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Inside Politics

Bush Campaign Appealing Florida Supreme Court's Ruling on Manual Recounts; Cheney Has Slight Heart Attack; Miami-Dade Halts Hand Recount

Aired November 22, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Make no mistake. The court rewrote the law. It changed the rules and it did so after the election was over.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: George W. Bush takes the Florida fight to a new level, moving to ask the nation's highest court to step in as his running mate remains in a Washington hospital, recovering from a heart attack.



AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll move forward now,with a full, fair, and accurate count of the ballots in question. I don't know what those ballots will show. I don't know whether Governor Bush or I will prevail.


WOODRUFF: Al Gore looks forward to the holiday and the results of the recounts in Florida.



CROWD: Let us in! Let us in! Let us in!


WOODRUFF: Turmoil in Miami-Dade County and one less recount as the canvassing board throws in the towel.

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff in Washington.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. Bernard Shaw is off today. While the 14-day Florida stand-off has been a stomach-churning roller coaster for the Bush and Gore teams, little can compare to the events of the last 20 hours.

Today, George W. Bush gave his lawyers the go-ahead to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging last night's decision by the Florida Supreme Court, one that cleared the way to include the results of manual recounts of three primarily Democratic counties in the state's final vote tally.

But the Bush team found additional help in a surprising place: the canvassing board in Miami-Dade County. It shut down its manual count today, potentially denying Al Gore a wealth of new votes that he must have to overcome Bush's slim lead in Florida. It was a blow to the Gore team, which had celebrated last night's Florida Supreme Court decision as a major breakthrough in its efforts to win Florida's 25 electoral votes, and with them, the presidency.

However, late today a judge in Palm Beach County offered the Gore team some good news, saying ballots with so-called dimpled chads or indented chads must be considered in the county's final tally.

We have several reports covering this day's fast moving events, beginning with our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley. She is in Texas with the Bush campaign -- Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, both the legal and political arms of the Bush team sum up their strategy to me this way, keep all your options open and watch what's going on, on the ground: that is, in the Florida state legislature and in those recounts.

Now, as far as keeping your options open, as you mentioned, for the Bush team that will mean an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. This comes after almost 20 hours of Bush people out in front and in the public condemning that Supreme Court decision out of Florida.

Today, Governor Bush joined the chorus.


BUSH: Disappointed with last night's ruling by the Florida Supreme Court. We believe the justices have used the bench to change Florida's election laws and usurp the authority of Florida's election officials.


CROWLEY: Now, apparently one of the reasons that the Bush legal team will take the Supreme Court for its appeal is that in having these hand in hand-selected Democratic counties, what happens is the votes of others whose votes were not so scrutinized are diminished.


BUSH: The effect of the court's opinion will be that voters' votes are being evaluated differently in different parts of Florida. Some votes that were cast legitimately may be offset by votes that were not.


CROWLEY: Now, keeping all options open also means that the Bush team has gone to a Florida circuit court to urge that court to force 11 counties in Florida to reconsider those overseas military ballots. As you will remember the Bush team said all along there was a concerted effort by Gore supporters to keep out those military ballots, to disqualify them, and many in the Bush team believe that those ballots, up to 1,100 of them, should be included back in.

This, of course, is Thanksgiving, and we are told that tomorrow the governor will spend time with his family, as most Americans will, and then will head back up to his ranch, keeping a very close eye on his legal and political teams -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Candy, we just learned moments ago from the doctors at George Washington Hospital here in Washington that Governor Bush's running mate, Dick Cheney, did indeed have what they are calling a slight, a very slight heart attack.

What is the reaction from the Bush camp? We presume they had this information before it was made public.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I must say the last time I talked to the Bush camp was about 20 minutes ago, and I asked them, not in response to the slight heart attack report from G.W., but about the earlier reports which seemed to indicate everything was fine, and they were just looking at the secretary and no mention of the angioplasty and the stent, and I was told that, you know, when the governor talked to Dick Cheney, when his staff talked to Mrs. Cheney, they were told that everything was fine. I'm sure this will come as a surprise to them because as you heard the governor say early on, all the tests initially seemed to show that there was no heart attack. But as yet, no reaction from the Bush camp on this latest.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Candy Crowley there in Austin. Thanks very much. For more now on how the United States Supreme Court might respond to Governor Bush's appeal, we turn to our Bob Franken who is following the developments at the nation's high court. Bob, what about the timing of all this?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the primary argument that the Bush lawyers can be expected to use when they come to the Supreme Court is we want to you bypass the appeals court, take this on immediately because this is a matter of huge urgency and the Supreme Court could always do that.

Now the procedure would be that Anthony Kennedy, who is the justice rather who oversees the region in question, Florida, for instance, could decide on the original request which was a temporary restraining order, an emergency order to stop the recounting. That has been the request of the Bush people. Now the question is how long does it take Bush and his legal advisers to actually approve and appeal? How long would it take to work on it?

The answer is probably not very long. They've rehearsing all week and filing briefs with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, trying to get that court to order a stop to the hand recount. Basically, they're just taking their arguments now to the Supreme Court and saying they want an expedited appeal, ignore the appeals court.

They'll be arguing that it's a constitutional violation, as Candy Crowley just explained. Violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution, the 14th Amendment, that some voters were treated differently than others in Florida. Arguing that because it's a Constitutional matter there is a reason to bring it into the federal courts, even though state jurisdictions are the ones who are traditionally the ones who conduct an election.

As a matter of fact, the Democrats have argued it should stay out of the federal courts because of the same Constitution. They cite Article Two, which very specifically leaves elections up to the states. So you're going to have the same kind of arguments that you've had before the appeals court. The question is will the Supreme Court take it on or will it in fact defer to the appeals court, which is setting up a schedule now that could include oral hearings next week -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken, thank you very much. And joining us for the latest on Vice President Gore's reaction to today's events, our senior White House correspondent John King -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, it depends which event, I guess. The unpredictability of all this confusing -- the forces in both campaigns. The Gore campaign celebrating last night and disappointed this morning by the decision in Miami-Dade County. Celebrating again now because of a decision in Palm Beach County. As one senior Gore adviser put it just a few moments ago to me, every time we think we're in a good situation, we wait an hour or two and the tide turns again.


KING (voice-over): The day began with the vice president in high spirits, a little humor along with some holiday charity.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't have to count these boxes, do we?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, they're already counted.

KING: But soon yet another turn in the recount saga, this one for the worse: Miami-Dade County abruptly shut down its count, meaning more than 10,000 ballots that registered no vote for president will not be reviewed. So, it was back to court for a campaign that had hoped its Florida Supreme Court victory would be the decisive legal battle.

WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: We believe the decision of the Miami board, when they did decide to do a mandatory recount as required under Florida law, be upheld by the Florida courts.

KING: Senior Gore aides say it's still mathematically possible to erase Governor Bush's 930-vote Florida margin through the ongoing recounts in Palm Beach and Broward counties. But Miami-Dade's count was a critical reservoir of hope. And Gore aides were quick to voice displeasure.

DALEY: It is important that we listen to the Florida Supreme Court, that we listen to the clear rule of law and not turn our back on it.

KING: In the more upbeat moments immediately after the high court's ruling, the vice president talked of pushing ahead with transition planning. It is a process led by longtime Gore confidante Roy Neel, who has been sounding out leading Democrats for Cabinet recommendations.

Sources familiar with the early discussions say a gore Cabinet likely would include at least one and perhaps two holdovers from the Clinton administration: Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta and Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers are interested in staying put. Other familiar faces certain to be considered for major posts would be Daley, a former Commerce secretary who was Gore's campaign chairman; Labor Secretary Alexis Herman; U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke; and former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. Sources tell CNN that top White House policy advisers Gene Sperling and Bruce Reed also are voicing interest in finding new jobs in any Gore administration.

But this new talk of transition planning was quickly overshadowed by more dramatic turns in the legal battle.


KING: Those turns include filing an appeal this afternoon of the Miami-Dade canvassing board's decision to shut down the recount; the Gore campaign applauding the decision in Palm Beach County, saying that considering those quote, unquote, "dimpled ballots" should help the vice president make up ground, help him erase Governor Bush's now 930-vote lead.

And, Judy, Gore campaign sources saying they are confident that if Governor Bush, indeed, does file with the U.S. Supreme Court, that the federal Supreme Court will quickly turn that appeal away on grounds this is a state court matter; and, interestingly, they're turning that legal argument into a political debate as well, saying, let's see -- if they lose at the federal Supreme Court -- if they are willing to be as critical of those judges as they were of the Florida Supreme Court judges.

Of course, the key distinction, the Florida Supreme Court judges all appointed by Democratic governors; seven of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices appointed by Republican presidents -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, to what extent are the Gore people worried about the clock running out here? We've had a deadline set by the Florida Supreme Court. They need these rulings to take place, clarity to happen, before Sunday at 5:00.

KING: They certainly do, unless -- if the U.S. Supreme Court intervened, of course, that would put the whole process in Florida on hold. They don't believe that will happen. What they want, quickly, is for a judge in Miami to order the canvassing board to go back at it. They believe, even if Miami just counts -- there's 10,700 ballots that were kicked out of the machines, no vote for president recorded -- the Gore campaign believes, A, that most of those came from African American precincts, predominantly Democratic precincts, and if people take a look at those by hand the vice president will pick up a significant number of votes.

They say, mathematically, it's possible to get there, to erase Bush's lead just from Broward County and Palm Beach County, but those votes in Miami-Dade, that was cushion, their source of confidence. They're back in court fighting to have the votes counted.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King, thanks very much.

Well, we are now going to hear directly from the bush and Gore camps. Joining us are Gore campaign attorney David Boies and Bush spokesman Governor Marc Racicot of Montana.

And we begin with David Boies. And David Boies, I want to ask you about the move to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, but first I want to ask you about the canvassing board in Miami-Dade County -- today, the decision to stop the hand recount. Was the board within its rights when it made this decision?

DAVID BOIES, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: I think Florida law is pretty clear that once a canvassing board makes a decision to conduct a recount, it has to follow through with that recount.

The Miami board said that they weren't going to have enough time to finish the recount because of the Florida Supreme Court's deadline. We think that what they should do is devote the resources necessary so as not to disenfranchise the Dade County voters.

We're hopeful that they will do that. We're hopeful that if they don't do that on their own, that the courts will direct them to do that. We think the Florida Supreme Court decision was very clear, and that is, there should not be a disenfranchisement of voters.

WOODRUFF: But can you get that turned around quickly enough to get these votes counted by 5:00 on Sunday?

BOIES: The Florida courts have acted with expedition in this case. The Florida Supreme Court has; the other courts have as well. We're quite hopeful that this will be resolved.

WOODRUFF: David Boies, how concerned are you about the Bush camp's turning now -- they say they are turning to the U.S. Supreme Court, clearly they've already turned to the federal appeals courts. They're making the arguments -- you're very familiar with them -- that the Florida Supreme Court among other things overstepped its bounds, tread into territory that belongs to the state legislature. BOIES: Well, first of all, the Florida Supreme Court announced a rule yesterday that simply confirmed what the Florida Supreme Court has been holding for 110 years. Two years ago, the Florida Supreme Court, in a case called Dextrum (ph), decided almost the same issue that was decided yesterday.

That involved optical-character-reading ballots, as opposed to punch card ballots, but in each case, there were a number of ballots that had been marked in a way that the machine could not read.

And the Florida Supreme Court said the voter's intent is paramount. The voter's intent has to control. You must do a manual review of those ballots. That's what was held here.

That is exactly what the courts are supposed to do. They're supposed to interpret the law.

WOODRUFF: What about their argument, David Boies, the other argument they're making, that if this hand recount takes place then the intention, the votes of other Floridians, are being diminished?

BOIES: Well, first of all, no vote is diminished by having another vote counted. It doesn't help anybody to disenfranchise the voters in Broward County or Dade County or Palm Beach County.

The second point is that for over a week now, we have offered, the Gore campaign has offered, and indeed Vice President Gore has personally offered, a full state recount. Governor Bush and his people have declined that. They even declined it when the Florida Supreme Court asked them. The Florida Supreme Court suggested that, and they declined it again.

So I think the two things to keep in mind is that no voter is enhanced by having another voter's vote disregarded. And second, if people are concerned about manual recounts in other counties, that has always been open.

WOODRUFF: All right. David Boies, attorney for the Gore camp talking to us from Florida. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

And now as promised, we're going to do a quick turnover there, because the two gentlemen are standing in the same location. We're going to turn now to Bush spokesman, Governor -- the governor of the state of Montana, Marc Racicot.

Governor Racicot, I know you no doubt heard what David Boies was saying. I want to go principally to his argument that no vote, he said, is diminished -- which is one of the arguments your campaign is making -- no vote is diminished simply by having other votes counted accurately.

GOV. MARC RACICOT (R), MONTANA: Well, that would be entirely true. There's no question about that. It's just that you can't utilize fanciful supposition or some mystical process of divining votes, and determining when there's no evidence of a vote whether or not one is fact in existence. So the legal principle is absolutely correct, and we would embrace that too, with great enthusiasm. The bottom line, however, is, you just simply cannot dream these things up out of thin air. You've got to have a clear manifestation of a right to vote being exercised.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying that when the election officials in these counties go over these ballots where there's some question, you're calling it a mystical process of divining, with no evidence. You're saying they would count a ballot for Al Gore when there was no mark or no evidence on it? Is that what you're...

RACICOT: I'm not saying that in every instance the board is not making an appropriate decision. What I'm saying is, in response to the comments made by Mr. Boies, that one vote being counted diminishes another: We're not saying that. That's not the underlying theory of either the presentations we've made before these boards, nor before any court, in the state of Florida or anyplace else.

The bottom line is what we're saying is a vote ought to count; it's just that you can't engage in some mystical process to try and determine that.

WOODRUFF: But by calling it a "mystical process," my point is, Governor, you're suggesting that what they're doing is some sort of hocus-pocus, that there's no methodical effort to examine these ballots to determine whether there is an indication of voter intent?

RACICOT: Well, no, we don't mean to suggest that. What I'm saying is, when you get to that point, you've gone too far. What I am saying, in fact, is that you ought to utilize your common sense. I think every American is possessed of a great deal of it, and when you use your common sense to determine with reasonable clarity that, in fact, there has been an effort made to vote, then that vote ought to be calculated. That's what the court has ruled. But you have to have some criteria that are born out of common sense and reflect the clear intent on the part of the voter.

WOODRUFF: What about David Boies' other point? One of the points that Governor Bush made was that some voters in Florida's vote would be given greater weight than others. He made the point that when the Bush camp was offered the opportunity for a statewide recount, they turned that down on several occasions.

RACICOT: Well, with all due respect to all concerned, including the vice president, who has made that particular offer, I don't know how it is that the two contestants in a political campaign have the opportunity, the privilege or the prerogative to even consider abrogating Florida law.

The fact of the matter is, Florida law is in place. It doesn't allow for the two candidates, between themselves, to decide as a mater of presumption that they can simply abrogate the law and agree that they're going to do something the law doesn't permit.

So there's a bit of arrogance associated with that statement that I think is quite unacceptable.

WOODRUFF: All right. Montana Governor Marc Racicot, we thank you very much for joining us.

RACICOT: Thank you for the opportunity.


And now we want to update you on the condition of Dick Cheney. Doctors here in Washington say the Republican vice presidential candidate did suffer a slight heart attack today. Cheney underwent a procedure to install what's called a stent in one of the arteries that had been narrowed. Cheney's doctors say that he is doing -- quote -- "extremely well and should be able to resume his normal work within a few weeks." Cheney admitted himself to the hospital early this morning, complaining of chest pains.

We'll have a live report on Cheney's condition from the hospital at the bottom of the hour.

Just ahead on INSIDE POLITICS: rulings, recounts and those indented ballots -- the latest from the counties and the courts.



JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ... of any ballot, each ballot must be considered in light of the totality of circumstances, where the intention of the voter can be fairly and satisfactorily ascertained, the intention should be given effect. What had happened was the Democratic Party had gone back to the judge, arguing that the canvassing board was not considering those dimpled ballots, they were just throwing them aside. And they argue that could mean hundreds, perhaps a thousand ballots for Vice President Al Gore if they were asked to count those.

So the judge is telling them now they have to get back and take a closer look at those ballots. It doesn't mean they necessarily will be saying OK, this one is a vote for the vice president, but it does lower the bar a little bit and give the canvassing board at least a little more clarification of what the judge wants them to do.

Now, during that hearing today, Judge Charles Burton, who is the chairman of the canvassing board, took the witness stand and tried to explain the canvassing board's position on how it determines what vote, what ballot counts and what ballot doesn't count.


JUDGE CHARLES BURTON, PALM BEACH COUNTY CANVASSING BOARD: We have attempted to define what the clear intent of the voter is. You know, we hold up a voting card. I don't know if it's a man or a woman. I don't know if it's a young person or an elderly person. I have a card. I don't know anything about the person that used this card. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: Now, Judy, what will happen now is they expect to wrap up here today with all of the precincts counted. Then on Friday and Saturday, the canvassing board themselves will go back and start to figure out all of those thousands of questionable ballots that could be key to the election of the president of the United States -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's John Zarrella in Palm Beach County. Thanks. At this point, Broward County is the only other Florida county still conducting a recount by hand. Our Susan Candiotti is there with the latest -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy, a lot of progress being made here today, and at the end of the day, we can report to you a net gain of 137 votes for Vice President Gore. The biggest boost came today during the afternoon when the Broward County Canvassing Board here reviewed several absentee ballots, taped absentee ballots. Those where someone punched a hole through the ballot card, taped it up, and then punched another hole for a particular presidential candidate. So, that's where Vice President Gore made up the most ground this day.

What happened this afternoon is that the Republican Party here had been asking the board for some time to be heard yet again to try to convince this canvassing panel to reconsider going back to its original two-corner standard when reviewing the controversial dimpled ballots that will be coming up now.

The board listened to attorneys representing the Republican Party, and David Boies from the Gore campaign even came in and argued his case as well, that in his view, the board should in fact stick with a broader standard so they could also look for any ballot that was punctured to try to decide a voter's intent. Also to look at chads with one corner hanging out. And at the end of the day Judge Robert Lee, who is the chairman, said well, thank you very much, all of you, for coming here this day. We've heard these arguments before.

He also heard the ruling today from Palm Beach County and they're taking all of that into consideration as they move forward with the broader standard. So the board is going to be meeting tomorrow, starting at 9:00 in the morning, moving over to the Broward County Courthouse and Judge Lee's courtroom because they don't need all this space here to begin review of those dimpled ballots. They figure there are about 2,000 of them, but they're not clear on that number -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Susan Candiotti. Thank you very much. Well, as we have suggested, the Gore campaign plans to appeal immediately Miami-Dade County's decision to end its manual recount today. The county canvassing board stopped the recount, saying there was not enough time to finish before the Sunday deadline. CNN's Frank Buckley is in Miami and he joins us by phone with the latest on what all happened before this decision -- Frank.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, quite a day in Miami. With the Democrats celebrating a victory in the morning, Republicans cheering in the afternoon and this evening. A new legal maneuver is under way here. Democratic attorney Jack Young telling CNN the Democratic Party has filed an emergency appeal in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, the state appeals court here in Miami.

They're trying to get the court to order the Miami-Dade Canvassing Board to get back to the job of manual recounting of ballots. The canvassing board deciding this afternoon to stop the manual recount. It began on Monday, and to only submit the certified vote without the recount -- any of those votes they have been recounting during the past two days. That decision came after a raucous scene involving Republicans, who were protesting an earlier decision by the board.


PROTESTERS: Let us in! Let us in! Let us in!


BUCKLEY: The decision coming in the morning, in fact, to continue a -- to continue forward with the hand recount, but only of the so-called "undervote ballots": 10,750 ballots. The canvassing board also decided in that morning session to move its operation from a large, open meeting room that was being used for the recount to a confining tabulation room that wasn't big enough to accommodate all of the Republicans and reporters who wanted to monitor the process. That prompted that Republican protest.

And then hours later in the afternoon, the canvassing board changed its position, voting this time not to proceed with the hand count after election supervisor David Leahy said he couldn't guarantee that they could finish the job by the Sunday deadline.

So for the moment, hand recounts are over in Miami-Dade County. That's potentially devastating news for the Gore campaign, which hoped to pick up hundreds of votes here. But as we say, Democrats are back in the courtroom now attempting to get a judge to order the board to finish that manual recount -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. CNN's Frank Buckley joining us by telephone from Miami-Dade County.

Now here is the latest, having heard all that, on the hand recounts in Florida: George W. Bush has an official statewide lead of 930 votes. But canvassing boards say recounts have given Al Gore a net gain of 137 votes in Broward County and two votes in Palm Beach County. So Bush's unofficial lead for now is 791 votes.

Still left to be considered, about 2,000 challenged ballots in Broward County and about 330,000 ballots, plus 10,000 disputed ballots, in Palm Beach County. Broward county is recounting contested ballots that have an indented chad or one corner detached. Palm Beach County is recounting contested ballots that have an indented chad or have one corner detached if there is other evidence of voter intent. Based on the Florida Supreme Court ruling, recounted results must be submitted to the Florida secretary of state by 5:00 p.m. Eastern this Sunday in order to be included in the official state total.

Well, there's so much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come, the latest on Dick Cheney's condition.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He sounded really strong and informed me that as a precautionary measure he went into the hospital.


WOODRUFF: The Republican vice presidential candidate recovering after a slight heart attack sends him to a Washington hospital.



FRANK SESNO, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Infuriated by Florida's Supreme Court, Republicans are in full-throated outrage over what they view as an effort to reverse an election they firmly believe George W. Bush has won.


WOODRUFF: Frank Sesno looks at the mood on Capitol Hill and the anger in the GOP. And later, making sense of the counts and the politics in the presidential race with Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson.


WOODRUFF: Checking the latest on our top story, the Florida recount, the Bush campaign says that it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to stop Florida's hand recounts in this hotly contested presidential election. One county, Miami-Dade, has already halted its recount. Canvassing board officials there say they cannot meet the 5:00 p.m. Sunday deadline set by the Florida state Supreme Court to complete manual vote tallies. Instead, the three-member board voted unanimously to certify the totals that they had already given to Florida's secretary of state.

Meanwhile, less than an hour ago, a circuit court judge in Palm Beach County issued a ruling in favor of the Gore campaign. The judge said that where voter intent can be discerned from so-called "dimpled" or "indented" ballots, it must be taken into consideration. And workers in Broward County have completed their initial count of all 588,000 votes. The canvassing board will reconvene tomorrow to consider some 2,000 disputed ballots.

Amid all the legal ups and downs of this day, the health of Republican vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney has also been a concern. This, after he was hospitalized in Washington for chest pains.

Joining us now, CNN's medical correspondent, Eileen O'Connor.

And Eileen, we know that doctors have made an updated report on Mr. Cheney's condition just within the hour.

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they say that he is resting comfortably here at George Washington University Medical Center tonight. But they and also said, Judy, that he did, in fact, suffer a minor heart attack earlier today. It required surgical -- a minor surgical procedure to open up a previously unblocked artery of his heart.

As you know, Secretary Cheney has had heart problems in the past. The doctors here say, though, he is an example to all, because he acted on these early warning signs.


O'CONNOR (voice-over): Secretary Richard Cheney went to George Washington Hospital with chest pains a little past 4:00 a.m. Wednesday. By 8:30 a.m., a second set of tests signaled the need for cardiac catheterization. By 10:00 a.m. doctors were performing a procedure called balloon angioplasty, designed to expand the artery and restore better blood flow to the heart. A stent was installed to keep the artery from collapsing again.

DR. ALAN WASSERMAN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: After placement of the stent, the artery now appears normal.

O'CONNOR: Governor George W. Bush said he had spoken to his running mate and that Cheney showed no sign of having a heart attack, but he did not make any mention of the angioplasty.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's going to make a great vice president; and America is beginning to see how steady and strong he is.

O'CONNOR: Secretary Cheney suffered three heart attacks before the age of 50, with a quadruple coronary bypass to repair four blockages in 1988. Despite that, doctors say they saw no other damage.

WASSERMAN: What is exceptional here is what I spoke to you before, and that is the minimal amount of change we've seen over a considerable amount of time.

O'CONNOR: Proof, doctors say, that he is taking care of himself through proper diet and exercise. And they add this procedure does not affect Secretary Cheney's fitness to lead.

WASSERMAN: I would expect that he should be able to get back to normal functioning and normal activity within a few weeks at the very most. He will have no limitations and should be able to go about whatever his job is in the next few months.


O'CONNOR: Secretary Cheney will be released from the hospital, doctors say, Friday or Saturday; and they say then, or even earlier, he will be in a position to get back to the business of dealing with a possible presidential transition -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Eileen, why didn't doctors say earlier today, 2:30 Eastern, when they made the first announcement about his condition about the heart attack, when evidently they had the information a little bit earlier? And second, just quickly, what do they say about stress in an obviously stressful situation and someone with these conditions?

O'CONNOR: Well, basically they said that they had talked about elevated enzyme levels and that does usually indicate a heart attack. But, you know, they didn't call it a heart attack, because the elevations were so low that just a few earlier, the standards were that that would not have been called a heart attack. There are just more rigid standards now, so they are saying by today's standards it is a heart attack.

In terms of stress, they are not saying that stress was directly involved. They say that obviously Secretary Cheney's had a stressful job before and has this heart disease for a long time. And he has learned how to deal with his stress. So, they don't see any direct correlation between what is going on right now or the big run for the presidency and this latest incident -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Eileen O'Connor at George Washington Hospital, thanks.

When INSIDE POLITICS continues: Republicans on Capitol Hill mad as hornets over developments in Florida.


WOODRUFF: If Republicans on Capitol Hill are united over anything, it is Florida's contested presidential vote.

CNN's Frank Sesno reports on just what has them stirred up.


PROTESTERS: Let us in! Let us in!

SESNO (voice-over): Infuriated by Florida's Supreme Court, Republicans are in full-throated outrage over what they view as an effort to reverse an election they firmly believe George W. Bush has already won. One top Republican says what's happening in Florida is, in his words, slow motion grand larceny.

Siding with Governor Bush, Republicans fume that so-called "dimpled ballots" are being counted. They contend the Florida Supreme Court is politically tainted and has embraced unbridled judicial activism. SEN. PETE DOMENICI (R), NEW MEXICO: It truly was obvious that this court was joining in an effort to try to take this election away from Governor Bush.

SESNO: Many Republicans in and out of Congress say they've never felt the atmosphere so venomous. Conversations with reporters are often laced with uncharacteristic profanity. It's far worse, many say, than during the dark days of impeachment. There was a measure of somber decorum among most members then. And now?

SEN. ROBERT BENNETT (R), UTAH: Here there is a sense that the very fundamental fabric of our democracy may be under attack and that this election may be slipping away from the real result that the people chose because of clever-court tactics or delaying tactics.

SESNO: With the courts involved, the Florida legislature weighing its options, and the standoff potentially headed for the U.S. Congress, many say the nation could be facing an unprecedented scenario. Says one worried GOP elder, "We are in a downward spiral. I don't know where this is going to go."

The animosity on the part of many Republicans is reinforced by their visceral dislike of Al Gore, his association with Bill Clinton, and eight years of bad blood politics.

(on camera): It's getting ugly. A veteran Republican says he was approached by a respected Democrat recently, proposing that the two of them issue a joint call for calm, some middle way out of this. The idea never got off the ground. Overtaken by events and passions, says one of the participants, "At this point, what more can be said?"

Frank Sesno, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: And just ahead on this expanded edition of INSIDE POLITICS, we will check in with Margaret Carlson and Tucker Carlson for their views on the Florida standoff.


WOODRUFF: Joining us now, Margaret Carlson of "Time" magazine, Tucker Carlson of "The Weekly Standard."

I don't know where to begin, Tucker, where are we headed?

TUCKER CARLSON, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, that's not clear. Bill Daley said today that even if the recounts go ahead as the Gore campaign would like them to go ahead, and Gore doesn't win at end of that, the Gore campaign is not ruling out further lawsuits. And so, again, of course, the Bush campaign is apparently going to the Supreme Court, and so it's not clear where we end.

WOODRUFF: Margaret?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME": The Bush campaign going to the Supreme Court, I think, is actually a good thing for the process in that courts are where we resolve these disputes.

It's a branch of government in which the Bush campaign has denigrated throughout this whole process like the Florida Supreme Court's a bunch of anarchists, just another political institution which should be given no respect. So, we go to the Supreme Court with respect and revive the court as an institution that can resolve some of these dilemmas. That's the good news. The bad news is it seems that everything that happens is a pretext of going to the next level of war.

T. CARLSON: And the final level, I heard actually the great theory of the week from a CNN producer named Sam Fiest (ph) today who said, here is what could happen, the Congress could reject Florida's electors, and then, of course, this would all be thrown to both Houses.

The House, which will remain Republican, could vote, of course, choose the president, would choose George W. Bush. The Senate, if Maria Cantwell wins, would be Democrat, because of course Al Gore would be the tie-breaker, could choose a Democrat. So in fact, in the end of all of this, you could have a Republican president and a Democratic vice president.

WOODRUFF: Not likely.

T. CARLSON: Yes, but I mean, how much of any of this is likely? It's not totally crazy.

M. CARLSON: Let us be thankful for a moment, on this Thanksgiving eve for Tucker to come up with -- or for Sam. Yes.


T. CARLSON: I sort of like that.

WOODRUFF: What about Frank Sesno's report, slow-motion grand larceny and just the most incendiary kind of words coming. Why are Republicans, Tucker, Margaret, so angry right now?

M. CARLSON: Well, they thought, you know, the White House was taken from them by this infidel Bill Clinton and that they didn't get it back during impeachment, which they should have, and that they're entitled to the have the White House. There is a sense of restoration of the Bushes.

Then, just based on the networks, more or less, just the networks, Judy -- CNN and others -- handing it to Bush however temporarily that the presumption is that the presidency is theirs and at any -- any kind of recount takes it back, it's stealing it.

T. CARLSON: Well, that may be the deep, deep, deep reason for the Republican anger.

M. CARLSON: No, that's right on the surface, Tucker.

T. CARLSON: Well, I'm not a shrink so I can't comment on all aspects of what you just said. But there is, I think, frustration about this idea that dimples, that these bumps are votes. They're not votes. They're bumps, and the idea that, you know, look, nobody has produced evidence that other -- that votes for other people on the same ballot produced a lot of dimples. So there is this idea that it really is being stolen, you know, because it's just so, so subjective.


WOODRUFF: But as Pete Domenici in that report, he said it's a court trying to take the election away from George Bush. Is the court conspiring in some...

M. CARLSON: The courts are constrained in what they can do. There is precedent. There's a statute. They're reconciling the statute. They have to write opinions. It has to bear some analysis. They're not stealing it. But when you're in this political war, the rhetoric goes up and institutions go down.

T. CARLSON: Well, I don't know. I mean, look, here's from my point of view one of the big problems, one of the big mistakes the Republicans have made. The Democrats early decided that Katherine Harris was in the way of what they wanted. They immediately savaged her. They called her biased. They called her all sorts of names and made fun of her eyelashes. The Republicans, meanwhile, find out that it's going to the Supreme Court of Florida.


WOODRUFF: She was the co-chair of the Bush campaign.

T. CARLSON: Well, sure, she is. I mean, right, but they attacked her personally. But the point is they tried to discredit her as a partisan right away. I think it was ugly but it was effective.

The Republicans, meanwhile, find out it's going to the Supreme Court. Every justice on it's been appointed by a Democratic governor. They don't say anything. They don't make a similar case. I just think the Republicans just aren't as quick and they aren't as nasty.

M. CARLSON: Judges are not politically active once they're on the court. I wonder if the Supreme Court goes against them, what they'll say about the Supreme Court. You can't denigrate institutions because they don't agree with you.

T. CARLSON: Oh, please.

M. CARLSON: This is the court -- this is where we go as a society. I don't mind people going after Attorney General Bob Butterworth or Katherine Harris. They're political partisans. And she was, for the moment, the most powerful person in this whole drama.

T. CARLSON: Oh, just because they have robes on doesn't meant that you have to read the decision and say this is reasonable and untainted by politics, because in fact, if you read it, it does seem sort of shallow. There is no justification that I can understand given for the essential decision of this thing. M. CARLSON: Well, they were reconciling two pieces of a statute.

WOODRUFF: I hate to stop this.

T. CARLSON: Oh, we could go on.

M. CARLSON: Yes, it's so fascinating, Judy, I don't know why.

T. CARLSON: Let's talk more dimples.

WOODRUFF: To be continued.

We are going to take a break -- but this word just in: We've learned -- CNN has learned -- that the Bush campaign has filed, we are told, two petitions with the United States Supreme Court. When we come back, we'll try to get right to Bob Franken for the very latest on what's going on there. We'll be right back.


WOODRUFF: More legal battles on the agenda as George W. Bush prepares to call on the Supreme Court of the United States. Plus, could Florida lawmakers step into the fray? A look at the possible options for the GOP-dominated legislature as the Florida standoff counting continues.

ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Once again, Judy Woodruff in Washington.

WOODRUFF: Welcome back. A fast-moving day in the Florida presidential showdown. George W. Bush's lawyers have filed two petitions before the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging last night's Florida Supreme Court decision permitting hand recounts of three Florida counties to be included in the state's final vote tally. The decision comes on a day when one Florida county, Miami-Dade, abruptly stopped its hand recount, a decision the Gore team has appealed within the last hour.


WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Under Florida law, once the finding is made, the recount is mandatory. We will immediately be seeking an order directing the Dade County board of canvassers to resume the manual recount.


WOODRUFF: Two other counties, Broward and Palm Beach, have continued their hand count with a judge in Palm Beach County ruling ballots with so-called indented or dimpled chads must be considered as part of the final vote count. Gore supporters are banking their hopes on those indented or dimpled chad ballots, expecting that they will produce hundreds of new votes for their candidate.

Meanwhile, doctors say GOP vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney underwent a procedure to clear an artery this morning at a Washington hospital after suffering a mild heart attack. Cheney has suffered three heart attacks in the past.

For the very latest on the Bush campaign's plans to appeal, to move up to a higher court, we go to our Bob Franken at the U.S. Supreme Court here in Washington.

Bob, we've learned about those two filings.

I'm sorry, we're not able to hear Bob Franken right now. We're going to try to get that rectified just as quickly as we can.

And while we're waiting, joining me here in our Washington studio, CNN's Greta Van Susteren.

Greta, why two petitions? Do we know? to the U.S. Supreme Court?

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's a tactical and a technical reason. First of all, the issues are raised in the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals of the 11th Circuit, and you want to be able to get the United States Supreme Court to entertain it. They don't entertain everything. You have to seek permission to have it heard out of the Florida Supreme Court. And the issues generally have to be a constitutional issue.

And they raised interesting constitutional issues in the federal case that went from Miami federal court to the U.S. court of appeals, and I think that they are probably hoping to do is to sort of pique the court's interest in this particular case, because it comes from two courts as opposed to one and because it enables them to meet technical rules that the Supreme Court wants met in order to entertain the case.

WOODRUFF: All right, Greta, we're going to come back to you if you would, if you don't mind. Please stand by,

We do, I think, have Bob Franken, the sound fixed there.

Bob, because we very much want to hear what you have to say about those two filings by the Bush campaign before the U.S. Supreme Court.

FRANKEN: I was going to mention that neither of these is really a surprise. The federal courts really invited them if they are going to make their filings to challenge what the action was by the Florida Supreme Court and to continue in their -- in their quest to get the recounts stopped because it was a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

They have now challenged in one of the petitions the Florida state Supreme Court actions saying that the Florida court acted inappropriately. And they've also pursued the effort that says that by having some of the counties involved in a recount in Florida but not others, the equal protection clause of the Constitution, the 14th Amendment, is being violated.

All of these are arguments that were anticipated. The constitutional questions have been raised at both the district court level and the circuit court of appeals level. Now they are asking the Supreme Court here to take the case directly and expedite an appeal which would speed things up, of course, which is in the interest everybody, argue the Bush lawyers.

At very same time, the appeals court in Atlanta also has this case and has set up a hearing scheduled for next week in case the U.S. Supreme Court says they should go the normal route. There is also the possibility, of course, that the U.S. Supreme Court will deny this, refuse to grant certiorari -- that's the legal term -- or, of course, they will decide to take on the case.

So, the Supreme Court is now being asked to take it on and, in effect, resolve this once and for all -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Bob, on the second filing you mentioned their point being that some counties are engaged in a hand recount, others are not. We did see in the Florida Supreme Court decision they noted that they asked the Bush attorneys whether there was an interest in spreading the recount statewide or appealing to other counties, that wasn't done.

FRANKEN: No, it was not done, and so many people believe that the Bush lawyers have an uphill climb if they're going to make that stick in a federal court system. The point here is, that there has to be a reason for this to become a federal matter, a constitutional reason or some sort of other federal issue that is involved.

Otherwise, the Democratic lawyers in particular argue this really properly belongs at the state level and they too cite the Constitution Article II, which makes it very clear that elections are supposed to be conducted by state jurisdictions.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Bob Franken at the United States Supreme Court.

And still joining us here in our studio, Greta Van Susteren.

Greta, how high is the standard for the U.S. Supreme Court to say, OK, we're going to take this on as a set of federal issues, it's not enough for the state court to have dealt with it?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, it's -- they can do pretty much whatever they want. But Judy, your question about that footnote in the Florida Supreme Court is really what may drive a stake right through the heart of the case for the Bush people.

We may make you an honorary legal analyst here at CNN for remembering that footnote, because you really have to get a constitutional issue to the Supreme Court or it's really none of their business. They'll say, look, this is a matter for the states, and typically, that election-law proceedings have been state matters. So that's why the Bush people want to make it a constitutional issue -- so they raise the question of equal protection and the fact that some counties would be voted -- would be recounted, and some were not.

You raised the issue of the footnote. The Supreme Court could very well say to the Bush campaign, basically, you had your chance, you didn't take it, tough luck, you're out of luck. But the Supreme Court can do almost anything it wants to. So, while we legal people say that -- you know, we sit back and hold onto our seats because we don't know what they will do.

WOODRUFF: Greta, the other point about the Florida -- the accusation in the other filing before the court, the Bush camp saying that the Supreme Court of the state of Florida acted inappropriately. One assumes they're using language to the effect that the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds, violated what should be the province just of the state legislature, of elected officials.

What's the history of the Supreme Court -- the United States Supreme Court moving in on cases like this.

VAN SUSTEREN: They generally leave it alone. They let states decide how to interpret state law. The United States Supreme Court could disagree with how the Florida Supreme Court might look at it's law, but they typically look the other way and say look, it's your law, it's your court, you decide yourself. Plus you've got the added, sort of, political problem that lawyers will sort of scoop into this.

Remember, George W. Bush is a great supporter of states' rights; and here he's suddenly saying, well wait a second, hands off, not states'. Suddenly we want this to become a United States Supreme Court case. And while that's not usually a legal discussion, it's something that the lawyers are very astute about and they're going to take that issue and they're going to drive it right through the brief in an effort to say that George W. Bush is talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Now, the Supreme Court may also be sitting back and looking at this, saying, look, this is a matter that's a huge problem in this country, we're going to step in and we're going to decide this once and for all...

WOODRUFF: Because of the magnitude of the problem here.

VAN SUSTEREN: Because of the magnitude and because they're the last word.

WOODRUFF: All right, Greta Van Susteren, you get the last word, at least for this one; thanks very much.

Now we want to share with you the latest numbers from those hand recounts in Florida: George W. Bush has an official statewide lead of 930 votes, but canvassing boards say recounts have given Al Gore a net gain of 137 votes in Broward County and two votes, so far, in Palm Beach County. So bush's unofficial lead, for now, is 791 votes.

Still to be considered, about 2,000 challenged ballots in Broward County and about 330,000 ballots, plus 10,000 disputed ballots, in Palm Beach County. Broward County is recounting contested ballots that have indented or dimpled chads or one corner detached. Palm Beach County is recounting contested ballots that have indented or dimpled chads or have one corner detached if there is other evidence of voter intent. Now, based on the Florida Supreme Court's ruling, recounted results must be submitted to the Florida secretary of state by 5:00 p.m. this Sunday in order to be included in the official state total.

Coming up next on INSIDE POLITICS, Jeff Greenfield on a possible step by Florida Republicans to undermine the state's Supreme Court ruling.


WOODRUFF: Amid all the legal challenges in Florida and threats of more to come, Republicans are considering yet another move aimed at making sure their man wins the White House.

Our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield joins us now with more on that.

Hi, Jeff.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Hi, Judy. Well, according to party sources, Republican leaders of the Florida legislature are considering calling a special session in a bid to short-circuit the court-sanctioned hand recounts. And the ultimate goal may well be to assign the state's 25 electoral votes, and thus the presidency, to Texas Governor Bush.

Joining me to talk more about this, Shirish Date, he is the Tallahassee bureau chief of "The Palm Beach Post" and, traffic permitting, Tom Fiedler of "The Miami Herald." We hope he joins us later.

Shirish, the legislature in Florida -- if you just look at the party alignment -- do they have the power to take over this entire electoral process and give these votes to Governor Bush?

SHIRISH DATE, "PALM BEACH POST": Well, absolutely they do. They control 77 out of 120 seats in the House, and they have 25 out of 40 seats in the Senate. They clearly have a -- an easy majority in both chambers.

More to the point, we heard House Speaker Tom Feeney use some pretty strong language today about what the court did and what he feels -- how he feels that they have gone too far. Similarly, Senate President John McKay also said that he was dismayed by the ruling. We may see this being hijacked by the Florida state legislature.

GREENFIELD: Well, there are a couple of things I gather that they could do. One is they could simply under that 120-year-old federal law say that the process of picking electors is sufficiently entangled that they will take it over.

But could they in fact overrule the Florida Supreme Court's decision and return the situation to where Katherine Harris can certify the vote?

Can they kind of rewrite the law after the court has spoken? DATE: That's going to be pretty tough to do. I think even -- you've got to understand, there's a little bit of difference also between the House and the Senate. The House for the last two years has been very closely aligned with Governor Jeb Bush. That continues to be the case. The speaker, remember, was Governor Bush's running mate in 1994, when he first ran against Lawton Chiles. So, the Senate is not quite completely on board with that idea that they have in the House that they may be able to perhaps rewrite the law after the facts so as to take care of whatever recounting problems there might be.

It seems that if they do anything, their more likely option might be to call simply call a special session and just name whatever electors that they want to kind of supplant the ones that might have been chosen by the electorate or they could try to sue in federal court.

GREENFIELD: Well, just so I understand one more technical point, we know in the United States Senate there is a filibuster. The Florida state Senate is not two-thirds controlled by Republican. Can the Democratic minority jam up the gears if it so chooses with filibusters or anything like that?

DATE: Not really, they don't have enough people. In the Senate, the tradition has always been for unlimited debate and people are typically allowed to talk as long as they want. However, the rules do allow for the leadership to set limits. And I've seen that happen. The Senate's always been pretty collegial. It's been working together as a consensus. We're not going to see a consensus if the Florida Senate decides to get on board and try to undo a potential Gore victory.

GREENFIELD: Now, assuming the legislature succeeds, assuming they want to do this, and assigns electoral votes to Governor Bush. We've been hearing talk about competing slates of electors. Who in Florida would have even the technical ability to say no, the Democratic electors are the ones that we should send to Washington? Would it be the attorney general? How that would work, exactly?

DATE: I presume that ultimately might be a question that the Florida Supreme Court might want to tackle. But again, the legislature's point today has been that really the Florida Supreme Court has no more authority, perhaps less, in doing these kinds of things than the legislature does. So, if the court says no, no, it's this slate of electors and the legislature says no, it's this other slate of electors, I don't know who wins that battle.

GREENFIELD: OK, Shirish Date, it sounds like we are going to need a crash course in Florida constitutional law over the weeks ahead. Thank you for joining us.

Judy will be back after this break.


WOODRUFF: And that is all for this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's

Stay with CNN throughout evening for the latest on the Florida recount. At 10 o'clock Eastern, we'll be back with a CNN special report, "The Florida Recount." That will be followed by a one-hour special edition of "THE SPIN ROOM."

I'm Judy Woodruff. The "MONEYLINE NEWS HOUR" is next.



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