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Larry King Live

Gore and Bush Campaigns Clashing Over Florida Vote Tally; Florida Secretary of State Denies Counties' Requests for Manual Recounts

Aired November 15, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

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

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Democrat Al Gore offers his endgame scenario. It's week two of the longest wait for a president-elect in American history.

Joining us, Gore campaign chair William Daley. Also in Tallahassee, GOP Senator Fred Thompson, adviser to the Bush team. Plus an exclusive conversation with the 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter. And from the frontline of the legal fight over Florida's recount, attorneys for both campaigns and then a panel, including the famed constitutional attorney Floyd Abrams, and political expert Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute. All that and more next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. We're expecting a statement shortly from the secretary of state of the state of Florida, Katherine Harris, as she's prepared to deliverer that statement -- we'll go to her.

We begin with Gore campaign chairman Bill Daley. Bill, apparently there will be a response in the next hour to Al Gore's offer today to meet with Governor Bush and to somehow put an end to this scenario. A statement released about an hour and a half after Gore's comments: A Bush aide said a fair and accurate vote count is best achieved by following the law and not through a political deal, which presumes that they're going to turn it down.

What do you make of that, Bill?

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Well, that's unfortunate, Larry. Obviously, the proposal that Vice President Gore put forward is following Florida law.

There are recounts and manual counts that are going on, and they want to bring those to completion as fast as possible. As the vice president said, what the American -- what the American people want is finality to this, but they want it done in a way that adequately reflects the opinions of the people of Florida, especially in those counties where there has been a question as to whether or not the count that was reported early on really does reflect the actual vote.

So I think it would be unfortunate if it's rejected so quickly. I think the vice president not only laid out a proposal, but also gave an option to Governor Bush, and also said that if they were to agree to such a process, that he would forgo any litigation, and therefore, would agree with the results of that process, including, of course, the overseas absentee ballots, which are still coming in through Friday evening here in Florida.

So I would hope that those who are rushing to a judgment would reconsider that.

KING: If the rejection does happen, when do you expect -- do you think Saturday -- there's no way from your point of view Saturday is the last day then, is there?

DALEY: Well, no. Of course, you have two counties that are in the process, one that is counting literally right at this moment and another one that is in court, hoping to begin to count tomorrow, and a third one that is in the process of deciding whether they are going to go forward and count. This could all be wrapped up in a week if...

KING: But not this Saturday?

DALEY: Well, I don't think so. I know there's a rush by some here to try to bring this to conclusion and announce a winner. If that's done, I think it would be very unfortunate for whoever is declared the winner.

The fact of the matter is, is that this process has got to move forward,we've got to have these ballots that are in question looked at by the officials, bipartisan officials in each of these counties, with all sorts of observers, who are all over these canvassing operations to show to the American people and the people of Florida that the votes that were -- that are being looked at are being done in a fair and open way, and one that we all can be proud of.

When the result if finished -- and as the vice president said this evening, whatever that result is, if they will allow these to go forward, he will live with and he will, of course, work with Governor Bush, if he was the victor, and would expect, as Governor Bush has said, that if Al Gore wins, he would support and work with him to make this a stronger nation.

KING: Bill, what's this been like for you? Are you glad you gave up a Cabinet post for this?

DALEY: Oh, it's been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Larry, believe me. I hope.

KING: Are you glad you took the job?

DALEY: Oh, yes, it's been an incredible opportunity. I think Al Gore is a wonderful human being, somebody that I think as a friend I'm very proud of, as a human being, but also as a potential president. I think he would be a tremendous president.

It's been a great experience to participate in history. Is -- I mean that seriously: It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one that I have no regrets about taking and am very proud of in the men and women who have worked in this campaign, all over the nation, in our capital -- Donna Brazile, our campaign manager. The whole team has just been great to work with. They worked extremely hard, and they've been working since election day, which none of us expected. But I'm very pleased that I did it.

KING: A couple more things. You have called for the secretary of state, Katherine Harris, who's going to speak shortly, to recuse herself. Should you also ask the attorney general, who's a Democrat, to recuse himself?

DALEY: Well, the secretary of state is responsible as the secretary of state, and one of a three-member board of election commissioners. Governor Jeb Bush was a member, he recused himself, put in a replacement. And I did not know, to be frank with you, until you just said it Larry that she offered or is in the process of recusing herself.

The attorney general really has no direct relation to the operation and function of the election operations in each of these counties. As I understand it, in Florida as in many states, he acts as an adviser to the state government, not directly involved in the election process as a secretary of state is.

And I think her actions of the last couple of days in laying what seemed to be some arbitrary and rather questionable proposals, I think it's probably fairly wise if she's to do that.

KING: Bill, the truth is nobody knows what's going to happen.

DALEY: Right.

KING: There were prognosticators and pundits, and look how wrong they were a week ago. How -- what do you think might happen? What's your best guess -- and it has to be that -- as to how this all comes to a close?

DALEY: To be honest with you, Larry, I wouldn't want to guess. And for those people, as Al Gore said, if we could just finish these votes, counting, the hand count processes in those counties, we could bring this all to conclusion in a week.

And I know lots of people are running around and saying, oh, these are Democratic counties, therefore, Al Gore is going to win, and so forth and so on. Nobody knows. That's all guessing. There is no accuracy to any of those estimates. There is no accuracy to the guesses. But it would be unfortunate, obviously, for either one of these people, if they are to become president, to take it with a cloud. And so it would be helpful, I think, to see this brought to completion, done in a way that all of us are proud of, and then we can all come together between -- on behalf of either one of these gentlemen who may be president, and join together and have a very successful administration for the people of America.

As Al Gore said, this is not about him, it's not about George Bush. This is about our democracy.

There's no crisis. There's no great reason to have great anxiety. Of course, it's a first. None of us have ever experienced this.

KING: Yes.

DALEY: We're used to clear elections. But this is rather exciting and the strength -- and shows the strength of our democracy, the way it's being handled and the way the American people react.

KING: Thanks, Bill. Thanks so much.

DALEY: Larry, nice talking to you again.

KING: Bill Daley, the chairman -- always nice -- the Gore campaign.

We'll take a break, and when we come back, we understand Katherine Harris will deliver her statement from Tallahassee, and then Senator Fred Thompson, and then Jimmy Carter. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back as we await a statement from the secretary of state of Florida. Let's go down to Tallahassee with Senator Fred Thompson, Republican of Tennessee, adviser to the Bush team.

What was wrong with the Gore proposal to meet and get together, and if you count want to count all the counties in the state by hand let's do that, and both declare a winner, and no more judiciary involvement?

SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R-TN), ADVISER TO BUSH TEAM: Well, he knows that nobody is for recounting the whole state. What he's really proposing is that basically you take three heavily Democratic states controlled by Democratic...

KING: Counties you mean?

THOMPSON: Controlled by Democratic election officials, do a hand count supervised by them, and that he would agree with the results from that. That's -- I don't think that that's a serious offer. I don't know what the governor is going to say about it, I certainly don't look at that as a serious offer.

KING: But it is a supervised recount, isn't it? Are you questioning whether these people would do it fairly or not?

THOMPSON: It's only human nature, Larry -- let me give you a little bit of background on what's going on down here. I came down here with the hopes that something could be worked out, but we are getting into a hopeless and endless quagmire down here as you speak. You can't swing your arm down here without hitting four lawyers...

KING: All right, hold on Fred. Katherine Hughes is now approaching the podium. We'll come back to you. Here she is, the secretary of state.

KATHERINE HARRIS, FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE: Good evening. On Tuesday evening, I requested those counties contemplating manual vote recounts to submit a written statement to me of the facts and circumstances justifying any belief on their part, that they should be allowed to amend their certified returns previously filed by them, in accordance with law. All three counties, Palm Beach, Miami- Dade and Broward, responded by the 2 p.m. deadline today, and I thank them. Copies of their responses have already been distributed.

Additionally, Collier County asked about the possibility of an amendment to their return, unrelated to the manual recount issue. A copy of that letter has also been distributed.

For the past week I have devoted a substantial amount of my time to issues surrounding the manual vote recounts. After Judge Lewis's decision yesterday morning, my staff and I, along with counsel, developed criteria appropriate to the exercise of my discretion under Florida law.

This criteria is clearly set forth in Florida case law. For the past six hours I have applied these criteria in deliberating upon the specific requests of the counties, contemplating manual vote recounts.

As a result of these deliberations, I have decided it is my duty under Florida law to exercise my discretion in denying these requested amendments. The reasons given in their requests are insufficient to warrant waiver of the unambiguous filing deadline imposed by the Florida legislature.

I have communicated this decision with these counties, in letters detailing the criteria I used in making my judgments and the application of these criteria to the stated circumstances. And copies of these letters are also available.

Because it is my determination that no amendments to the official returns now on file at the Department of State are warranted, the state Elections Canvassing Commission, acting in its normal and usual manner, has certified the results of Tuesday's election in Florida, including the presidential election. Copies of that portion of the certification related to the presidential election and the signature pages of the certification are also available.

As I've previously indicated, I expect that after the receipt, tabulation and certification of the overseas ballots by the counties, the state Elections Canvassing Commission will finally certify the presidential election in Florida on Saturday. The schedule, of course, is subject to judicial intervention.

In that context, I once again will be unable personally to answer questions. However, I have with me our general counsel, Debbie Kearning (ph), and two of our outside counsel, Joe Klock and Donna Blanton, and I've asked them to remain behind to answer appropriate questions from you.

One final comment. I want to reassure the public that my decision in this process has been made carefully, consistently, independently and I believe correctly. I'm very grateful for your patience and your understanding. Thank you and God bless.

Mr. Klock?

JOE KLOCK, OUTSIDE COUNSEL: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: In Palm Beach County, what criteria did you feel was missing that justified denying their motion? And if you could address the other counties as well: What criteria were missing?

KLOCK: The criteria that the secretary used are the same criteria that are used by courts in determining whether or not elections should be overturned. There are six or seven of them; they're contained within the papers you'll find in the back.

There was nothing that was put forward by the canvassing board in Palm Beach County that took them into any area where it would be appropriate to ignore the 5 p.m. deadline, and that's what the secretary found.

QUESTION: For people who are watching at home and wondering now what the -- the import of what the secretary just said, can you tell us does this mean, from the secretary's office, if you believe the only ballots that matter now are the overseas ballots?

KLOCK: That is correct.

QUESTION: What is correct?

KLOCK: That the only ballots that matter at this point in time are the overseas ballots.

QUESTION: The state supreme court denied the petition by the secretary of state. Isn't this in direct conflict with what the state supreme court is saying?

QUESTION: They're saying that you can continue on with the manual recount.

KLOCK: Not at all. The relief that the secretary sought was extraordinary relief, trying to have the supreme court decide that all the cases in the state that had to do with this election should be brought to Leon County. In addition, we asked that, during the period of time until she made the determination as to what the criteria were and how to apply them, that there not be any manual recounting.

As a practical matter, there was no manual recounting during that period of time.

The denial by the supreme court of this particular action, is not a denial of an appeal. It was an extraordinary remedy that was sought. There will, of course, be proceedings going forward in the supreme court having to do with the conflict between the opinion of the attorney general and the opinion of the secretary of state on election issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two more questions.

KING: There you have it, Katherine Harris denying the amendment appeals by the three counties and saying she will certify Saturday after the votes come in from out of state and out of the country, and absentee ballots and overseas.

We might add that she also added she -- that would be stopped of course by any jurisdiction of courts that may step in and we imagine there'll be -- fur will be flying over legal action tomorrow. We'll right back with Senator Fred Thompson and more. Then Jimmy Carter. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Back we go to Senator Fred Thompson, Republican of Tennessee. Based on that announcement, obviously, there will be a hullabaloo from the other side, saying that this was a Republican supporter of Bush who campaigned for him and is only keeping the party line. Will that carry?

I don't think so, Larry. I think it's important to keep in mind what we're trying to do here, what the criteria is. It ought to be the rule of law and to adhere to that as close as we all can.

The law down here requires that everybody get their results in by seven days after the election -- that was 5 o'clock yesterday -- and for those who are overseas, the absentees in by 10 days after the election. That will be midnight Friday. When you take the certification that the board just made, that she announced, from those -- from those ballots counted on election day, and the certification that will come from the absentee ballots, put those two together and see who won, and the other one should bow out gracefully and start uniting this country again.

We're doing some -- we're doing some pretty terrible things down here. People have been urged to take to the streets and try to influence these people down here, and we're getting away from one of the fundamental principles of this country, and that is the rule of law. We're in danger of -- of hurting that.

KING: If there is a rule of law, though, Senator Thompson, they may well appeal her decision. That's also the law.

THOMPSON: Well, it is the law, and you can't help that. There are at least a dozen lawsuits flying around. They're being filed every day. They're accusations, bitter accusations of partisanship back and forth. There are stories of voter fraud from other states coming in now around the country.

This is the background all because the other side is insisting on hand-counting ballots that have been counted in some cases three times. Gore won the election night, he won the recount, and in the case of Palm Beach, one of the main counties in issues, he won the re- recount. And now they're insisting on a hand count. People I think sometimes mistakenly think the longer you take and the more you go toward a manual count, the more accuracy you get. That's exactly the opposite case. On the front page of "The Miami Herald" today, many experts in this area talked about the dangerousness and the invalidity many times of the manual recount.

What we have down here is two or possibly three counties where they're heavily Democratic counties where people are being asked to hand recount 400,000 to 500,000 ballots. There are demonstrations outside,. They have no standards to go by. They're making up standards as they go along. They know the number of votes that Vice President Gore is behind. There's a Democratic majority in each of these counties.

It is fraught with peril, and it is certainly not the kind of situation that is going to give the American people confidence that something fair was done.

THOMPSON: It certainly should. It certainly should. There's got to be some reasonable time periods put on it, because the longer you leave it open, it's not a case that you're more likely to get a fair result. It's more likely that you'll have mischief and an unfair result.

It's strange to me that a young person serving their country on the other side of the world has got to get their ballot in 10 days after election day or it's not going to be counted. Seemingly, if you're in Palm Beach County, you feel like you deserve to have the ballots counted four times, and -- and given an indefinite period of time in which to do that.

I don't think that's going to sit very well with the American people.

KING: Thank you, Fred, as always. Look forward to seeing you again.

THOMPSON: Thank you very much.

KING: Probably tomorrow.

Senator Fred Thompson, Republican of Tennessee. We're going to spend a couple of moments in a minute with Barry Richard and Dexter Douglass, two attorneys, and their reaction to this. Then former President Carter and then our panel. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: For a few moments we go back to Tallahassee where standing by is Barry Richard, the lead Florida trial counsel for the Bush campaign. Barry is an old friend and the son of the late Mel Richard, the former mayor of Miami Beach, another close friend of mine. I saw Barry grow up. And Dexter Douglass, attorney for the Gore campaign.

Dexter, we'll start with you. What did you make of Ms. Harris' statement denying the request for the extension? DEXTER DOUGLASS, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: It wasn't unexpected. Most of her actions have been of this nature, which is to interfere with the orderly count, the recount in Palm Beach County particularly. And obviously, this, in our opinion, will be brought to the attention of the Tallahassee circuit court as a violation of his injunction, mandatory injunction that he entered earlier this week.

KING: And Barry Richard, how does this affect, if anything, the argument tomorrow morning in the federal court in Atlanta?

BARRY RICHARD, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: I don't know that it will have any effect on the issues that are pending in federal court in Atlanta. That case deals primarily with federal constitutional issues. This matter that the secretary of state spoke to really deals with Florida's procedures.

KING: So what did you make of -- do you think -- do you -- will there be more lawsuits based on Ms. Harris' statement tonight, Barry?

RICHARD: Oh, I'm sure there will be. I used to leave the house in the morning to pick up the newspaper. Now, I leave to pick up the next complaint.

I don't have any doubt there will be more lawsuits. I think that she did exactly what Judge Lewis instructed her to do.

KING: Yes, Dexter, he instructed her to use discretion, look back. She said she used discretion, she read the arguments, and denied them.

DOUGLASS: Is this discretion? I think legally it will not be. I think the court will interpret it for what it is, a planned obstruction of his injunction, and that he will deal with it accordingly.

KING: What do you think -- what are you going to ask him to do?

DOUGLASS: Whatever he feels is appropriate, but we're going to ask him, of course, to extend this injunction now, to extend the time for these votes to be counted.

I'd like to point out -- most people are talking about how quick you need to do this. I heard on the radio driving in that in Iowa or New Mexico, one, you have until November 28th after the election to do these things, and they have longer periods of time for manual recounts in some of the states. Florida has a very short time.

If the people of America are going to have any uniformity in the elections, this does point up that we should give adequate time for elections to be, returns to be handled, and they should be uniform throughout the country if possible.

I think Florida's statute leaves openings for the courts to require extensions or for a person involved in or people in counting the vote they can grant extensions. The Florida law is very clear, statements in four cases about you don't follow statutes when it deprives people of their rights and the right to vote. And there's some very colorful language in some of those opinions. We cited them to Judge Lewis.

KING: Barry, do you think it's going to end Saturday or will this go on?

RICHARD: I don't know whether it's going to end Saturday or not, but I think that Dexter is mission an essential point here. What we are dealing with is not a situation in which anybody in these four counties discovered that there was some systemic problem in the voting procedures, which is what the law provides to be reported to the secretary of state and has not been reported to the secretary by any of these counties.

What we have here is a political decision by four county canvassing boards to manually count the votes for no particular reason, and what that amounts to is the same thing as if we were to say that we're going to allow candidates to go out tomorrow and find all the voters who neglected to vote on November 7th and invite them to come in and vote again, but we're only going to do it in four counties in which one of the candidates is heavily -- heavily favored. This...

KING: I've got to get a break. We're going to have you both back to discuss this at length as this goes on. We'll be hearing from Barry Richard and Dexter Douglass tomorrow night or one night soon.

We have -- we taped an interview earlier this afternoon with President Carter. He offered his thoughts on all of this. You might find them interesting. We'll hear from that right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: I got to get a break we're going to have you both back to discuss this at length.

As this goes on, we'll be hearing from Barry Richard and Dexter Douglass tomorrow or one night soon.

We taped an interview earlier this afternoon with President Carter. He offered have his thoughts on all of this. You might find them interesting. We will hear from that, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE -- always a distinguished pleasure to have him -- the 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, who's boyhood home in Archery is being dedicated November 17 as a National Visitor Attraction -- part of the national public park system.

And before we talk about things current, we have to talk about that. How was this done? How were you informed that your boyhood home now belongs to all of us? JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, this is a place that belonged to my father, where I grew up, Larry, from the time I was four years old until I went off to be in the Navy. It's put back exactly as it was in 1937. We didn't have electricity, we didn't have running water in our house. We used an outdoor privy.

And with aerial photographs and with other photographs and my memories and those of my sisters, the thing has been reconstructed just the way it was. And what makes it valuable is that, in addition to being the original home of a future president, it's also the only place in America that the Park Service is able to show visitors how people actually lived during the Depression years in a rural area.

So, I think it'll be doubly valuable to our country.

KING: This was the middle of an African-American community, right?

CARTER: Yes, it's called Archery, and I didn't have any white neighbors at all. I grew up among, worked with, fought with, fished with, played with just black neighbors. And my mother was a registered nurse, sometimes she'd work -- often she worked 20 hours a day for $6 a day, as a matter of fact. My father was very busy, so I was basically raised with our African-American neighbors.

In fact, at the end of my boyhood life, I realized that, in addition to my mother and father, that I was basically shaped by five people, only two of whom were white people. So, this immersion in an integral and very intimate relationship between black and white people in Archery was the way my life was formed.

It was before there was any allegation -- or that the Supreme Court ruling of separate but equal might be stricken down. So it goes back as it was before a historical event took place, and that was removing the millstone of racial segregation from around the necks of both black and white people.

KING: In fact, some said that the South would be better because whites in the South were closer to and understood blacks better than in the North.

CARTER: Well, when the civil rights movement came along and the voting rights and other legislation was passed in the Congress, we didn't have to walk across the road and say, I'm Jimmy Carter, I'd like to meet you. We'd been swimming together and fishing together and playing and working together all our lives. So it was a very intimate relationship, particularly, I would say, on the farms in the South.

KING: All right. So now this is a 360-acre estate, you lived there from 1928 to 1948, it'll be dedicated on the 17th. Does that mean, as of the 18th, Saturday, this will be open to the public?

CARTER: Absolutely. We hope to have a couple of thousand people there for the dedication ceremony. The secretary of agriculture is going to make the main speech. By the way, this is three times as many folks as live in Plains, Georgia, so it'll be a big crowd for us to handle.

But from now on it'll be open to the public for visitation every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. So we invite everybody to come down and take a look.

KING: What a great and fitting honor to a man who's also had a nuclear sub named after him, the USS Jimmy Carter, and that's going to be at sea in a couple of years. So we salute. And we remind you, this is in Archery, Georgia, it's a few miles west of Plains, and it's the boyhood farm being dedicated Friday by the National Park Service.

KING: Now, some things current in our remaining moments, Mr. President.

What do you make of no one has viewed more elections than Jimmy Carter. What do you make of this?

CARTER: Well, since I left the White House, the Carter Center, with my direct, personal involvement, has helped conduct elections in 30 different times, in some of the most troubled elections possible, where democracy was threatened if it already existed, and where we were replacing a totalitarian or dictatorship government with freedom. So I'm familiar with all the possibilities of cheating in an election.

There's no allegation at all on any part that in the Florida uncertainty that anything has been done illegally or with deliberate reasons to cause an error. I think, though, that because it is so close and because we do have some very serious fallibilities in how our ballots are cast and counted, that that tiny margin of error has now become the difference between who will be in the White House.

I hope that the entire process will proceed very rapidly. I think the recent news that I've heard, where it's going to be transferred to the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 11th Circuit in Atlanta and to the supreme court of Florida in the state courts, that might expedite it, but I hope it will. And my hope is, too, that both sides will accept the results very quickly when the final determination is made of how people actually voted, both in Florida on Election Day and from absentee ballots.

KING: And we know that you're a very balanced statesman, but you're also a Democrat and you supported Al Gore and came out for him late in the campaign, but certainly endorsed him strongly.

CARTER: Yes. I did.

KING: Should the counts -- should there be hand counting in those three in-question counties?

CARTER: Well, I think so. And if that is not acceptable when the courts make a ruling, then I think the final determination should be as a fallback, only, that the hand counting should be conducted in every county in Florida, and then add those final tabulations to the overseas tabulations and get both candidates, in advance, to agree that they would accept that result without further dispute. If that is a fallback position, now, that's not my first preference, necessarily, then I think that the nation could relax, even though it might take five or six days to count all the ballots by hand in Florida. Then, there wouldn't be any question about the final and accurate results.

KING: So in other words, there's no rush, another six days wouldn't matter that much. And you would prefer just these three counties, but if they want to be totally fair, hand count the state, every county hand count the whole thing, add in the absentees and those serving overseas, and get a final result that both sides agree to?

CARTER: Yes, that's if the court system does strike down the counting of the three counties. And I think that would be a fallback. And I think there might be a blue-ribbon commission or something that could speak with non-partisan voice, and go to Gore and go to Bush in advance and say, Will you accept this proposition? Hand count every vote in Florida, add on the absentee ballots and whoever gets the most votes is the next president. I think that both sides would agree to that.

KING: Would you serve on that commission?

CARTER: Well, I don't think it would be appropriate for me to serve by myself...

KING: No, I mean, how about -- let's think of you and Gerald Ford?

CARTER: Well, I think if President Ford and I would both agree, and if we were asked by some higher authorities to do it, I don't think there's any doubt that we'd be willing to serve for a few days just to make sure this entire proposition is brought to an early conclusion.

KING: And, finally, would you end the Electoral College?

CARTER: Larry, even if people theoretically don't like the Electoral College, we will still have the Electoral College 100 years from now, because there is no way that you could get two-thirds of the senators, two-thirds of the House members, and then in addition to that three-fourths of all the states who'd vote to do away with the Electoral College, because the small states, which would make up much more than one-fourth, would not give up their present privileged position in the Electoral College.

There might be some interim change in the Constitution or in the laws; for instance, instead of giving all or nothing in a state, to apportion the electoral votes on the basis of a percentage.

And I think another change that ought to be made in the law is to require by law that the electors actually cast their votes the way their state voted. And this is an uncertainty now, because, as you know, in the past there've been several dozen that...

KING: They can go their own way.

CARTER: They've gone the other way, yes.

So I think those two changes could be accepted, but to do away with the Electoral College, I think would be inconceivable.

KING: Mr. President, congratulations.

CARTER: Thank you, Larry.

Come to see us at our farm.

KING: I sure will.

On Friday, the boyhood farm home in Archery, Georgia, will be dedicated. Saturday -- it's open to the public -- open Friday starting after the dedication, to visit the boyhood home of our 39th president, who tonight says, if they can't come to an agreement, if they don't allow those three counties to be hand counted, both sides get together, hand count the entire state -- it'll take about a week -- add in the absentees, and get both sides to agree to accept the verdict. Hand count the entire state, offered by Jimmy Carter.

He also said if he were asked, he and maybe Gerald Ford would serve on that oversight commission.

We'll be back with more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Now let's meet a distinguished panel to discuss all this. By the way, Governor Bush is expected to speak. He will speak sometime in the next hour.

Floyd Abrams is in New York. He's the famed constitutional attorney. In Washington, Norm Ornstein, resident scholar, the American Enterprise Institute. In Boston, David Gergen, editor-at- large of "U.S. News and World Report" and author of the best-seller "Eyewitness to Power," and also in Washington is Roger Cossack, CNN legal analyst, the co-host of "BURDEN OF PROOF."

Floyd Abrams, we heard what the president said, President Carter. That was taped earlier before the Gore statement and the like. Does he have any grounds for that idea?

FLOYD ABRAMS, CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY: Well, it would be, you know, a very useful way to address this if the parties can't agree. Actually, I think what Vice President Gore proposed after your taping was really quite similar to what President Carter proposed and that is, count the three districts or, if Governor Bush wants, count the entire state by a hand ballot, add it all up, add in the foreign votes and you've about got your winner.

Do I think that would be a constructive way to resolve it? Yes, I do. I think it's for Governor Bush to decide if that's the way he wants to go. But if he doesn't, I think he'll really need to do some serious explaining as to why not.

KING: Norm Ornstein, what do you make of the Katherine Harris decision to not go to the hand counts?

NORM ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Well, I don't think it knocked anybody -- any of us off our chairs in surprise. She clearly went back after the Leon County judge's ruling, tried to find criteria that she could use that would be defensible, and it was simply not a surprise that she was going to do this.

Now, we move forward, obviously, with the legal venues. We'll be back in front of the Leon County judge, but we also have, obviously, the public relations element and the public opinion element going along in parallel track with the legal element and that's where your discussion with President Carter, what Vice President Gore said today will play in as well.

If what we're looking for here is fairness and closure, now you have the idea, and it's a pretty powerful one, count the whole state, get it done in a week, and whatever the courts are saying, that may be a difficult push to resist.

KING: David, do you think the, as Norman said, do you think the public will say that's a pretty good idea? I mean there's no rush. They don't have -- the electors aren't certified until December 12th.

DAVID GERGEN, "U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT": I think for the time being, the public's going to have to deal with what we just heard tonight from Katherine Harris, and I think it's going to set off one hell of a storm. There are a lot of people in this country who will agree with her, who will agree with the Republicans, with Jim Baker and others that these ballots now in Palm Beach and elsewhere have been so manipulated and so manhandled that they will no longer yield a legitimate count.

But I think that, frankly, there'll be a larger number of people who are not only Democrats but others who are going to say isn't it fair to at least allow a final count if anybody wants to have a final count. And if they want to recount the whole state, fine. I think that what she has done tonight may stand up in a court of law. I think it will have a hard time standing up in the court of public opinion.

KING: Roger Cossack, will it stand up in a court of law? Do they go back to the circuit court in Leon County? Is that the next move?

ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, that's exactly right, Larry. They will go back to Judge Lewis up there in Tallahassee and say, you said that we had to turn it in by 5:00 but you also said that she can't abuse her discretion and we believe that she abused her discretion.

I want to say that I disagree with David in the sense that I don't think anybody is saying that they've been so manipulated that they can't yield a fair count, I think that what people are saying is that there's no reason under Florida statute to go ahead and have that hand count.

The interesting part of all this would be is if that she refused to accept it but the precincts and the counties went ahead and counted and later on it turned out that Vice President Gore was the winner and later on turned out that he should have been the president and she refused to accept it. Then what do you do?

KING: Then you have calamity. We'll be right back with more thoughts from our outstanding panel right after these words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE: I propose that Governor Bush and I meet personally, one-on-one as soon as possible before the vote count is finished, not to negotiate, but to improve the tone of our dialogue in America.

We should both call on all of our supporters to respect the outcome of this election whatever it may be. We should both call on all our supporters to prepare themselves to close ranks as Americans and unite the country behind the winner as soon as this process is complete.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Floyd Abrams, what if the appeals court in Atlanta throws it back to the state? What if the circuit court says they can go ahead with the count? Do the people doing the counting stop because the secretary of state said to stop or do they go on if a judge says go on?

ABRAM: Well, they follow the judge as I think the secretary of state did not tonight.

KING: So the electors keep on counting if he says, keep on counting?

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: If they want to. I mean, she went to court. She went to the Supreme Court to ask for a ruling today which she did not get to stop the counting, and what she's done today, it seems to me, is to act in what certainly seems like clear violation of Judge Lewis' order yesterday. He told her to think about things like why do you need this? How many votes are there out there? How long will it take? What sort of reason do you have?

Not, are you meeting the criteria for a whole new election, which is what her lawyer said the standard was, he was using. So it sounds very much to me as if there will be a very powerful argument before the same judge that she went wrong again in a picture-perfect example of arbitrary behavior.

KING: Norm Ornstein, do the electors keep on counting tomorrow morning? ORNSTEIN: My guess is not, although they clearly can now that the Florida Supreme Court basically said she couldn't block them from counting. They are probably going to wait at least until they get some direction from the Leon County circuit judge. But they could if they wanted to.

In any event, my guess is the court of appeals, the federal court of appeals, is going to do just what the federal district court judge did. This is clearly an area for state law. There's no reason to get involved. So it will be back down in Florida and probably ultimately the Florida supreme court is going to have to do more than just a very abrupt no to any ruling. They're going to have to get involved and make a judgment here.

KING: David Gergen, what are the odds on resolution by Saturday night?

GERGEN: I think the odds just disappeared, Larry, because, we will have to wait and see what Governor Bush says tonight at 10:15 or whatever time he now speaks and see where he comes down on this.

But clearly Katherine Harris' decision today is going to invite a serious challenge in court by the Democrats. And I would imagine they would allege all sorts of constitutional violations here, so that even if they were to lose in the Florida courts they can take it into the federal courts. And they'll go all the way up.

But let me just go back to Roger's point, Larry. I think there were a lot of Republicans, just as Democrats think that Katherine Harris should never have had her hands on this, she should have recused herself from this decision because she is the co-chairman of the Bush campaign in Florida. There are a lot of Republicans who feel that Carol Roberts, the woman who helps to run the Palm Beach canvassing, may have already tampered with those votes in one way or another. They have asked her to step aside.

They do believe this machine counting that has gone on there may have -- somebody changed the chads -- this new word we've all learned -- in those ballots. And they do not trust those ballots now at this point. And believe me, blood is up on both sides tonight.

KING: We will be back with our remaining moments, get a comment from Roger about what he just said and a final comment from each of the guests after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Roger Cossack, what side of this argument would you like to be representing in court?

COSSACK: Well, I think -- and without trying to give away of my political feelings on this -- I think the Democrats tomorrow are going to have a better argument in front of Judge Lewis because I think that when they get in there and argue what Katherine Harris did today by just sort of summarily refusing to go ahead and accept these votes, I think that they're going to be in a much better position to point out the fact to her that the judge said that she shouldn't abuse her discretion.

Let me just say one thing to David. I agree that blood is up, obviously, on both sides and I think that Carol Roberts has become in some ways the Katherine Harris for the Republicans. But remember she was never in there alone, so it's hard for her. There are always several other people in there with her and the votes. It's hard to believe that she could have mutilated or done anything.

And one other thing, I'll make a prediction that those counties do continue to count even though she has said that she won't accept them.

KING: Gentlemen, what's the resolution?

Floyd, is it possible to predict?

ABRAMS: No, it's not possible to predict who is going to win. It really isn't. I think it is possible to offer at least one legal view, and that is, that the final decision-maker on the law of this will be the supreme court of Florida. I think that's where the key ruling is going to be made and the key issue is going to be, do you count or do you not count the ballots that, like Roger, I think are going to be counted by hand in these counties.

KING: Norm Ornstein what do you think is the resolution?

ORNSTEIN: Well, you know, David is right, certainly. If we head down the path we are going, we are going to end up with 1/3 of the electorate believing, whichever side wins, that they've been robbed. And the only way out is some kind of resolution with a common set of guidelines. And that has got to be counting all the six million votes using a common set of criteria and I would say the best ones would be the ones in the Texas law that Governor Bush himself signed.

KING: David Gergen do you think it's going to happen? Do you think, it's possible we could hand count every vote in Florida?

GERGEN: Well, my bet is that Governor Bush tonight at 10:15 rejects that proposition. They think they are very close to victory now. They don't think that's a fair way to do it. They think that people will go out shaking the trees looking for Democratic votes. I think he will reject it and then I think we are going to be off to court.

KING: So the eventual decider will be -- Roger, you agree with everyone -- the courts will decide this.

COSSACK: Absolutely and I agree with David that I think Governor Bush will absolutely reject it. There's really no reason for him to accept it. Hello, and get welcome to meet all the new members of the court.

KING: Thank you all very much, Floyd Abrams, Norm Ornstein, David Gergen and Roger Cossack, that's another edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Tomorrow night, lots of other opinions, including what the public is thinking about all this with radio talk show hosts.

By the way, upcoming is another special edition with Bernie and Judy and the gang. We are also do have a statement from Bill Daley forthcoming. He was with us earlier. He'll have a statement in response to Mrs. Harris' statement. And we will also be hearing from Governor Bush, the governor of Texas, who is back now in Austin from the ranch in Crawford where he will have an announcement at around 15 minutes past the hour.

So we invite you now to stay tuned as our top team takes over, keeps you well posted through the night.

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