've already called Washington.

WOODRUFF: And we've already called that. Oregon, as we mentioned, Wisconsin, we've been looking at these state by state numbers throughout the night. They are very close. They reflect the closeness in the presidential.

GREENFIELD: But, as I say ...

SCHNEIDER: Florida... GREENFIELD: They move at center stage now and we are now, Judy Woodruff is one of the leading experts on the nicknames. I think I know this one. Is it the Sunshine State, Ms. Woodruff?

WOODRUFF: It is.

GREENFIELD: Well, the sun's going to shine on either Al Gore or George W. Bush, maybe even in the middle of the night because whoever gets that gets...

WOODRUFF: That's a good way to put it.

GREENFIELD: Gets the whole...

SCHNEIDER: And you know what? When they figure out Florida, there's going to be an argument over who did it? Was it Joe Lieberman or was it Elian Gonzalez who carried Florida?

WOODRUFF: Oh boy.

SCHNEIDER: It could be either way.

WOODRUFF: There was it -- we all remember the time right after the Elian Gonzalez saga, when Florida was just written off...

SCHNEIDER: That's right.

WOODRUFF: The political consensus was no way.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. He couldn't carry Florida.

WOODRUFF: You might as well give up. There's no chance.

SCHNEIDER: Because the Cuban American vote was going to go solidly Republican as it used to be. But, in the exit poll we just showed you, that doesn't seem to be happening. The Jewish vote appears to be about as Democratic as it's always been and in about the same proportions as it's always been.

GREENFIELD: And just for the record, and it is two o'clock in the morning and we should just put this on the table again -- if the popular vote keeps holding up with a -- with a narrow -- very narrow plurality for Governor Bush -- it is now at about 600,000 votes out of 85.8 million votes cast, and Al Gore wins Florida, Al Gore is the President of the United States, having lost the popular vote. That is a very much alive possibility.

WOODRUFF: We have a voice we haven't heard from yet this evening. He is Robert George. He's a political analyst, joining us from New York.

Robert, you've been listening to our pontificating and our analyzing. Please bring us a fresh perspective on all of this.

ROBERT GEORGE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, it's good to be in the city that never sleeps covering the election that never sleeps. So, I think, actually, Judy, you mentioned the name that hadn't been mentioned much and it's Elian Gonzalez because while initially Florida was kind of written off because of the Elian Gonzalez affair, it's still possible that there could have been some swing Cuban voters that may have gravitated closer to Bill Clinton in 1996 when he won the state, but may have gone Republican and that's part of the section of Florida that we're looking at results coming in.

WOODRUFF: We have been talking tonight, Robert, about the Cuban Americans --- second and third generation Cuban Americans, not as Republican as their elders, also the fact that many of the Hispanic -- much of the Hispanic vote in the state of Florida is not -- is no longer can we assume it's all Cuban or mostly Cuban. There are more and more Hispanics in Florida who have come from different parts of Central America, South America.

GEORGE: Yeah that's exactly right. In fact, that's -- in fact, my mother actually lives in -- lives just outside of -- outside of Dade County. You're right. It's a -- it's a mixture -- a lot of -- a lot of Caribbean Hispanics, not just Jamaican, Republic, and so forth, plus West Indians in there as well. You've got an interested mix of different -- of different ethnicities and it's really hard to say whether they're going to be going -- whether they're going to be going Republican or going Democrats and Florida is the -- is the whole marbles basically come down to Florida.

WOODRUFF: Well, wouldn't it be something if the -- if the Presidential Election came down to the Cuban American vote in the state of Florida, not to mention, and Bill Schneider is sitting here smiling broadly at me, the senior vote in the state of Florida and to a degree, the Jewish vote in the state in Florida.

SCHNEIDER: And blacks.

WOODRUFF: Yeah and the African Americans -- exactly.

GEORGE: Yeah, that's it. I mean, it really -- it really is a -- it's a microcosm of all of the different kinds of identity politics that we've been -- we've been battling over the last -- over the last -- over the last few years and it really -- it -- I think it's fascinating. We talked about -- we talked a little bit about the fact that impeachment hadn't been discussed much through this campaign, but I really do think it's interesting that Bill Clinton's -- Bill Clinton, who is arguably the most divisive president this country's had since Richard Nixon, has part of his legacy, is leaving the country even more divided in the most closely contested of Presidential Election in at least -- in at least 30 years, maybe 40 years.

WOODRUFF: You mean in the sense that this election is so split -- as you say, split the country right down the middle in terms of electoral and popular votes.

GEORGE: Well, I think so. I think Bill Schneider mentioned earlier on that a part of -- a part of the vote that normally would be going Democrat are female seniors and they're the ones who may have been most offended by Bill Clinton's behavior and they're also the ones who may have also been put off by the whole question of Gore's embellishments and exaggerations and so forth.

That may have reminded them a little bit too much of Bill Clinton. So, I think -- so I think that Clinton factor -- that Clinton factor can't be -- can't be ignored.

SHAW: I just want to jump in. You were talking about the Latinos in Dade and Broward Counties and their impact. Non Cubans -- let's put some faces on these people. We're talking about Peruvians, Colombians, Ecuadorians. We're talking about Panamanians, Salvaldorians, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans, Chileans, and Brazilians.

GEORGE: Right. You've got a -- you've got a -- you've got a gumbo. You've got a -- it's a real, you know, a real -- a real mix -- a real mixed bag and I think one of the things we're going to find -- we're going to find is that as actually it can also be said for the African American community, the entire Hispanic community "isn't going to be thinking all alike" and you're not going to make exactly the same kind of political messages or overtures to them as you, you know, as you would just, you know, one specific group.

GREENFIELD: Robert, can we go back to New York, your home state or adopted home state and talk a little bit about Hillary Clinton. Now, you write for the New York Post -- right?

GEORGE: That would be correct.

GREENFIELD: Now, I think it's fair to say that the editorial page in the Post held Mrs. Clinton in minimum high regard.

GEORGE: That's the perfect phrase for it.

GREENFIELD: OK. So, is it any more complicated than the two factors that Al Gore took the state by a landslide proportion and that Rick Lazio was not the formidable foe that Rudy Giuliani would have been or is there some other thing you want to put in the mix?

GEORGE: I think those are -- those are -- those are definitely the top -- those are definitely the top two. I think Rick Lazio was in a sense handicapped by having the -- having a late start -- he ended up having to do, obviously do a lot of fund raising, which was successful, but he wasn't able to do, maybe as much campaigning. There are already recriminations going on among Republicans about, you know, why he didn't do this -- why he didn't do that. So, there were definitely some strategic problems that are in there as well.

But, I will, you know, give -- maybe it's just because of the late hour and I'm losing my mind, but I'll give Hillary Clinton, you know, a little bit of credit. I mean she did -- she did work -- she did work hard. She went up to the -- she went up -- she went upstate and campaigned up there a lot and that's -- and she made a lot of in- roads in what is usually a traditionally Republican area of this -- of the state. So, you know, give -- you know, give the first -- you know, give the First Lady that and her success is also, I guess, in one sense another part of the legacy of Bill Clinton because Bill Clinton is still very, very popular in this state.

He ran around -- bad choice of words, excuse me -- he came -- he came into New York City -- he came into New York City and did a lot of heavy campaigning for Mrs. Clinton over the -- over the weekend and the crowds -- the crowds -- you know, the crowds loved him. It really energized -- really energized her base -- their base and she's now Senator--elect Clinton.

Interestingly enough, since the Congress is inaugurated -- Congress has sworn in about two and a half weeks before the President in, we'll have a situation where Bill Clinton will still be President and Senator Clinton will be -- will be in office for three weeks simultaneously.

WOODRUFF: All kinds of history being made.

GEORGE: Indeed.

WOODRUFF: This election day. Robert George joining us from New York. We thank you very much and especially for joining us at this late hour or early hour depending on your perspective. Well, there are 47 states in the District of Columbia that have come in, have been counted. There are still three states hanging out there. When we come back, we're going to take another look -- a close look at those states, why they're still out and where they stand. We'll be right back. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800--CNN--NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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