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Larry King Live Weekend

The Florida Recount: Counters Contend With Court-Set Deadline; Partisans Pump up the Volume

Aired November 25, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

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

ROGER COSSACK, GUEST HOST: Tonight, Election Day-plus 18: As Florida recounters contend with a court-set deadline, partisans pump up the volume in the election outcome fight.

Going toe to toe on the legal issues, the lead Bush attorney for Florida litigation Barry Richard and Gore campaign senior adviser attorney Jack Quinn.

Then, New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, she's on the ground as a Bush recount observer, followed by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. Earlier today, he was in Florida for the Gore team.

Plus, a partisan square-off between Congressmen Peter Deutsch, Democrat of Florida, and GOP Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, also of Florida.

All that and another distinguished roundtable next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Hello, I'm Roger Cossack sitting in for Larry King. And let me remind you immediately that Larry King will be back tomorrow night, that's Sunday night, with a live edition of LARRY KING LIVE with Larry King.

But first let's go right down to Tallahassee, Florida, to CNN's Bill Hemmer.

Bill, what's going on in Florida today?

BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening from Tallahassee, Roger.

Bring you up to date on the very latest from here in Florida, the Bush campaign bringing suit against five counties throughout the state right now with regard to that military ballot issue. Now yesterday at this time we had about 14 counties on that list, but through the course of yesterday and today it appears the Bush campaign is quite happy with some local canvassing commissions revisiting the issue of the military ballots. They've been removed from the suit.

However, four cases brought against four different counties tonight, one more expected tomorrow, on Sunday, here in Florida. That's what's happening in Tallahassee. Meanwhile, Broward County and Palm Beach County continues their recount. In Palm Beach, we know, unofficially anyway, the word we're getting from the board down there is that George Bush is actually picking up a handful of votes over Al Gore in Palm Beach.

But a completely different story in Broward County. Al Gore seems to be making several hundred vote gains there. But again, all this is unofficial.

As we move toward the deadline tomorrow again, Roger, as you well know, 5:00 Sunday is the time set for all those votes to be a amended and into the secretary of state's office here in Tallahassee. And also on Monday, after that date, when we expect certification again tomorrow, Sunday at 5:00, we'll enter that contest period. And take no offense for the attorneys watching out there and you, too, Roger, but I think we're going to be tripping over lawyers in Tallahassee come Monday when that contest period does begin here in Florida.

COSSACK: Bill, do you think they'll ever run out of lawyers in Florida?

HEMMER: To date, they have more lawyers here than alligators, actually, Roger. We're up to our can in some of those alligators right now.

COSSACK: All right, Bill. Now I understand that you have with you a ballot, a punch and a machine. And you are about to do a demonstration for us of how this whole thing works. And I want everybody to watch because at no times will his fingers leave his hands.

All right, Bill, go ahead.

HEMMER: Very good, Mr. Copperfield.

Listen, it's called Votematic machine. But before we do it, I want to just make it clear to the viewers, this is not scientific, No. 1. No. 2, I've rehearsed this on my own several times over the past four days. Knowing that, Roger, every time I do this I come up with a different answer and a different conclusion and a different outcome. So anyway, this is the Votematic...

COSSACK: That's all right. So does the state of Florida, Bill.

HEMMER: Yes, very true.

COSSACK: All right, go ahead.

HEMMER: All right, this is the Votematic machine, introduced almost 40 years ago back in 1962 that you've heard so much about. Just to give you a quick demonstration, instructions on the left-hand side. And again, these are the machines used in southeastern Florida, when we talk about Miami-Dade and in Broward and Palm Beach.

Again, the instructions on the left, Roger. "Using both hands, insert the ballots card all the way into the vote recorder. Make sure that the ballot card is down over the two red pins," which are up here. "To vote, hold the voting instrument straight up" -- that's the stylus on the right -- we'll get to that in a second. "Vote all pages. After voting, remove the ballot card." And in the bottom here, it says, "If you make a mistake, return your ballot card and obtain another."

So given that set up here, Roger, I'm going to show you right now -- again, this is far from science, but just to give our viewers an idea here, this is a ballot card. It's a demonstrator card. It doesn't count for anything. But clearly you can see there are no holes and no light coming through this card.

So we're going to go ahead and stick it in here, Roger...

COSSACK: All right.

HEMMER: ... and get it over the two red pins. And if the viewers at home will follow me here, here's what we're going to try and do, Roger.

On the first three holes here that I'm pointing to, 115, we're going to try and make a clear punch. On 96, we're going to try and create a one-corner or two-corner chad. On 117, we're going to try and make a pregnant or indented chad, OK? And again, every time I've done this I get a different result, OK?

COSSACK: I wish I had a drum roll for you.

HEMMER: All right, here we go on 115. The clear punch is quite simple. That's it. I think we pretty much accomplished that one.

COSSACK: All right.

HEMMER: Ninety-six again, Roger, this is the one- or two-corner chad. Here we go. And I've noticed this ballot is extremely sensitive. It's designed that way. I've noticed if I just get the stylus under the paper a little bit, listen and feel for the tear, I should be able to do it. Let's try now. OK, I think I did it. We'll find out in a second.

One seventeen, OK, this is for the pregnant chad. And I've noticed, Roger, it is so extremely sensitive, all it requires is just a little touch. OK, how did I do? Let's find out, all right. Trey (ph) why don't you go ahead and pull out there now.

All right, there is the demonstrator ballot card, Roger, and here's what we have -- not too bad. Much better today than I was three days ago, Roger.

OK, clearly as we look at this demonstrator card, the first hole you can see quite plain, that is a clear punch. We know that. Ninety-six, the second...

COSSACK: I will agree with that. HEMMER: All right, the second...

COSSACK: I will agree with that.

HEMMER: You see that one right there? I was trying to make a one- or two-corner chad, and I see some light coming through, but it looks like all four corners are still connected. So we would call that a pregnant chad.

Now down to the next one, I don't know if you can see the indentation there or not, Roger, but on 117 it's not nearly as clear as 96, but again I think that's a pregnant chad as well.

But again, the point through all of this in this on-air demonstration here is to show you how sensitive these ballots cards are and how difficult the job is for those observers down there in southeastern Florida as they tried and get through this mess.

But again, this is not science. I've done it many times for four days, I get a different result every time. But clearly the Votematic machine is something that's been discussed throughout this entire ordeal and probably will so long after this is done, Roger.

COSSACK: All right, that's it from the amazing Bill Hemmer, ladies and gentlemen.

Let's take a break.

When we come back, Barry Richard and Jack Quinn.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: We are back with Barry Richard, who is the lead counsel for the Bush people in Florida, as well as Jack Quinn, former White House counsel.

Barry, today we heard that the Bush people dropped their lawsuits in Dade County regarding the recounts of all those overseas ballots. Why was that lawsuit dropped?

BARRY RICHARD, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: Well, the lawsuit wasn't actually dropped. It originally was filed against a number, I believe 12, counties' canvassing boards. They were all filed, I think, in Leon County. I didn't personally handle that, but originally it was filed because of concern that the counties that were named as defendants were not going to count those military ballots. It was later determined that all but five of the counties were making a real effort to count those ballots, and the ones that we felt were making that effort were dropped from the lawsuit.

COSSACK: Well, AP is reporting that there was another lawsuit filed against the five counties that you believe weren't counting them. Did you file a separate lawsuit? RICHARD: I believe the suit named all of them initially and dropped those counties that the campaign felt were making a real effort to count those.

COSSACK: Barry, we were able to see yesterday some of what was going on in Judge Smith's courtroom. He did not seem to be too receptive to the legal arguments being made by your side regarding those overseas ballots, those absentee ballots. Is part of the reason that perhaps you started another lawsuit is to get away from Judge Smith?

RICHARD: Well, no, getting away from Judge Smith wouldn't have helped. And again, we didn't really start another lawsuit, we just dropped those counties that we felt we didn't have a problem with.

The issue with Judge Smith was a different issue. He's either going to rule for us or he's not going to rule for us. If we don't like his ruling, we'll take an appeal from what he did. But that has nothing to do with the decision not to continue the suit against counties that we felt were doing the right thing and were counting those ballots and were indicating it was their intention to count those ballots. There's just no reason to keep a canvassing board in a lawsuit when you don't have a quarrel with them.

COSSACK: All right.

Jack Quinn, Vice President Gore has said that he will contest the election, if in fact Katherine Harris certifies the vote tomorrow night. Is that still going on in light of the fact the Supreme Court has now taken the case?

JACK QUINN, GORE CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Oh, of course it is. And it's going on because the Supreme Court of Florida made very clear that this is the path that ought to be taken in the event of a lack of resolution before next week.

And clearly we remain of the view that there are thousands of ballots that have not been counted in several counties in Florida that need to be counted in order that everyone in that state has their vote counted and that the final vote count in Florida be entirely accurate.

All we want is a full, fair and complete count. The Supreme Court of Florida said the way to get that is not to enjoin any of these counties to do hand recounts, but rather to engage in contests after the certification. And, mind you, the Supreme Court, I think, set down the timetable it did precisely in order to allow this sort of contest.

You mentioned the Supreme Court case. I think that that has really kept the clock running and made sure that America is going to be rather patient for another week or two.

COSSACK: But Palm Beach has said that they may not have their vote counting done by Sunday night, by tomorrow night, the drop-dead deadline where Katherine Harris is presumably going to certify the election. What will the Democrats do if Palm Beach comes in and says, look, this is how many we have done. We're turning them in, we're certifying them, this is what it is?

QUINN: Right. Well, there's definitely going to be a contest in Miami-Dade County for not engaging in the hand recount that they began and then stopped under considerable pressure. You're aware of the fact that there were probably about 150 votes that were counted for the vice president and then essentially disposed of when the canvassing board made the decision to abort the vote recount, the hand recount.

It's inconceivable to me that at the end of the day any court is going to allow that county simply to ignore those additional votes that were discovered. Those additional votes also are very powerful evidence of the fact that there are other as yet undiscovered votes that really deserve to be counted.

In the case of Palm Beach, there are disputes about the methodology by which the canvassing board is doing the hand recount, and there's very likely to be a contest in that county as well.

COSSACK: All right.

Let me go to Barry Richard for another question.

Barry, we have a quote from you saying the following: "There is a lot of litigating still to go on."

Now, you must know that many people just don't like the sound of that notion that there's a tremendous amount of litigation left. What do you have in mind?

RICHARD: Well, when I said that there's a let of litigating remaining, I don't mean there are a lot of new lawsuits that are going to be filed. There's just still some significant remaining litigation to be done before we conclude this.

And one of the other things that I point out is that litigation is the way that we resolve suits in this country, and we've done it pretty effectively for the past several hundred years. And it's one of the reasons that we don't have a problem with people setting up barricades in the streets. I don't think that it's something to be embarrassed about. I think we should be proud of the fact that we have a successful judicial system in which people resolve disputes peacefully and accept the consequences.

And I don't think that the court should be electing presidents, but the courts are the place to resolve disputes of this type. And we're doing it.

And, you know, another issue in that respect is that democracy is not designed to work efficiently or quickly. It works slowly to get the job done right, and that's what we're in the process of doing now.

COSSACK: All right, let's take a break.

When we come back, Governor Christie Todd Whitman of New Jersey will join us. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: We're back with Governor Christie Whitman of New Jersey.

Governor Whitman, what is the governor of New Jersey doing in Broward County, Florida?

GOV. CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN (R), NEW JERSEY: Well, this is a process that's very important to all of us from all over the country. So I was happy to have the opportunity to come down. I've been in both Palm Beach and Broward County today to see how this is playing out in person.

COSSACK: Yell us what you do when you're an observer. How do you observe? Where do you place yourself? Do you get to say anything or do you have to just sit there and quietly think thoughts of your own?

WHITMAN: Well, you don't want to interject yourself because that's not my role, but on the other hand, for the most part, these people who've been counting the chads are desperate to talk to people. And so they do engage in some light-hearted banter and some chat.

In Palm Beach, I was actually sitting at the end of the table but sort of on the same side as those who were looking at the ballots. Here in Broward, it's on the opposite side of the table. But they -- I also did some of the checking.

Here, the Republicans and Democrats can't issue a challenge, whereas up in Palm Beach they can issue a challenge. And if they do, those ballots were separated out so that the standards, besides the fact that up in Palm Beach they don't count the dimpled or pregnant chads -- they have to be hanging or there has to at least be light coming through, although they really are going for the hanging chad, whereas here they kind of count anything at all, anything goes. The slightest dimple they can ascribe motive to here, and so that's very different. But also, just the whole process itself is entirely different between the two counties.

COSSACK: Governor Whitman, we saw -- while were you speaking we saw a picture of you siting and speaking with apparently a counter and looking at what this woman was doing. Is there ever a time when you hear them say one thing that you want to go, oh, no, but you just can't do it?

WHITMAN: Yes, there were a couple of times like that, absolutely. But what I found very interesting is I thought I was getting pretty good at reading their minds and figuring out where they were going to go with a chad -- with a ballot that was very difficult to determine. And then all of a sudden about two-thirds of the way through the time I was there, even that changed. And ones that I would have given to Al Gore or would have given to George Bush, but even more to Gore they said were -- they couldn't distinguish. They couldn't tell who voted.

So even amongst the same board members, within a finite period of time of about an hour and a quarter they changed the standard. What they were counting as votes all of a sudden didn't count as votes. And clearly they have a real bias against anybody splitting their ticket. If there's the slightest way to determine, they'll say, well, if they voted every place else for Republicans or every place else for Democrats and this -- they must have really meant to have voted here, even though it looks like they maybe just touched it a little and then said, a pox on all your houses, I don't want to vote for anybody.

COSSACK: Yes, by this time they're probably looking for anything that makes sense to them in trying to figure out what's what.

Let's talk a little bit about the escalating rhetoric in this that we've seen go on in the last week or so in the demonstrations. How is this going to affect who is the next president? Are we going to be able get over this, or is this going leave long-time scars?

WHITMAN: Oh, I think we'll be able to get over it. I mean, the demonstrations are people -- this is a democracy. People can act out. Jesse Jackson was here with 10,000 people a day after the election or two days after saying no peace until they had a recount. Now there are people out here, they're outside this courthouse, they were outside the courthouse in Palm Beach and demonstrating but nothing horrendous and not causing any violence. They just want to be heard on this issue.

But after this is said and done, I really believe -- particularly if it is George Bush, because I have watched him reach out across the aisle. I have seen how he's been able to lead in Texas with a Democrat legislature -- that they will be able to bring people together.

We're not in a crisis. We may be frustrated as a nation. We may want this to be at an end, but this isn't a crisis. This is a process that we're going through. And we may disagree with parts of it, we may have some arguments with some of it. But ultimately at the end of the day we're going to be just fine.

COSSACK: Governor Whitman, some would say that Governor Bush compared to Vice President Gore has kept a pretty low profile during the last week or two. Why is that?

WHITMAN: Well he finds himself in the position of having won the last three counts and recounts, and so by -- you know, I don't care whether you're talking three out of five or four out of seven. For most series, he's won. But he hasn't won. As we know, this continues to go on. And so not wanting to appear as if he's taking anything for granted, he is moving along with the process of preparing himself to assume the presidency should this be certified tomorrow, at the end of all the lawsuits -- because we know there are going to be a lot more opportunities for lawyers to be heard from before this is over -- that he will be the president. And he's just very business-like about how he's going to go about assuming the role of president. COSSACK: Governor Whitman, as you understand -- and you're a very popular politician in your state -- you know, the people have been pretty quiet while all this is going on, the American citizens. But I think there's a point when most of us are going get to a point and say, you know, as you say, a pox on both your houses or perhaps get angry about all this because we can't seem to conclude it. Do you think that we're getting close to that point where people are just going to throw up their hands and say, hey, what's going on? One of you guys step down?

WHITMAN: Look, I think the American people are the most inherently fair people in the world. And what they want is some understanding that there is a certainty to this process, that the rules are the same for everybody, that it doesn't keep changing.

I think what's getting people frustrated now is they see things change. I mean, Al Gore went to court, to the Florida state Supreme Court, to say that the secretary of state had overstepped her bounds by certifying when she did earlier on and that the counties really need to make the decision whether or not to do hand counts.

He got that decision. The Supreme Court said it was up to the counties. A county chose not to continue to count, and he took them right back to court and said, OK, that's not fair. They've got to count everybody.

Then we see that within the actual counting process itself, it varies dramatically. From county to county and even within the counties, not all of those who are counting the votes see the same thing when they look at a ballot. And they're trying to figure out...

COSSACK: All right, Governor Whitman...

WHITMAN: ... what the voter meant.

COSSACK: All right, please excuse me for interrupting you, but we have to take break.

When we come back, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell will be with us.

Stay here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: Welcome back.

And the picture you are looking at now is a recount -- is the recount going on in Broward County. You can see that the counters are examining these votes very carefully, and I must tell you that they look very tired to me, poor people sitting there. And they're -- I think they say they're going to be going all night.

But joining us now is the former Senate majority leader, Senator George Mitchell.

Senator Mitchell, thank you for joining us and thank you for gracing the LARRY KING LIVE show tonight.

My first question to you, sir, is this, you are known for being able to bring disparate sides together. You are the man who went to Ireland and brought that country as close to peace as possible. If you were given the job of settling the dispute between these two, could you do it? And how would you do it?

GEORGE MITCHELL (D), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I think it's probably beyond me, Roger. I think it's -- the process is under way. Both candidates are committed to the course of action. At Governor Bush's request, the United States Supreme Court will take the case up next Friday. So I think we're going to work our way through it, and I think there will be a new president sworn in on January 20th. It will be a difficult circumstance, but I do believe that he will be able to rise to the challenge and bring the parties and the country together, hopefully in a new administration.

COSSACK: Senator Mitchell, do you think that this is an a non- negotiable situation that's going on now between Vice President Gore and Governor Bush, that it has to work its way through the courts, or do you think there's any way that anyone should or could convince either one of them to step down?

MITCHELL: I don't think it's subject to a process of negotiation, nor do I think it should be. We do have a legal system. The American people have confidence in our judiciary, in its independence and its ability, and I think the process will work itself out there.

The paramount concern should be determining the accurate will of the people. Democracy is by definition the rule of the people. That's what the word means, the rule of the people. And elections are the means by which we determine the will of the people. And what's needed is a full, fair and accurate count. I hope that's what comes out of the process. And if it does, then I think the people will accept whichever man is elected.

COSSACK: Senator Mitchell, you're down in Florida and your purpose is to observe the recount. Give me your impressions of what you've seen going on.

MITCHELL: Well, I'm back in New York now, Roger. I was in Tallahassee today. I did not observe the recount, so I can't say from firsthand experience.

COSSACK: I think I was given perhaps some misinformation, but tell us what you were doing down in Florida...

MITCHELL: That's all right.

COSSACK: ... and down there just for the day and back in New York tonight. Tell us what you observed.

MITCHELL: Well, I made a certificate is of statements on behalf of the Gore campaign. And the point I tried to make is what I believe in, that hand recounts are the most effective and fair way to resolve close elections. There's been a campaign under way to discredit hand recounts, to equate hand recounting with stealing. We've heard that mantra repeated several times. But under the law of Florida, under the law of Texas signed by Governor Bush, under the law of Massachusetts, Illinois and many other states, hand recounts are authorized by law, as the people and the legislatures recognize that this is the most fair and effective way to resolve disputes.

And in conducting those recounts, every effort should be made to discern the intent of the voter. That's the crucial issue. That's why there's been a lot of fun made of dimples and chads. But the reality is what they're doing is very serious business in a democracy, determining the will of the voter.

COSSACK: But, Senator Mitchell, how do you answer this criticism -- and I agree with you that obviously the intent of the voters is the most important thing -- but there seems to be different standards that are being set from county to county, from place to place. How do you go about saying that without one set of unique standards that this doesn't end up in a free for all or however each canvassing board decides it should be done?

MITCHELL: Well, of course, there's a huge irony here that over and over again, every day of the year, political leaders go out and say that government is best which is closest to the people. And we want to give power to the people at the local level. We want to empower them to make their decisions. Then when they do so, we say, well of course we can't allow people at the local levels to make decisions because they might be wrong.

The fact of the matter is that despite the impugning of the integrity of these local officials, I believe the overwhelming majority of them, Republican and Democratic alike, are sincere citizens trying to do their best to reach a fair and responsible result.

I would prefer a standard that is statewide set by a court, and that standard is -- has been set, for example, in Texas, where the law says that if there is an indentation on the paper made by the stylus and it is a clearly ascertainable intent of the voter, that hole should be counted. I think that's the proper standard, and I hope it is applied in all these recounts wherever they occur, in Florida or anywhere else.

COSSACK: All right, Senator George Mitchell, thank you for joining us tonight.

MITCHELL: Thank you, Roger.

COSSACK: Let's take a break.

When we come back, we're going to be back with Congressman Peter Deutsch of Florida, as well as Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: Welcome back. I'm Roger Cossack sitting in for Larry King.

I want to remind all of our viewers that tomorrow night Larry King will be back with a special live edition of LARRY KING LIVE. That's tomorrow night, Larry will return.

And now joining me from Florida is Congressman Peter Deutsch and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Congressman Deutsch, I want to talk to you about your experiences earlier this week with demonstrators. Tell us what happened.

REP. PETER DEUTSCH (D), FLORIDA: Well, there have been demonstrators outside the Broward County Courthouse. And you know what? I agree with Governor Whitman that, you know, free speech is an important thing in our society. I encourage people to exercise their right to free speech and demonstrate. But unfortunately what happened in Miami-Dade County this past week was not free speech.

A group of paid, out-of-town political operatives, really a mob, in the Dade County Government Center actually violated federal law in terms of intimidating and in fact successfully stopping a fair and accurate count of a federal election, incredibly enough, the election count for president of the United States.

COSSACK: Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, again...

DEUTSCH: What do you do...

COSSACK: I'm sorry. Go ahead, Congressman.

DEUTSCH: You know, and again...

COSSACK: Congressman Deutsch?

DEUTSCH: ... I'm making a distinction between a demonstration, which is a legal activity, but and again what happened in Miami-Dade County. I think, you know, the American public, when they're aware of what happened in Miami-Dade County, it is shocking.

You know, unfortunately literally from Election Day Governor Bush has done everything legal, extra-legal and political to try to stop a fair and accurate count, and now unfortunately what happened in Miami- Dade, he has added illegal activity to stopping a fair and accurate count.

In Broward County, you know, the count is going to be completed by this evening, and in fact literally, you know, this is not manufacturing votes. About a thousand voices that were not heard...

COSSACK: All right, Congressman Deutsch, let me interrupt...

DEUTSCH: ... are being heard.

COSSACK: Let me interrupt you for a second because I want to let Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen respond.

Congresswoman, he says that this was a political mob, paid political activists who came down there. And this wasn't a real demonstration, these were just hooligans.

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R), FLORIDA: Oh, hogwash. Hogwash, absolutely hogwash.

Three points on that: First of all, Jesse Jackson. David Leahy, second point. and me the third point.

Only hours after the election was held, Jesse Jackson was down here with demonstrators, as well he should be. Let him come down, let him bring Reverend Sharpton if he wants to. This is a free and democratic society. We welcome demonstrators. We wish that every country in the world would have the right to free speech...

COSSACK: Well, but that's not what Congressman Deutsch is saying...

ROS-LEHTINEN: Secondly -- secondly...

COSSACK: ... He's saying these are paid operatives...

ROS-LEHTINEN: Well -- let me...

COSSACK: ... who disrupted people trying to make a vote.

COSSACK: Secondly, David Leahy, Miami-Dade County supervisor of elections. His own quote over and over again repeated on CNN all day long saying he was not intimidated. They made a decision, a conscious decision, a vote, where no Republican is on that three-member canvassing board, where they said they could not meet the 5:00 p.m. arbitrary deadline made by the Florida Supreme Court to count and recount to anybody's liking these almost 700,000 votes.

The third point, me. I have been at the Miami-Dade Canvassing Board all of those days, and what happened was that this was a very open and free process, where the media was there, outside observers were allowed. In every table, there was a GOP and a Democrat observer.

And then all of a sudden, without any warning, the Miami-Dade Canvassing Board made a decision to only go for the undercounts, and they would do that in a secret location where not even the media would be fully present. The first ones to protest over that arbitrary decision were members of the press. They themselves said this is not fair. And that's whether people got upset, because instead of a free and open process where it was going to be really available for all to see -- and I was there -- they were going to do it in a little room...

COSSACK: All right...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... Because of the physical restraints, no one could be there.

DEUTSCH: If I can respond...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... and that's where -- and that's where the people got upset.

COSSACK: Congresswoman -- Congresswoman, let me bring in Congressman Deutsch.

Congressman Deutsch, you've heard what the congresswoman said...

DEUTSCH: Let me respond to two points very, very quickly...

COSSACK: She says they had no effect, No. 1...

DEUTSCH: Let me respond very quickly.

COSSACK: ... but you have called for a federal investigation on this.

DEUTSCH: Right, and let me be very specific. You know, Jesse Jackson or the group outside of the building I'm in right now can demonstrate as much as they want. But there is a line that was crossed in Miami-Dade. They weren't demonstrating, they were intimidating. And under the federal Voting Rights Act, you've crossed that line.

Let me also talk about David Leahy. David Leahy spoke to "The New York Times" I guess it was on Wednesday. I spoke to a "New York Times" reporter earlier this evening who stands by his story. His first comments to the press were specifically that he was intimidated, that that is why he changed his mind. Now again, he has changed that story today, but I ask people to remember...

ROS-LEHTINEN: No.

DEUTSCH: ... that Miami-Dade County is a Republican-dominated county. And, you know, he is a civil servant in Miami-Dade. I don't impugn anything specific to him, but I...

ROS-LEHTINEN: Wait, Miami-Dade County's a Republican county? Who won...

COSSACK: Dominated in the County Commission, Ileana. Ileana -- Ileana...

ROS-LEHTINEN: The Miami-Dade County vote was won by Al Gore.

COSSACK: All right, all right, all right, now I'm going to have to separate you two. Hold on just a second...

DEUTSCH: David Leahy -- David Leahy again specifically...

COSSACK: Wait just a second. Go ahead, Congressman Deutsch. You finish, and then Congresswoman Lehtinen I'll give you the last word.

Go ahead, Deutsch. DEUTSCH: You know, and again, specifically spoke to a "New York Times" reporter about being intimidated on the record, and now he's changed that statement. But I spoke to the reporter this evening who stands by his story. And let me again -- people witnessed this themselves on television. This was not people on the streets...

COSSACK: All right, let me give Congresswoman Lehtinen a chance...

DEUTSCH: ... you know, how are they arriving, this was people down banging on windows, threatening people. People were kicked and there were acts of violence.

COSSACK: Congressman Deutsch, let me give Congresswoman Lehtinen -- Ros-Lehtinen a chance to respond.

Congresswoman, please go ahead.

ROS-LEHTINEN: Well the basis of all of our protests about all of these manual counts, including the one at Miami-Dade, is that they have no factual basis.

The law is clear. It says that these ballots are to be counted and tabulated by a machine. Only if the machine malfunctions should there be these manual counts. And on the face of it, there have been no malfunctioning machines. Now the Broward canvassing board is practically calling Toys 'R' Us to see if they have Ouji boards set up so they can divine the intent of the voter, whereas Palm Beach County has a whole different set of standards for divining the intent of the voter.

There are no specific guidelines, and the Gore campaign can't face up to the fact that they have lost this election. And they're just going to try to supersede this by all these prejudicial...

COSSACK: All right...

ROS-LEHTINEN: ... statements on the part of the Congressman Deutsches.

DEUTSCH: If I can just jump in really quick...

COSSACK: All right, I've got to call time now.

DEUTSCH: Florida manual recount law -- OK, Florida manual recount law was passed by the state legislature for a very specific reason, because it is a more accurate way of counting votes. The computer cannot read partially detached chads, holes in chads...

COSSACK: All right...

DEUTSCH: ... dimpled chads...

COSSACK: Congressman Deutsch, I have to call time...

DEUTSCH: ... and we've added. We're not manufacturing votes. COSSACK: Congressman Deutsch, time on you. Congresswoman Ros- Lehtinen -- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, I'm sorry to call time on you because we have to take a break.

When we come back, we're going to have David Gergen, Bill Schneider and Tamala Edwards.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: All right, we're back, and these are pictures of Governor Bush today in Austin, Texas, waving to the fans.

Earlier, we showed you some pictures of Vice President Gore going out for ice cream today on a day that was very cold and rainy in Washington, D.C.

And now let's go to our panel.

Joining us first is David Gergen from "U.S. News & World Report," Tamala Edwards from "Time" magazine, and our own political analyst Bill Schneider right here from CNN.

David, the Republicans appear to be putting up a united front. We see all these people going down to Florida, we see them all coming on television and saying the same thing. Do you think this is working to the American public? Do you think they're getting their point across?

DAVID GERGEN, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": I think the most important point will come across tomorrow night, Roger, if the certification brings in a victory for George W. Bush. And the Republicans are reasonably optimistic about that tonight. Then I think they will have reached the psychological milestone. I think they can begin looking upon him as a presumptive president. Yes, there will be some more legal challenges to go, but I think an awful lot hinges on this certification. It's still possible Al Gore will pull it out before the evening is out, but right now the odds seem to favor the Republicans.

COSSACK: Tamala, you know, this certification, I think, could go both ways. I mean, the notion of seeing Katherine Harris walk in tomorrow night and certify...

TAMALA EDWARDS, "TIME" MAGAZINE: A very charged figure.

COSSACK: A very charged figure -- and certify perhaps Governor Bush as the president of the United States...

EDWARDS: Right.

COSSACK: ... with the Supreme Court action still pending. Is it, from perception, is there a chance that the American public will say, well that's a little presumptuous. EDWARDS: Well there are a couple of issues here. First of all, it depends on what count are we at. You know, it's already under 500- vote difference between the two candidates now. If they down to 200, 100 votes, I think it's easy for people to knock this down. You see the Gore camp already trying to say, oh, tomorrow doesn't matter.

Katherine Harris, as we've pointed out, is a charged figure. But as Democrats on the Hill have said to me, every deadline in the public's mind sets up a sense of some finality. You can knock it down all you want to, but there's another deadline for people to say, hey, shouldn't this be over?

And then you've got this circus of the whole weekend, things that we've seen on TV, which I think have worked at cross purposes for the Bush camp. When you have the "riot," as some people like to call it, going on, you know, I think that gives the Gore camp some fire. Democrats who seem to be pulling away from Gore are now jumping in his camp saying we're furious about this. But I do think that it's helped them that they've people like Christie Todd Whitman, other reasonable Republicans downs there. And I often wonder where are the Democrats? I mean, there's George Mitchell, but where are their people sitting there observing?

COSSACK: Right. And we saw, Bill, we saw Senator George Mitchell, and earlier last night we saw Governor Cuomo speak on behalf of Vice President Gore. Do you think when they bring out these eminent individuals or people who they believe are well respected, does that have any help? Does it have any effect?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It certainly is having an effect that's helping Republicans, because, you could argue they're doing all kinds of outrageous things.

Look, for the first week they were saying Gore is stealing the election. That's a rather extreme charge. I mean. Gore believes he has more votes, and he says all we want to do is count the votes. Then they have these people coming out, disrupting the election procedures. It's a very questionable activity. And then there's power plays by the secretary of state and the governor and the legislature and they're talking about Congress.

All of these are very radical things going on. But you know what's missing? There's no Newt Gingrich on the Republican side. It's not like impeachment. Who do they have, Christie Whitman -- we just heard from her -- a reasonable, moderate Republican. They have Governor Racicot, this fairly unknown figure, seems reasonable, moderate. Bob Dole was there with the protesters to add his voice. There is no Newt Gingrich for the Democrats to demonize, and that's making it tough.

COSSACK: All right...

EDWARDS: But you have to wonder if...

COSSACK: Tamala, let me ask you to hold that for a second. We're going to take a break. When we come back, more with our panel.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: We're back.

David Gergen, you have been a counselor to four presidents in your career. Let me ask you, what effect, if any, does this delay in naming a president have on the ability, for example, the next president to put together a transition team and to start his own administration?

GERGEN: That's probably the most crippling blow I've ever seen to a new president, Roger. He's not only been denied or robbed of the romance that we have that we associate with the selection of a new president, the crowning of a new president -- after all, our new president is not just head of government, he's also head of state. And there's always been an anointment process as we lift that figure up and put him up on a pedestal. There's no pedestal with this election.

But the other thing, Roger, now is that the transition itself under the rules we've had since Franklin Roosevelt, only lasts about ten and a half weeks. We're 19 days in now -- tomorrow, 19 days since the election. So the new president, whoever he is, is going to be denied those 19 days, and now it looks like perhaps another couple of weeks before he can begin to select his Cabinet, put his sub-Cabinet in place. That means the new president is going to come in with just a shell of a government.

I honestly believe that after tomorrow's certification, both camps ought to get money from the GAO to set their transition teams up and get started. It's too important for the country to have -- to leave the presidency stripped of its authority to get anything done come January 20th.

COSSACK: Tamala, what kind of president will we have in light of what's going on? We have a divided House, almost an equal House. We have -- we may have an absolutely equal Senate and a president who may get into office by the Supreme Court. What kind of presidency will we have?

EDWARDS: Well, a couple thoughts on that. I think David's absolutely right that, you know, at the magazine and other news outlets we're so used to this being a honeymoon period, roll out the red carpet, get into the biography, let's look at who's this next great president. And instead, all the stories will focus on this embattled man. And it will come down to a test as a strategist, which is interesting right now as we look at the two different men: Gore at the dining room table really sort of running this, Bush trying to pull back.

How they weave their way through this maybe tell us something about how they will get through what's probably going to be a horrendous, horrific, difficult first year as they're fighting with members of their own party and of the opposite party.

COSSACK: Bill, the Supreme Court: What effect is this going to have on the American public? If the Supreme Court comes out and in fact coronates one of these men as the president rather than perhaps the voters being the one that does it, what effect is that going to have, and what effect does the Supreme Court have in legitimizing this process?

SCHNEIDER: The Supreme Court is the only institution in this that speaks for the entirety of the American people. That's very important. We -- as David said, we don't have a head of state. We don't have a king or queen. In other countries, they're the ones in which sovereignty rests, and they speak for the entire nation when the country is divided.

In this country, the Constitution is sovereign, and the Supreme Court speaks for the Constitution. That's why I believe they took this case, because they have to make a political statement above partisanship. And whatever they do, the Supreme Court's decision has to be seen as above partisanship, because that's the only way they can really put any finality on this dispute.

COSSACK: Tamala...

EDWARDS: Roger, I've got to jump in at that. At every turn here, as each side has gotten a decision they didn't like, the first step was delegitimizing whoever made that call, whether it was a canvassing board, legislatures, Katherine Harris, the state Supreme Court in Florida. And who knows what will happen with the Supreme Court? I wouldn't be surprised to see the side that loses come out and talk about the partisans, especially if it's Gore, to point to the Scalias, the Thomases on the court, or Bush to say, you know, hey, wait a minute. Where Tom DeLay in all this?

COSSACK: All right, when we come back, more with this A panel.

So stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: We're back with a caller from Kitzingen, Germany.

Go ahead, caller.

CALLER: During all the argument concerning the recounts, the one person we haven't heard from is Senator McCain. Do we know what his opinion is on the recount?

COSSACK: David Gergen, you want to answer that question?

GERGEN: I have not heard his opinion on that. It's a good question, but I think the one thing he's spoken out about is the military recount. I think he wants to make sure that goes forward properly.

COSSACK: All right, David, I want to ask your opinion on TVs -- cameras in the courtroom for the Supreme Court argument. How do you feel about that? I will tell you right now that I'm absolutely in favor of it. Your position?

GERGEN: And I'm against. Roger, if I were working for CNN...

COSSACK: How did I know that?

GERGEN: ... if I and were the president of CNN news, I would apply absolutely to get a camera to that courtroom. And I think it's -- and I understand that impulse. But I'm and old-fashioned traditionalist. I don't think -- I think there are some sanctuaries where we don't need a camera. I think we will have reporters in there who can record every word of it. We can see it, we can read it the next day, we can see drawings of it, but I don't think cameras introduced in the Congress have helped all that much in elevating the proceedings, and the cameras in the O.J. case I think were sort of a -- you know, became part of a circus.

I really believe that we ought to protect the sanctity and the dignity of the court, and I would be against putting cameras in there.

COSSACK: All right, Tamala, David Gergen says cameras in the courtroom of the United States Supreme Court when they're deciding who should be the next president of the United States is somewhat the same as cameras in the O.J. trial. Do you agree?

EDWARDS: I absolutely disagree. I mean, there's a difference when you have cameras every day versus having cameras out there for two hours recording this proceeding, which is quite serious. I mean, this could, you know, be the breaking point in who becomes the next president. But I have to say, you know, I'm a press animal. I want the cameras in there. But I don't think we're going to get them.

COSSACK: And that's from a reporter from "Time" magazine.

Bill Schneider, cameras in the courtroom? You better agree with me now.

SCHNEIDER: Well, I work for CNN so obviously we want cameras in the courtroom. But I think here it's an unusual case, because this is where the court is really interpreting the voice of the people. They are interpreting the public's will and the public's demand in all this. So I think the people want to see who's speaking for them. They don't want it to be a mystery.

COSSACK: David, the bottom line is that these nine justices work for us. And don't -- and, you know, they get paid by taxpayer money, and we are going to give them the right to make a decision which may be deciding who the next president of the United States of America is. How can we not watch this when we call ourselves a democracy?

GERGEN: I don't think that everything in life has to have a camera spotted on it. With all due respect, I think there are certain moments in marriages where there is privacy. I think there are certain moments in other public deliberations, such as the Federal Reserve board. Do you really want to have a camera in the Federal Reserve board deliberations, which are awfully important to the future of many people's finances?

I think cameras in the White House when the president is making decisions on whether to send troops overseas into something like the Persian Gulf War.

In addition, cameras in the Supreme Court -- if the justices of the Supreme Court think it would help their deliberations to have a camera in there, that's fine. That's terrific. But I don't think that we ought to rush in here and try to put cameras everywhere. This has already become enough of a circus. I think we ought to protect dignity where we can.

COSSACK: Tamala, is this one of those moments, one of those intimate moments, like a marriage, where perhaps we shouldn't have a camera in the courtroom?

EDWARDS: I think not. I mean, you know, we vote in private. But if somebody's going to interpret my vote, I'd like to see and hear how they're going about doing that. And I would want to -- you know, I'd like to think that I'm a decent and fair reporter, but I wouldn't want to rely on me being the filter to the general public on how that court worked.

SCHNEIDER: The public is a party to this case. It's at the center of this case. This case is all about interpreting the will of the voters. And if the public is going to have confidence in the result, they'd better to see it.

EDWARDS: Yes.

COSSACK: All right, that's all the time we have for tonight...

GERGEN: I don't think -- I don't think they're necessary.

COSSACK: All right, David, I'm afraid that's all the time we have for tonight.

GERGEN: That's all right.

COSSACK: Thanks for watching.

Let me remind you one more time that tomorrow night there will be a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE, and Larry will be back to host that special edition.

Thank you to all of our guests. Thank you for watching. I'm Roger Cossack saying good night.

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