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THE SPIN ROOM: Do You Know Who Your Next President is?Aired November 9, 2000 - 11:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: From CNN Washington to our Atlanta Newsroom and all over the United States, THE SPIN ROOM is open.
BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: It's 11:00 on the East Coast, 8:00 on the West Coast. Do you know who your next president is? Why not? And will you ever?
Good evening, everybody. Welcome to THE SPIN ROOM. I'm Bill Press.
You're not going to believe this, but Tucker Carlson had the audacity to leave town tonight, perhaps thinking it would all be over. Big mistake. He'll be back tomorrow night, but we're in great shape because tonight, sitting in for Tucker, we have the equally young, equally conservative, equally irreverent and outrageous Rich Lowry, who's editor for "The National Review."
Great to have you here tonight, Rich.
RICH LOWRY, GUEST HOST: Thanks for having me, Bill. I'm glad I could join you just in time for the constitutional crisis.
PRESS: I know. I mean, this is like impeachment round two, right?
LOWRY: Exactly. If you ever need spin, it's during a constitutional crisis.
PRESS: That's when you need it. Exactly.
And we need your spin. Don't forget the great thing about this show is you get to sound off. This is our democracy on the line, folks. So we want to hear from you. Three ways to do it. By phone, OK. You can reach us any time during the hour. We want to take your calls at 1-800-310-4CNN. You could join our chat room online at cnn.com, or send us those e-mails. Rich and I will be reading your e- mails throughout the show. The address for e-mails is firstname.lastname@example.org.
OK. So, Rich Lowry, let's say, a week ago, you and I were sitting in bar, and I said to you, you know, "Forty-eight hours after this election, there'll be a difference of 229 votes out of 100 million between George Bush and Al Gore, and we still won't know who the next president of the United States is." You would have said to me? LOWRY: Well, it's -- it's absolutely incredible. I mean this is -- this is the kind of thing that pundits make a living scoffing at, this sort of scenario. I mean, it's -- it's like a horror movie when -- it's an election that won't die. Every time there's a stake through its heart, it's up again and right at us, and the amazing thing is, you know, Gore, obviously, had a surge the last couple of days in the election.
LOWRY: The surge seems to be going right into the recount. "When does it end?" I think the Republicans are asking themselves tonight all over the country.
PRESS: I think George W. Bush is probably asking that tonight in the country.
But, you know, what gets me is why are we surprised. I mean, we are talking about Florida, right? This is Florida.
A friend of mine today called me and pointed out to me -- I want to show you something here. First of all, he said that in -- there's this one section in the Florida ballot, and it says this, "A ballot is a document that must provide maximum clarity and correctness." Now I'd like to show you and all of our viewers on the screen -- here's what the Florida presidential ballot officially looks like. You see? It's -- the --
No. Seriously, folks, this is an e-mail that's going around, but it's got the straight line for voting for Bush, and you can follow, if you can, how you vote for any of the others.
LOWRY: And that's -- that's either the Florida ballot or the Hillary health-care plan. One or the other, right?
But, Bill, look, I like -- I like old people. I like old...
PRESS: Eight years ago, it was the Hillary health-care plan. This year, it may be the -- the Florida ballot. I don't know.
LOWRY: There you go.
I -- I like old and confused people as much as anyone, but isn't there sort of a basic civic responsibility if you go into the -- the voting booth and the -- and you see something that looks like that to you? Shouldn't you ask someone or display some curiosity about whether you're actually voting for the right person?
PRESS: You see, that's the difference between liberals and conservatives. You guys see these people, and you say, "What morons." We see them, and we say, "What victims. We need to help these people."
LOWRY: Exactly. Personal responsibility. Do -- Bush wants to start the responsibility era, Bill, and this is -- this is a good way to get it off the ground. PRESS: I want to give you another quick hit about Florida. Again, I say why are we surprised when we're talking about Florida. A couple of years ago, they cleaned up the voter rolls in the State of Florida. Here's, among other things, what they found, Rich. You'll be -- you'll be interested in this, OK.
Here's Florida now. They found on the voter rolls for -- 50,483 felons who are not allowed to vote, 47,000 people who were registered in more than one location, and 17,702 dead people. Rich, I want to know -- this is -- you know, like -- you know what happened? Chicago moved South, right? How many dead people do you think voted in this election...
PRESS: ... and for whom?
LOWRY: It sounds positively Missouri-like, doesn't it? You know, the...
PRESS: Yeah, the...
LOWRY: ... dead people in -- in an election. You know, cons -- this is embarrassing for conservatives for a couple of reasons, Bill. You know, we always talk about local government, and what we're getting now a big dose of here in Florida is a microscopic examination of local government, and it's not -- it's not very pretty. You know, it's as bumbling and -- and as incompetent as the federal government.
PRESS: Well, there is, certainly, it seems to me, a little shadow or a little cloud over the Sunshine State today. It has been another day from hell, and who would -- who would have imagined, in fact, like a week ago that anybody but a crazy football fan would have even cared about the State of Florida at this point.
But for what's been happening in Florida, for how bad it is, for how big that cloud is over the Sunshine State, let's go to our great partner in Atlanta, our SPIN ROOM's Joie Chen.
Joie -- so, where are we now? Can you tell us?
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: I think we're lost. Maybe we're on a turnpike somewhere in Florida.
CHEN: Hey, Rich. Welcome to THE SPIN ROOM.
LOWRY: Hi, Joie. How are you doing?
Hey, so, you know, Florida has a lot more going for it than just some cutting-edge ballot designers. It is certainly no stranger to the spotlight of national politics. You'll remember Key Biscayne and Nixon's Florida White House. So, of course, everybody wants to vacation in Florida, but, after this week, you political junkies have plenty more reason to set your sights on the Sunshine State.
CHEN (voice-over): Watch your steps, everyone. Florida's boom started in the middle of the last century, turning what once was the South's least populous state into the sun and fun capital of the world. Now it's the center of the political universe. Just think of the tourist slogans they'll come up with now.
"Florida, where every ballot is an adventure."
ANDRE FLADELL, PALM BEACH COUNTY VOTER: I went into a place expecting a simple, fair ballot. I got a crossword puzzle with some configuration no one had ever told me about.
CHEN: Try this one. "Florida, where you may get to vote until you get it right." Or "Florida, where the recount keeps going and going and going."
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is democracy in action. If you want simplicity, just go about 70 miles south of Florida, and you've got Cuba, and they're very simple. They have no elections.
CHEN: OK. Maybe this one is a stretch. "Orange you glad you voted in Florida? Don't you wish everybody did?" How about, "Welcome to Little Brother's Big Doghouse"? Here's one. "Florida, when it comes to politics, we don't Mickey Mouse around."
DON EVANS, BUSH CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: The Democrats who are politicizing and distorting these events risk doing so at the -- at the expense of our democracy.
CHEN: How does this grab you? "Florida, the state where we politicize politics!" "Retire here all your political dreams."
CHEN: A very Magic Kingdom, indeed, guys. You know, I have another idea. Something like, "Florida, bringing anarchy to the United States." A leaderless society. I mean, this is great.
PRESS: I liked "Orange you glad you voted?"
CHEN: Do you like that one? "Orange you glad?"
What about you, Rich? Think any of those had potential with the Florida Tourism Board?
LOWRY: That's -- that's a -- the best -- the best thing about Florida, as far as I'm concerned, is Rush Limbaugh is based there.
CHEN: In Palm Beach, isn't he?
LOWRY: Yeah, he is.
PRESS: In Palm Beach? There it is.
LOWRY: See, maybe -- maybe it is Buchanan country.
PRESS: There's -- there's the conspiracy.
But, Joie, I saw today a -- somebody faxed to me an editorial that was in the Havana newspaper about the election in Florida, and the headline was, "Banana Republic." Now when the Cubans start making fun of our election process...
LOWRY: Elian went the wrong place.
PRESS: Elian -- that's right. I think we may be in trouble.
Thanks, Joie. We'll get back to you in just a little bit.
And time to get the -- go to Tallahassee and get the report on the ground.
Our first guest tonight, David Royce, is an AP reporter, a longtime reporter there, in Tallahassee. He's been out there getting all the numbers, reporting them to all the networks that -- so we've been keeping up to date.
Hey, David, good evening. Welcome to THE SPIN ROOM.
DAVID ROYCE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Thanks. Good evening.
LOWRY: David, thanks. Thanks for joining us. Let us -- first, if we can get from you just what is the state of the count at the moment.
ROYCE: Well, the last I checked with my desk, we're reporting that -- we've checked with about 6 -- with 66 of the 67 counties, and it looks like Bush is ahead by some 220-some-odd votes. I think it was a 229-vote spread, with all but one of the counties we checked with. Our numbers are a little different from the states because, frankly, we're getting them from the counties before they are. The AP is the largest news organization in the...
LOWRY: David, explain...
ROYCE: I was just going to say we're -- you know, we're huge, so -- so we can check with every county, which is what we're doing.
LOWRY: Explain to us how that works. I mean, it seems extraordinary that the California secretary of state is uninformed on the question compared to you guys.
LOWRY: Sorry. Florida.
ROYCE: The Florida secretary. This -- the supervisors of -- this -- this is not actually taking place in Tallahassee, even though, you know, the world's media is gathered here. This is happening in 67 counties around Florida where these votes are being recounted by the county canvassing boards, the supervisors of elections, and some other local officials.
The AP is -- is a huge news organization, and we've -- we've got a lot of people, and that's how it's -- it's happening. We've got people checking with every county at every county supervisor of elections to see what they are reporting as their recount number. Those are the numbers we're going with.
PRESS: David, let me ask you this. When did you first start hearing about any problems in the count in Florida? Particularly when did you start hearing that there might be problems in Palm -- in Palm Beach County?
ROYCE: We didn't start hearing -- the days are all running together for me a little bit now. I've been working for a couple of straight days, but I -- we didn't start hearing about the problems in -- in Palm Beach until the middle of the day yesterday.
Early on, it was clear that -- that the vote was so close in Florida that there was going to have to be a recount just because of what state law says about when you have to recount, which is when there's less than one-half of 1 percent of a difference.
LOWRY: David, can you give us any idea -- is it at all possible that there are actually enough Buchanan supporters there in Palm Beach to -- to have given that -- those number of votes to Pat?
ROYCE: I -- I don't know enough about Palm Beach County's voters to -- to tell you whether there are that many Buchanan supporters. I -- for what it's worth, I know that, in our story today, Mr. Buchanan says he -- he doesn't think so. I -- I don't know.
PRESS: OK. David Royce, thanks so much for joining us from Tallahassee, and thanks for your good work down there.
We've got a couple of members of Congress from Florida coming up here on -- in THE SPIN ROOM.
But, first, Rich, our first telephone call for the evening comes from -- Where else? -- Palm Beach, Florida. This is Sade (ph).
Hey, Sade, good evening. Welcome to THE SPIN ROOM.
SADE: How are you tonight?
PRESS: I'm doing great. So what -- what's really happening down there? Did you vote? What was your experience?
SADE: Yes, I voted. I'm 30 years old. I voted Republican. I didn't really have any problem with the ballot at all. The ballot itself had a number on it that corresponded to the number on the candidate that the ballot you are following to vote on. When I pulled -- when I was done voting, I pulled my ballot out and checked my homework before I turned it in to teacher. At no time in my life have I ever been able to go back and correct my homework or gotten problems corrected on a test that I turned in. It's just simply not right.
PRESS: OK. All right. Sade, thank you. That's one person who certainly didn't...
LOWRY: Well, you know what this suggests to me? Perhaps it's only old Gore voters that were confused, Bill, so I think you have a lot of explaining to do on that score. So the young -- the young Bush guys who want their Social Security accounts are on the ball.
PRESS: That may be. That may be the -- that may be the case.
All right. Now to the Florida congressional delegation. One on each side join us right now. First of all, Democrat Congressman Robert Wexler who represents the Palm Beach area and, of course is a Gore supporter, and joining us from Tallahassee who -- he actually represents the Pensacola area of Florida. He's in Tallahassee tonight. Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough who, of course, is a big George Bush supporter.
REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA: Bill, can I address -- can I -- Bill, can I address that comment because it's very interesting what that -- that gentleman said? If you are...
PRESS: Go ahead, Congressman.
WEXLER: If you are, in fact, a Bush voter...
REP. JOE SCARBOROUGH (R), FLORIDA: You know, actually, Wexler -- Wexler is...
LOWRY: Please one at...
PRESS: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Stop. Stop, guys. Listen, this is not CROSSFIRE. This is THE SPIN ROOM. So just calm down. I'd just like to have one at a time.
PRESS: We'll give you plenty of time to talk.
Robert Wexler, you wanted to go first.
PRESS: Please go ahead. And then Joe.
WEXLER: Yes. It -- I just wanted to address what the gentleman said because it's a very valid point. If you are a Bush voter, it is highly unlikely you would have any confusion because George Bush was first on the ballot and his punch number was first. The confusion with respect to Al Gore was that he was -- in fact, even though he was second on the ballot, his punch number was third, and Pat Buchanan was second. So, while you were -- you would think if you were an Al Gore supporter that your punch number, which is -- in fact, on the ballot would be second right after George Bush, but it wasn't. It was third.
LOWRY: OK. Congressman -- Congressman, we're going to throw up the ballot here, and, granted, some people may have found it confusing. I think it's pretty clear because you know where the arrow -- arrows are going. The numbers correspond on the punch holes to the candidate. So let me -- let me ask you this.
WEXLER: No, they don't.
LOWRY: Let me ask you this.
WEXLER: Not -- not necessarily.
LOWRY: Congressman -- Congressman, please, let me -- let me ask you this. You go into the voting booth.
LOWRY: You see this ballot. You are confused. Don't you have a responsibility to ask someone and make sure that you are voting for the right person? This is important business. You're electing the next president of the United States. What would you do if you were confused by the ballot?
WEXLER: It is very important business, and you must understand that when you put the ballot into the -- the form in which it fits, if you do not have a perfect fit, if you look at the word "Democratic," for instance, it corresponds exactly to Pat Buchanan's punch number. You would think in an...
LOWRY: What would you do?
WEXLER: ... important thing like the -- excuse me. You would think you could rely upon the law and that is the law says in Florida Al Gore should be second on the ballot and the second punch number. He was not.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
WEXLER: Yes, you can ask questions, but what also is the practice...
PRESS: OK. Congressman...
WEXLER: ... I know, in Palm Beach County is you only have five minutes to vote.
PRESS: Congressman -- Congressman got to go. Got to go.
Congressman Joe Scarborough, I want to make a promise to you. We've heard one side of this Palm Beach question. I know there's another side, I know you want to talk about it, and you are up first after we come back from a break, and you get the word as -- until you are finished with it.
But, right now, there is other news happening in the world tonight -- today, and we're going to check in with our Joie Chen in Atlanta to tell us what's been going on.
Joie, what's the hard news of the day?
PRESS: The uncertainty continues. Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM. I'm Bill Press. Rich Lowry is here tonight filling in for Tucker Carlson.
We want to hear from you. By phone, 1-800-310-4CNN. Our chat room. Join it at cnn.com. And you can e-mail us. We've had 7,500 e- mails so far in just 15 minutes. Send them in to email@example.com.
Speaking of e-mails -- our congressmen are ready to join us very briefly here -- e-mail from Bill, Rich. He says, "Revote in Palm Beach only. Yeah, that's smart. Let the people that can't figure out a ballot decide who's the next president."
LOWRY: I think that's a -- that's an excellent point. You know, some -- one of these confused voters was on TV the other day saying he thought he voted for the wrong person, but he didn't ask anyone after he left the voting booth because he was too embarrassed. Well, if you're too embarrassed, you know, my opinion is that's tough luck.
But let me -- let me throw -- throw one at you here, Bill. This is Frank from Victoria, British Columbia. "Surely the recount of Florida, which has been trending back towards Gore, leads one to the reasonable conclusion that systematic manipulation in favor of Jeb Bush's brother has occurred. As an interested viewer from Canada, I have been marveling at the U.S. election process for months. That is in question now."
Now, as an American patriot, Bill, this hurts, that Canadians are laughing and mocking our -- our great electoral process.
PRESS: I know. Those two Bush brothers. What are they up to?
OK. Now let's go back to our congressmen.
Congressman Joe Scarborough -- Joe...
PRESS: ... you just heard your colleague, Robert Wexler, talk about the situation in Palm Beach. Nineteen thousand ballots, he says, are lost. You don't think the -- Congressman, that that's any problem at all? No?
SCARBOROUGH: You know, first -- first of all, let me say -- and I was about to say this before -- this show started out with you trying to ask me a question. You can tell you who's supporting Al Gore here because, like Al Gore, it was like an SNL skit, he interrupted you and the question and then held the floor for five minutes.
But let me tell you -- you -- we do need to look at the Palm Beach deal. We need to get the recounts. We need to have all the -- all the challenges done. That's fine. But everybody needs to stay calm and be grownups about this.
I was on this show a couple of hours ago where a guy that I've known for six years that I've never had any problems with called me a liar five times in like a 30-second spin. Everybody needs to calm down.
I do want to say, though, you've got to look at sort of the M.O. right now that's going on, and you -- you've got to tip your hands to the Democrats. They've been very aggressive and played political hardball.
They started out with a story yesterday morning, which was, "Oh -- oh, my gosh, the Republicans have stolen the election because African-Americans in Miami weren't able to vote in a certain precinct because the box was stolen and put here or there." They found crayons in there.
And then after that story was shot down after six hours, the next story was Pat Buchanan could never get 3,000 votes in Palm -- Palm Beach County. Then we find out that Pat Buchanan got over 8,000 votes four years ago.
So now the new story is 19,000 votes have been stolen. This has never happened before? Certainly, it never happened in Cook County or Philadelphia, did it? Nineteen thousand votes discounted. Then we find out in Palm Beach County just four years ago, 15,000 votes -- 15,000 votes were also thrown out. It's the same exact thing, and the turnout was lower back then.
So we're -- we're all in the same sort of category, but I'll tell you what. This 19,000-vote controversy will be dismissed. It's not going to have an effect on it.
We'll guarantee you tomorrow morning they will come up with a new story. They're great at this. They have a new story at this...
PRESS: OK. OK. All right. All right.
SCARBOROUGH: ... they have a new story every day.
PRESS: All right. Just a second. Go ahead.
LOWRY: Let's get Congressman Wexler in -- in here again.
Congressman Wexler, I know you're...
WEXLER: Please. LOWRY: ... a great -- a great advocate of no voters having any sort of upset or everything being made very easy and simple for them. So do you think that there should be a revote in those areas in the Panhandle where the -- the election had already been called by the networks in Florida so that may have discouraged some voters from turning out and voting for Bush in that area?
WEXLER: For me, this is not about Bush or Gore. Every voter in Florida, every voter in America must have the opportunity to cast his or her ballot in a proper way and have it counted appropriately. This is not about Democrat or Republican.
But let me address Mr. Scarborough's numbers. Joe respectfully is repeating the numbers that the Bush campaign stated earlier in the day with respect to the number of votes in Palm Beach County that were discarded. Those numbers are false. The number of 14,000 votes as being discarded because people voted for two candidates in 1996 in Palm Beach County is wrong. The actual number is about half that number. So let's not confuse the numbers. The Bush campaign needs to use the appropriate numbers, and the numbers here speak for themselves.
And, please, let's not start making fun of voters. Nineteen thousand people voted...
PRESS: All right, Congressman.
WEXLER: ... for two people for president. That -- this is not one person or a silly group of people.
SCARBOROUGH: What about people...
PRESS: All right. Time for -- time for a break, Congressman. Stay tuned there. We'll be right back to you.
And when we come back, also, you know, you talk about confusing forms. Nobody could show the confusion better than Jeannie Moos. She's got a great little story for us when we come back on THE SPIN ROOM.
And more of your e-mails coming up.
Rich Lowry and Bill Press in THE SPIN ROOM.
LOWRY: Welcome back to SPIN ROOM. I'm Rich Lowry sitting in for Tucker Carlson here with Bill Press spinning away.
But we want to hear your spin too. Call us, 1-800-310-4CNN. Chat with us, CNN.com. E-mail us your "Spin of the Day" nominations. That's firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRESS: Yes, get those "Spin of the Day" nominations in. Here's an e-mail from Michael from Atlanta: "I am a fierce Democrat. But I only want Gore to be elected if he gets the electoral vote in Florida without going to court. It will hurt my party in the long run."
Interesting about when to stop.
LOWRY: High principle there, Bill.
PRESS: There it is, and from a Democrat.
LOWRY: I've got one from Pete Lopez: "If George W. wins without a revote in Palm Beach, he's going to know how O.J. Simpson feels, enjoying a result he never deserved."
Maybe he'll take up golf, too, though.
PRESS: Even I think it's cruel to compare George W. to O.J.
LOWRY: It is. It is cruel.
PRESS: Telephone calls coming in too. Here is Marnel (ph) calling us from Illinois.
Hello, Marnel. Good evening. Welcome to THE SPIN ROOM.
CALLER: Hi, thank you. I just want to know, if we the people vote for a president for their honesty and fairness to represent the people, if Bush wins under these circumstances being this close, knowing about all the votes thrown out, how could we respect a person like that to lead us, plus knowing about all the popular votes?
PRESS: OK, Marnel, good question. I think either one of these guys is going to have a tough time, whoever gets there, with this slim vote.
LOWRY: It's tough. It could be a tainted victory.
LOWRY: Either way, and that's why...
LOWRY: Yeah, we have Ken (ph) from North Dakota on the line. Ken, what do you have to tell us?
CALLER: Well, basically I'm sitting up here in the middle of the winter country. And it sounds like whether it's Democrat or a Republican, whether you're a politician or a private citizen that everybody else there is acting like children.
They say they got messed up on the voting. Well, you went to school as a child. You learned how to read and write and follow the lines. How come you couldn't basically follow the line?
PRESS: All right, Ken, I hear you. We'll have to send Ken down to Palm Beach to ask those 19,000 people that question. LOWRY: Education reform, Bill.
PRESS: Education reform.
LOWRY: Where's accountability?
PRESS: That's right. And we're going to get to our legal expert in just a second. But again, we've got to keep our eye on what's really happening out there in addition to this great uncertainty across the United States.
Let's check in again with Joie Chen in Atlanta for another look at the news of the day.
CHEN: Hi, Bill. You know it's going to be like the movie "Groundhog Day" in the morning paper. The front page is still going to be about Florida.
But back there on page two or three, you may see that Yasser Arafat was back at the White House today. President Clinton still thinks he can talk the Mid-East players into peace, or at least into not fighting.
Well, Arafat is looking for a UN force to protect Palestinians. So you can figure that he's going to use today's Israeli missile strike to make his point when he talks to the Security Council.
Smoke marked the spot where the strike hit. It killed one of Arafat's commanders and two women bystanders.
Israel says the commander was a terrorist mastermind. And it's bracing itself for Palestinians to hit back.
That's a look at some of the news you're going to see in the paper tomorrow morning.
PRESS: OK, thanks, Joie. Thank you very much.
And coming back to you for a special segment in just a minute. I can't wait.
Now, as we told you, for a look at the legal side all these questions about Florida, we're joined now by Carol Laham. Carol is an election law attorney specialist with the office here in Washington of Wiley (ph), Rhine (ph), and Fielding (ph).
Good evening, Carol. Thanks for joining us.
CAROL LAHAM, FORMER FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION STAFF ATTORNEY: Hi. How are you?
PRESS: Good to have you here. LOWRY: Carol, Carol, thanks for joining us. Now let me ask you this, Carol.
When does a ballot stop just being confusing and become illegal and grounds for overturning an election?
LAHAM: Well, that's a very fine question. And I'm not sure we know the answer to that question. What has to happen is that there has to be a substantial irregularity in the voting in that district in Florida for the court to overturn the election or maybe to possibly call a new election in that district.
PRESS: Carol, let me ask you this. First of all, who has standing to challenge an election in Florida? I mean, can anybody from any state just go in there and say this was rigged, this wasn't right?
LAHAM: No, what Florida law allows for is for a voter in the state of Florida to go in and challenge the election, contest the election, saying that there was something about the ballot or about the election that was unfair or confusing. It's unclear exactly what their challenge is going to be. But they can state a cause of action to the court.
PRESS: Now we saw earlier, Riz showed the ballot, we've seen that over and over again, on the screen a little earlier. But I want to show you just quickly a couple of sections of Florida election law and coming back and ask you about the ballot.
The first thing it says, it does say in the Florida election law that the vote for a candidate -- you vote for a candidate whose name is printed on the ballot. You place a cross mark in the blank space at the right of the name.
And it also says that the names of the candidates, the names of the candidates of the party which received the second highest vote for governor shall be second under the heading for each office.
Now on this ballot as we've seen, the mark for Pat Buchanan was to the left, not to the right. And Pat Buchanan was second, not Al Gore. So on the face of it, in your opinion, was that ballot in Palm Beach County even a legal ballot?
LAHAM: Well, I don't think we know the answer to that.
PRESS: That's why I'm asking you.
LAHAM: Yeah, I think though that what the law says is for a written ballot it has to be to the right of the candidate. And the ballots that we're talking about are not written ballots. So I think that's going to be one of the issues in the court that they're going to look at.
And for other ballots, for ballots that are on a voting machine or electronic ballots, it says that you need to be as close as possible to that written ballot. But it does not have to be identical to the written ballot.
LOWRY: Carol, it seems to me that election challenges and recounts, they're a little bit like baseball games being played under protest. You know, there's a lot of sound and fury.
But ultimately, nothing changes. And the person who won always ends up winning.
Is that true? And can you think of any example of a case you've been involved with where a result has been overturned for similar reasons?
LAHAM: It's very rare for a case to be overturned, for especially the reasons that we're talking about in Florida, which is voter confusion. I'm not aware of any single case that's been overturned for that reason.
There have been cases that have been overturned for fraud reasons. And that's an entirely different allegation than what's going on here today.
PRESS: OK, Carol, lots more questions for you. But we've got lots more time too coming up. We'll be back in THE SPIN ROOM.
Don't forget, get those nominations in for "Spin of the Day" coming up at the end of the hour. We'll be back for a lot more questions.
And also, we're going to have "News of the Weird" tonight for the first time.
LOWRY: Weirder than this, Bill?
PRESS: Weirder than this. We'll be right back.
LOWRY: Welcome back to SPIN ROOM. I'm Rich Lowry sitting here with Bill Press spinning away.
PRESS: And, Rich, this story, talk about stories that will not go away, we just heard that the relatives of Elian Gonzalez from Miami have now officially complained, or at least they're moaning, that the new attorney representing Al Gore in this case for the recount is the same attorney who represented them. They say they've been betrayed by this guy.
LOWRY: I bet the Gonzalez family got their votes right.
PRESS: I wonder whether they did.
All right, Carol Laham is with us. She is an election law expert joining us here in Washington.
Carol, we want to ask you about the Electoral College, but first about what remedies might be possible in Palm Beach County. Is it possible that the judge in Palm Beach County could order an entire new election for that county? And in that case, would only those who voted last Tuesday be able to vote in the next one?
LAHAM: I think it is possible for the judge to do that, although it would be highly unlikely, frankly.
LAHAM: And then, the question becomes who does he allow to vote? Does he only allow those people that voted the first time to come and vote? Or does he allow anybody in the county that's registered to come and vote?
And then further there's a question about will people change their votes when they come and do that?
LOWRY: Sure. I'm sure no one would.
LAHAM: No, never.
LOWRY: Carol, let me ask you this, a story that's more and more confusing. I suspect if the Gore campaign doesn't succeed in this legal challenge, they may go to electors and try to sway them and try to get them to change...
LOWRY: ... I know this is shocking to you, Bill. But just hypothetically...
LOWRY: ... imagine this scenario. Carol, what is the law there? What are the rules? Can any elector at the end of the day vote any way he or her pleases?
LAHAM: Well, this is another question of state law. And apparently there are at least 25 states that allow electors to change their votes without any ramifications at all. So if I were the Gore campaign, I'd go to those 25 states and those electors in those states and try to convince them first.
PRESS: But even in those states, my understanding is where elector says -- the law says you have vote the way -- you have to be a party hat. You have to vote the way your party tells you. You would only pay a fine. They're not going to shoot you at sunrise, right?
LAHAM: Right. Exactly.
LOWRY: Bush needs the party hacks to come through for him, obviously.
PRESS: Gore may need the party hacks to come through for him. And if -- a quick question, quick answer. If there is another election in Palm Beach County, there's nothing preventing the candidates from campaigning again, all over again, in Palm Beach County while they're waiting for that election, correct?
LAHAM: No, nothing preventing that at all.
PRESS: Oh, my God.
LOWRY: We're going to have Al Gore rallies in Palm Beach at 3 a.m. again. Thirty hours straight campaigning just in Palm Beach.
PRESS: No, those two candidates...
PRESS: ... George Bush and Al Gore are going to take every one of the voters in Palm Beach County out to dinner for the next election.
All right, Carol Laham, thanks so much for joining us, Carol.
Rich, we start new things on this show all the time. So the great things about SPIN ROOM, "Spin of the Day" pops up, we have all this new stuff.
Tonight we have a new future. It's called "News of the Weird." I think we borrowed it from "Mad" magazine or something like that.
But Joie Chen is the brave one who's going to launch this new feature for us, our partner in Atlanta.
CHEN: I'm out on a limb here.
PRESS: All right, Joie...
CHEN: I'm out on a limb, OK.
PRESS: ... Be as weird as you can be. Let's go.
CHEN: ... I've been as weird as I can be for most of this program. But anyway, we've been looking at our sources trying to find news that isn't ready for prime time, but is worth a spin. So here goes.
CNN has learned, as I say that authoritatively enough, that Al Gore voted for George W. Bush. Yeah, really. Of course, this Al Gore would be the one who's a 72-year-old shoe salesman in Yakima, Washington.
Mr. Gore says the only Democrat he's ever voted for in a presidential election was Harry Truman. That would be in '48.
We know what Democrats are thinking. But, no, what you're about to see here is not the Florida recount. It is the smashing pumpkins day at the National Zoo in Washington. OK, make a liar out of me. We don't have the pictures of it.
All right, well, it's the Elephant Annual Pumpkin Stomp. And it's part of a recycling program used for the Halloween programs for pumpkins up there.
All right, let's go back to the subject of the election then. Here is an excuse we haven't heard from the folks in Florida. This is it.
We didn't get out ballots to the county clerk's office because a 300- to 400-pound bear was camped outside our door. That's the excuse from Redmond Township, Michigan.
At least the officials inside the township hall used their time well. They counted the ballots while they were waiting. The bear never did leave the door.
They finally called the police, who as you know carry guns. You don't need to ask what happened. You could say that the bear was disenfranchised, I'm sorry to say.
But this is supposed to be a happy program. So we won't talk about it.
LOWRY: We need to get Congressman Wexler on that case I think clearly.
CHEN: The bear wanted his vote to count.
PRESS: We'll find out who planted the bear at the door. But I will admit something. I've actually been to the pumpkin stomp at the Washington National Zoo.
CHEN: ... recycle or what?
PRESS: No, they throw all these pumpkins in the elephant cage there. And the elephants go around and stomp them down. And they actually sort of eat them as well as they can with their trunks. It's kind of fun to watch.
LOWRY: Do they seem to really enjoy it, having a good time?
PRESS: I think they were having as much fun as the voters were in Palm Beach County.
Joie, thanks very much. OK, we're going to take a break. And when we come back, what you've been waiting for, the "Spin of the Day." We've already got some of your nominations here. We'll be reading those.
Plus, Rich Lowry's "Spin of the Day" and my "Spin of the Day" coming up in THE SPIN ROOM here on CNN.
PRESS: OK, welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM. I'm Bill Press here with Rich Lowry tonight. He's sitting in for Tucker Carlson. Tucker will be back tomorrow night. It's time for the "Spin of the Day."
Our first one is a telephone call, Rich.
LOWRY: Thanks, Bill. We have Shawna (ph) from Ohio who has a "Spin of the Day" for us.
PRESS: Hi, Shawna.
PRESS: Hi, Shawna. You're on. What's your "Spin of the Day."
CALLER: Yes. I think we should have a -- pick a day at random, either by lottery or otherwise, and have a do it all over again as a nation and because no candidate is going to be able to assume the office with any kind of respect from the rest of the country under these circumstances.
PRESS: All right...
CALLER: I'm also very disappointed in the media...
PRESS: ... OK, Shawna...
CALLER: ... in all of the wisecracks against the elderly.
PRESS: ... All right, Shawna, thank you so much for the call. That's just what we need, another national election.
Here's Jonathan (ph) from Memphis, Tennessee: "My 'Spin of the Day' nomination is actually what may be the spin of the race. I think Bush should have reconsidered his plea to Gore supporters at the end of the final debate when he asked them to vote only once."
LOWRY: That's a very good spin.
PRESS: Wasn't that good?
LOWRY: Here's my favorite e-mail "Spin of the Day." Scott from Arkansas: "Here's a "Spin of the Day" I'm sick of. Since when did the term disenfranchised come to mean my guy didn't win?"
PRESS: Whenever your guy didn't win.
PRESS: Whenever your guy didn't win, that's disenfranchised. All right, your "Spin of the Day." As a guest, I'm going to let you take the first.
LOWRY: Thanks, Bill. That's very gracious.
My favorite "Spin of the Day" I went to the most reliable source for egregious spin, who is Jesse Jackson. Jesse Jackson has Selma on the brain. This is what he said earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSE JACKSON, FOUNDER, RAINBOW-PUSH COALITION: In many ways, Tuesday fulfilled the promise of Selma, Alabama. It also fulfilled the promise of the sacrificed blood of blacks and Jews across the century.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOWRY: Well, he...
PRESS: I just -- it is over the top.
LOWRY: ... Let's get this straight. You know, Decatur, Illinois, kids are suspended from school, Selma, Alabama. Houston, Texas, challenge to affirmative action, Selma, Alabama. Someone needs to tell this guy it's not 1965 anymore.
PRESS: I think he was over the top. I've got to ask, I've got time for my spin here, right? Yes indeed. OK. This is mine.
This is my nominee for the spinner of the race is Karen Hughes, Bush's communications director. And here she is today explaining what this is all about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREN HUGHES, BUSH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: But I do think the people who raised the issue of the popular vote, it is interesting to look at it in context and realize that Governor Bush earned more popular votes than President Clinton did during both of his two previous elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PRESS: I just want to point out, so George Bush got more votes than Bill Clinton did in '92 or '96. OK. Number two, or number one, so did Al Gore. Number two, it doesn't mean anything. The question is did he win or not? He lost the popular vote. Why do people who are so smart get up and say things that are so dumb?
LOWRY: I can't believe you're being so dismissive here. You know, Bush probably got more votes than Lincoln, more votes than FDR. This has to count for something, doesn't it? What does it take to please you? What does it take?
PRESS: I repeat my question. Why do people that you and I know, and know are so smart, say things so dumb?
LOWRY: You know why?
PRESS: I guess it -- you know what, does it come with the job?
LOWRY: It's what they're paid for. Exactly.
PRESS: It's what they're paid to do.
LOWRY: Capitalism at work, Bill.
PRESS: You know what they're paid to do? They're paid to spin.
LOWRY: True. That's why they spin. That's the way the free market works.
PRESS: That's what...
LOWRY: You pay someone to spin, they spin.
PRESS: ... That's what makes it work.
Rich Lowry, thanks for joining us tonight.
LOWRY: Thanks for having me, Bill. My pleasure.
PRESS: All right, great to have you here. We're out of THE SPIN ROOM for tonight.
Tucker Carlson will be back tomorrow night. Same time, 11:00 Eastern, 8:00 Pacific. And look for us this weekend. Also, Saturday and Sunday THE SPIN ROOM is going to be open.
So for Rich Lowry, our guest spinner tonight, for Joie Chen in Atlanta, for me, Bill Press, good night, everybody. Spin away. Have a good night.
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