|Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback||
Larry King Live Weekend
Recount Goes On, Rhetoric Goes Up as Election 2000 Heads to CourtAired November 18, 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, election indecision: day 11, the recount goes on, the rhetoric goes up and both sides get ready for a square off in Florida Supreme Court.
Joining us from Tampa the chairman of the of the Republican National Committee Jim Nicholson; and in Philadelphia, the general chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Ed Rendell.
Then legal perspective from constitutional attorney Floyd Abrams; and constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley.
Then a roundtable with David Gergen editor-at-large for "U.S. News & World Report" and author of "Eyewitness to Power," Daniel Schorr senior news analyst for National Public Radio; Norm Ornstein, resident school scholar of the American Enterprise Institute; and Hal Bruno from ABC News, all next on a live edition of LARRY KING LIVE on Saturday night.
Normally we are on tape on Saturday nights but because of what's going on, we are with you live as every evening and we're in Atlanta tonight. And first before we meet or regular guests let's go to West Palm Beach and CNN's Martin Savidge for an update on the day -- Marty.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Larry.
Let me summarize at least where we stand at this point. Behind us here in the emergency operation center they are in their 13th hour of the day in the third county of the entire county of the entire county of Palm Beach County. They're about one-third of the way through. Good news but there's always a catch.
And that catch is that there a lot of questionable ballots, these are ballots that the hand counters went over and there were objections to. There were over a thousand of them today. The problem is that those all have to be reviewed by the elections canvassing board. It's a lengthy process, a lot of attorneys involved and it becomes sometimes a very testy issue. The stack of questionable ballots is quite thick.
Meanwhile, as they were counting on the inside, they were spinning on the outside. Republicans were complaining that this whole process is moving far too quickly here, even though there have been quips made by the elections board if they don't speed things up, don't worry about Thanksgiving. They are worried about being here for Christmas.
The Republicans are saying it's moving so quickly that the ballots are being mishandled. Election workers are having to work too long and that they're getting tired and that mistakes are being made. There have even been accusations by the Republicans of ballot tampering. The Republicans aren't the only ones saying there were making complaints. The Democrats were also saying there are problems. They're worried about the dimples -- these are the indentations -- not the perforations of the ballots. They claim that the dimples are not being or not being counted properly. They believe a lot of those dimples would go in favor of Vice President Al Gore and they are complaining about it.
This is not the only place complaining. Broward County pretty much finished up tonight. They begin tomorrow again at 8:00 a.m.; Miami-Dade will begin their full manual recount on Monday morning.
Then there was the legal action today. Briefs had to be in by the attorneys ahead of that critical motion and hearing that is before the Florida Supreme Court that takes place on Monday. As far as we know, the attorneys got their briefs in. So that's the legal fun, not a lot of activity there, but definitely in the court of public opinion, Republicans and Democrats were pushing very hard. There in a nutshell Larry, is what it's about.
KING: Thank you Marty. As usual -- super job on the scene in West Palm Beach.
Let's begin with the relative chairman of their party. In Tampa, Jim Nicholson of the Republicans, in Philadelphia, Ed Rendell of the Democrats.
Jim, how close are we to resolution here? It seems to get worse every day.
JIM NICHOLSON, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, I hope we are close Larry because this thing is spinning out of control. It's in a downward spiral. I mean, informed what happened today really takes the cake when we discovered that they disallowed maybe as many as 1400 votes of our men and women serving us overseas. We find that at the same time that we learned that the Democrats had sent out a five-page memorandum, I have a copy of it right here with me, they sent that to all the counties in Florida, telling them how to disallow overseas military votes. And then we learn today as well that felons have been allowed to vote in Florida.
So I think what we are seeing is what kind of commander in chief Al Gore would really be when he and his people are trying to take the vote away from the men and women serving in uniform in those far flung frontiers of the world out of the world and the people that are defending this freedom and this right that we have to vote.
KING: Do you know for a fact that the uniformed men those ballots were completely correct and everything done right?
NICHOLSON: Well, what we do know is that they attempted to voted. We know that some ballots were disallowed because the witness, that would be a in most cases a fellow service man or service woman who witnessed it failed to put their address down in that witness form and it didn't call for their address and there were no instructions there to tell them they need to put their address down.
KING: Ed Rendell what do you make of all of this? According to Jim, you guys are the culprits.
ED RENDELL, GENERAL CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Jim's Web site has a particular thing saying we are trying to steal the election. If we are Larry it's the first theft that's going to occur in front of five network cameras.
Everything that's being done is being observed by the press. Now, let's talk about the absentee ballots for a second. Both parties put out memorandums to their poll watchers.
NICHOLSON: Ed, do you have a copy of our memo?
NICHOLSON: You do not.
KING: Hold it Jim. Let him finish.
RENDELL: ... our people have seen memorandums. Jim you keep interrupting me. For a year, you've been interrupting me. Let me finish. Secondly, Larry in answer to your question, Orange County, which is a Republican controlled canvassing board disallowed as high a percentage of foreign absentee ballots as any of the other counties. We don't, the Democrats difficulties call ballots. It's the canvassing boards that do.
Thirdly in answer to your question, Larry, most ballots are being disqualified because they don't have a postmark -- Florida law; because they weren't sent in by registered voter -- Florida law; because they were not sent in by a voter who requested an absentee ballots -- Florida law.
Now, if Jim feels that some of the absentee ballots some of the canvassing boards are disqualifying them improperly, they can, if they want, take this to court. Now we are trying to get all of this done. You heard in your report -- from your reporter Larry, that the Republicans are saying the process is going too fast. Now, you know, clue me in. I thought the Republicans were saying that the exam hand vote count would delay this too long.
KING: Jim, we seem to be, most people we run into, Democrats and Republicans say that if positions were reversed you guys would be doing the same thing on the opposite side, that this is pure partisanship.
How does that end?
NICHOLSON: Well, what's going on is a partisan circus, Larry and it's been brought by did Democrats. We had an election in Florida, we counted the votes and we won. So it was close.
KING: What about those votes that were poorly done? You can't say Florida did a great election?
NICHOLSON: First of all, let me say something again to Ed Rendell. I was just on a radio show with him and he said it there that we put out a memorandum instructing people how to count military votes. We did not, Ed. For days you went around saying that the voted was illegal in Palm Beach County, and then of course found out it wasn't. We did not send out a memo. We are trying to get as many of those military votes counted as possible because we feel so strongly about those people who are serving us out there...
RENDELL: But Jim...
NICHOLSON: ... and went to the trouble to get a ballots and then sign it, get one of their fellow service people to sign it, you know. I served out there in combat units far flung. A plane only comes once in a while and picks up maim and somebody has an additional duty to be the postal clerk. They don't always get them postmarked. They can't do everything right because they're in Kosovo; they're in Bosnia; they're out there serving us.
KING: When we come back, we'll have Ed respond, I want Ed to respond to the serious charges made today, and we will tell what the lady had to say. We will do that right when we come back.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREN HUGHES, BUSH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: We now have clear and compelling evidence from eyewitnesses that this manual recount process is fundamentally flawed and is no longer recounting, but is distorting, reinventing and miscounting the true intentions of the voters of Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Ed Rendell, a serious charge from the Bush camp. Your response?
RENDELL: Well, they've tried to raise the rhetoric today dramatically, Larry.
KING: Yes they have, and what's your response?
RENDELL: Well, my response is that that's a bunch of bull. As I said, if this is stealing the election -- there are network representatives from five networks, all the local news agencies observing this process.
KING: They have sworn statements. RENDELL: Sworn statements, but CNN had a couple come out, two Republicans, a man and a woman, come out from the Palm Beach vote; they were Republican counters and they said there was nothing at all untoward going on. And, in fact, didn't the judge just come out and say that after one-third of the votes are counted there's been a very slight pick up, there's been some pick up, but a very slight pick up by the vice president. That doesn't sound like there's wholesale fraud going on to me, Larry.
KING: Jim, are they going make a formal charge out of this, do you know?
NICHOLSON: Well, that remains to be seen because what they've also discovered is that they're stacking the deck. In fact, an honest Democrat brought that to the Republican observer's attention in Broward attention and said that after some of these ballots are being counted, and the Bush ballots are separated, they're putting them in to the Gore stacks, where they then just count the absolute numbers. And the words of this Democrat to are people was, they are trying to sabotage this count.
KING: Then why has Gore only gotten 56 more votes?
RENDELL: Right; Jim, that's a hell of a sabotage.
NICHOLSON: Well, they probably would've had less if they weren't doing that. We also know that they've actually taped some of these chads back into the spaces to fill them in when they were cast for Governor Bush. We have witnesses who have given sworn affidavits to that effect.
So this thing is spinning out of control down there, and then Ed Rendell says that the media is watching this. Well, did you ever look into one of those rooms, Ed? There are scores of people in those rooms and the media is outside looking in. And then when there are disputes, they're taken to the chief election officials in those counties and where they're counting they're controlled by Democrats. This is a highly partisan activity.
KING: Are you saying, Jim, then, if this continues Gore is going to come out ahead on these ballots?
NICHOLSON: Well, I'm not predicting that, but I'm saying that what's going on is certainly unsavory.
KING: Well, if it stayed that way -- obviously you're saying they're engineering that, right?
NICHOLSON: Well, I think it's part of what's going on -- when they disallowed these 1,400 military votes that have come in that were going two to one for Governor Bush.
KING: They're claiming that you're trying to steal it. Simply put, that's what they're saying.
RENDELL: Yes; let's go back to the military votes. Jim, you guys knew about this problem from four years ago, that on ships it's difficult to get postmarks. If that was the case, why didn't you do something about it?
Secondly, Jim are you saying...
NICHOLSON: What are we going to do, bring the ships home? Put them in port?
RENDELL: Jim, are you saying to a military guy who isn't registered that we should count his absentee ballot in contravention of Florida law? Of course not. Larry...
NICHOLSON: No, but I'm saying a guy that votes and has a witness and he doesn't put down the address because he wasn't requested on the form to put down his address, we should count that.
RENDELL: Well Jim, take that to court because -- if you want that reviewed. But Larry, this process is being observed by more independent observers in the media. If the Republicans feel there's something wrong, they come outside and complain to you. This is a process that has the most level of attention, the least likelihood for fraud of any process I've ever seen.
And if all the truth be known -- Jim, if the truth be known -- you know that the majority of Floridians, those 19,000 in Palm Beach who double voted for Gore and Buchanan, the 9,000 in Jacksonville who double voted for Gore and Buchanan, that if they had voted correctly, Al Gore had a significant majority of votes in Florida.
Now, that may never be proven; we'll abide by the law.
NICHOLSON: There were 176,000 ballots disallowed in Florida, how would they have all voted? How about those people up in the panhandle who was told the election was over in Florida, and they didn't go vote, they got out of line and stopped voting? How would they have voted? We can't speculate on this.
What we know is what was voted and what was counted and recounted; and that's what the election ought to be based on.
RENDELL: Larry, I want to say one thing to be clear.
KING: We've only got a second -- go ahead.
RENDELL: These votes were never counted by the machine. That's why every state in the union, including Texas, says hand recounts are preferable. They weren't picked up by the machine -- the Florida says, go find out the intention of the voter. That's what's happening.
KING: Thank you both, we'll be seeing you again next week, we're positive.
Jim Nicholson, chairman of the Republican National Committee; Ed Rendell, general chairman, Democratic National Committee.
NICHOLSON: Thank you Larry.
KING: Thank you both.
RENDELL: See you, Larry.
KING: We'll discuss the constitutionality of all of this -- whether this is a constitutional -- will the Supreme Court eventually hear this?
Floyd Abrams and Jonathan Turley are next.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG HATTAWAY, GORE CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: The Bush campaign is ratcheting up the rhetoric here. It could be because Governor Bush did not win all the votes that they were expecting out of the overseas ballots, so now they're trying to cast aspersions on the process. I think that's the tactic at work here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And now the constitutional question on all of this.
In New York is Floyd Abrams, the famed constitutional attorney is visiting professor of law and journalism at Columbia University's graduate school of journalism. And in Washington, Jonathan Turley, constitutional attorney, law professor at George Washington University and a legal analyst for CBS.
Floyd, will this, do you think, go to the Supreme Court, and do you think they will hear it?
FLOYD ABRAMS, CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY: I don't think the U.S. Supreme Court is at all likely to hear this case. It is in the Supreme Court that really matters, which is the Florida Supreme Court.
KING: But whoever loses there will appeal. Do you think the Supreme Court won't even hear it?
ABRAMS: Yes, I think it's really unlikely that the Supreme Court will hear any case coming up from the Florida Supreme Court on this matter. The only case, Larry, I think the Supreme Court would have heard, might have heard, is if that federal court of appeals in Atlanta had said that the whole system of manual recounts in Florida was unconstitutional. But they didn't say that, they're very unlikely to say it; and I think the legal side of this case is going to be decided in the Florida Supreme Court.
KING: Jonathan Turley: agree or disagree?
JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY: Well, I think that's right as to the legal issues relating to the secretary of state's authority, her discretionary authority. The Supreme Court could accept it, but I expect that anyone that would appeal wouldn't just have a chilly reception, but a perfectly glacial reception.
I mean, this is not the Supreme Court to go to to ask about, you know, fooling around with state law and state rights.
KING: So it is not, Jonathan, a federal, constitutional question?
TURLEY: No, it's not. It's a very classic and core state issue; and this type of issue is recognized both in the Constitution and in our history as being an issue of state's rights. It's up to them how they conduct these types of recounts and balloting.
KING: So Floyd, what must the Florida Supreme Court decide? Must they decide if the law is constitutional to the state's Constitution? Must they decide -- is it ambiguous with regard to -- what do they have to deal with?
ABRAMS: Well, I think the core issue they're going to decide is the scope of authority of the Florida secretary of state and, in particular, whether or not she has to count, or allow to be counted, whatever the answer comes out of all these manual countings going on in these three counties.
Now, I have to say, Larry, even if they should give the result that the Gore people would like most, which is that the manual recounting can not go on, but ought to be counted and scored and taken account of, you know, we still may be back in the Florida Supreme Court later on.
KING: With what?
ABRAMS: When there is a count and when the Republicans are saying, but there's fraud or they're miscounting or they're doing it all wrong or they're, you know, we're being cheated -- the sort of stuff we're hearing today. That sort of stuff is not going to really be decided by the Florida Supreme Court in the argument on Monday.
KING: Jonathan, we are a nation of laws. Therefore, could this go on and on and on?
TURLEY: I think that it could go on, but at some point I think you're going to get finality. For example, once one of these candidates has been essentially certified by Congress, if we ever get to that point, God willing, and they are inaugurated, I could see a federal court saying that's a political decision.
That that's a critical point, that when Congress says, this is our president, notwithstanding any legal challenges, that that's a political determination under the political question doctrine that they will not review.
That would be the easiest way to bring finality for the federal courts to just say whether or not there's merit to these other appeals or not, once the political branch, the legislative branch embraces that candidate, they may put that under political question doctrine and say, it's unreviewable and that's it. That person is the person.
KING: Floyd, could we have a calamity out of this?
ABRAMS: You know, the only calamity I can think of right now is if the following scenario occurs. If Vice President Gore were to win in Florida based on the recounts and if the Florida legislature were, as some Republicans are talking about now, to establish and vote for another slate of delegates.
So, in effect we have two different slates of delegates and then it goes to the House of Representatives, and then you really have a Constitutional crisis. I mean, if Tom DeLay winds up laying his hands on this subject, I think there'll be enormous questions raised about the legitimacy of anything the House does. But I don't think that's going to happen.
KING: Jonathan, do you think the House could wind up selecting the next president?
TURLEY: Well, of course, that's the circumstance that existed back in 1876 when Florida was also the mischievous state, one of three that sent two sets of delegates, And there are a number of scenarios where this could go to the House.
Even if the Electoral College vote is clear, there is a little- used law, the Electoral Count Act, that allows members of Congress to actually challenge the result and there certainly is enough live wires in Congress to make use of that. But you know I think that the crisis here is, you know -- our Constitution can handle a lot.
I mean, the one thing that's unique about our system is it was built to last and we've gone through stuff far tougher than this, and we'll be here after January 20th. The crisis is that we will never out of this entire set of facts come out with a president who will have the authority and legitimacy to be an equal partner with the legislative branch.
That's the crisis. I mean, we really have someone who has suffered from a thousand paper cuts and has just been bled and when he gets into office, he's not going to present a very authoritative figure to counterbalance the legislative branch.
KING: Well said.
TURLEY: And that, I think, is the most serious things.
KING: We'll be right back with some more moments with Floyd Abrams and Jonathan Turley and then our panel will assemble. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Back again Monday night, of course. At the top of the hour, Andria Hall will host a special report and we'll be covering this around the clock for you. There is other news and we'll bring that to you occasionally, too. Don't go away
KING: It's a rainy night in Georgia, but it's beautiful in Washington and that's the house two guys want. One, maybe, is going get it.
Floyd Abrams, tell me what happens when the Florida Supreme Court hears arguments? What's the general procedure? Do they decide right away? Do they go into a huddle? Do we expect a decision Tuesday? What happens?
ABRAMS: They hear argument for two hours. Then they meet alone, just the justices, no law clerks, no administrative staff, in a closed room, and start talking about what to do. Four votes are needed out of the seven for an opinion of the court, and I think it's unlikely to the point of almost impossibility to think they're going make a ruling on Monday. I think the real question is, are they going make a ruling by the end of Wednesday, pre-Thanksgiving. It's very hard to tell, Larry. The issues here are really so important, you know.
KING: You don't want to rush.
ABRAMS: It wouldn't shock me, a) because the reasons are so important and b) it wouldn't surprise me if the court wanted to know if the Gore vote was large enough to even make it necessary for them to decide. If the recount doesn't give Gore enough to overcome...
KING: But they won't know that for a week.
ABRAMS: Well, I could imagine the court not deciding until the Monday after Thanksgiving.
KING: Miami doesn't start counting, Jonathan, until tomorrow morning, and that's the biggest county of them all. So, I mean forget it. You're not going to have it in a few days. Jonathan, do they write a about majority opinion and a minority opinion if it's like 5- 2, Jonathan?
TURLEY: Well, I actually think that if they were thinking strategically they would probably just set a date at which the country will know that there'll be an opinion. And they could set that perhaps for the Monday following Thanksgiving, I think that would give them enough time and they would know a lot of these vote counts.
It is of interest to them. I mean, if Bush is still ahead on the votes counts, they can moot out the case and that's something that frankly a lot of these justices would love to grab as a life ring. It would get them out of a lot controversy.
KING: And do they write a formal opinion and a minority opinion as the United States Supreme Court does, Jonathan?
TURLEY: Yes, and I expect there will be a division on this court. This court is a fairly lively court. It's a little less predictable than most courts. This issue actually would probably be a lead pipe cinch for Harris if it was in any normal case. I mean, usually, if you give a discretionary job or decision to a political appointee, they're allowed to make a bad decision.
They're allowed to make a perfectly lousy decision as long as it's not clearly arbitrary and by stating that she looked at the material facts and stated that here's the reason I'm doing these things, in most cases that would be enough. But the problem is that the Florida law is filled with ambiguous and sometimes conflicting language and if this Supreme Court says otherwise, they are the ultimate determinators of what Florida law means.
KING: You agree, Floyd?
ABRAMS: You know, I do agree, subject to this: I think that one real possibility, certainly, this is what the Gore people would like, one real possibility is for them to say, you know, she really doesn't have all that authority. The lower court thought she did, but as we read these two statutes, one of them saying, you got to decide within seven days and the other saying, counties are allowed to do recounts, we don't think this is all within her hands at all. We think this is an issue of law to decide and we're going to decide it.
KING: Thank you both very much, two bright folks discussing a very, very tough issue. Floyd Abrams and Jonathan Turley, thanks to both for being with us. And when we come back, David Gergen, Daniel Schorr, Norm Ornstein and Hal Bruno will go at it. We'll also include your phone calls.
Do not go away.
KING: We are back on LARRY KING LIVE, and now we meet our panel of the evening.
In West Palm Beach is David Gergen editor-at-large, "U.S. News & World Report," author of "Eyewitness to Power," former counselor to Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Clinton; in Washington, Daniel Schorr, senior news analyst, National Public Radio, former correspondent for CBS News and CNN; also in Washington, Norm Ornstein, distinguished resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute -- I add distinguished because it's my opinion.
NORM ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Thank you.
KING: And Hal Bruno former political director of ABC News who was an election night analyst for CNN. Now, David you look like you're in a familiar spot.
Are you observing this, David?
DAVID GERGEN, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": I did come by to be in the West Palm Beach voting area and what's striking is they are about a third of the way through and a high official here told me there's no big swing either way. If Al Gore is counting on this county to deliver, right over the top, right now it's not in the votes.
KING: All right. Daniel Schorr what do you make of all this? It would be ironic if no gains were picked up there all this counting as of course is not expected, but what do you make of the vituperativeness that we heard in the first 15 minutes and the civilized judicial discussion that we heard in the last 15 minutes?
DANIEL SCHORR, SENIOR NEWS ANALYST, NPR: First let me say Vice President Gore has finally found his controlling legal authority which he had been looking for all these years. And it's clear that the election now hinges on a decision of the seven members of the supreme court of Florida. And it is true that the thing becomes a little moot if it turns out the recounts over which they're fighting don't favor Gore. But I suspect that at least Gore believes that they will favor him at least that he considers this to be his last chance.
SCHORR: As to the...
SCHORR: ... vituperation that's going to leave our whole presidential process looking sorry after this is over. It would have been nice if they had been able to treat this as a dispute between two people who had the country at heart. Unfortunately it must be said that each one of them having worked all these years to get to be president, is fighting like mad to be president. The country comes later.
KING: Norm might it by a pyrrhic victory, might it be the winner might be the loser?
ORNSTEIN: Right now, let's face it. Right now, the two most likely outcomes among thousands are ones that end up with a third to a half of the country thinking that the election has been stolen. You know, to use a couple of analogies, you have win instance where the Republicans think that this is like the 1972 Olympic basketball championship game where they've won the game and the referees step in, add a bunch of seconds to the clock and let the Russians win.
And for the Democrats, it's like a football game where they're just about to cross the goal line and the Republicans have been trying to blow the whistle when there's still time on the clock. Maybe we will get a different out come. Maybe these votes won't count as much or maybe they will step back, the two candidates go for something that would have a broader appeal, like a full recount under a common set of rules. That doesn't steam too likely at the moment.
KING: Hal Bruno what do you make of this incredible vituperation?
HAL BRUNO, FORMER POLITICAL DIRECTOR, ABC NEWS: I think politicians are politicians.
KING: Yes. But this is at their worst. Isn't it?
BRUNO: Well, no that's normally the way they are -- what you think is the worst. Look, the stakes here are so enormous and it's inevitable that this thing has to keep descending to a lower and lower level as it drags on. The longer it goes on, the worst it's going to get. The best thing that could happen to the country to everybody involved is if the Florida Supreme Court should come through with a decision fairly fast and everybody has got to live by that decision. And if they can complete the counting in Florida by the end of next week, say, a reasonable amount of time, somebody, George Bush probably is going to still be ahead from the way the counting is going and he's won the election. It's over with and done. Let's get on.
KING: But the big questions David, were more in Palm Beach than in Broward and we haven't even gotten to Miami. Let's make an assumption here. Suppose it comes down to a 50-vote difference.
GERGEN: A 50-vote difference at the end? Well I think if George W. Bush wins by 50 votes it's over and I think the country goes on. That's a very clean outcome, but if Al Gore wins by 50 votes and those votes are then counted, there's going to be a hell of a storm. The way I see it write now, Larry, my sense is that if Bush wins this, and Gore doesn't get list recount in, a lot of Democrats are going to be extremely unhappy. But if it goes the other way, Republicans are ready to go to war. There is much more vitrol right now on the Republican side. They genuinely believe this election was already over and it's being stolen now by the Democrats, and their in high dugeon (ph) right now.
KING: They're not tempered at all, Daniel, by the fact they are losing the popular vote? Doesn't that temper them being vituperative, you would think?
SCHORR: No, it makes them more vituperative because they really feel that having won the popular they really deserve to win the whole election.
KING: They didn't win the popular vote.
SCHORR: I'm talking about the Democrats, sorry.
KING: I mean the Republican -- you can get angry -- I understand anger and understand you want victory, but more Americans voted for the other guy. That's (OFF-MIKE).
SCHORR: I don't think this fight over vote count and who won should be seen in isolation. I think it's part of a bigger picture in American, which to borrow a phrase of John Dean, is a cancer that's been growing on our whole elective process, starting with the front voting of the primaries, continuing to $3 billion worth of television ads which turns the election, not into a campaign but into a mass marketing medium.
And then finally we found out something that Americans didn't want to know for a long time or joked about for a long time that our system of vote counting isn't perfect. If it were Dick Daley saying vote early and often we thought that was very funny at the time. We really need new machines, a new way of counting votes. But we need more than that. We really need a whole new approach -- a reform in our whole approach to our system of selecting a president.
KING: We'll take will take a break and come back with more. We'll also include your phone calls. Our panel is with us the rest of the way. Don't go away.
KING: We are back on LARRY KING LIVE.
Norm Ornstein, one of our engineers just mentioned to me the film that brilliant film, "2001: A Space Odyssey," when machines controlled us all. Was that the truth?
ORNSTEIN: And we have Hal right here too.
KING: We even have a Hal here.
ORNSTEIN: No, you know one of the funny thinks about this of course is that we have a dispute over whether enduring constitutional principles are altered because we are in an age of machines which is not exactly a strict constructionist point of view the Republicans are taking forward here.
But let's face it, we could move to a better kind of machinery across the country, and probably will, that will eliminate a lot of these errors or mistakes.
When you get an election this close and the deep, dark, dirty secret that all of us who followed elections know, that there's an awful lot of sloppiness out there. This is a completely decentralized process. The only thing more decentralized in America is garbage collecting, and they have more in common than we would like, you end up with this kind of explosive situation.
Let me say, Larry, I think David is right. The Republicans are worked up now. This is moving to a level of thermonuclear war, and one of the things that I fear is that if this drags on, say towards the first week of December or even a little beyond, you're starting to here some of the people in the Florida legislature, Republicans in the Florida legislature maybe even challenging the Florida Supreme Court if it goes the other way and deciding to put forward their own set of electors. These are not outlandish scenarios, now, which would be a very dicey thing.
BRUNO: And that could be about the worst possible thing that could happen to the country is if people start tampering around with the electors. Now there's what, 26 states that they have no binding control over their electors and the worst thing that could ever happen is some kind of a campaign starting to try to switch electors around.
KING: Well, isn't Bob Beckle (ph), the Democrat, doing that? Calling electors -- of course, there's no law against it. You can pick up the phone and call electors.
BRUNO: I know, and it's about one of the worst possible things that can happen. I think it completely destroys what the system is supposed to be about. He may not like the system, but you've got live with it. And it doesn't always work the way you want it to and I think most of the American people have been pretty patient up until now. But I think if this goes on another week or so and it starts to degenerate into that kind of a partisan fight, then I think the public is going to get very short-tempered and I think the polls will be very different then they are today.
KING: David Gergen, it might be said the jokes are going to get bitter, right? They're funny now, they're going to go to bitter.
GERGEN: I think that's right, Larry. A week ago "Newsweek" took a poll and 70 percent said that they'd rather do this carefully and not go too fast. Tonight they had a new poll saying it tends to run 60 percent.
If there's validity to the notion that military ballots, these overseas ballots were suppressed, that the Republicans can really prove that case, I think the public's patience with this might snap because that has an emotionally charged issue of men and women in uniform are indeed being denied the opportunity to vote properly.
KING: Let's take a call -- hold on. Tulsa, Oklahoma, hello.
CALLER: Thank you for taking my call. My question really is, wouldn't both parties benefit by following not only state law, but allowing also the U.S. Constitution to be followed in this particular case?
SCHORR: Yes, the question is how you follow the U.S. Constitution. Not much has been said about it, but Article II of the Constitution says that electors will be chosen in a manner to be determined by the state legislature.
Nobody has said that, but at anybody given point, regardless of what the Supreme Court of Florida does, the legislature, which is heavily Republican, can come in and say, we're going to decide how to do it. The Constitution says they can. If that happens, we have a small revolution on our hands.
KING: And what happens, Norm, if you have a let's say run away legislature?
ORNSTEIN: Well, what we know is there's implementing legislation here is that basically says the state shall pick their electors, all on the first Tuesday following the first Monday of November every fourth year. Only if a state can't make its choice on that day is a legislature to intervene if they've already set the rules.
SCHORR: I'm sorry, Article Two says simply that it'll be done in a manner to be determined by the legislature.
ORNSTEIN: And the legislature determined that manner, and that manner has to be done on this particular day and it's only if it weren't done on that day. Now if you get close December 12, that date when the electors have to be certified, if there's a deadlock, which is what this legislation was meant to deal with, they could step in. Otherwise they set the rules. So this would be a real confrontation. You know, it's not likely to happen, but after all, we're getting emotions moving high. What's interesting now is the timing of it, and I think people are growing a little bit impatient.
My guess is that Republicans are going to try and delay these counts in these counties so that we don't see votes for Gore piling up. The sense if it goes on a little longer and they finish these counts, it'll change the outcome to try and take into account a growing public impatience and try and bring it to a close as quickly as we can.
KING: Hal, back to an older question. Might the loser be the winner?
BRUNO: No, I don't think so. In what sense? You mean because four years from now he'll have a better shot at being elected president.
KING: Yes, we may be ungovernable.
BRUNO: Things in politics don't work that way. You can't plan that far. Four years is centuries away in political terms. No, the winner is going to be president of the United States.
KING: But he's not going to be glad-handing it, jumping up and down. There ain't going to be a parade when it's announced. There's no big party. There's no balloons bursting?
BRUNO: No, but on January 21st, is it or 22nd -- 20th when inauguration takes place, there will be a parade up Pennsylvania Avenue and we will have a president.
KING: But there'll be no party tomorrow.
BRUNO: Beg pardon?
KING: There'll be no party tomorrw.
BRUNO: No, not tomorrow, but whoever wins is going to be president of the United States they're going to govern for four years and they're going to have to deal with the Congress.
KING: David, might it not be a shallow victory,though, no matter who wins it? A distasteful victory?
GERGEN: Oh, yes. I think if this turns on the recount whether the court says, no, you can't bring them in or in fact Gore wins it through the recount, then I think either one of those scenarios will lead to a lot of recrimination, a lot of bitterness on the other side.
What I'm -- I'm not at clear, though, Larry that this will lead to a rematch. That the losing party will go ask Mr. Gore, Mr. Bush and say, gee, we'd really like to have another run. That's what the public really wants is another rerun of the Bush-Gore race four years from now. Why don't you come be our candidate. Can you imagine? KING: A pox on everybody.
BRUNO: Larry, the way these guys ran their campaigns, I'd be surprised if their parties would ever renominate them again, whoever the loser is.
KING: We'll be back with more and more calls right after this. Don't go away.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. Let's take a call from Jacksonville, Florida. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry, how are you this evening?
CALLER: My question is, to you and your panel, I'm a Florida voter in Duvall County and my concern is that my Constitutional rights are being violated by virtue of the fact that they're counting the votes differently in South Florida than our vote was counted here in Duvall County and I'd like a follow up on that.
KING: Norm Ornstein does he have a case?
ORNSTEIN: Well, you know, he's right. Florida law has decentralized this process more than most states. Most states on these kinds of issues are like Texas, which we know has a law that George Bush signed that provides a common set of criteria for the whole state for determining whether ballots are counted or not counted.
In Duvall County, we've got a lot of ballots that weren't counted and it's up to the local supervisors to decide what gets counted and what doesn't. But what you also have around the state of Florida, and this is something getting to the other side of what David was saying, is an awful lot of people who went to the trouble to vote who are going to furious if it turns out that their votes in no way are counted. And it's not just those who voted twice.
Obviously, you don't count ballots that were mismarked, but that's the feeling around the county, too. We've got this sense that every vote counts, but if we end up with the sense that a whole lot of votes aren't counted, it's going to lead to some real discontent.
KING: David, we have bad taste, right?
GERGEN: We have bad taste? We have bad taste coming out of this?
GERGEN: Yes, we'll have a bad taste coming out of that. Yes, I think that's -- I think Norm is exactly on point. My fear right now, Larry, is that, not only will we have a bad taste about the electoral system but, you know, if the Florida Supreme Court comes done for Al Gore's side, which I think it probably will, there's a growing number of people now beginning to attack the judicial impartiality. They say, look, this entire court was appointed by democratic governors. They've stepped into this thing three times now, once without invitation -- yesterday they issued a ruling which helped Al Gore significantly.
They do that again and people are going to start saying, the courts are too partisan as well, just like Katherine Harris, as a Republican, was too partisan. And I think that everything is tainted at some point. That's very, very bothersome.
KING: Daniel, isn't this whole thing partisan?
SCHORR: Of course the whole thing is partisan, but this is partisan in the sense that we've hardly known partisanship before. You get 97 million people turning out to vote and here we have the presidency of this great country hinging on what may be a few hundred or 2,000 votes.
I would just like to add to the caller from Jacksonville, the fact that he's upset about this is, itself, encouraging to me. I think if America will now begin to take a real hard look at how the electoral system has worked -- the people have been disenfranchised, the people have not been able to vote whether votes have been counted or not. I think that's the most hopeful thing to come out of this.
KING: We'll take a break and come back with our remaining moments, get a word in from everybody right after this.
KING: Hal Bruno, David Gergen said he thinks the Supreme Court might well allow the recount; but didn't a lot of people think that the democratic judge, circuit court judge, would allow the recount -- instead he did not the other day?
BRUNO: That's right, and David may be right, but I learned as a reporter long ago, don't bet on juries and don't bet on what judges are going to do. And when you've got a whole Supreme Court of judges, definitely don't bet on what you think they might do.
But a recount, if it can be completed, I think would be very decisive and would put the whole thing to rest. There may be side issues that go on for a long time, but at least we would have a winner and this thing would be over with.
KING: Let's try the hardest thing of all; we'll start with David Gergen: What do you think's going to happen?
GERGEN: Larry, for me the most significant news here out of Florida tonight is that the two democratic counties that are recounting right now, Broward and Palm Beach, they have both completed nearly 1/3 of their recounts, and in neither county, according to what we know, has Al Gore gained very much. So it may well be that this was all a lot of shouting and hooping about something that doesn't put him over the top and George W. Bush is going to emerge as the winner after all.
KING: Are you forecasting that or just hinting at it, David?
GERGEN: Well, I think we'll know the numbers within the next 24 hours from Palm Beach about what this 1/3 of the -- they tell me they're going to actually announce the numbers here soon. In Broward they've only gotten 59 votes for Gore with nearly 1/3 of the precincts now counted. So if there's no tide in Palm Beach, no tide in Broward, he's got to look to Dade to pull it out for him.
KING: If he picked up 180 in Broward and he picked up 180 in Palm Beach and then he goes to Dade where he picks up a little more he could run up 900 pretty quick.
GERGEN: Well, he could, but his advisers were -- I mean, statisticians close to the Gore campaign were quoted in "The Miami Herald" today saying, apparently that, based on what they've seen so far, he may only got about 500 votes in this recount. So that, to me, is the most interesting news. The question about the military suppression is another one.
KING: Daniel Schorr, could it all be moot?
SCHORR: Of course it could all be moot. But listen, I've watched voters long enough to know that the last thing I ever want to do in life is to predict what voters will do. I'm inclined to leave that to Fox News, which is very good at that.
You mention that the jokes were getting to be more vituperative. And have you heard this one: That senator Robert Dole is doing a commercial on the agony of electile dysfunction?
KING: Good line, Daniel.
Norman Ornstein -- well, you're a think-scholar, Norman, you're a heady person, where do you think it's going?
ORNSTEIN: Well, look, it is probably more likely than not that the court will allow this recount to continue. Not because they're Democrats by the way -- Florida, and this court -- every court in Florida has been very aggressive in terms of letting voters decide and being very creative to open things up so that you don't mistake the intent of the voters and how those counts come out, I'm not sure in the end. It may be very, very close. But this much I'll tell you, Larry. The next president is going to have a honeymoon like Darva Conger's.
KING: Hal Bruno, can good come out of this? BRUNO: Yes, good can come out of it if it causes the American public and the states and the counties to take a look at their election law and to start doing some overhauling. There's something drastically wrong.
Norm made the point that, not only does it decentralize the whole elective process state-by-state, but within the states. A state like Florida, it's county by county, all having a different set of rules. I think from this, the best thing that could come from this is for the United States to take a look at its whole electoral process and do some very serious thinking about changes that have to be made so we don't get into this situation again.
KING: Thank you all very much, David Gergen, Daniel Schorr, Norm Ornstein and Hal Bruno. We'll be back on Monday night with, guess what, more of the same, lots of great guests.
Stay tuned now for Andria Hall as she hosts a special report on election 2000, the election that never ends. Have a great rest of the weekend.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.