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Larry King Live Weekend

Florida's Secretary of State Certifies George W. Bush's Anticipated Victory in Florida; What's the Next Legal Move in Election 2000?

Aired November 26, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

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

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Election Day plus 19 puts Florida in George W. Bush's column. But with a whole lot of legal action pending, is the victory celebration a little premature?

In Tallahassee, one of the Florida election officials who signed off on Bush's win, Bob Crawford. Also on the scene in Florida, Bob Dole, the '96 Republican presidential candidate, former Senate majority leader. Then from New York, the three-time former governor of the Empire State, Mario Cuomo. Also a dialogue along partisan lines with Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia, and Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts.

Plus, the governor of Texas. All that and much more, including another A-list roundtable next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We're with you live on this historic Sunday night. There have been a lot of historic nights this year. And we are here live throughout the program.

At the bottom of the hour, 9:30 Eastern, 6:30 Pacific, Governor George Bush of Texas is expected to address the nation and the world and will be seen, of course, worldwide.

We start with Bob Crawford of the Florida Election Canvassing Commission. He replaced Jeb Bush on that commission. He is the commissioner of agriculture of the state of Florida.

Are you content, Bob, that everything that you could have done was done?

BOB CRAWFORD, FLORIDA ELECTION CANVASSING COMMISSION: I think that is one thing that the Election Canvassing Commission feels tonight that we did this election, we did it by the law. Even when we felt like the law was being changed, we followed that law. And we delivered a vote that I think is credible, one that the nation can believe in. And I think the victor has earned the 25 electoral votes.

KING: Why did the count, all those people working so hard in Palm Beach, none of that counted?

CRAWFORD: Well, I think in the aftermath of that when you see as the numbers are coming in that it would not have changed anything. And that's important.

But at the same time, the Supreme Court made it very clear, they moved the deadline from two weeks after -- from one week after the election to this afternoon, which is almost three weeks after the election. So it was up to the counties to get their votes in.

All of the other counties got their votes in. And in fact, Palm Beach got their vote in. They knew 5:00 was the deadline.

So at a quarter to five, they faxed in their certified results, which was the original recount on the machines. And then they faxed in the partial recount that was done by hand.

But a partial recount, of course, you can't mix and match the two. So we had no other choice but to count the votes that we had.

KING: What was it like for you this afternoon leading up to that extraordinary three-person session there with the official announcement?

CRAWFORD: It was the most tense moment I think I've experienced in my life. I think maybe when I got married, I was kind of tense too. But this was -- I don't know.

It felt like the weight of the world was on us. And I wanted to do a good job for the people of this state. And I think we did. And I think now we feel a lot of the burden has been lifted from our shoulders.

I hope it doesn't get bogged down in court. I think both of these candidates are good people. And they're going to do what's best for the country.

KING: What was said behind the scenes there before the three of your came out? Were all three -- were the other two nervous too?

CRAWFORD: I think there was more tension than I've ever seen. Katherine, obviously, had been working real hard and there was a lot of tension.

She asked me if I had a good Thanksgiving. And I told her I did. And at that point, it became very stilted. And even small talk was not appropriate.

And we had to get down to the business at hand in certifying the election. And I was very relieved when we left that room.

KING: Now there's no doubt in your mind that Florida allows for contesting an election.

CRAWFORD: That's right. And that's one thing we've said all along. It's that you can't contest an election until you have a certification.

So when the Florida Supreme Court moved the deadline for the certification and extended it, then it put us at more of a danger that if you have a contest, that contest may not be over by December 12, which is the deadline for selecting our electors. And that's why I think the legislature now is rightfully looking at their role in this to make sure that we don't lose our 25 electoral votes.

KING: Certainly, though, with the closeness of the vote, with the fact that there was a lot of mix-up obviously in Miami and Broward, you can certainly see some of the other side's desire to contest when you're this close after all this time and all this work and effort.

CRAWFORD: There's no question about it. The law says they have the right to contest. It has been a close election. And I think that Vice President Gore is going to have to make his own decision about how long he wants to take this out.

I think that history will judge him by the sound decisions he makes in the next couple of days. And he's a good man. And I hope he makes the right decision not to take this out unduly.

KING: But what if he feels he did win the state?

CRAWFORD: Well, if he feels he won the state, then he needs to do whatever is legally possible. But he may feel that two years from now. But at some point, you've got to cut this off. And we've got to get on with the business of this country. We've got to elect a president.

We've done everything. We've counted the votes once, twice, three times, in some places four and five times. And the same results keeps coming up.

So I think there's some probability if we keep counting and counting we're going to have the same results. But we've got a legally binding election here that I think people can believe in. And now it's going to take both of these people, George Bush and Al Gore, to bring this country together. And the sooner they get on about that business, the better off this country is going to be.

KING: Thanks, Bob. It's been great getting to know you. And I imagine we'll still get to know you.

CRAWFORD: Thank you, Larry. I appreciate that.

KING: Bob Crawford. He's commissioner of agriculture for the state of Florida. And don't forget, Governor George W. Bush of Texas who got the certified vote of Florida tonight will be addressing the nation in about 24 minutes. And we'll be carrying that for you direct from the state capital in Austin.

We'll be right back and talk to Candy Crowley, John King, and Roger Cossack. Still to come, Bob Dole, Mario Cuomo.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Because of our belief in the importance of these fundamental American principles, Vice President Gore and I have no choice but to contest these actions as provided under Florida law and in accord with the decision of the Florida Supreme Court.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. That was the scene from the Bush supporters as the secretary of state announced the vote going Bush's way in the state of Florida tonight.

And that, of course, is as they say to be continued. Don't forget, the governor of Texas will address the nation in about 20 minutes.

We go now to Austin, Texas, Candy Crowley, CNN senior political correspondent, is standing by there where the president-elect maybe will be addressing the country.

In Washington is John King, CNN senior White House correspondent. Also in Washington, Roger Cossack, CNN legal analyst, co-host of "BURDEN OF PROOF," who sat in for me the last two nights. And we thank him very much for that.

Candy, do we have any idea what the governor is going to say and how long he's going to speak?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Seven minutes about, he's going to speak. I do know that. But, boy, I've tried to crack this in terms of is he going to declare victory, is he going to do this? And I've talked to people who helped put together the speech with the governor. I've talked to people who have read the speech. And not one of them will tell me what's in it.

Look, you can assume he feels the same way James Baker did. And we had that news conference from him earlier. So the question really here is do you come out and declare victory when you've got all these court cases? My guess is you don't do it quite that hard.

KING: John King, is Vice President Gore expected to respond to this?

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The plan right now, Larry, said the vice president, wait until tomorrow. Senator Lieberman was their point man tonight. You heard him make the case that in the view of the Democrats this is an unfair, inaccurate count in Florida. They will continue in the courts.

They will watch Governor Bush's statement, though. And if they feel necessary, they will come out and react to it. Right now, though, the plan is for the vice president to make what aides call a major speech here in Washington tomorrow laying out his rationale to fight this for what they believe will be another week or two. KING: Roger, get your legal mind working here. What chances would you say on a scale of 10 does a contested vote have?

ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Larry, the contested vote is obviously an uphill battle. And we have to wait until there's a certification, which happened tonight.

But let me just tell you what the statute says. One part of it says you can contest an election if illegal votes are counted in or legal votes are excluded. And that's what the vice president is going to say. He's going to say, "Look, there were legal votes that may have gone to me that were never counted. And I deserve that. That's what a contest is all about."

He'll talk about Miami-Dade. He'll talk about Palm Beach. He'll talk about Nassau, perhaps even Seminole. And he's going to be able to make that argument.

Now it's a high threshold. He has to first convince a judge that even if all of the things that he said went wrong were corrected that he would win the election. That's the first thing he has to do. But he has an argument.

KING: And, Candy, is it also not true that had Gore gone ahead tonight even if Bush stays ahead, they're going to contest for the Bush side as well?

J. KING: Well, the Supreme Court case is out there, obviously. But the...

KING: No, but also those veterans, the votes of the servicemen.

J. KING: The veterans, you know, yeah, they do have those still out there. And I didn't -- what I heard James Baker say was, "We're going to defend in the contested areas. And we may have counter suits." But I didn't hear exactly what they're going to do about those veterans.

My guess is since they are no longer certifying votes that that becomes a little difficult. But the legal area we're going to leave to Roger.

KING: John King, is the mood of the Democrats very down, somewhat down, buoyed, what?

J. KING: Well, I think it depends on who you talk to, Larry. Somewhat down in the sense that just their number of options are dwindling. They're now running out of cases in which they can appeal and contest this. And even as they go through the courts, a process that could take a week or two, as Roger said, they need some luck in the courts. They need a very strong case.

You also have then the court of public opinion. And how long will the American people stay in this game? How long will they support this going on? Right now they feel they're on pretty good footing. They believe they have a gift, if you will, from Governor Bush in that he contested this to the U.S. Supreme Court. And that hearing is Friday. So the Democrats will tell you they need to show progress between now and that U.S. Supreme Court hearing on Friday. If they do not, they believe the public opinion will say, "Let's end all this."

KING: And, Roger, unlike the Supreme Court, Florida courts are open to television, right? We will see those hearings dealing with contesting.

COSSACK: Yes, we will see that Florida sunshine law. What a wonderful thing. We will be able to see what goes on inside the courtroom.

And you know, Larry, there are lawsuits that are being brought right now to ask the United States Supreme Court to allow a camera in there Friday so that if this matter goes forward on Friday the country will be able to see that too.

KING: What's your bet on that?

COSSACK: Larry, they haven't done it so far. But if there's ever a case that they're going to do it on, this is the one with the merits.

KING: Thank you very much. We'll be checking back with all of you throughout the night.

When we come back from break, we'll talk with Bob Dole, who fought unsuccessfully for this vote sometime back you'll remember four years ago when he lost the state of Florida. When we -- there's the setting at the state house in Austin, Texas, as we await the speech which we now know will be seven minutes at the bottom of the hour. That's about 15 minutes away. They're just checking out microphones. That's what that young -- it looks like a young intern -- is doing.

We'll be back with Bob Dole right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The state house in Austin, Texas. We were there a little while back to interview to the governor. And he'll be speaking in about 14 minutes. And you'll see it right here on CNN.

We go now to Miami, Senator Bob Dole, 1996 Republican presidential candidate.

Is it over in your mind?

BOB DOLE, FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's probably over. I mean, it seems to me it's over. I mean, '96 wasn't close. But I remember back in 1976 when 30 electoral votes would have made a difference for President Ford and Bob Dole who was then on the ticket as President Ford's running mate. And President Ford said, "No, we're not going to contest this." And I think a contest is a lawsuit. Let's face it. It's a civil lawsuit. It's an effort to try to overturn an election. That's how serious this is. And who knows when it's going to end.

And I think there is a basic question of fairness. If you can cherry pick the three most heavily Democratic counties and say, "We want to keep on counting and counting and counting until we win," it's a strategy. But I don't think the American people will accept it.

KING: Can you honestly say, Senator Dole, if positions were reversed you would not contest?

DOLE: Well, I didn't make that decision in 1976. But we were only...

KING: No, I mean right now.

DOLE: ... Oh, right now?

KING: If you were 540 votes behind, let's say it's three Republican counties, 10,000 people didn't vote for president. You would not contest?

DOLE: Well, maybe if we had seven Republican Supreme Court justices in Florida and we control 47 to 67 canvassing committees...

KING: Given all that, would you contest?

DOLE: There you might want to at least consider contesting. But again, I think you've got to -- I can't make that judgment. I'm not in this race.

But I think you have to take a look at it. You've got good lawyers on both sides. This is not going to end if they start to contest. It's going to go on to the 11th Circuit. The Supreme Court is going to hear arguments next Friday.

Sooner or later, you have to bring closure. And I know it's very difficult. It's a lot more fun winning, as Governor Cuomo knows and certainly I know. It's a lot more fun winning.

But Al Gore is a good person. He's got a good future ahead of him. And it may be determined on how he accepts this. And the same with Governor Bush. You know, there is no certainty in this life. And when it's all finished, we want to have made a difference, and a difference for the better.

KING: Don't you think Vice President Gore might be hurt a little by some partisans on the right who are saying the Supreme Court was a stacked deck and that this is a fixed election and they're trying to steal it? Wouldn't it hurt you?

DOLE: It would hurt me. But then if Joe Lieberman, my good friend Joe Lieberman, comes out and attacks the secretary of state tonight, Katherine Harris, a Republican, Joe said the other day we had in effect mob violence going on down there. I mean, I was down here. I asked the police. Nobody got arrested. Nobody got hurt. Nobody -- they had partisans on both sides. And I think the rhetoric is a little strong on both sides.

But Joe was pretty strident tonight. I mean, I haven't heard my good friend Senator Lieberman sort of be that scathing for some time.

KING: Why has this been so vituperative do you think?

DOLE: Well, there's a lot at stake here. We're talking about the president of the United States. And let's face it. A lot of this can't be controlled by the candidates.

I mean, they've got friends out there. And they're Democrats, and they're Republicans, and they're independents. And some are just troublemakers. And they can be on both sides. And sometimes it's out of control.

And I was in Plantation, Florida, last night, Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County. And the Gore people had signs in fact referring to us as Nazis. I know that's not what they really believe. But it's a free country. We can do that.

And, of course, they could make charges against Republicans. But the bottom line is Bush won election night. He won after the machine recount. He won after the absentees were counted. And tonight he's the certified winner in the state of Florida. And that's pretty -- that says a lot.

KING: Thank you as always, Senator Dole. We'll be seeing a lot of you.

DOLE: Thank you.

KING: Senator Bob Dole. When we come back, former Governor Mario Cuomo. And the governor of Texas, George W. Bush, will be addressing the nation in about nine minutes.

We'll see it all right here from that place right there. That is the state house in Austin. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Governor Bush will speak in about seven-and-a-half minutes. Let's go to Governor Mario Cuomo, former Democratic governor of New York.

You heard what Senator Dole said. Why in your opinion is he wrong?

MARIO CUOMO (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: Well, for a lot of reasons. I have tremendous respect for the senator, always have had, always will have I'm sure. But I hope I heard him wrong. I hope I didn't hear him say, "Well, you know, the Democrats went to the Supreme Court of Florida. Maybe if we had a court with seven Republicans on it, we would contest too." Well, they did contest. They started in asking the Supreme Court of the United States. And I hope he's not saying it's because they had seven Republicans there.

That shouldn't be relevant at all. To me, it's not. I trust the Supreme Court of the United States with their Republicans just as I trust the Supreme Court of Florida. And the suggestion that these judges, of course they were Democrat, ruled as Democrats is unfair and irresponsible.

Now as to...

KING: Do you think...

CUOMO: ... whether or not there should be a contest, Bush contested. And he would have. Of course he would have. That's why he filed the suit in the Supreme Court.

If Gore had gotten the votes today, Bush would have said, "Well, we're going to the Supreme Court. We think it was unconstitutional." And there's nothing wrong with that, frankly.

And I haven't heard a single good reason, Larry, why you shouldn't go to court to find out whether or not people's votes have been accurately reported. It's clear from all the numbers that if you had continued with the recount in Miami-Dade, if you had taken the Palm votes, Gore would have won tonight. That's absolutely clear.

That's why the Republicans are fighting so hard to kill these manual recounts. Why did they run away from it? Why are they running away from the lawsuits? You're going to make the December 12 date.

Who is being hurt? Aren't you the party of law and order? Didn't you bring impeachment proceedings and Ken Starr to make sure the law was enforced? Why are you running away from the law?

What is this public relations campaign to get people to say to the man who won a majority vote, 50 million votes, Al Gore won the largest part of the vote in the general election. He has more electoral votes than George Bush. All he needs is a miniscule percentage of the disputed votes and he's the next president.

And you're suggesting a public relations campaign to tell him to quit. He no right to quit. He's from now until December 12. Get in that court tomorrow. Make the best argument you have. Let's bet on the law.

I'm very confident with our legal system. And frankly, I think if you give the court a chance, Al Gore is going to be the next president.

KING: You think that they have a shot?

CUOMO: There's no question about it. Just look at the numbers, Larry. They're down to, what, if you count the Palm Beach votes, how many are you short, 350? You can pick those up in no time in Miami- Dade.

And how do they justify Miami-Dade? How do you justify walking away from the recount on the grounds we might not have had enough time? Why didn't you try the way the others did? There was no excuse for that.

And remember this, Larry. The Supreme Court be refusing the accept the Bush appeal on the recounts and whether they will arbitrary, capricious and unconstitutional, has implicitly approved of the manual recounts. That's a very good thing for Al Gore.

KING: We'll be right back. Thanks, Governor Cuomo.

CUOMO: You bet.

KING: When we come back, we'll be hearing from the governor of Texas. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are back on LARRY KING LIVE.

There is the setting the governor of Texas will be speaking in about little over two minutes, speech is expected to last seven minutes, they are checking out microphones and lighting and the like.

Before we go to that, let's go to CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield, he's with us in New York.

It's -- we know it's going to be seven minutes. What do you expect him to say, Jeff, do you expect him to say, I'm president?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Not quite. I expect very conciliatory language, recognizing to those who did not vote for me, he won't say, I feel your pain, that's Bill Clinton's line, but that in substance, I know how tough it is to lose, I recognize that this was the closest election in history, or one of them, but now it's time to move on, heal the wounds, and make this great nation one again, I was a uniter not a divider, I mean to keep that promise. And I think that's the tone.

KING: Your our analyst, I just asked Dole, I'll ask Cuomo, I'll ask you: If positions were reversed, do you think that Governor Bush would be contesting tomorrow morning?

GREENFIELD: I think if the positions were reversed, everybody would be wearing the other guy's hats, the Democrats would be going to the Supreme Court, the Republicans would be talking about states' rights, the Democrats would find hand-counted ballots -- the devil's tool -- the Republicans would say make sure every vote is counted.

I think -- this is -- the stakes -- and I don't say that even critically, the stakes are the presidency of the United States, Larry.

Mr. Dooley (ph), the famous bartender, said "politics ain't beanbag" -- there is nothing -- nothing more serious than the presidency of the United States being decided by one half of 1,000th of 1 percent of the total national vote. And these guys have been at it hammer and tongs for two years, maybe longer. The idea that they should suddenly rise above this and say, well, on principle, I think I will step aside, I think that's not only genetically impossible, I think it would be politically suicidal for either of them to do it.

KING: All right, Jeff Greenfield is with us in New York, he is standing by and we'll get his comments immediately following.

And then we'll check in with Norm Ornstein, and Bob Woodward, and Roger Cossack. We'll come back.

We'll also talk with Senators John Warner on the right and John Kerry on the left.

And as we approach 6:30 Pacific Time, 9:30 Eastern Time, we're about to hear from Governor George W. Bush of Texas, declared by the secretary of state of Florida the certified winner in that state tonight.

Here is Governor Bush.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Good evening.

The last 19 days have been extraordinary ones. As our nation watched, we were all reminded on a daily basis of the importance of each and every vote. We were reminded of the strength of our democracy, that while our system is not always perfect, it is fundamentally strong and far better than any other alternative.

The election was close, but tonight, after a count, a recount and yet another manual recount, Secretary Cheney and I are honored and humbled to have won the state of Florida, which gives us the needed electoral votes to win the election.

We will therefore undertake the responsibility of preparing to serve as America's next president and vice president.

During the past year and a half of the presidential campaign, I've had the privilege of traveling America and meeting so many of my fellow Americans: the teachers who mold our future, the volunteers who take time to help neighbors in need, the police and firemen who risk their lives to protect ours, the workers who keep our economy strong and growing.

These experiences have confirmed that ours is a strong and vibrant nation, full of people whose hearts are bigger than even our most bountiful harvest.

As our country ends its Thanksgiving weekend, we have so much to be thankful for, beginning with the fundamental freedoms that are the birthright of every America: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And with our freedom comes responsibility, for all of us. Once our elections are behind us, once our disagreements are expressed, we have a responsibility to honor our Constitution and laws, and come together to do the people's business.

Two hundred years ago, after a difficult election, President Thomas Jefferson reminded his fellow citizens that every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.

Vice President Gore and I had our differences of opinion in this election, and so did the many candidates who ran for the United States Congress. But there is broad agreement on some important principles.

Republicans and Democrats agree we need to provide an excellent education for every child at every public school.

Democrats and Republicans agree that our seniors deserve a secure retirement and a prescription drug coverage in Medicare. Already there is some bipartisan groundwork on efforts to reform Social Security and Medicare. We have a duty to find common ground to reform these vital programs for the greatest generation and for future generations.

Republicans and Democrats want a strong military to keep the peace and a foreign policy that reassures our friends and restrains our enemies.

There is growing consensus in Congress and America on the need to reduce taxes by reducing the marriage penalty and eliminating the death tax.

And I will work with members of the Congress from both parties to reduce tax rates for everyone who pays income taxes in America.

Progress on these issues will require a new tone in Washington. The path to progress is consideration and fair-dealing. I've worked with Democrats and Republicans in Texas, and I will do so in Washington. I will listen and I will respect different points of view, and, most of all, I will work to unite our great land.

This has been a hard-fought election, a healthy contest for American democracy. But now that the votes are counted, it is time for the votes to count.

The vice president's lawyers have indicated he will challenge the certified election results. I respectfully ask him to reconsider.

Until Florida's votes were certified, the vice president was working to represent the interests of those who supported him. I did not agree with his call for additional recounts, but I respected his decision to fight until the votes were finally certified. Now that they are certified, we enter a different phase. If the vice president chooses to go forward, he is filing a contest to the outcome of the election, and that is not the best route for America.

All of us in this election fought for our views. Now we must live up to our principles. We must show our commitment to the common good, which is bigger than any person or any party. We cannot change yesterday, but we share a responsibility for tomorrow. Time runs short, and we have a lot of work to do. So tonight I'm naming Secretary Dick Cheney to chair our transition effort, and Secretary Andy Card to serve as my chief of staff.

I've asked Secretary Cheney to work with President Clinton's administration to open a transition office in Washington. And we look forward to a constructive working relationship throughout this transition.

The end of an election is the beginning of a new day. Together we can make this a positive day of hope and opportunity for all of us who are blessed to be Americans.

Thank you very much, and God bless America.

KING: OK, Jeff Greenfield, our senior analyst, it began with like a campaign speech, a little conciliatory and then forward ahead, transition and everything. What did you make of it, Jeff?

GREENFIELD: Yes.

Well, the rhetoric was, you know, conciliatory in most of the speech. Toward the end, he laid down two really significant challenges: one was in effect saying to the vice president and the Democrats, if you contest now, you're contesting the outcome of the election. The Gore people will certainly say no, we are not, we believe the election results that were certified did not reflect the true outcome.

And even more significant, Larry, he not only named Dick Cheney to run the transition, and Andy Card, a former Bush administration official as his chief of staff, he basically said to President Clinton, in so many words, please give me the key to that 90,000- square foot transition office that has been laying vacant in Washington for two weeks, I'm the president based on Florida's votes, let me into that office. And that I think is going to be a very interesting marker to put on the table to see what the current administration, the Clinton-Gore administration, says about it.

So I think that -- I think we are in for yet -- or if you haven't been through enough interesting things, that's going to be even more interesting.

KING: OK, all right, Jeff, let's say that come Monday or Tuesday, Dick Cheney gets in his car and McClean, Virginia, makes that little nine-mile trip down to say to President Clinton, let's sit down, I want to go over some details with you. What does the president do?

GREENFIELD: I think the president probably has a full schedule.

KING: You don't think he will meet with him?

GREENFIELD: No. Because in -- what that says in effect is OK, yes, I, Bill Clinton, president to Al Gore, vice president, recognizes the legitimacy of the Bush-Cheney claim to be the president and vice president-elect, and I cannot -- I shouldn't say I can't imagine it given what's gone on, Larry, but I can't imagine it.

KING: Thanks, Jeff. Jeff will be back at the top of the hour to join the panel, he'll be here throughout, analysis throughout the evening, along with Judy Woodruff.

When we come back, we'll get the thoughts on all of this from Senator John Warner and Senator John Kerry, and then our panel will assemble. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are back, and we welcome Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia, he is with us at our studios in Washington; and Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, with us at our studios in Boston.

Senator Kerry, what did you make of the governor's remarks?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, Larry, I regret them, to be honest with you. I think the governor showed tactics tonight, and not statesmanship. And I think regrettably, he also showed a kind of fundamental lack of respect for the legal process which he himself has engaged in. He has taken this to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court does not meet until Friday on this. Briefs are due on Tuesday.

And he knows from the -- as does every Republican -- from the entire tenor of the last two weeks that votes are being seriously contested, 10,750 votes were run through machines, but have not even been hand counted at this moment in Miami-Dade County. They counted the first 22 percent and it showed a gain of 157 votes for Al Gore. If you counted the other 78 percent and extrapolated what has been counted, Gore wins this election. This election is now going to the court system of the nation.

And I think that Governor Bush would have been far better advised tonight to thank Florida for the certification, but to speak to America about the need to respect the legal process, to lower the voices, all the politicians quiet down and let the courts make their decision.

KING: All right, let me get -- there is the president, the president-elect maybe -- I don't know what we'll call it -- the governor of the state of Texas returning to the mansion from the statehouse.

Senator Warner, I would imagine your thoughts are different.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: Yes, I say to my good friend John Kerry, an old sailor, look here, John, you and I know this country likes to see decisiveness. And Governor Bush, or if I may say with respect, President-elect Bush tonight faced the nation with conciliation, with humility, and then he grabbed that brass ring, which you and I know so well, and said, damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead. Now, that's the sort of decision making this country expects and wants. In no way did he pay disrespect. He spoke about honoring the Constitution, that he will do. He spoke about our reverence and respect for the law, and that he will do.

But this country must march forward, and I regret the question about what would he do if he went to see President Clinton -- I think just the opposite. I think President Clinton would receive him. And indeed, President Clinton knows that the transition is a vital thing and it has to get under way. There has already been a three-week delay -- let both candidates, if necessary, start a transition. But that should not be delayed, because America's future is dependent on an orderly transition, and I think...

KING: Senator Kerry. All right, I want -- we've got limited time here, John.

KERRY: Well, Larry...

KING: John.

KERRY: I understand. This is the Republican tactic. The Republican tactic has been to not have a hand count. The Republican tactic has been to try to slow the process down, and have this declaration and jam yourself into the presidency.

Now, I say to my friend John Warner, there is nothing both of us want more than a bipartisan, legitimate effort to govern this country, but I feel very deeply, tonight, that rather than respect the process which would have gained him the legitimacy, which every American wants -- Americans want the votes counted. That's all. And over the course of the next week, the court system will have an opportunity to duly measure whether or not these ballots were properly counted or not. This is not over until the court system has worked its will.

And for George Bush, who has appealed to that court system himself, to suddenly declare himself prepared to engage in the transition, I think disrespects the process and frankly, it's going to make it much tougher to govern in the long run.

KING: Obviously, Senator Warner...

(CROSSTALK)

KERRY: ... beyond statesmanship.

KING: Go ahead, Senator.

WARNER: Look, John Kerry nor I, or anyone else know exactly how long that court process must go. And for us in this great nation to sit here floundering in that period is wrong. We want decisiveness and he showed it. And, John, not a word he said tonight is disrespectful of the Constitution, or the legal process -- they will go right on. But to sit here dead in the water, as you and I know as sailors, is not the right thing to do. Now, he showed...

(CROSSTALK)

KERRY: We are not dead in the water, by any means.

KING: All right, fellows. We thank Senator John Warner and...

WARNER: I didn't say the nation.

KING: ... Senator John Kerry.

WARNER: Look, the nation...

KING: All right, we thank you both, we'll have you on both again, as we have had frequently.

We have a panel standing by, as well.

This is LARRY KING LIVE, and the -- well, the clash goes on. The Democrats are expected to file contesting to this election in Leon County, that's the -- the scene is Tallahassee, in Florida tomorrow.

We'll meet our panel right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: There is the job everybody wants -- a clear, cold night in Washington. We are in Los Angeles, but we are told it's cold there.

Joining us now, our dynamic duo: in Washington, Bob Woodward, the assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post," and author of "Maestro: Greenspan's Fed and the American Boom"; and Norm Ornstein, resident scholar of the American Enterprise Institute.

All right, Bob, recap the night.

BOB WOODWARD, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, if you play golf, sometimes you go out on the golf course and you see somebody get up there and they have the wrong grip and they don't stand right and the swing is terrible, but they really hit the ball far and well sometimes, and I think you have to say Governor Bush is that person. By adopting the tone, which was perfect in that sentence, "I respectfully ask him to reconsider," referring to Gore's vow to go contest this election in court, he gives Gore an opportunity and he also puts Gore in the position where he has to make the -- probably the most important decision of his life.

KING: Norm Ornstein, hasn't he already made the decision based on what Senator Lieberman said?

NORM ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Yes, he's made the decision, and interestingly enough, Larry, he has got, as Senator Kerry would suggest, his party behind him now. Because we have the Supreme Court hearing on Friday, we've got at least a week here, and one thing very interesting, Larry -- let me just paraphrase a minute from that now infamous United States Code Title 3 Section 5, which is about determining the controversy as to the appointment of the electors: If there is a controversy in a state, they have laws for dealing with the controversy, and it says, by judicial or other means of procedure, if they take that forward and resolve it by six days before the appointment of the electors, by December 12, then that's conclusive.

So if he takes these contests forward, which are clearly provided in Florida law, and a judge says, we reverse the results of this election, then that is conclusive for the Congress, so he has got a real shot at this, Larry. This is not just a long shot anymore for Gore as long as he can get it done well in advance of December 12.

KING: Bob.

WOODWARD: Wow, I really have to disagree with some of that, Norm. First of all, the issue in the contests where they are going to have to go in and present evidence that these ballots were counted, or these should be counted and so forth, all those individual disputes in the counties are not before the Supreme Court, and there is a limited time here.

I also think it's possible that the Supreme Court would -- they have a method of getting out of cases, dismissing them because they have been improvidently granted -- now that would be unusual in a case like this, even though Jim Baker was down there saying they are going to continue with their Supreme Court case, in a sense, it's irrelevant. The rules were changed in a way that Bush did not like and that Gore requested. Bush still won counting with Gore's rules. The significance of that case may not be as great as we thought.

ORNSTEIN: Well, I -- you misunderstood me, Bob, I'm not even suggesting -- I'm not talking about the Supreme Court case. What we do know is in the laws that Florida had in place long before this, they include provisions for contest after certification, they have been...

WOODWARD: Yes, they do.

ORNSTEIN: All the time. All the time in local contests.

KING: And, Norm, are you saying...

ORNSTEIN: And it's a local judge that could change this.

KING: And you are saying, Norm, you give them a good chance?

ORNSTEIN: I -- you know, I think he has a serious shot at this. Whether he should take it is another matter. Whether he will keep his party with him and for how long is another matter. But as long that the law is clear, if this is resolved before December 12th, and if -- the Florida law holds on a local judge -- this Leon County judge could turn this around, it can work, so it's not over. We know it's not over, but it's really not over.

KING: All right, let me get a break and find out from both of these distinguished, esteemed gentlemen whether this country can ever really come together after this. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: You're watching a live Sunday night edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

All right, Bob Woodward, let's say they go to Leon County, let's say Gore wins, Bush appeals, he wins, we go right up to December 12, somebody is the winner -- can they ever come together?

WOODWARD: Sure, I think so, and I think Governor Bush took the first step on that road by the tone he adopted. At the same time, it was a magnificent box-in where he said, I'm appointing Cheney and Andrew Card, who is going to be his chief of staff in this tentative government that is being formed, so he set things in motion.

Norm Ornstein is right that it is possible that a lower court judge in Florida could do all of these things, but this contest is going to be handled by some of the best lawyers in the world, they are -- as they tend to probably overlawyer it, they are going to have to present evidence -- these are not just legal arguments or readings of laws -- they are going to have to get people in to prove that, yes, those ballots showed this and they should have been counted, and so forth -- tough.

KING: All right, Norm, what did you think of the announcement of Cheney heading the transition and Card as chief of staff, and they're under way and they're going to go meet -- try to meet with the president?

ORNSTEIN: Well, it is an interesting tactic in a lot of ways and ti's clearly trying, as they wanted to do after the first certification, to basically say, it's over and we are going to start to act as a president-elect and his team. And obviously, part of this now is a legal battle, a good part of it is the public relations battle. It's a question of whether the public as a whole is going to say, hey, all right, you are the president-elect, let's stop this, and whether Democrats will stick with Al Gore if he wants to push this further.

Having the Supreme Court and that Friday deadline gives Gore a little bit of breathing room, but December 12th really does become in many ways the drop-dead date here, and that means you've got resolve it before that date. So getting this done in 10 days, without having that presumption of a winner, which Bush is going to make every effort to keep moving forward, is going to be tough to do. But it's not out of the question here, Larry.

KING: And, Bob, does the bitterness continue through December 12th?

WOODWARD: I don't think so. And, again, the ball is in Gore's court, and he has said he is going forward with this. And Senator Lieberman said tonight they have no choice but to go ahead in their view. There is another answer to that, and that is they do have a choice, and they have to consider the odds and they have to consider where reasonable people in the center are going to look at this and say, guys, you had your shot, the count, the recount, they changed the rules for you, and you still didn't win, maybe it's time to be magnanimous.

KING: This is for both of you -- Bob, first you, everybody on the show tonight said if positions were reversed, each side would be acting the same way. Do you agree, Bob?

WOODWARD: Yes, that's probably the case. That is the world of politics and reducing everything to what some judge and lawyer can say.

KING: Norm, you agree?

ORNSTEIN: If there is -- there is only one thing we can be sure about through all of this and it's that, Larry.

KING: Is this going to go right on -- right up to the 12th, do you think, fellows? We only have about 30 seconds -- Bob, Norm.

ORNSTEIN: Yes. I believe it will go on to the 12th, I think there will be some acrimony. I also believe basically that Bush does have a better chance, if he prevails, at making bipartisanship work earlier than Gore. The harsh feelings are there for Gore in a much deeper way than they have been for Bush.

KING: Bob, 20 seconds.

WOODWARD: People had to be struck by Governor Bush's -- I mean, Senator Warner said that, I mean, it was -- there was a persistence and a determination in what he said, but it was also incredibly conciliatory, it was the first kind of conciliatory speech that anybody has given in this, and that probably goes to people's hearts.

KING: All right, Norm Ornstein, Bob Woodward, thank you very, very much.

We'll have lots more tomorrow with lots more guests, as we continue the legal battles over the state of Florida and the presidency of the United States.

Stay tuned for a special report with Judy Woodruff and Jeff Greenfield. This has been a live edition of LARRY KING LIVE on Sunday night. We'll see you tomorrow. Good night.

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