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Larry King Live
When Will Florida Certify Its Election?Aired November 17, 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, day 10 and still no final decision. The Florida Supreme Court puts the state's vote certification on hold as overseas ballots get tallied and controversial recounts continue by hand.
Joining us from Tallahassee, Florida, election official Bob Crawford. In Washington, the senior adviser for the Gore campaign, former White House counsel Jack Quinn and then partisan perspectives from New York City's GOP mayor Rudy Giuliani and Democrat George Mitchell, former Senate majority leader.
Plus an A-list roundtable: assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post" Bob Woodward; veteran political journalist Sander Vanocur; and CNN's own legal analyst Roger Cossack. All that and much more next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. Welcome to another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. It's Friday, so I must be in Atlanta. And that's where I'm at. We welcome first Bob Crawford, Florida election canvassing commission. He is the state agricultural commissioner and he sits on the election canvassing commission replacing George Bush -- Jeb Bush, who recused himself.
Bob, what do you make of today's developments?
ROBERT CRAWFORD, FLORIDA CERTIFICATION OFFICIAL: Well, Larry, I guess in some ways it's going to mean that this is going to be dragged out just a little bit longer. I was hoping that we'd be able to certify the votes tomorrow, but it could be a very good turn of events in that I think this election has got to have credibility. It's got to be looked upon by the American people as fair and valid and having the Supreme Court clarify these legal issues will go a long way in achieving that.
KING: So in a sense you're glad they're sort of taking this matter up?
CRAWFORD: I think it's going to be good. I thought from the very beginning if on the legal issues, it should be the highest court in Florida, and that, of course, is the Supreme Court. They're going to look closely at these issues, and they've got kind of a choice here of going with what the legislature set out as the parameters and the deadlines for these dates or finding a different direction. But we'll know the law of the land as soon as they pronounce it. KING: Are you surprised that in the federal matter, the 11th Circuit in Atlanta kicked it out?
CRAWFORD: Not really. Federal courts are pretty reluctant to get involved in a state election. State elections are governed by Florida law and we believe that's the way it should be and that's why we think the Florida law is clear that seven days after the election, it's over, except for the overseas ballots which we're now counting.
KING: Now, in that area, the overseas ballots, Bob, we understand that the secretary of state, Ms. Harris and others say they have to be certified no later than November 18th. However, is there a Florida law that allows county officials up until November 24th to turn those results in?
CRAWFORD: I don't believe so, Larry. The overseas ballots are the result of a federal consent decree that was entered into by the state and the federal courts, and that says that it either has to be postmarked by Election Day or it has to be sent here with a signature of the voter and a witness, testifying that it was filled out and completed by Election Day.
KING: All right. You are on the election canvassing commission because Jeb Bush recused himself, is that correct?
CRAWFORD: That's correct.
KING: So as secretary of agriculture, this is normally not your bailiwick?
CRAWFORD: That's very true.
KING: Are you supervising recounts that you disagree with?
CRAWFORD: Well, I think that what I do agree with and I have to hold tight to is the law and we look at the law very clearly that the legislature -- in fact I was present in the Senate when this law was passed and it was very clear that there should be a cutoff.
So, we want to count every vote but we've got to follow the law and the law says you stop at a certain point in time and there's a reason for that. You've got bring these elections to a close. If we're going to have credibility, avoid the chaos of what's starting to ensue right now, we've got to adhere to the date prescribed by the Florida legislature and I hope the court agrees with that.
KING: Is Ms. Harris kind of a victim of this in a sense?
CRAWFORD: She's in a tough spot here. She's probably in a no- win situation. She's a great lady. She's a lady of principle. I've known her since she was 16 years of age and she's looking at the same law, I am, and it says you cut these elections off. So if she looked at it any other way she would have more criticism on the other side. So she's doing and i think she's doing a very credible job.
KING: So then you were not surprised when the circuit court this morning agreed with her?
CRAWFORD: I predicted that the circuit court, the judge -- I don't know him personally, but I know him by reputation. He's a big Democrat, his wife's a big Democrat, but I believed he would see the law, and the law says very clearly there's a time to end these elections and that time has come and it's past.
KING: But there is a kind of ambiguity that permits discretion, right?
CRAWFORD: There was a small opening when I was president of the Senate, reacting to a Supreme Court case that said the secretary of state should have some discretion in a very limited way. In fact, that same statute says that we should fine local canvassing commissions, commissioners up to $200 a day if they're late, and it comes outs of their personal pocket.
So, the legislature was making it very clear these deadlines are very serious and they mean it and I think the Supreme Court's going see that and say, well, there's a lot to consider, but first you have to consider the will of the people as voiced through their elected legislature and that's the law of Florida.
KING: And Bob, when you abolish the office of secretary of state, who will then supervise things like this?
CRAWFORD: Repeat that again, Larry.
KING: You're going to abolish the office, right, of secretary of state or you are going to make it appointed?
CRAWFORD: That's corrected. It will become appointed after the constitutional amendment passes and is yet to be decided exactly how that's going to be worked out but it'll probably be appointed by the governor. Frankly, I like it being independently elected as she is today, but a couple years ago a commission met and the voters voted for that, and streamlining government. So, it can work either way, but I think it's working now quite well.
KING: So you think we're in the home stretch?
CRAWFORD: I think we're in the home stretch. The briefs are going to the Supreme Court over the weekend, Saturday and Sunday. They'll come in Monday. I think they're going to be working over the weekend. Tuesday we'll have the oral argument at 2:00 and I hope very quickly that they can come to a conscientious decision and we can come to a conclusion before this really gets out of hand.
If we open up too much there's more counties they're going to want to count. There's going to be more lawsuits. Today I think there was a lawsuit every 15 minutes. So this has got to come to a stop.
KING: Thanks, Bob. Go watch the game tomorrow night.
CRAWFORD: Thank you, Larry. I plan to. KING: Tallahassee takes a rest tomorrow, so does the whole state -- Florida State plays Florida. Trust me, that's the big one tomorrow. The Supreme Court would never have met tomorrow. Trust me.
We'll come back with Jack Quinn, campaign senior adviser to Al Gore and former White House counselor. Jack Quinn is next. Don't go away.
KING: We are back. We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE another appearance for Jack Quinn, the Gore campaign senior adviser and former White House counselor. He is in Washington. I'm in Atlanta. By the way, Barry Richard, the lead Florida trial counselor for the Bush campaign, had to cancel out of this appearance late this afternoon due to a sore throat. We hope Barry is feeling better.
Jack, what do you make of today? The circuit court says count it tomorrow. The Supreme Court says we'll hear it Monday, don't count it tomorrow. The federal court says, you keep counting, it's not in our purview. This is an up down day.
JACK QUINN, GORE CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Every day has been an up-down day, Larry. You know, we've gone through emotional roller coasters on every single day since Election Day. I think today was very important. I think the courts made very clear that as Florida law makes clear, and as I think the American people will insist on, that we have a full, complete and fair count of the ballots that were cast in Florida. That's what we are going to get now.
KING: You think the state Supreme Court will go with that?
QUINN: Absolutely. I think they've given every indication, more than just indications, they've made abundantly clear that they do not want precipitous action on the part of the secretary of state. They want the ballots to be counted. They want them to be registered and they want to be sure that the will of the people in Florida, and as a result, the will of the people across this country, be reflected in the choice of the president.
KING: Jack, we are going to show the statement made today by former Secretary of State James Baker and ask you to comment.
Here was Jim Baker earlier today on these decisions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES BAKER, OBSERVER FOR THE BUSH CAMPAIGN: As the Florida Supreme Court stated in this recently issued order, the court's action is designed to maintain the status quo until its hearing on Monday. The court issued an order that neither side requested. Nevertheless, its action is not an order on the merits of the case. We remain confident that for all of the reasons discussed by the trial court in its two opinions, the Supreme Court will find that the secretary of state properly exercised her discretion and followed the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Jack, the secretary mentioned something interesting. Why did the Florida Supreme Court act without anybody petitioning them to act?
QUINN: I would answer you this way, Larry. I think that Mr. Baker, who, remarkably enough, every time he loses a case in court, stands in front of the American people and says he didn't lose and this is really going to come out his way. The truth of the matter, as you well know, is that he has pressed the courts at both the state and federal levels repeatedly to stop the counting of votes cast in the state of Florida. And the courts have constantly rebuffed him and the secretary of state and said no, we are going to allow the votes that were cast to be counted.
Now, it's not clear to me why he would take the position he does, that this is somehow a victory for them. But, to be honest with you, it's not relevant, it's not important. The most important thing is that these courts are making abundantly clear that they want the votes counted in the state of Florida and they want the votes to result in a determination by the secretary of state as to who truly won the election in that state.
KING: Jack, are you certain that when they do all these votes, hand count them and let's say it goes through, that Gore will win?
QUINN: Of course not. I can't be certain of anything. What I am very certain of is that we have enormous confidence that more people went to the polls on Election Day in the state of Florida, wanting to vote for Al Gore, intending to do so, trying to do so, than did for Governor Bush. We think if the votes are fairly, completely and accurately counted, Al Gore will win that state.
But let me clear about this. What we seek is not a result, but a process that the American people can feel completely confident about, that the truth was sought in counting the votes, and in making sure that the state of Florida and its electoral votes are awarded to the person who genuinely won.
KING: Jack, who is the culprit here? Who goofed in Florida? What went wrong?
QUINN: You know, Larry, there are no culprits. It has, to be honest with you, distressed me when from time to time I hear Mr. Baker talk about the possibility of mischief in hand counting ballots in the state of Florida. As far as I know, no one on our side has ever said that there is any malevolence involved in this. No one is talking about elections being stolen, about mischief taking place.
We have a genuine and real dispute about how to count the votes in the state of Florida and whether all of them are going to be counted. We don't think all of them have been counted. We think that there are a significant number of votes out there that were never counted by machines and that need to be counted and that are only capable of being counted if real, live human beings go through these ballots and check them by hand. KING: So there is no villain?
QUINN: There's no villain. And at the end of this day, I hope and believe that the two sides here, the Republicans and the Democrats, are going to come together and say that we went through a political process, an administrative process and a legal process that can give the American people confidence that their president deserves to be in office and that this country has someone who can continue to lead this nation as the leader of the world.
KING: Jack, thank you.
Jack Quinn, Gore campaign senior adviser, former White House counselor.
The Florida Supreme Court hears the arguments at 2:00 on Monday afternoon.
When we come back, our dynamic duo returns, Senator George Mitchell, Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Neither Governor Bush nor the Florida secretary of state nor I will be the arbiter of this election. This election is a matter that must be decided by the will of the people as expressed under the rule of law, law which has meaning, as determined in Florida, now, by the Florida Supreme Court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: They are back although on separate coasts. They were with us a few nights ago. We hope to have them on together often. They are in New York, the mayor of the city of New York, the honorable Rudy Giuliani, Republican. And out in Los Angeles, this trip, George Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader, Democrat.
And Rudy was saying during the break when we said hello to him, you never have seen anything like this, right? I mean, this is not only historic, it's crazy.
MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: This is something I never thought would happen, an election that's this close, this close not only in overall popular vote but, you know, state of New Mexico separated by less than 500 votes. Who knows what the vote is in Florida right now, but you know, it's three, 400 votes right now. So, I don't think we've ever seen anything like this before and hopefully we will never see anything like it again.
KING: Could it have happened in New York, Rudy?
GIULIANI: You mean something this close?
KING: Well, it could be this close and could it be -- let's say the bemusing of it all?
GIULIANI: Thank goodness we don't have ballots like this in New York. Can you imagine the people in Brooklyn, Larry, doing that stuff like this, punching those little things in Brooklyn?
KING: Senator Mitchell, why doesn't everyone have the famous ballot we all grew up with: you pull a lever, and it registers? What happened to that ballot?
GEORGE MITCHELL (D), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I, frankly, myself, Larry, like the old hand ballots. There's no mistake in that. You make a big X in the box and it takes a little longer to count them, but you get an accurate result.
KING: What do you make of all this, George?
MITCHELL: Well, I think that it means that the result will not be known for a while longer. But although I'm sure he doesn't see it this way today, if Governor Bush is eventually elected, I believe that he will look back on this as an important validating day, because I think had he declared victory and become the victor in the certification process that the secretary of state was planning tomorrow, there would have been a permanent cloud and a great deal of anger and apprehension.
If, however, it is the product of a process that the Supreme Court of Florida lays down, whatever that may be -- and I don't have any idea what the Florida Supreme court is going to say -- it will have a great deal more authority and legitimacy to it.
KING: Rudy, Mr. Mayor, do you have a guess as to what the Supreme Court might do, or don't you fellows do things like that?
GIULIANI: Well, you know, lawyers always guess at what courts are going to do, and mostly they're wrong. But I think that it's an exercise of discretion case. The Florida Supreme Court has to determine whether the secretary of state of Florida exercised her discretion rationally, reasonably. And you know, I think that's a standard...
KING: But isn't that totally subjective?
GIULIANI: No, it shouldn't be totally subjective. I mean, there are -- there are cases that guide that, and they'll have to listen to the reasons and make a determination as to whether they think her reasons amount to capricious, arbitrary, irrational. So I think this -- it looks -- and this could all change on Monday, because today it changed twice -- but it looks like the Florida Supreme Court will go a long way to deciding this election.
KING: Senator Mitchell, were you surprised that they took this on without even having a petition to take it on? There was no appeal in front of them. MITCHELL: No, I was not, Larry, because if you look back at the decisions of the Florida Supreme Court on the process of election in recent years, they're very sound, they're well-written and thoughtful decisions. And they make clear that the overriding goal is determining the will of the people. That's what matters in elections.
Do you know the word democracy is a combination of two Greek words? "Demos," the people; "cracy," the rule or the reign. An election is simply a mechanism by which we determine the will of the people so as to establish the rule of the people. And the Florida court, I think -- you look back over their opinions, they're very sound and solid in that respect, and I think that's what they're going to be looking for.
They have said actually that it is not the technical compliance with the law that matters. It is the determination of what is the will of the people. What did the people of Florida want to do when they went to the polls? And I think that's what should and will govern this election.
KING: Back with some more moments with Mayor Rudy Giuliani and George Mitchell. Our panel is still to come, and they include -- Bob Woodward will be with and so too will Sander Vanocur and Roger Cossack. We'll also talk with the two gentlemen who represent Democrats and Republicans abroad as that vote trickles in. Don't go away.
KING: Mayor Giuliani, in some circles they are saying this has become so intense and so confounding that the loser may be the winner.
GIULIANI: Well, I mean, it really is going to depend on how it all gets resolved by the Supreme Court of Florida, if they're the ones that ultimately resolve it -- maybe the Supreme Court of the United States.
It looks like they're going to have two elections, and they're going to have to decide between them.
One election is going to be the election, including the votes certified and counted as of Tuesday, I guess it was, last week, plus the absentee ballots, which probably is going to have Governor Bush ahead. And then the other election is going to be the election that includes the votes from the extra two or three counties that have been recounted for a fourth or fifth time. And they're going to have to figure out what complies with the law of Florida. And that's going to be very, very difficult. I don't know what the end result of that is going to be.
KING: And Senator Mitchell, whichever one is figured out, will the other side live with it?
MITCHELL: I think they'll have to, Larry. I just want to make one point, because it continues to be overlooked. In seven smaller Florida counties, six of them Bush gained, they had partial hand recounts. In most of them, ballots that were rejected by the machines were then counted by hand, and Governor Bush gained in most of them. In one county, about half the precincts of the total vote was counted by hand.
So it is a mistake to believe that the only hand counting in Florida is in these counties. Admittedly, these are much larger, but there has been hand counting, and so far, at least, Governor Bush has benefited.
I think that, Larry, whoever wins this election will have a huge challenge, but also an opportunity. If he involves the other party, if he seeks bipartisanship, if he seeks to unify, he may in fact be able to get a narrow but significant legislative program through the Congress next year. It's going to be close in the Congress, but it's a test of leadership. And I hope that whoever wins is going meet that test.
KING: What do you think, mayor?
GIULIANI: I hope the same thing, but I think, you know, it's going to be very difficult. And the way it gets resolved and the fairness of the way it gets resolved is going to have a lot -- it's going to have a lot to do with that. And I do think there's going to be a tremendous burden on whomever wins this election to unite the other side, bring the other side over.
KING: What do we do with the partisanship, mayor? Every Republican we know thinks that the secretary of state was correct and lock it in. Every Democrat I know says continue the balloting and counting the votes. Have you seen anyone in either party come over?
GIULIANI: Yes, I thought the judge today. Judge Lewis is a Democrat. And Judge Lewis...
KING: But he's a judge first, though.
GIULIANI: Yes, but Judge Lewis -- Judge Lewis is the first one that I've seen that's not against what you would think would be the instinctual reaction of a -- of a person who is a partisan. He ruled that the secretary of state had exercised her discretion correctly and wisely. And I thought that was a pretty courageous decision.
I do a radio show in the morning, and I said it reminded me of that chapter in John F. Kennedy's book about Edmund Ross, who refused to vote for the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. I was probably exaggerating a little.
I thought it was a pretty courageous thing to do.
You know he's going to get a lot of -- you know, he's going to get a lot of pressure from his fellow Democrats. MITCHELL: Just one minor point, Rudy, that was Senator William Pitt Fessenden of Maine who cast the deciding vote on the Johnson impeachment, who was written by John Kennedy.
GIULIANI: I thought it was Ross. It wasn't Ross?
MITCHELL: No, it was Fessenden from Maine. I happen...
GIULIANI: All right, OK.
MITCHELL: I'm from Maine, so we're very proud -- we've very proud of our heroes.
KING: Rudy, you know Maine. It's that little place a little north of you.
Thank you both.
GIULIANI: I thought it was -- I thought it was Ross from Kansas.
KING: Mayor Rudy Giuliani. I know the mayor. He's going to go home, and first thing, right now, and look this up. He does not accept...
GIULIANI: You're darn right. I'm going to get out "My Profiles in Courage."
KING: Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Senator George Mitchell, we thank them both. When we come back, lots more ahead on LARRY KING LIVE and complete coverage on CNN around the clock. Don't go away.
KING: By the way, we will have a live edition of our program tomorrow night. Normally, we're pretaped on Saturdays. And we'll be doing it right here from Atlanta.
We now welcome friendly adversaries, both in Washington: Tom Fina, executive director of Democrats Abroad, and Michael Jones, executive director of Republicans Abroad.
Have any of these votes been counted yet, Tom?
THOMAS FINA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DEMOCRATS ABROAD: I believe some of them have, but you're a lot closer. The folks down in Florida are a lot closer than I can be to know just where we stand on that.
KING: Do we know, Michael?
MICHAEL JONES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, REPUBLICANS ABROAD: Well, according to a half an hour ago, Republicans from overseas have sent in a record number of ballots. We're winning 60 percent of the overseas vote right now, and "The Los Angeles Times" reports that of the overseas ballots sent in before Election Day, we actually won 62 percent of those to Al Gore's 37 percent. But I've got tell you, Larry, I just got a call from the Republican Party in Florida with some very disturbing news that I'd like to get out into the public tonight.
KING: Go ahead.
JONES: The Florida Democratic Party has sent out a five-page document explaining to their volunteers around the state how to protest military ballots, and it even includes a protest form. This is an orchestrated effort on behalf of Al Gore, because he sees the votes going for George W. Bush abroad. And Al Gore, who wants to be commander-in-chief of the armed forces, to deny the rights of military personnel to vote this November and we're shocked.
KING: Tom, your reaction?
FINA: Well, it seems to me that's rather a bit of demagoguery here. I haven't seen the offer that's gone out or the instructions that have gone out. Until you do you've got withhold judgment.
Certainly, we want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to have his ballot counted. If it's proper, if it's in order, we want that done. We want all ballots, not only the overseas ballots but the ballots that have been cast in Florida itself and that is a very reasonable position. We're trying to maximize the vote and not minimize the vote.
KING: Michael, you're accusing them of chicanery?
JONES: Well, this is just from reports I just got. Look, we know that this is a heavily Republican-leaning constituency. My friend Tom and I have been on national television all week, and he predicted the Democrats would get a majority of the overseas vote. That is not coming true.
Republicans Abroad has wiped the floor with Democrats Abroad according to "The Los Angeles Times" if you look at the results that came in before and look at the results that are coming in now. We're getting 57 to 60 percent of this vote, and that's because we ran a massive international advertising campaign, thanks to the leadership of our party chairman, and our field work was awesome thanks to the leader of our party's co-chairman and members of the House like Congresswoman Granger and Congressman John Kucinich.
KING: Do you think there will be enough, Tom, here to overcome what might be -- I mean, Michael, what might be an expected change in the counting of the ballots in the three southern counties?
TOM: I think we've got to wait until we see all the ballots that are in.
KING: Michael, what do you think? Do you think there's enough of your overseas friends to counteract what might be an onslaught from Dade, Broward and Palm Beach? JONES: I have two points on that. The first thing that I think is going to a happen is these votes with are going to come there heavily Republican. They've been trending this way over the last few hours. They trended this way prior to election day. It is a result of the campaigning of Republicans Abroad...
KING: I know, you said that, but will it be enough?
JONES: I think it will be enough. I think it's going to show that, look this is the fourth time we're counting ballots in this election season. We counted them on election night. We counted them another time with a recount. They're trying to count them a third time.
Let me tell you something, from the calls that I'm getting from overseas, America is looking like a Banana Republic because the Democrats have the lawyers on this. They're in the courts down there. They're handling these ballots. There's pregnant chads. There's falling-off chads. There's all sorts of chads.
This is getting out of control and the American people are getting frustrated and our public image abroad is taking a beating because of it, and I think that it is incumbent upon the vice president at this point to lose with dignity, Larry.
FINA: Larry, I think that my friend is rather more emotional about this than we should be. We're going through a process of getting these votes counted as best we can. We're trying to be as honest about it as possible and make sure that everyone who voted has a chance to have his vote counted.
And as far as the overseas situation is concerned, my impression from the communications I'm getting from Democrats around the world is that they want to see every vote counted, both our own and theirs and it's important for us as far as our reputation in the rest of the world goes to make sure that this count is completely accepted, that everyone realizes that we have counted everyone who wanted to vote, and if we fail to allow all those people to be counted, we're going to appear to have failed in our duties.
KING: Hopefully, we'll know a lot more by Monday. Thanks Tom Fina and Michael Jones. Both of them Washington. When we come back, Bob Woodward, Sander Vanocur, Roger Cossack. It's quite a panel. Lots to talk about. Don't go away.
KING: We now welcome our panel. They are in Washington, Bob Woodward, assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post," Pulitzer Prize winner and author of the new book, "Maestro: Greenspan's Fed and the American Boom." In New York, Sander Vanocur. He's covered politics for NBC, ABC "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post." He hosts "Movies in Time" on the History Channel. And in Washington our own legal analyst Roger Cossack, the co-host of CNN's "BURDEN OF PROOF."
I don't think we have a problem anymore, Bob because in a full page ad for your book today it says Greenspan is the real president. So what are we worried about?
ROBERT WOODWARD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, it looks that way to a certain extent or at least Greenspan is holding his own. There is a vacuum and a vacancy to a certain extent.
KING: What do you make, Sander Vanocur, we'll start with you and go around -- what do you make of -- there's no other way to put it, what do you make of today?
SANDER VANOCUR, JOURNALIST: I think it's fascinating and I've been thinking all day about Tip O'Neill, who once said, "Politics is local," and before a grammarian calls me up. it is politics is local.
KING: And that's what -- you think the Florida Supreme Court is going to end with them?
VANOCUR: I have no idea. I don't think this is going to end.
KING: Greenspan will be anointed. Roger Cossack you're the lawyer in the group. What do you make of today?
ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I think that perhaps if people were given the alternative now whether or not they wanted to vote for Greenspan, he might get elected.
But I would say this, that today was major day, obviously, because the Florida Supreme Court has weighed in and at least indicated that on Monday they will have a hearing and perhaps shortly thereafter make a decision which could end all of this if in fact they decide one way or the other, either to allow the votes to be counted or not allow the votes to be counted.
So you know, we see at least a temporary stopdate of Monday, but you know, there's always -- there's a statute in Florida that would allow the loser to contest the whole election if the loser so chose to do. So, we look to Monday and hope for an end.
KING: Bob, are you surprised how aggressive this Supreme Court was in coming down with this without even a case in front of them?
WOODWARD: No. In fact, I think the Florida Supreme Court really did everyone a favor. Psychologically, the country and the lawyers and the candidates can get a weekend off and think about this. A cooling-off period is good in a dispute like this, which is unclear, and one of the things I think we're seeing is how increasingly bitter it is getting.
There are Republicans running around saying a decision by the Florida Supreme Court, because it's made up entirely of Democrats, will not be legitimate and will not be acceptable. So we may be heading into more acrimony rather than less.
KING: Sander, is it getting worse before it gets better? You've seen a lot of these, but nothing like this.
VANOCUR: It's getting worse, and there are ramifications that go beyond what we are talking about tonight. Tom DeLay, the third- ranking member of the House GOP leadership, is talking about having studies made about perhaps the Florida electors will be thrown out if the thing does not go the way he thinks it should. You've got Billy Tauzin, chairman of the telecommunications subcommittee, a man I much admire and respect. He's going to hold hearings on the networks and what they did on Election Night.
Now, that's a slippery slope. I think they are fell of chagrin and remorse about what happened but you're getting into First Amendment issues. Somehow, this has taken on a life beyond votes. I can't figure it out yet, but it's something that's going to go beyond when the last tally is counted.
KING: We've never seen, obviously, anything like that. Tom DeLay is doing that but we also get reports, Roger Cossack, that Bob Beckell, a Democratic operative is contacting electors directly about whether they have to vote for Bush when they gather in the Electoral College.
COSSACK: Well, of course, there is nothing that would prohibit him talking to electors and I suppose trying to persuade them one way or the other. I think what Sander says is true, this has taken on a life of its own and will last if this is just more than just a law case. This is certainly more than just a political case.
One of the things as a lawyer that's always distressed me about these kinds of situations is you have law sort of layered with politics because there hybrid situation sometimes produces results that are not good for either side. A law should be, I know, naively speaking, should be pure and shouldn't be involved with politics. But just like the impeachment, we see that this is.
KING: Bob, but in the impeachment at least, people did cross over. Bob Woodward, we used to say the country first, the party second. Do you know anyone in either party who has crossed lines here?
WOODWARD: I think there are a few people.
KING: No major person.
WOODWARD: No, exactly, and everyone is adhering to the line that each side is putting out and they're doing this in lockstep. What is needed here most is an adult in real, mature supervision. And we talked about this last weekend, but it's the crucial issue: What's the exit strategy here? How, if you wind up being the loser, do you retain your sanity and your political standing and withdraw? Because the rhetoric and the intensity of this just does not go away.
I was thinking today that the book I never want to write about this incident -- and I hope that no one ever writes -- is a book entitled "The Stolen Presidency."
KING: But both sides, Sander, are in a position to claim that. If the Supreme Court lets the vote go through and Gore were to win, lets say, Bush is going to say, you took it away from me. And if the Supreme Court decides not to let them do that and Bush is declared the winner, Gore is going to say, you didn't count votes that were for going to vote for me. And both will stand by that.
VANOCUR: Yes, Bob has brought up a literary analogy and I kept thinking, this is like what Somerset Maugham wrote in "The Summing Up." I think he stole it from Aristotle's "Rhetoric": Every story has a beginning middle and an end. This was put to Albert Camus, and he said: "Yes. The real question is, which comes first?" Which comes first? I don't know any longer.
KING: Roger, legally scholars are going to talk about that forever, aren't they?
COSSACK: Right, and you see what the problem here is, as I was indicating, this mixture of law and politics, because lawyers are advocates. They're hired guns. They go forward. They have a client. They're not expected to step back and say what's best for the country, politicians are. So, what we, perhaps, need here, and perhaps what both of these gentlemen are suggesting, is we need great statesmanship to come in and to hold back the lawyers from doing what they do and statesmen to rise up and say, look, the country comes first.
KING: Something Bob Woodward suggested on this program, Jimmy Carter suggested the other night, what is the objection, Bob Woodward, to recounting by hand the whole state?
WOODWARD: Well, that's right and a lot of people have suggested this. Now, Gore suggested it and Bush rejected it.
KING: Why? He will pick up a lot of votes in other counties, won't he?
WOODWARD: Well, there's been some indication of this but there is an assumption incorporated in the behavior of both sides, that if you really hand count these Democratic counties that Gore will go ahead and get hundreds if not 1,000 or 2,000 additional votes, and there's no certainty of that.
KING: And no assumption that Bush would get the same in the northern counties?
WOODWARD: No, apparently because of the kinds of machines used and so forth. But again, no one knows. I mean, one of the things to worry about here is beware of answered prayers. In other words, that Gore could get his way and you would get this hand recount and it would turn out he would not go ahead of Bush whether this was certified or not.
Now, if that occurred, that probably would end this and Bush would win. But the indications are not in that direction. KING: We will be right back with Bob Woodward, Sander Vanocur, Roger Cossack. As a king once said, not me, it's a puzzlement. Don't go away.
KING: We are back as you see the White House on a lovely, brisk, fall night. Someone is going occupy that place after January 20th of next year only we don't know who.
Let's take a call for our distinguished gathering.
Salix, Iowa, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry. Thank you for taking my call.
CALLER: My question is, aren't the civil rights of the voters in the other 49 states being violated because by law they aren't allowed to give special consideration to their improperly cast ballots as in over- and under-cast ballots?
KING: Are other states being -- what's the mood of those states, Bob Woodward? 49 others? A lot of other people voted in this.
WOODWARD: I certainly don't know what the mood is, but the contests there are not close enough to be contested. The Bush campaign, for instance, came out and said they would not ask for a recount in Iowa and the separation was, what, some four or 5,000 votes. So, I don't think anyone in Iowa and certainly no one in the Bush campaign or Bush himself is saying that there's something untoward that took place in that state.
KING: Roger Cossack, or Sander, I'm sorry. Was it Sander or Roger?
COSSACK: I think we should go to Sander.
KING: OK, Sander, were you going to say something?
COSSACK: No, Larry, I was going to say, and what I was going to say then -- and I'm sorry Sander, if I interrupted you -- was that initially you know, there was a suit filed by the Bush people in Florida claiming that by -- if you hand counted some counties and didn't recount other counties, that the ones who didn't get recounted were having their votes diluted, which is somewhat, I think, what the caller is suggesting.
KING: Where is that suit?
COSSACK: That suit is in Florida now and I think it's going nowhere.
KING: Are you surprised, Roger, that the federal court threw it out today? COSSACK: No, not at all. This is a state issue and should remain a state issue unless someone can make a claim showing that there's some constitutional deprivation going on and that usually goes to some kind of voting rights or perhaps prohibiting the discrimination.
KING: Sandy, do you think we are going to wind up in the United States Supreme Court with this?
VANOCUR: We could.
KING: The final arbiter?
VANOCUR: We've got a role reversal here. You've got the Republicans now seeking federal relief and you've got Democrats staying with the states. This is a great role reversal.
KING: Columbus, Ohio, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: There have been some perceptions over the past week that there's been confusion in the counties over what standards to use when counting one ballot for a candidate or not to. If the hand count is allowed to be completed and if in fact the results of the hand count are certified as the official results of Florida, will this perception of this confusion over standards for counting cast doubt over the results of that election?
VANOCUR: ... in Jim Baker's statement two words stick out: subjective and selective manual count. Subjective and selective. I'm telling you, in the old "Laurel and Hardy" movies, they talked about "This is some fine mess we're in." We're in a fine mess.
KING: And Bob Woodward, no matter who wins this, it will be in doubt, will it not? It will always be questioned?
WOODWARD: You don't know. I mean, we've talked about this since it occurred, but -- and we're talking rightly about the law and the courts here. But Gore and Bush still have some power here, and there may emerge out of this fog some clarity, some direction, and one of them may step up and say, I'm out of here. I'm worrying about 2004. I would not eliminate that.
If you examine, as many people have, the biographies of Bush and Gore, there is a real connection through their fathers with public service and what goes on in this country, and I just cannot believe that either Bush or Gore are going to let chaos prevail at the end of this. I mean, somebody came up with the image on the Mall here in Washington on January 20th one of them taking the oath of office, and at the other end, the losing candidate with a sign walking around, "I was robbed."
You know, I don't think that or any version of it is going to occur.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with our panel. We'll be live tomorrow night, and among the guests will be the two chairmen of both parties -- now, that's going to be fun -- Ed Rendell and Jim Nicholson. We'll be right back.
KING: Sander Vanocur, has it gone too far for either of these two fine gentlemen, as Bob Woodward suggests, for one of them to acquiesce?
VANOCUR: I think so. Larry, what we've got I think is a repeat on a domestic scale of what happened after 1949 when the Chinese communists took over the mainland of China. And for years after, it dominated our politics: We lost China.
I don't care how this works out -- and I hope it works out for the best for the country -- we're going to be hearing, "Who stole Florida?"
KING: Roger, do you agree?
COSSACK: Well, I would hope that -- you know, it's hard to disagree with Sandy Vanocur, but I would hope that they would get together. Remember, whatever the winner, whoever the winner is, this is what they win. They win a Congress that is almost evenly divided. So whoever sits in there as the president, becomes the next president, is really going to have about the same power.
It's clear that whoever the president is will have to work with an evenly divided Congress. So it's almost like the situation where they have to get along and one of them has to step up to the plate.
KING: Bob, do you regard it as true what many are now saying, the loser may win this?
WOODWARD: I mean, who knows? But I think...
KING: In the long run?
WOODWARD: I mean, you know, tell me who the loser is...
... and maybe we can get there. When you showed the White House there, I looked and I didn't have my glasses on, but I almost detected the silhouette of Alan Greenspan up there on the second floor planning where he was going to move.
But the interesting idea here is, if I can use the Greenspan analogy, he is somebody who has succeeded in his job for so long because he avoids confrontations, because he realized, when have a confrontation, you empower your opponent. And if you just sit by and are cool about it, these things can get decided, and it's possible that the courts or someone is going to come up with an answer.
KING: Sander, will you agree when that answer occurs, there will be no parades, there will be no cheering? It will be more a case of, it's over?
VANOCUR: It will never be over, Larry. It will be sack cloth and ashes.
KING: Never over?
VANOCUR: I don't think so. It's got a dynamic of its own now. It is going to reverberate through our politics for the next 20 years.
KING: Roger, haven't there been law cases that never go away from either litigant, either attorney, they live with it their whole life?
COSSACK: Well, that's right, and there are cases in which -- remember, lawyers are advocates, and they fight and fight and fight. And that is why I am saying, we cannot look to the lawyers to settle this. It has to be the clients to settle this. It has to be someone who steps up and tells their lawyer enough.
You know, the French say to make a great painting, you need two people: a great artist and someone to tell the great artist when to stop. And what we need here is someone to tell the politicians when to stop and it's enough.
KING: Thanks you all very much. Bob Woodward -- his new book is "Maestro: Greenspan's Fed and the American Boom" -- Sander Vanocur, now of the History Channel, and our own Roger Cossack, legal analyst and co-host of "BURDEN OF PROOF."
Don't forget we will have an edition of LARRY KING LIVE, live tomorrow night. Normally, Saturday nights are pretaped. And we'll have the chairmen of both parties.
Stay tuned for CNN's special report with Bernie, Judy, Bill, and Jeff. I'm Larry King in Atlanta. For all of our guests, good night.
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