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Larry King Live
Election 2000: Radio Talk-Show Hosts From Around the Country Discuss Florida RecountAired November 23, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM MORET, GUEST HOST: Tonight, we want to hear from you. It's day 16 and still no president-elect. Call in with your questions about this crazy situation.
Joining us, some of your favorite radio talk-show hosts from around the country: in Atlanta, Neal Boortz; in Washington, D.C., Jim Bohannon; in San Francisco, Ronn Owens; back in the nation's capital, Armstrong Williams; and, in New York, attorney Raoul Felder.
All that and more next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Thank you for joining us. I'm Jim Moret sitting in for Larry King who is spending Thanksgiving with his family.
Start phoning in right now. We want your questions about the recounts and the legal fights that have left the outcome of the 2000 presidential race up in the air. We'll be taking your calls shortly with our panel of top radio talk-show hosts.
But, first, Florida's Supreme Court has dealt a blow to Al Gore's White House hopes, and the VP's team is talking about contesting some election results.
Joining us with the latest developments, CNN Legal Analyst Roger Cossack in Washington.
But, first, in Tallahassee, CNN Correspondent Kate Snow.
Kate, bring us the latest.
KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, attorneys for Vice President Al Gore didn't exactly take the Thanksgiving Day off today. In fact, they were quite busy. Not only did they have to file the response to Governor Bush's appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, but they were also hard at work here in Tallahassee in Florida dealing with the Florida State Supreme Court.
Early this morning, attorneys for Al Gore filed a request with the state court asking for what's known as a Writ of Mandamus, asking them to force Miami-Dade County to begin counting votes again. You'll recall that yesterday Miami-Dade County's canvassing board decided that, ultimately, they were not going to count any more votes. Al Gore's legal team going to court here asking them to force that canvassing board to reverse its decision and begin counting again.
Now, ultimately, mid-afternoon today, that request was denied by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court justices contacted by fax and phone. They were at various places, all on vacation for this Thanksgiving holiday. They all got on a conference call. Six of them out of the seven got on a conference call and decided that they would deny Al Gore's petition.
Less than two hours after that, we heard again from Al Gore's attorneys telling us that they were planning their next move, and what that will be is, as you mentioned, a contest of the results, the election results from Miami-Dade County. They plan to contest those results. They say they will do so probably by Monday morning.
MORET: Well, Kate, given the long Thanksgiving holiday, what happens between now and then? Do they simply send out their minions for the court of public opinion?
SNOW: Well, that's -- probably, but they have said they need -- they can contest these elections as soon as the county certifies the elections. They don't have to wait for the state to certify them at 5:00 on Sunday afternoon, but, given that this is a holiday weekend, given that most courts aren't open, and they do need to file this contest or this contesting of the election results in Miami-Dade here in Leon County, they don't expect that court to be open tomorrow. So just logistically they expect they'll probably file on Monday morning.
MORET: Thank you, Kate Snow.
Let's turn now to Roger Cossack, our legal analyst in Washington, D.C.
Talk about this defeat, as Kate called it, that was dealt to the Gore campaign and how serious that is, in your view.
ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think this is very serious, Jim. I know that the Gore campaign is now saying, "Well, you know, we didn't really care about whether or not we got Miami-Dade anyway. It's all in Palm Beach," but I think it's also important because I think, in some ways, it's a little symbolic. It's this Miami-Dade County canvassing board and volunteers saying, "You know, we just can't get this done by Sunday night, and we're just not counting anymore."
And I know Gore went to the Florida Supreme Court -- Vice President Gore -- and said -- and asked them for an order forcing the Miami-Dade board to count, but I don't see how they could have even issued an order forcing volunteers to come back and do their work. So perhaps they could have found other volunteers, but it would have been very, very difficult to pick it up in the middle of it.
And I think, in some ways, the -- what the Florida Supreme Court did -- did today was recognize that, you know, there was a little bit of civil disobedience here, perhaps a little Boston Tea Party down there in Miami-Dade. They just said, "We're not going to count," and the Florida Supreme Court said, "Well, if you're not going to count, there doesn't seem to be much we can do about it."
MORET: Well, step back from the legal proceedings, Roger. If, in fact, the folks in Miami-Dade said, "Look, we can't finish the vote count in time, so why count at all?" because the vote would affect -- in effect be tainted, what really can you ask them to do? You -- you indicate they're volunteers. You can't force them to work. So what else is available from a legal standpoint?
COSSACK: Well, I suppose what the Florida Supreme Court could do -- and this is where, you know, this -- this whole thing becomes more confusing than -- than it -- than it could ever be -- is that -- what they could have done is say, "OK. If you won't vote, we're going to push back" -- or "you won't count, we're going to push back that date that we had set for certifying this of this coming Sunday night. We're going to push it back a few days, and then we're going to order the Miami canvassing board to go out and seek other volunteers who will do the count, but, instead of having it due Sunday, we're going to have it due perhaps four days from Sunday."
Now the problem is, as -- as the court indicated in -- when they had their oral argument, they need to have everything done by December 12th, and one of the things they well know about it -- in fact, that they some way perhaps even indicated in their decision today or lack thereof -- was that -- was that Vice President Gore does have the right after there is a certification of the winner in this election, which we hope will be Sunday night or should be Sunday night -- they have the right to file a cause of action contesting the election.
And let me just briefly tell you, Jim, because I'm the legal analyst and I happen to have this stuff in front of me -- let me tell you a couple of the -- of the grounds that they could contest on. See if this sounds familiar. One would be the receipt of a number of illegal votes or rejection of a number of legal votes sufficient to change or place in doubt the result of the election. Now I'm not saying that they'll win or I'm not saying that they'll lose, but this seems to me to give them grounds at least to come in and say, "Listen, legal votes are rejected, and it would have changed the election."
Now where this gets particularly interesting is it also, later on in the statute, says that the judge has to take evidence as to whether or not they can prove their case. Now that -- you know, taking evidence takes time. This is where it gets murky, and this is where it gets almost scary.
MORET: Roger, let me have you stand by for a moment. We're going to bring in Ron Klain, a Gore campaign adviser, in Tallahassee.
Ron, good evening.
RON KLAIN, GORE CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Good evening, Jim. Thanks...
MORET: Talk... KLAIN: ... for having me.
MORET: Sure. Thank you very much for being here.
And we want to indicate right now that we invited the Bush campaign to take part in tonight's program. They told us this is Thanksgiving Day, as we all know. They declined to provide a spokesperson or offer further comment.
So, Ron, we're indebted to you for coming on tonight. Talk about the idea of contesting the Miami-Dade votes and what the process would be and if, in fact, that's your next step.
KLAIN: Well, it is our next step, and I thought Roger did a very good job of laying that out for your viewers, Jim. Florida law makes it clear that candidates have a right to challenge the results county by county if they feel that a number of illegal votes are included or, as in this case, as Roger pointed out, if a number of legal ballots are excluded.
In this case, there are about 11,000 ballots in Miami-Dade County that have never been counted. A machine couldn't read them, and no effort was made to count them by people. The -- the canvassers got from some of the ballots -- about a quarter of those ballots and found that a -- hundreds of them -- literally hundreds of them had votes on them that the machines had not recorded.
We want those ballots counted. We want those counts added to the total. That will be some votes for Governor Bush, some votes for Al Gore, but, one way or another, we'll know which candidate got the most votes.
MORET: But, Ron, Roger also points out that the clock is ticking, and there's a certification deadline, and that deadline is going to come and go, and -- and there still is a point where we must know who is the next president-elect.
KLAIN: That's absolutely right, but, as Roger also noted, the Supreme Court of Florida set an early certification deadline to leave time for both candidates to contest the results.
And I should note the Bush campaign has already contested the results in 14 counties in Florida. They filed contest actions yesterday against a number of county results where they didn't like the absentee ballot totals. So I think both campaigns will have contest actions before the courts.
Roger's right that they involve the taking of evidence, but Florida law provides expedited procedures. This should be done in a matter of days. It can be handled very quickly.
It's very important, I think, for the American people to know whichever of these two candidates wins that the candidate that won was the one who got the most votes, and the only way to know that is to count the votes. That's what we've been trying to get done down here in Florida, Jim. That's what we've been pursuing, nothing more or nothing less than that, and this is just the next step in that process.
MORET: Ron, give us the sense of the mood of the campaign. Is there a sense among -- among you fellows that -- that you haven't really picked up the number of votes you'd hoped you might have at this point?
KLAIN: Well, the counts have gone more slowly than we hoped, but we had a very good day in Broward. We're picking up a vote per precinct there. There are almost 700 precincts in Broward County, and the serious counting begins tomorrow in Palm. So we're very enthusiastic about how the counts are going.
I think we're all frustrated with how long it's taken, and I hope people understand why it's taken so long. Every effort to count these votes has been blocked by the Republican Party and by Governor Bush. They've sued in federal court to block the counts. They've sued in state courts to block the counts. They've issued legal opinions to block the counts.
It's taken too long to count these votes, but, not withstanding how long it's taken, I think we're very resolute in the idea that, in the end, the thing the American people are owed is a full, fair, and accurate counting of the ballots that were cast here in Florida.
MORET: Ron, in just a sentence or two -- you talk about how long this has taken -- how long do you expect it will take until we have a final result in this election?
KLAIN: I think it will take just a few more days. Again, if -- if the counts could have been completed already, we'd know. The -- the delay is inexcusable, I think, and the efforts to obstruct it are inexcusable, but I think, in the next few days, we'll get this contest launched, the ballots can finally be counted, and we'll know who got the most votes.
MORET: Ron Klain, Gore campaign adviser, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Roger Cossack, back to you. You've heard Ron Klain talk about the -- the actions that they are going to take. Do you think that they will be successful on legal grounds?
COSSACK: Well, that's a hard issue, Jim. I -- you know, it's -- it's -- I'd love to tell you that I knew what's going to happen.
I mean, let me just tell you the best thing about this, that -- as far as I can tell from my reading, that, after the contest is over, there's nothing left in the Florida statutes that either side can do that -- there's no more lawsuits. So the good news is that after the -- after they've filed a lawsuit to contest the election and -- win or lose, I think that's about it, at least in the State of Florida.
The -- the difficult part here and I think the difficult part for a judge is going to be -- is the idea of -- of this -- as I indicated earlier, of taking testimony, but the Florida statute also allows the judge to -- to limit the amount of testimony dependent on the circumstances. So, hopefully, we will find a judge who -- who limits it, narrows the issues, and gets this thing over with in a hurry.
I -- I have the sense -- and, you know, pardon me for going outside of being a legal analyst -- that people are just simply tired of this and want a president, and while I certainly understand why each candidate would want to fulfill all of their obligations under the law and try and make sure that all the votes were counted, this has got to end, as the people in Florida know, that -- it's got to end by December 12th, or they -- they run the risk of, one, perhaps not getting their votes counted or, two, have -- the Florida legislature is making some rumblings down there of saying, "You know what? We're going to elect our own electorate board and send it on up to the House of Representatives," which is narrowly controlled by the Republicans and, you know, I'm sure they don't want to do that because that eliminates, in some way, all of the voters. All of the voters then pay a penalty for that.
So, to answer your question, I don't know how the contest is going to turn out. I wish I did.
MORET: You could have simply said that in the beginning. I appreciate that.
You know, we've worked together for six years, Roger, and I venture a guess that you never imagined you would be called upon to give your opinions about a presidential election. Does it trouble you that this is heading to the courts?
COSSACK: You know, as -- and sort of stepping back as a -- and just saying as a voter, as a citizen, it does trouble me. Don't I wish that none of the courts had to be involved in this at all. On the other hand, you know, what are the options? We could have civil disobedience. We could have rioting in the streets. We could have tanks. Or we could at least be within the courts looking for judges to give us decisions in a civilized manner, and, you know, if it -- if we have to have these kinds of disputes, I'd much rather end up in the courts than I would on the streets.
MORET: Roger Cossack -- Roger Cossack, CNN Legal Analyst, co- host of CNN's "BURDEN OF PROOF." Thanks for joining us tonight.
We're going to take a break and be back with some radio talk-show hosts and your calls. Stay with us.
MORET: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Jim Moret filling in for Larry.
Let's introduce you now to our panel of radio talk-show hosts from around the country. Let's go first to Armstrong Williams.
Armstrong, you had a show earlier today. What was the feedback regarding today's developments?
ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS, RADIO TALK-SHOW HOST: Oh, God. Oh, they're sick of it. People are -- have election fatigue. They're -- any -- one day, one has a victory. They're cheering. The next day, someone has a defeat. The other side is cheering. It's just -- it's like a roller coaster. It's up and down. It's like a legal roller coaster.
And, you know, the American people have been quite patient, but they -- they don't want the presidential election decided by the courts. They want the people to decide whom the next president will be, and they've seen no end to this.
I mean, even when Kathleen Harris certified the vote on Sunday, it still may not be over because the -- you still have these legal wranglings that will go on. People would just like to know who the next president will be, and many people are now saying they don't care who the next president is, "just give us a president so we can go living."
MORET: Neal, I suspect that a lot of people around the country are afraid to turn on their television sets in the morning or their radios for fear that another development will have occurred and, in fact, that's what's been happening every single day.
NEAL BOORTZ, RADIO TALK-SHOW HOST: I don't -- I don't see it that way, Jim. I see people eager to turn on their televisions and their radios. I mean, when I get on the air -- and I start at 8:30 in the morning Eastern time -- I have 10 phones that are blinking before I walk into the studio. Some people may be sick of it, and there's always professional wrestling that they can watch on TV.
Other people are getting a fascinating education into what this country is about. They're learning that there are specific laws that relate to choosing a president, that it is not a matter of a mob decision or a majority rule, and this is -- this has really been a great educational process for a lot of Americans out there.
And -- and it hasn't been bad for talk radio either. I think that's one thing everybody on the panel will agree to.
MORET: I -- I've heard -- I heard, before we went on, all of you talking about your various syndication deals, and I suspect that they'll all be more lucrative after this.
Jim, what do you -- what's your sense? Do you think that this is more like a wrestling match now? Do you think that folks are getting a lesson in civics or seeing the underside of politics?
JIM BOHANNON, RADIO TALK-SHOW HOST: Well, they are getting a lesson in civics, Jim, but one thing to keep in mind, it's only been 16 days. The American people are the only people in all of history who will stand in front of a microwave oven and yell, "Hurry!"
Relax, America. It's going to be sorted out. The system is not pretty, it's not efficient, but, if you want efficiency, I would remind you that it wasn't the Italian Republic that made the trains run on time. It was Mussolini.
MORET: But, Ronn, it's been 16 days, but it's also been a two- year campaign. Ronn Owens, what do you think about this? RONN OWENS, RADIO TALK-SHOW HOST: Well, I go along with you, and I go along with Neal on this. This is the Talk-Show Host Relief Act of the Year 2000. It's the best thing that's happened. I mean, we're -- in reality, people don't care that much because there's not that much passion for either one of these candidates. I mean, you've got one who's incompetent and one who's insufferable. Take your pick. So, consequently, it's more like a Super Bowl. You're watching one team get ahead, the other team get ahead, and it's -- it's just -- it is that roller coaster that Armstrong referred to, and I -- I -- it -- we're not tired of it. Let this thing keep going.
MORET: Raoul, you're wearing two hats, one of radio talk-show host and one of attorney, and I suppose that from -- really from both of your vantage points, it's fascinating.
RAOUL FELDER, RADIO TALK-SHOW HOST: Well -- well, yes. You know, as a radio talk-show host, I see a circular progression.
It started out that the only calls we got back with any passion at the beginning were from Florida.
And then there was a great lassitude, I think, is the right word. Nobody seemed to care in the calls over the country, and then it was trivialized with the pregnant, the dimpled, and the pimpled, and the opening doors, the swinging doors. That's when people are making jokes.
And -- and now -- and then they just wanted a decision, any decision, and now I think they're becoming angry again. We don't go to the barricades, we don't pull up the cobblestones, but people are getting angry. You saw that ugly scene in Miami. It's -- it's not pretty.
Now, as a lawyer, I was disappointed. Now -- if I could wear the other hat, that gobbledygook that came out of the court on Wednesday -- you know something? When you think about it a minute, that was submitted to the court on Tuesday afternoon.
They argued that case. So presumably -- now just get this -- they had time to read the briefs, they had time to research the law all over the country, had time to argue about it, distribute decisions, decide who was going to write the opinion, and then Wednesday have a decision. That couldn't have happened.
What really happened is they made up their mind immediately. They made it up before these people are arguing, and that's why sua sponte -- that means by their own motion -- they stayed the secretary of state, and when you think about it, that's a little dis -- disappointing because America was watching a charade there, for all intents and purposes...
MORET: We're going to ponder that...
FELDER: ... and so...
MORET: We're going to ponder that point while we take a break, and we'll also be taking your calls coming up. So stay with us on LARRY KING LIVE.
MORET: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Jim Moret filling in for Larry.
Let's turn again to our D.C. bureau and Armstrong Williams, syndicated radio host of "The Right Side With Armstrong Williams."
Armstrong, we've heard a ratcheting up of the rhetoric, people talking about stealing the election, manipulating the ballots. What is the sense you get from your callers? Do you think that no matter who wins that the vote will be suspect in some way?
Here's something that is very interesting from the callers on our show and, you know, in some respects, I happen to agree with them. They really believe that, no matter whether you're on the Florida Supreme Court and the majority of them are Democrats and one independent, whether you're a secretary of state like Kathleen Harris and you're a Republican, it's very difficult, people believe, for you to separate your identity from your job.
In other words, it's very difficult for the fact of Kathleen Harris to separate her duties from the fact that she's a Republican, and it's very difficult for the Florida Supreme Court to separate the identity of Democrats from their job. So what the American people are now believing who are calling our shows is that whoever's in the majority at the time when they're making a ruling, they will rule in the favor of their -- of their party identity.
Now, of course, Judge Lewis in the lower court was more of the exception, and the ruling this morning by the Supreme Court not demanding that the Miami-Dade County continue counting was a little different, but I think more people -- more people are seeing this as a partisan effort, and it's -- who is standing at the end will determine the elections.
But if it goes to the Supreme Court in the United States, they believe, because the majority of the justices are conservative, that's in Bush's favor. But if it stays within the State of Florida, if it doesn't go to the Florida legislature, if it goes to the court, it will stay in Mr. Gore's favor.
MORET: OK. And we have a call from Carbondale, Illinois. Let's see what you have to say. Your question or comment?
CALLER: Yeah. Initially, I thought Florida law and Katherine Harris said overseas ballots had to be postmarked. Then I heard the attorney general and the Democrats getting blamed for insisting on postmarks -- postmarks. Which is correct?
MORET: Who wants to jump in on that one? Raoul?
FELDER: Well, you know, what the Republicans are saying is, "Listen, as long as they fit some minimal standard, they should be counted." After all you're dealing with servicemen. They could be in a submarine. They could be somewhere in a desert. And so if it's not a hundred percent, you've got to have some -- some leeway over there.
And yet what they're doing is they're being -- I think it's Dade County. There was 1,500 overseas ballots or something like that that were not counted, and it seems only fair -- no, 1,500 all over Florida. It seems only fair to give these guys and women the extra inch. You know, let them -- give them some more latitude than you'd give these people who are scrawling on the ballots or dimpling it or whatever.
MORET: Let's go to Atlanta. Neal...
MORET: Neal, you...
BOORTZ: If I might, first of all, I think that you have a federal statute that applies to national elections and postmarks that says that they do not need them.
One of the more ridiculous aspects of this election is a canvassing board looking at a military ballot that they received on or before the election day saying that "We're going to reject this military ballot because it's supposed to be postmarked by today and it hasn't been," and, of course, that brings up the question, if it wasn't mailed before today, how did it end up in your hands in the first place?
So the -- in my -- my callers -- and I think that the tide really turned in many respects on last Saturday morning when they heard that there had been a concerted and organized campaign by the Democrats and by the campaign to eliminate these military ballots, fanned out throughout the State of Florida to get these things thrown out, and callers are thinking, "Wait a minute. A dimpled chad counts more than a soldier in Kosovo?" and that was a colossal blunder on the part of the Democrats.
OWENS: Yeah, but, Neal, the key to this whole thing -- and that -- that was a colossal blunder for one reason. There are two levels to play this on. The actual level where you heard -- we heard Ron Klain before say that the people want a full, fair, and accurate count. That's never going to happen. It's obvious...
BOORTZ: Well, that's not the standard, Ronn.
OWENS: ... thing. So the other standard is public relations, and when you're talking public relations, you're absolutely right. It was a major goof on the part of the Democrats. First of all, I don't think it was quite as orchestrated as people assert. What's the difference? The images that it was -- and I agree with you it turned it around. Nobody wants to see servicepeople left out on the whole thing, and Gore blew it on that one period. BOORTZ: Let me -- let me say this.
BOHANNON: Obviously, if the -- if the Florida Supreme Court's guiding principle here is that we try to ascertain the will of the people as much as possible, clearly, Neal point -- Neal's point is well taken, that we should certainly try to make every effort to count every one of these military absentee ballots that we possibly can. If you really are measuring dimpled chads, you ought to be able to figure out whether or not a ballot was received in a reasonable period of time.
BOORTZ: Let me -- let me interject one thing, if I might.
MORET: I have to jump in here now. Hold on. It's -- it's tough to settle this dispute between hosts. I'm the super host right now. I have to say we go to a break.
We'll be back with more on LARRY KING LIVE right after this. Don't go away.
MORET: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Jim Moret filling in for Larry.
Let's go to Ronn Owens in San Francisco.
Ronn, how do you think that this situation will be resolved?
OWENS: I think mostly likely, come Sunday or Monday, you will get a, quote, "final vote tally," and at that point, the Gore campaign has indicated it will, in fact, go to the courts. If it does so, it's going to lose more and more in terms of credibility. I -- I honestly think the right thing to do is count up the votes on Sunday or Monday, declare a president, and then just go home because the bottom line is this: It's like there are two rules in elections. You play to win, but, if you win, you're stuck with the prize, and I think whoever wins with this isn't going to have that big of prize anyway, so they ought to take it, be graceful. The loser ought to take the loss, be graceful, and like I say, go home.
MORET: Armstrong, when is a final vote not a final vote? I guess every day we're getting a new answer to that question.
WILLIAMS: You know, no one knows, but I do believe that whomever the secretary of state certifies on Sunday night will be the eventual president of the United States.
If I could add, you know, you -- people love to compare Texas to the State of Florida when it comes to voter recount, but, you know, there's a huge difference between Texas and the State of Florida. In Florida, they have their own individual fiefdoms where the individual canvassing boards make their rules up. There are no statewide standard rules that all these precincts must follow, and in Texas, they have one standard. So the problem is it's -- it's a course for chaos, and what other people don't discuss and what they should is this: This is not unusual for Florida, and -- and because it's not unusual for Florida, it happens all the time. There have been complaints about this kind of voting and these procedures for a long time, but no one ever did anything to correct these arcane -- their arcane -- these arcane ways of voting, and -- and until someone...
MORET: Neal -- Neal, let me just -- Neal, let me jump in here.
MORET: Armstrong brings up an interesting point, the lack of uniformity. We have about 45 seconds before...
BOORTZ: Well, they've changed the rules and the standards several times since they started counting. I -- I love the focus group language of the Gore campaign, "full, fair, and honest count," "full, fair, and accurate count." We've heard that 18,000 times. That's not the standard. The standard is a legal vote.
Very quickly, it's interesting to point out that there was, in the 1970s, a Nelson (ph) decision, I believe, that said that voters -- this is an appeals court decision in Florida -- voters have a responsibility to find their candidate's name on the ballot and cast a valid vote for that candidate. If they don't meet that responsibility, their vote doesn't count. That standard has been changed now by the Supreme Court with their ruling this week.
What we need is not a full, fair, and accurate count but a legal count of the votes in Florida.
MORET: And we have to take accounting to our sponsors. We'll be back with more right after this.
MORET: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Jim Moret filling in for Larry on this Thanksgiving evening.
Let me introduce our guests to you once again: In Atlanta, Neal Boortz, syndicated radio host of "The Neal Boortz Show"; in D.C., Jim Bohannon, host of "The Jim Bohannon Show"; in San Francisco, Ronn Owens of "The Ronn Owens Show"; in Washington, once again, Armstrong Williams, host of "The Right Side With Armstrong Williams"; and, in New York, Raoul Felder, syndicated host of "The Felder Report," also an attorney.
And let's take a call now from Toronto, Ontario. Your question?
CALLER: Good evening, Jim.
MORET: Good evening.
CALLER: In the final analysis, what degree of credibility can you ever come up with when you have a voting system that comes down to one individual attempting to determine the intent of a voter?
MORET: Jim Bohannon in D.C., what are your -- what are your callers suggesting on that question?
BOHANNON: Well, obviously, it's tough to do that. It becomes very subjective, particularly in the lack of -- of any firm standards. It's interesting to note that -- that, for example, while a judge in Palm Beach County ruled that dimpled ballots must be considered, it gave no guidelines on how to consider them. Is it the sunlight rule or what have you? The key thing is that we have a set of rules, and we all acknowledge what they are. It's when you start having the rules of the day that people start losing faith in the system.
MORET: Raoul, as that caller suggests calling from Toronto, we are really being judged on a world stage. Are your callers suggesting that we are in for trouble versus -- versus a quick and speedy resolution, which, obviously, has come and gone?
FELDER: Well, two things.
By the way, on intent, you know, whole trials are held on intent, criminal trials, with days and days of jurors. It's not so easy to ascertain, particularly whether you have a rule du jour, and every day changes and in the middle of the day.
But many callers are saying it should go to the Supreme Court. Now I know there's legal arguments against it, but I would think, if I were a Supreme Court judge and I was watching this today, I would say you owe it to the country to consider this because there'll never be rest in this case -- it's such a public thing. It's not like the Kennedy thing where Kennedy stole the election and they found it out years later and historians wrote about it.
This election is going to be claimed to be stolen by one side or the other, and it's time for the Supreme Court to step in and -- and people respect the Supreme Court -- and make a decision here. Otherwise, you're going to have some kind of chaos, particularly if it ever goes to legislative houses.
MORET: We have another call.
BOHANNON: Now wait a minute, Raoul.
MORET: Wait. Wait. Let's take a caller...
MORET: ... from Bemidji, Minnesota. Your question or comment?
CALLER: If Gore loses and contests the election, then he wins, can Bush then contest that result?
FELDER: Well, it depends where, where he contests it.
BOHANNON: The -- there has already, I would point out, been a statement made by Dick Armey, who is the House majority leader, a Republican, who says that, if, in fact, the House Republicans -- and don't forget the House decides. They actually take the votes of the electors. If they decide that this is a tainted process in Florida, they might throw out the Florida electors, which raises a very interesting point. The House rules in the 12th Amendment refer to "a majority of the electors selected." If Florida's are not selected by the House, that would be 513 votes in the electoral college. Al Gore already has a majority of 513.
WILLIAMS: But there's something you should keep in mind.
WILLIAMS: There is something that we should really keep in mind here, is that since the election was over on November 7th, almost two weeks ago, Gore has never led in the count, in the recount. In the recount, Bush has maintained his lead.
I would find it very difficult if, on Sunday when the secretary of state certifies the election and Bush is still ahead, whether it's by one vote or 720 votes, that Governor -- that Vice President Gore would challenge the results.
At some point, he must become -- become a statesman and put his interests below and -- above -- the interests of the people. He should let the people move on, and he should become a statesman because -- I've got to tell you this -- if he doesn't, I think he does more harm to his party in the long run, and if he is still losing by Sunday at 5:00 p.m., I see no other way than for the pressure to mount for him to concede.
BOHANNON: I believe that pressure will be there.
OWENS: Oh, I think he should concede. I definitely think he should concede at that point, but, look, the reason that Gore's got some level of moral high ground is, even though he hasn't led in Florida, he has always led in the popular vote.
The bottom line is -- what gets me on this is the people who argue for Gore, the people who argue for Bush, either side. If the situation were reversed, they could just as easily argue the other way. Baker, Christopher -- they could do the same arguments and with the same kind of passion, and the bottom line is each side wants to win. That's all it boils down to. Each side wants to win.
That said, I agree with Armstrong. If a -- if on Sunday it turns out Al Gore does have the lead in Florida, cut, go home, time to leave.
FELDER: Well -- but, you know, there's a... MORET: It's time for us to leave right now. We've got to take another break. We'll be back with more of your calls right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm thankful that I live in a country with enough faith in its democracy, though, that we're all letting this play out. Comedy -- the comedy shows are having fun with it. We're all laughing about it. The two candidates seem to be in fairly good humor about it. When I was in Asia, I had a couple of people tell me, you know, in some countries, people would be in the streets over this and instead, you know, we trust our system. We just have to trust it and, whether we agree with it or disagree with it, let it play out. I think it's going to work out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORET: Those were President Clinton's comments from earlier today.
Neal Boortz in Atlanta, what are your callers saying, if anything, about the profile of President Clinton through all of this?
BOORTZ: Well, they are somewhat amused by the fact that he finally got to Vietnam and nobody noticed, which was good.
But President Clinton really has not played a role in this at all, except some of the tactics that were honed by his -- his White House over the years, the concentration on focus groups, the development of cute, little words and phrases from focus groups that are repeated over and over again in the media -- this "full, fair, and accurate count" would be one of those -- and just watching that statement from him a second ago.
Maybe now with this process a lot of the people in this country and -- Who knows? -- maybe even some of the politicians will finally come to learn that the United States is not a democracy, it was never intended to be a democracy by our founding fathers, and it would sure be nice if nothing else happens from this to at least see some of the politicians start to acknowledge a difference between mob rule and the rule of law.
MORET: We have a call from Rotterdam, Netherlands. Your call or your question?
CALLER: Hi. I'm Dutch, and I want to know if you expect that after these elections that the discussion will be brought to a larger level as to whether or not your election system is up to date or should be amended.
MORET: Ronn, the camera's on you. What are your callers saying about that? OWENS: Oh, absolutely. We feel direct election is the way to go. I've been talking about that long before this particular election, but, realistically, it's just not going to happen. The electoral college won't go away. You're not going to get two-thirds of Congress to go for it. You're not going to get three-quarters of the states. The best you can possibly get is perhaps district representation. That's about it.
BOHANNON: I don't...
MORET: Raoul, do you agree with that?
FELDER: You -- you know, there have been 900 attempts in the history of the republic to change the electoral college. You can't do it because all the small states are going to vote against it. What they do need is some improved system. You go in, you should be able to press a button, and that's the end of it.
The funny thing in Florida, unlike many states, you can change your mind as -- before you leave the area, and -- and like New York, once you leave, you leave. But there has to be a simple, full-proof method. You press the button. That's it. Goodbye, Charlie, if you make a mistake, and -- and that's the end of the ball game.
MORET: Jim, do you have a sense of how a Gore victory would impact your show, for example, or would a Bush imp -- a Bush victory have a different effect?
BOHANNON: Well, I think that probably Bill Clinton was pretty good for talk-show hosts in general, and Al Gore would also be pretty good for talk-show hosts. We do have a predominantly conservative audience, and this would certainly be gasoline on the flames.
For the Republicans, something to keep in mind -- that if, in fact, you have a Republican president and a Republican House and by the slimmest of margins a Republican Senate, you would have Republican control there for the first time since 1954, and it would be put-up- or-shut-up time for a lot of the items on the Republican agenda who could no longer blame a veto by Bill Clinton, for example.
MORET: Armstrong, we've seen the growth of talk radio over the last eight years just outdistance any -- any projections. Is it -- is it your sense that a Gore victory would have a different impact than a Bush victory on talk radio?
WILLIAMS: (LAUGHTER) Well, my audience is pretty conservative, also. I'm sure that does not surprise you. But I tell you our audience was -- there were no big fans of President Clinton, and I think they have even more disdain for Vice President Gore. I think many of them actually think that he's trying to steal this election. He's willing to do whatever until the vote reflects what he wants in order to crown himself as the next president. I certainly think we would spend the next four years condemning every move that he -- he would make.
On closure, I think the most important thing is that whomever is certified as the president on Sunday night that we as Americans should become one as Americans again, not as Republicans or Democrats, that we should rally around whomever that person is.
But I will tell you this. I agree with Jim. Democrats are very good fodder for talk shows like mine. But I've got to tell you I don't -- I think many of the Gore supporters are more willing to so -- accept Mr. Bush as the president as ver -- as well as -- well, I just -- put it like this. Bush supporters are in -- no way, from what I can tell, are willing to accept Mr. Gore as the president of the United States.
FELDER: May I say something?
MORET: We have to take another break. We'll be back with more right after this. Don't go away.
MORET: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Jim Moret filling in for Larry.
Raoul Felder in New York, I know you wanted to jump in that last...
FELDER: Yeah. Yeah. I think Armstrong was right on track. There is a difference. If the Democrats lose, I think they'll grumble a little bit, and they'll be unhappy, and they'll say, "Wait until next year." If the Republicans lose, it's going to be a different question. They're going to say the vote was stolen from them, and I -- I think that's a distinction.
OWENS: Jim, can I jump in on...
FELDER: Also, if I may...
OWENS: ... this one, too, to...
OWENS: ... answer your question? I've got the reverse here. For my audience, it would be a lot easier if Bush won. I mean, if I were voting for -- as a talk-show host, I'd have voted for Bush. I voted for Supreme Court. Thus, I voted for Gore. My audience would love to grab Bush, doesn't understand why everybody hates Clinton that much, and the bottom line is, yeah, they'd accept Bush, but we're ready to go. I mean, the choice -- what, have you got a choice between -- one guy who's patronizing and another guy who's prickly? I'd rather go after the prickly guy.
MORET: Well, let's go to Dallas, Texas, now...
FELDER: Oh, you're hurting me.
MORET: ... with another -- another call. Dallas, your question? CALLER: Yes. Everybody has been referring to the Dallas -- or the Texas standard on counting ballots, and I was wondering what that standard is in Texas to count these ballots that are dimpled.
FELDER: Well, you see, the...
FELDER: Oh, sorry.
MORET: Well, no, Raoul. Jump in.
FELDER: The interesting thing -- they talk about Texas having a stat -- Texas does have a statute. Florida doesn't. Texas has a statute that gives standards and talks about intent, but there is no statute in Florida. That's...
MORET: Well, Raoul, isn't that really the problem? Isn't that -- isn't that what folks on both sides are really complaining about, the fact that Texas has a delineated standard, but the fact is that, in Florida, each county can, in effect, set its own standards?
FELDER: Absolutely, and that's not -- that's why it's not fair to say, "well, look, Governor Bush in his own state allows dimpled ballots." It's not that simple. There's a statute that provides for it.
MORET: Yeah, but if the caller...
OWENS: Correct me if I'm wrong because I don't understand this. I mean, from -- I'm not the lawyer here, but, from what I understand, the courts have basically said, yes, in fact, hand counts are to be considered, and if your hand count is considered, then you look at the dimpled ballot, I don't even see where the problem is there. If a ballot is dimpled all the way down, then, obviously, you count it. If you've got a dimple just for the presidency and everything else is voted right, you don't count it. Where's the problem?
BOORTZ: Well, as a matter of fact, that's exactly the standard that at least one of these counties has applied. If they just have a ballot with dimples, nobody counts, but if they have a ballot where all of the votes except president are punched completely through and then there's a dimple for Gore or Bush, that's the way they'll count it, and I think -- I think that that's -- that's a fair way, but it has to be the standard before you start hand counting and it has to be a standard you don't change midway through the count.
FELDER: Well, based on...
MORET: Let's go to -- let's go to the eye of the storm right now. Raoul, hold on one second. We have a caller from Key Biscayne, Florida. We've been focusing clearly on Florida for the last two weeks. Your question or comment?
CALLER: Yes. Thank you. Do you think that the Republican protesters who nearly rioted in Miami-Dade intimidated the canvassing board to stop counting the votes?
MORET: Armstrong, what are your callers suggesting?
WILLIAMS: Well, see -- see, here's the -- here's the problem with Miami-Dade. First, they said they were not -- there would be no recount. Then there will be a count. Then they will count dimples. You say it -- they just continue to change their standard. And I think -- after the Supreme Court made its ruling, I think it became an issue integrity. This is what our callers are saying. They looked at the situation, they examined it, and they said, "We would compromise so much if we were to continue this process, so the best thing for us to do is halt this recount and just the votes that were certified on November 8th -- those will be the votes for us in this precinct."
BOORTZ: If I may...
WILLIAMS: I think it's...
BOORTZ: If I can jump in here, I like the language. I think the language is interesting. Jesse Jackson goes down to Miami-Dade, and it's a demonstration. The Republicans show their emotions, and it's a near riot. That's an interesting choice of language.
I think that the reason in Miami and Dade -- Miami-Dade County -- that they stopped the recount is because it became obvious to them that, under the time limit set forth by the Supreme Court, they had no way of completing it, so why waste the time?
MORET: And we're going to take another break and be back with more calls right after this.
MORET: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Jim Moret filling in for Larry.
Jim Bohannon, we didn't hear from you that last segment. Why don't you chime in? Give us a sense of what your -- your callers are -- are feeling right now. We just had a call -- we've had a couple of calls suggesting that these different standards are troublesome to many people across the country.
BOHANNON: They are very troublesome, and I think what I'm hearing a great deal of is that we must make a lot of lessons to be learned from all of this. We may have a mess here, and it's going to be messy no matter how it comes out, but, certainly, statewide standards -- we can learn from that. Maybe common closing times for polling places across the country. There are a lot of lessons that can be learned here.
A second thing, I think probably next August, I would look for a lot of male babies to be named Chad.
(LAUGHTER) WILLIAMS: That's pretty good, Jim.
MORET: Raoul, clearly, this is very serious business, but it's also been fodder for late-night comics. Does that trouble you in a broader sense?
FELDER: Well -- well, if our system is being the butt of jokes with these hanging, pregnant, all these -- of course, it's bothersome, but I was thinking -- you know, Joseph Stalin said it's not who votes that's important, what's important is who counts the votes, and we proved Joseph Stalin right here in Florida.
MORET: Ronn, do you -- do you get the sense from your callers that they're worried about the people who are, in fact, in some cases, protesting the count of the...
OWENS: Oh, you know, it's -- it's beyond that, Jim, to be realistic. I mean, everybody's chosen their sides, and they view whatever result they get -- if it turns out, for example, that Gore winds up winning in Palm Beach County, all of a sudden, these people will say, "Hey, you know, these were great counters. They were honest. They did the right thing." If Bush wins, they'll feel the reverse. It's -- it's gotten so partisan right now that it's kind of ridiculous to kind of say, "Well, what about the integrity of the people who are counting?" You got your choice. You're just running with it.
MORET: So, Armstrong, the winner could be, in fact, the loser in -- in that scenario that Ronn's outlining?
WILLIAMS: No. Actually not.
MORET: Yes. In the overall -- in the overall sense, you understand.
WILLIAMS: Oh, I do understand that. You know, I'll tell you this. Not only as a talk-show host do you get the gripes. You know, I had Thanksgiving dinner today at -- at my executive producer's home, and I was stunned at the strife in the conversation between Bush and Gore and this election. Then I leave there, and I go to a buddy's home up the street, and it continues. It's all people want to talk about. They can't get it off their lips.
MORET: Neal, is that...
BOHANNON: I have no problem with that.,
BOORTZ: Well, no, it's -- that's true, and before we run out of time, I want to issue a heartfelt thanks to -- to the voters of Florida, especially the voters of Palm Beach County, and to both the Bush and the Clinton campaigns because I -- I was wondering there for a while, "Hey, this presidential election is almost over. What are we going to talk about now?"
So we have two years -- and I'm sure everybody on the panel will agree with this -- we now have two years of increased ratings for talk radio. It is going to be a rising tide that will lift all of our individual boats.
So really those of you down there in -- in Palm Beach, if you can't follow arrows, it might be helpful if you stay off the road, but we are very, very thankful for what you've done for talk radio.
MORET: Jim, do you get a sense that this is going to be really the topic for -- for some, in my estimation, even after the -- this election is called?
BOHANNON: Oh, absolutely. It's going to keep going on. Will there be a honeymoon period? It will keep going, and I would have to think, very frankly, that this president, whoever's elected, may not be a favorite for reelection. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the loser becomes the president in exile, and the term "rematch" may be heard.
WILLIAMS: We need a unifier, guys.
MORET: Armstrong, I think I heard you laughing. Armstrong, what -- what were you laughing about?
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, actually, I think that no matter who the winner is, especially, I believe, if it was -- if it was a Mr. Bush because I think most Americans -- and the majority showed this in Florida -- feel that he deserves to win. I think he could become a unifier, and I think this man could really unify the country...
WILLIAMS: ... and I think Americans will rally behind him.
OWENS: Won't happen. Won't happen, Armstrong.
WILLIAMS: Won't happen? Really?
OWENS: It will not happen. Bush will not unify the country.
OWENS: Bush will not unify the country.
But to go back to what Neal said, yes, this will continue as far as talk-show fodder is concerned, unless O.J. does something else.
WILLIAMS: You know, there's President Clinton.
MORET: We've come to that time, unfortunately, folks. Someone once said hosts do not make good guests. This panel has obviously proved them wrong.
Our thanks to Neal Boortz, Jim Bohannon, Ronn Owens, Armstrong Williams, Raoul Felder. Our thanks to our callers.
And my personal thanks to Larry for letting me fill in.
Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for watching LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Jim Moret from Los Angeles.
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