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Larry King Live

Should Al Gore Concede Florida and the Election?

Aired November 28, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, we talk one-on-one with Dick Cheney, George W. Bush's running mate and transition team chief, and then, perspective from the Gore side on election 2000 with former Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Plus a partisan debate with Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, a Democrat, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, a Republican.

We'll also get opposing legal views from Gore campaign senior adviser, attorney Jack Quinn, and the Bush campaign lead counsel for Florida litigation, Barry Richard. All that and another top-notch roundtable. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with Dick Cheney at our studios in Washington. He -- his second appearance within a week. He was with us the night of his heart attack and the angioplasty and subsequent stent. So obvious, Dick, how are you feeling?

DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Feel good, Larry. Back at work full-time with my doctors' full approval. The procedure, as you know, is a good one when it works, and it worked very well in my case.

KING: We've gone through the same -- we're in the same club, so to speak...

CHENEY: We are.

KING: ... for the benefit of those who don't know it.

Dick, how do you want to be called? Do you want to be called secretary? Do you want to be called vice president-elect? Is that presumptuous?

CHENEY: Dick's fine, Larry.

KING: Do you feel like vice president-elect?

CHENEY: Well, we're getting pretty close, but we've been still operating, clearly, on the assumption that while we believe the race is over, in the sense that it's been certified, we've been declared, formally, the victors in Florida, and now, therefore, in the Electoral College, Al Gore hasn't conceded yet. We hope this will get wrapped up pretty soon. But we're continuing to operate as we were before, except, of course, we've now begun the transition process. KING: Honestly, Dick, if you had been on a ticket that, say, one the popular vote by over 300,000, and had questions about Florida, would you not be doing the same thing that the Gore team is doing?

CHENEY: Well, certainly the recount was appropriate and called for, when the race was that close in Florida. Recounts are provided for under state law. It's automatic, and we certainly would have done that.

What's unique now, about the current circumstances, is having gone through the count, having gone through the recount, having had the Supreme Court involve itself in Florida and add another 12 days to the process, having done the manual recounts, and now, finally having been certified, with the election over, officially, from the standpoint of Florida state law and state authorities, now Vice President Gore is coming back around and seeking to overturn the results of a certified election -- presidential election in the courts. That's never happened before. That's really precedent setting. And we think it's unfortunate ...

KING: The question was, you would not -- in other words, if reversed, you would not do what he's doing.

CHENEY: We would not, I believe, be in the situation he's in today, where we were trying to use the courts to overturn an election that has already been certified.

As long as there was doubt about the count, as long as state law required an automatic recount, given an election this close, clearly some reassessment and recount was totally appropriate. But we've gone far beyond that now. In effect, the vice president is asking the courts to intervene, and to direct the election authorities -- and the court to direct the election authorities in Florida to recount ballots that have already been looked at, that have already been counted, try to find some way to interpret an additional number of those as Gore votes. And we don't think that's at all appropriate. We think it's totally unfair, in terms of trying to resolve a presidential election that way. And we really think it's time to get on with the business of governing.

KING: So, you're saying, in all fairness, you think the vice president should concede.

CHENEY: If I were in his position, that's what I'd do. I'm clearly not in his position. He's made the decision that he wants to continue with the legal contest, by taking the whole matter to court. And that leaves us, really, with no choice but to proceed with our own legal options, which we're doing.

KING: Did he say anything today -- either Sunday night or today that impressed you in any way?

CHENEY: Well, I...

KING: I mean Monday night, and then today. CHENEY: Clearly I disagree with him, Larry. I find this repeated mantra that somehow we have to, quote, "count all the votes," that there are votes that have not been counted, simply is not accurate.

Every single vote in Florida has been counted. Every single vote in Florida has been recounted. Now, there are some that were not marked for president, and therefore didn't register on the machines, but that's not at all unusual in Florida. They've focused in on the 10,000 votes in Miami-Dade County that supposedly are unmarked. But there are some 34 counties in Florida that have a larger percentage of unmarked ballots for president than those in Dade County.

If you go across this country, you'll find a large number of ballots cast by voters who go in, don't want to decide between the two candidates, decide not to vote for president, but the vote for senator, for governor, for congressman and on down the ballot. That has happened all across the country.

What he wants to do now is go back in, in one heavily Democratic area -- two counties -- and direct these election supervisors, most of whom are Democrats, who have already made their own independent decisions to redo the whole process in a manner that will favor him. And that's clearly inappropriate.

KING: How were you asked to head the transition team? Did the governor himself ask you?

CHENEY: He did. This is -- if you go back to the subjects we discussed at the time that he asked me to get on the ticket, it was very much along the lines that he clearly wasn't picking me so that we could carry the state of Wyoming. I think Wyoming actually gave us the highest percentage of any state in the nation.

CHENEY: But it was because of my background and experience and his desire to have me involved in the process of helping him govern, of becoming part of the team he wants to establish to run his administration.


KING: What did you make of President Clinton's idea of having some sort of group organization to aid in transition with whoever asks it, but not providing finances yet, or office space?

CHENEY: It's, I suppose, something useful to do he wants to do it that way. I'm sure that the officials that have been designated in the executive order will be prepared to help when their given the go- ahead to do that. But of course, up till now the position of the administration has been that the contest is not yet to the point where they're prepared to release the funds Congress has appropriated to support the transition. That really leaves us with no choice but to move forward on our own.

Under the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, provision is made to raise money from private sources in order to support these transition activities and that's the route we decided to take. We've already used up, with the recount process in Florida, the legal challenges, some 30 percent of the available time for the transition. We can't afford to wait any longer.

KING: We'll ask about that process and other things, and then we'll meet Warren Christopher.

Back with more of Dick Cheney, the former secretary and vice presidential nominee of his party, and maybe vice president-elect.

Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Dick Cheney.

In this process, the way the whole weird -- this thing has been -- do you offer positions, or do you say, "If we do it, will you take it?"

CHENEY: Well, I think the way we phrased it sometimes is, "Don't give up your day job yet."


We're actively involved in assembling the transition team, in assembling a White House team and beginning the process, as well, of selecting Cabinet members.

We've not yet approached any Cabinet member in the sense in terms of actually finally closing the deal to the point where we're ready to announce. But we are actively involved in that process.

The governor will make those decisions. He looks to me and to Clay Johnson, who's been heading the transition planning in Austin, as well as Andy Card, who's been announced as the prospective chief of staff of the White House, to begin to bring him options and discuss with him options and possibilities. But we're not signing any contracts yet I guess would be the way to put it, Larry.

KING: Can you say, Dick, that some one or maybe two Democrats will be in the Cabinet?

CHENEY: The final decisions have not really -- have not been made yet, although I would expect that there's a real possibility that there will be members of the other political faith in the Cabinet. The governor has emphasized his desire to reach out across the country, to reach to all of the various groups in our society, to have a Cabinet and an administration that's diverse, that represents a wide variety of thinking, people that are prepared to come together and work together on a bipartisan basis to govern the nation.

So I'm -- would be certainly expecting that there will be members of the other party in the administration. KING: How do you think it's all going to play out, Dick, from the standpoint of working for the next four years? Let's say that Bush is president. There's a 50-50 Senate let's say if the woman prevails in Washington. You would break a tie in the Senate. Can much happen? Will there be a lot of bitter anger, left over anger? What's it going to be like?

CHENEY: Well, I hope not Larry. I hope that once we get this process behind us, we will be able to move forward and unite the nation. I think the country will rally round.

Just before I came here tonight I was an a fascinating event hosted by Bill Cohen, who is currently the Republican secretary of defense in the Democratic administration. He had a number of former secretaries of defense there, to honor Doc Cook (ph). A lot of people don't know who Doc Cook is, but Doc Cook has been the director of administration in the Pentagon now since the late 1950s. He has worked under 15 secretaries of defense. He is a man who's revered and respected by all of us, regardless of our political backgrounds and experience -- Republican, Democrat alike.

He's the kind of career professional who really makes the government work. And we were able to get together tonight on strictly a social function. Some of us had been on opposite sides in the recent campaign. But nonetheless, have a very pleasant evening; honor and respect one another's service, and then get on with the business at hand.

So I think the traditions of our democracy are very strong. I think there's no reason in the world why once this is resolved clearly and there is no doubt in anybody's mind about the president-elect is, that the country will rally around and that we will be able to work together for the good of the country.

I had an experience years ago working for the governor of Wisconsin, where we had an evenly divided state legislature. It was actually there when I think it was 49-51 and we got more done during that session because everybody had to pull together, than we did when one party controlled the other by about a two-to-one margin.

KING: A couple of other quick things. There have been some statements in the press -- I think one, a doctor wrote an article in the New York Times -- said you weren't or the hospital was not forthcoming with your total health information. How do you respond to that?

CHENEY: Well, I, being on this side of the table, feel that there isn't much about my physical capabilities and history that aren't known. I've seen my coronary arteries diagramed on the front page of major newspapers all over America.

So we've been I think very forthcoming. I went through an extensive checkup with my doctors before I signed on to be Governor Bush's running mate. We actually went outside and got additional experts -- Denton Cooley (ph), for example was consulted extensively. There was a more thorough scrub on my medical history than on any of the other candidates I think who were considered for vice president, probably in either party this year. And with his latest incident, we've been very forthright.

We held two press briefings the afternoon of the procedure, including one that involved the cardiologist who actually did the procedure. We answered a lot of questions, provided a lot of information and data.

And so I think we have been very forthcoming. There may be a few people out there who still want to look at certain parts of my anatomy we've not yet revealed. But I'm going to keep part of it private.

KING: I'll leave part of that out.

CHENEY: All right.

KING: And can you travel extensively, because vice presidents are often asked to do that?

CHENEY: I can. I think, probably, one of the things that may affect my travel schedule in the prospective administration is the fact the Senate is evenly divided. And, of course, the vice president presides as the president of the Senate, and casts the tie-breaking vote when there are ties between the two parties. So, I could end up having to spend a lot of time in the U.S. Senate, as vice president, rather than traveling the world, attending funerals of foreign leaders.

KING: Thanks, Dick. Always good seeing you. And glad to see you up and around.

CHENEY: Good to see you, Larry. And thanks again for having us.

KING: Thank you. Dick Cheney, George W. Bush's running mate, head of the transition team. We had the exclusive first interview with him from his hospital bed the night all this happened.

Coming up next, Warren Christopher, former secretary of state, adviser to the Gore campaign in all of this legal wrestling. He's here with us in Los Angeles. Don't go away.


KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, here in Los Angeles, Warren Christopher, former secretary of state, adviser to the Gore campaign, legal adviser as well.

Why are you here? Why aren't you still in Tallahassee?

WARREN CHRISTOPHER, GORE CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, Larry, I left on very short notice on election night, went to Tallahassee and stayed two weeks, and I got a little tired of the clothes I had there, so I came home for some new clothes and a little recharging of these old batteries.

KING: When do you go back? CHRISTOPHER: Well, I'm sort of, as they say in baseball, sort of day-to-day. Probably go back for the Supreme Court argument.

KING: Will you argue in the court?

CHRISTOPHER: No, I will not argue. Larry Tribe, famous Supreme Court advocate, will argue for the Gore campaign.

KING: What's this experience been like for you? There is no precedent for it. You are a well-known lawyer, a prominent firm here in Los Angeles, former secretary of state. What's it been like inside?

CHRISTOPHER: It's just extraordinary, it's one of the most intense experiences I have ever had. America has never been through this kind of a thing before, an election this close, you know, 547 votes out of the, you know, 50 million that have been cast overall for Gore -- just incredible -- and I think that is fundamentally what's involved here. If the American people step back and understand how close it is, then they will understand the reason for taking great care to make sure we get it right.

KING: Do you agree that -- the latest polls, with 57 percent saying that Gore should give up, do you understand their frustration?

CHRISTOPHER: I certainly understand their frustration, I think we all would like to have it over. But we would all like to have it over in the right away.

KING: And the right way is? Recount? They proposed today recounting everything?

CHRISTOPHER: Well, as you probably know, Larry, Vice President Gore has really a very targeted, very focused request to recount certain votes in certain counties, just three counties now. I can illustrate this, I think, pretty clearly.

In Dade County, there were approximately 10,000 votes that were not counted at all, they were thrown out by the machine in the same way your credit card might be thrown out, does not read. And what we are asking is that those be looked at by eyes, a hand count, so you get an eye count of them to see whether they might by looking at the ballot, be able to discern whether it was for Governor Bush or for Vice President Gore.

KING: But Secretary Cheney just said many people go in and don't vote for president. They do it all over the country, many ballots come out in which they don't cast a vote for either party and vote for senator, vote for Congress.

CHRISTOPHER: Well, Larry, on that Thursday morning, when we made decide as to what counties to ask for recounts in, we found anomalies in these counties, more ballots of that character than seemed to be right, and so we asked for the recount, and that's what we are trying -- still trying to get that done in Dade County.

KING: Now, today the vice president called for a recounting of the whole state.

CHRISTOPHER: Well, we have said for sometime that we would be glad to have a recount for the whole state. You know, that is really an answer to the position of the Governor Bush troops who say, look, you picked out four Democratic counties, OK, we'll count the whole state, but they have never accepted that. And I think where we are in court now is to ask for an accurate and full counting of the ballots in just these three counties.

KING: And what are your prospects?

CHRISTOPHER: Well, I think our prospects are good, but it's litigation. Litigation is always uncertain. What we want to do is to show the American people and show the 50 million people who voted for Vice President Gore that we have taken all reasonable and appropriate steps, and I give Governor Bush's team the presumption of good faith in this matter and I think that they might ask whether they shouldn't give out the same presumption to us.

KING: They are not giving you that, you think they are questioning the good faith of your side?

CHRISTOPHER: Well, I think they are asking a concession at the present time, that's premature, from our standpoint. Now, I don't gainsay the need to start the transition process. Indeed, I have got a good deal of sympathy for Governor Bush on that point. I think it's a wise thing that he is named Andrew Card to be his chief of staff, and it's a wise thing they are starting down the transition road. But we are in a very, very unusual situation, Larry. An election this close calls for unusual measures, and it calls for unusual patience by the American people.

KING: Should Gore also be starting down the transition road then?

CHRISTOPHER: Yes, it's easier for him. After all, he has been in office, he knows the people there, and he is starting down that transition road. Very quietly, he has been thinking about this, talking with people, talking with Roy Neel, who's been his transition director.

KING: Has he sent out feelers?

CHRISTOPHER: I don't know that he's sent out feelers, but he certainly has in mind, I think, who he would like to approach for various jobs.

KING: That's already set in his head, you think?

CHRISTOPHER: I think that's well set in his head.

KING: What has this been like for you, legally?

CHRISTOPHER: Well, I think my main role in this, Larry, is to help in assembling a legal team that's really quite extraordinary.

KING: You did no arguing yourself?

CHRISTOPHER: No arguing myself. David Boies is one of the top litigators in the country, maybe the best known litigator to handle the trial work in Florida, leading lawyers in Florida like Dexter Douglass in Tallahassee, and then Larry Tribe argue in United States Supreme Court, that's about as good a legal team as you can possibly have.

KING: Have you been impressed with the other side?

CHRISTOPHER: I think that they gone about it in a very effective way. Mr. Olson, who is their Supreme Court advocate, I think is a first-rate advocate, and of course, they launched that litigation, they wanted to stop the recounting. This whole process has been our wanting to go forward with the recount, their taking various steps to prolong it or stop it.

KING: Do you think that, in effect, constitutionally they can, the state legislature might just go into special session, say hang it all, and choose the electors, which they can do?

CHRISTOPHER: I think that would be a -- really quite an irresponsible way to go about this. I tell you, Vice President Gore is very concerned about his constitutional responsibilities, his responsibilities to the American people. Going to pursue this litigation in an appropriate way, but when it comes to an end, I can assure you that he will support the ultimate result.

KING: But the state legislature can do it, constitutionally can, so why would it be a big mistake in your opinion?

CHRISTOPHER: Well, I think there is a legal process going forward, and if they try to pre-empt that and rush in and reach a conclusion, it's going to look unduly political, because, after all, it is a Republican-dominated legislature.

KING: We'll be back with some more moments with Warren Christopher, then we'll have two prominent United States senators, and lots more to go on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: Some other bases with Warren Christopher.

How is the vice president holding up?

CHRISTOPHER: Very, very well. You know, I have had a lot of experience with the vice president and he is at his best when things get really tough. And I think that you see him acting very effectively presiding over these meetings, I have been in conference calls since I have come back to California for a couple of days. Maybe the best evidence, Larry, is to look at him on the screen, he's looked good to me yesterday and today. He actually looks better now than he did at the end of the campaign, for pretty obvious reasons. He has been home, had some night sleep, seeing his family, so I think he is doing very well. KING: Is his mood bitter?

CHRISTOPHER: No, not at all. I think...

KING: Resolute?

CHRISTOPHER: Resolute -- he is in the midst of, you know, a very historic moment -- that word is thrown around -- but this is certainly a historic moment, he understands that, he appreciates it, he's trying to be loyal to his followers and to the country and to the Constitution.

KING: When you left government, you told us you were glad to serve, but happy to get back here.

CHRISTOPHER: Certainly true.

KING: Were you happy to be involved in this?

CHRISTOPHER: Well, you know, things come along, chances of a lifetime. And the opportunity to help the vice president select his running mate was something that I enjoyed enormously and I think Joe Lieberman has been a superb choice, and I suppose, as a kind of old war horse in all of this, that I enjoyed getting back into the fray for a few minutes.

KING: If the vice president is the next president, would you be involved in that transition?


KING: You have told him that already?

CHRISTOPHER: He hasn't asked. But he selected Roy Neel to do it, and I think I have gone about as far as I ought to go.

KING: Now, Dick Cheney was very optimistic about how the country is going to come together after all of this. Are you?

CHRISTOPHER: Let me first say, Larry, that I have been concerned about Dick Cheney's health and amidst all the tension we are all under, and I certainly wish him well, and I thought he looked vigorous tonight and I appreciated that, because the country needs people like Dick Cheney.

Yes, I think the country will come together, but we have a rocky four years ahead, and maybe admitting that and not being too euphoric about that is the best way to face this. This is going to be a very evenly divided country and we'll need to find centrist coalitions that can get things done, because...

KING: So the far right and the far left are going to be out of this picture, or have to be out of this?

CHRISTOPHER: They probably will have to be, but we've gotten many things done in this country with the far right and the far left being out of the picture. But I think recognizing how evenly divided the country is and finding people who can work together is the key to the next four years. We can't put the country on hold for four years, there will be crises that come up.

KING: So you are not as optimistic as Dick Cheney is?

CHRISTOPHER: Not quite. I think it's realistic to understand that there will be rough times ahead in the next four years, and we'll have to find a way to govern this country evenly divided.

KING: We're going to have Barry Richard and Jack Quinn next, two pretty good lawyers.

CHRISTOPHER: Yes, two very good lawyers.

KING: Thank you, Warren.

CHRISTOPHER: Thank you. Nice to see you.

KING: Warren Christopher, former secretary of state, he'll be going back probably to Washington to watch the proceedings at the United States Supreme Court, when those arguments take place on Friday.

We'll be back with Barry Richard and Jack Quinn, then our senators, then our panel. Don't go away.


KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE two very familiar figures in all of this. One, who's been on the scene a long time, Jack Quinn. He's Gore campaign senior adviser and former White House counsel. And one who has newly emerged, Barry Richard, the lead Bush campaign attorney for Florida litigation. He's regarded as one of Florida's top constitutional lawyers and a former state deputy attorney general.

Jack Quinn, from your side of the ledger, where are we right now?.

JACK QUINN, GORE CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Well, it's frankly hard to answer that question, Larry. As you know, there's a good deal of litigation going on. Briefs were filed in the Supreme Court of the United States today, and Barry knows better than I all the comings and goings in the state of Florida.

I think, though, that we do see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think we are moving toward a resolution of this matter and I think that we all have to be mindful as we do so of the importance of ensuring that at the end of this process, most of the American people think that we did the right thing. Not the fast thing, not the quick thing, not the easy thing, not the political thing, but the right thing, and by that, of course, I mean that we insure that we count every legally cast vote in the state of Florida.

We owe that to all of the people who came out across this country and participated in this election and goodness knows we owe it to generations which will look back and not only wonder if we did the right thing, but in fact be able to tell whether we did the right thing because they'll be able to count all the votes and know whether the right man took the oath of office on January 20th.

KING: Barry, the other side, the Leon County Circuit Court judge denied emergency request for Gore. Was a that a good sign from your standpoint that they're going fail or was that just temporary?

BARRY RICHARD, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: Well, I learned some time ago, Larry, not to read signs from judges. I just listen to what they have to say and I take the next appropriate step. So, that's what I'll be doing tomorrow.

KING: Which is.

RICHARD: We'll be preparing for the Saturday hearing that the judge has scheduled which is a combination of an evidentiary hearing and a legal hearing where he will presumably decide what the appropriate standard is and whether or not there's any grounds him to go forward.

KING: Barry, if he were to rule in the vice president's favor, frankly is there time?

RICHARD: Well, if you're talking about the December 12th date...

KING: Yes.

RICHARD: I don't really know whether there's time because I'm not sure what would need to be done. I think that the Florida Supreme Court when they instructed that the certification of the ballots, the manually counted ballots were to be submitted by Sunday at 5:00 intended that there be sufficient time for an election contest.

I don't think that they intended that there be sufficient time for another manual count of the ballots because I don't think there's any legal basis for another manual count under any circumstances. So the answer yes, there's certainly sufficient time for the legal proceedings that the law contemplates. I don't think there's sufficient time for any additional manual recounts but I don't that's contemplated.

KING: Jack, is this -- would you classify this as uphill?.

QUINN: Well, look, it's been uphill for besides since Election Day because the pressure is not on any one of these candidates. The pressure is on all of us to get the right result, and you were right, Barry is just a terrific lawyer. Secretary Cheney is a wonderful public servant and a fine man. But I must take issue with one of the premises of their presentation, namely that all the votes have been counted. We've heard this over and over.

The truth of the matter is that there are thousands of votes in the state of Florida that have not yet been counted. We know that for a fact, and all we're trying to did is to ensure that before the end of this process, all of those votes get counted.

KING: Now, Barry no one wants to see a tainted presidency. Does that argument -- is that the one argument that reins strong in America, some have not been counted?

RICHARD: Well, first of all, Jack is one of my favorite people to take issue with me because I always like the way he starts it. Second, I'm not suggesting that all the votes have been counted. There are over 100,000 votes in the state of Florida that were not counted, but the reason they weren't counted is that the voting apparatus determined based upon a preset criteria that those ballots shouldn't be counted because they were mismarked in one way or another.

What we're engaged in here is an effort to get people to read those ballots that were rejected and based, in many cases upon some very flimsy theory, decide how some people intended to vote even though the ballot doesn't clearly indicate it. So the issue here isn't whether the ballots were counted, it's whether they ought to be counted.

KING: All right, here we have two outstanding lawyers. We've just a minute left. Are both of you predicting victory or is that the wrong way to think with lawyers -- Jack?

QUINN: Well, I'll answer you this way. The victory here should not be for Al Gore. It should not be for George Bush. It should be for our democracy. It should be for the American people and it should be based on a determination and a will on our part that we be able to look at our children and grandchildren and say we did the right thing here and we tried to make sure that no American who went out on election day to cast a ballots had his or her vote swept aside. That would be a victory.

KING: Barry.

RICHARD: Well, I think we also want to make sure that some human being who reviews a ballots doesn't cast a vote in a way that the voter never intended it to be cast. And with respect to predicting victory, no, it's not my policy to predict victory in any case, just to vigorously pursue my client's best interests and I'm going don't that, Larry.

KING: I don't doubt it. Jack Quinn and Barry Richard, tow of the best in the game. Great pleasure having them with us. I imagine we'll see them again. Maybe tomorrow. When we come back, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. There they are. We'll talk to them right after this. Don't go away.


KING: Two of the more powerful people in the United States Senate, from San Francisco, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California. From Dallas, Texas, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas.

All right, we'll start with Senator Feinstein. From what you heard from Dick Cheney and Warren Christopher tonight, your thoughts?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, my thoughts are this: last weekend was a pivotal time for me because what I saw was in my view a faulty count in that four-fifths of the votes that would have taken Gore up over the gap and were part of the manual recount were dismissed by the secretary of state.

And secondly, the high probability that there is flawed equipment in that some of those machines, to save money, I guess, had a plastic insert instead of a rubber insert. Now, what that means and why it's significant is that the stylus that you vote with won't pierce and push out the chad. And I think that needs to be investigated.

Plus, this is said, you have 10,000 vote from Dade that have been rejected by the machines but never really looked at by a human eye. So, there are these issues, I think, that need to be resolved before everybody can be sure that really the right man has in fact been elected, the person with the most votes.

KING: Senator Hutchison, do those facts bother you at all?

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: Oh, I think a lot about this election is troublesome, Larry. It was very close, and it was especially close in Florida, and you had a situation in Florida where there were not clear standards on what would be counted. And Broward County counted dimpled ballots regardless of what was done on the rest of the ballot, but Palm Beach did it in a different way.

And I think that is why having another recount would not be productive, because you don't have a standard that goes across the board in Florida, nor is the Gore campaign seeking to recount the whole state, but just those Democrat...

KING: But they offered that today. They offered today to recount the whole state.


KING: They offered it before, too, didn't they?



HUTCHISON: Yes, actually, he did, but that was also without standards. And so you had some ballots that are being thrown out that are foreign military ballots and some that were now found to be relevant.

I just think that it was not having the clear standard that was the real problem.

KING: Does that mean that, therefore, ladies, Senator Feinstein, we are never going to know really who won Florida?

FEINSTEIN: Oh, I think we're going to know and I'll tell you why. I think that there are enough already Freedom of Information Act requests for individuals and groups to go over these ballots. It may take 3, 4, 5 or 6 months, but I think at some point, there is going to be another election result announced.

And I think that's the trick here, because what the Gore camp is asking for is a full and fair count. And as you pointed out, they said initially we can recount the whole state if you want or we can just recount where we believe there is a faulty procedure.

KING: Are you saying that you might see President Bush one day hear an announcement that Gore won Florida?

FEINSTEIN: I believe that may be the case.

KING: Senator Hutchison, do you fear that?

HUTCHISON: No, I don't think that will be the case, because I would just ask Dianne a question. Do you think a ballot should be counted for Vice President Gore that has a dimple in it on the presidential election, but it is pierced through in the rest of the ballot?

FEINSTEIN: Yes, I do, Kay. That's actually Texas law. I read the statute, and Texas law also says that the human count is the best count and counts dimples. And I think, you know, accept the Texas standard for that matter, because if those plastic strips in some of that equipment did in fact retard the stylus so that it couldn't puncture and leave a chad, then the voter intent is clearly measured by the dimple.

HUTCHISON: Well, but why would it be able to go through in every other race on the ballot but not that one race on the top? Why not say that the person...

FEINSTEIN: Because as I understand it...

HUTCHISON: .. the person might have decided they really couldn't vote for Vice President Gore, but they really didn't want to vote for Governor Bush, but they came in to vote for the member of Congress or the county commissioner in that precinct.

I mean, how can you go behind what that person wanted to do?

A lot of people didn't vote for president that voted for other people on the ballot. In Idaho, 5 percent of the people did not vote for president and they voted for other races. In Illinois, it was 3.9 percent. You're talking about this 10,000 votes in Miami-Dade being only 1.6 percent.

So a lot of people just make that decision. Why would we go behind that and try to psychoanalyze what the voter meant?

FEINSTEIN: Because this election is being judged on 500 votes in one state, and because Vice President Gore has the popular vote, he is a gnat's eyebrow from the electoral vote. And so I think Florida takes on a very unusual scrutiny, but that scrutiny should be correct. KING: Senator Feinstein, do you think Gore will prevail in the courts?

FEINSTEIN: I don't know. I have no way of knowing. And I think we're in uncharted water. I do think, though, because Kay and I are good friends and I treasure that friendship, and I've looked forward to it being a more bipartisan Senate. And I think Kay feels the same way.

I think unless this is done right...

KING: Will it be, Senator Hutchison...

FEINSTEIN: ... it's very difficult.

KING: Senator Hutchison, Dick Cheney says the Senate will come together. Will it?

HUTCHISON: Oh, I very much want it to. I want us to work in a bipartisan way. I can work with Dianne Feinstein.

But I do think that in the Florida vote -- and I certainly understand the intensity of feeling; I feel strongly too. But I disagree with my friend Dianne about whether I would count that dimple on the top if someone was able to press through in the rest of the ballot.

And I think that is what our dilemma is, that two good people who are sincere can disagree. So, that's why I think you have to let the machine make that decision.

KING: You are. And you are two good people. Senators Feinstein and Hutchison, always great to have them on.

When we come back, Hal Bruno, Carl Bernstein and Richard Shenkman. That's our panel for tonight, and they'll go over all of this right after this. Don't go away.


KING: Now our panel. From Denver, Hal Bruno, former director of political coverage ABC News and CNN election night analyst; in New York, Carl Bernstein, executive vice president, executive editor of, contributing editor of "Vanity Fair," working on a biography of Senator-Elect Hillary Clinton; and in Washington, Richard Shenkman, presidential historian, author of "Presidential Ambition: Gaining Power at Any Cost."

Hal Bruno, from what we've heard tonight, from either the secretary or from the other secretary, any advancement, in your mind, as to where we're going here after listening to Cheney and Christopher?

HAL BRUNO, FORMER ABC POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I'll tell you, the whole evening was much more civilized than we've heard in the past, especially in comparison to what you had last night. I think there's a realization, obviously, that, look, we're going to go through a process, and it's in the courts now, and the machinery is going to have to grind it out, and it's going to take some time. And when it's all over with, we're going to have a government and people arguing that have to make an effort to work together.

KING: And Carl Bernstein, is it going to be a bitter government no matter who takes office?

CARL BERNSTEIN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, VOTER.COM: I think there's going to be real bitterness at the new president. In the House and the Senate, I think you're going find that because these people need and want to be re-elected they're going to get along. They know that to get re-elected they have to cooperate. So I think there's going to be a lot of cooperation on the Hill.

But it's difficult to overestimate how much hatred -- and I use that word in its real meaning -- has been engendered by one party for the other as a result of this struggle. Each side thinks the other has stolen the election.

KING: Richard Shenkman, is this as vituperative as it gets historically?

RICHARD SHENKMAN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: We've only had a couple of elections like this one. You have to go back to 1824 where you had John Quincy Adams versus Andrew Jackson. Jackson felt that Adams had stolen the election: for the next four years, undermining Adams' presidency and running. Then you have 1876. Everybody now knows about this election, which is to the delight of historians, Tilden-Hayes. And then 1888, you again had it where you had Benjamin Harrison winning a majority of electoral votes while Cleveland won the majority of the popular vote.

KING: And the bitterness, was -- this is a classic example. Do you agree with, Carl, it's going to continue?

SHENKMAN: Oh, I think it's going to be terrible. I don't agree with...

KING: Terrible?

SHENKMAN: Terrible, yes. Every single day of this man's presidency, whether this man is Gore or Bush, is going to be like a campaign day. Every single day, he's going to have to work hard to win the support of the public that day. And just like campaigns tend to bring out the worst in our candidates, campaigns will bring out the worst in our president. I don't think it's going to be a happy period at least for two years until the mid-term elections and maybe we'll have some clarity then.

KING: So Hal Bruno, this will this will not be forgotten, Hal?

BRUNO: No, he's always going to be a president with an asterisk, whichever on it is, and when you've got a Congress that's as closely divided as this one is, that's the formula for trouble. I think Dianne Feinstein and Senator Hutchison all have good intentions of trying to work together, but somebody has got emerge up there on Capitol Hill as statesmen and we haven't seen that from either party up to this point.


KING: We'll finish these thoughts after this. Hold on. Carl. We've got to get a break. We'll be back right after these messages. Don't go away.


KING: Carl Bernstein, you were going to add?

BERNSTEIN: Well, after Watergate, Bob Woodward and I went back and wrote the final days, about Nixon's last year in office and you're going see in this instance after January 20th, the inauguration, there will be great journalists going over this period from November 7th to January 20th, and there is going to be a book reporting in newspapers produced that is going to shine a really ugly light on what has happened and that, too, is going to make it very difficult for the next president. Tip O'Neill said, you know, all politics are local. Local politics can be very ugly and that's what we're seeing here in this fight in Florida.

KING: And Richard Shenkman, in your opinion, we're going to see it every day, right?

SHENKMAN: I think we're going see it every day and here's a point I'd like to make. These guys are going to be acting very, very political. Right now, we're seeing them act very, very political. And this is really their first test of their presidency and you know what, Americans don't like politicians acting political. They especially don't like presidents acting political and that itself is going contribute to cynicism an bitterness. We want presidents to act as statesmen, and a lot of times, you know, they can't, but they pretend. They have to be good actors.

KING: But Hal, isn't it difficult when one man wins the popular vote as we've been saying for two months and the other wins the electoral -- hey?

BRUNO: It's never happened in our time. You have to go back to the nine 19th century and even there, and I'd be interested in Richard's opinion on this, you can't compare this to anything that's ever happened before. This is totally different. We are in uncharted waters. We have never had any experience with anything like this, and we have to go day by day, trying to figure out where it's leading us. We know eventually we are going to have a president.

There's no question about that and it's going to come about in an orderly manner, through the rule of law, as it always does in this country. The American people will adapt just fine. They have a tremendous capacity to handle anything that comes their way. But how will Congress perform with a new president under these conditions? I don't know. There's no party discipline and hasn't been for years on either side of the aisle up there.

KING: Carl Bernstein, is inaugural day going to be less than joyous.

BERNSTEIN: It'll be joyous for the families of the winners. I'm not sure beyond that. You've got another problem. It's not just the Congress that's going to be divided. The people of the country who voted, almost all of them, for a centrist candidate. They didn't feel that strongly except for real party war horses, now feel very strongly about which one of these people should win, much more strongly than they did during the campaign.

So, you have a divided country. I think that the two people that really that can do some healing here are Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman. That during the presidency of Gerald Ford, which I think is going to be regarded in our history as a great presidency because of the healing that he accomplished and Dick Cheney was there helping him, that can be a great aide in this. Joe Lieberman has some great relationships with people in this the Senate, better, I think than does Al Gore, and can reach across the aisle. I think that those two gentlemen might be more important in some ways than the presidents.

KING: Interesting thought. Richard Shenkman, what do you make of that? Lieberman and Cheney bring us together?

SHENKMAN: That's interesting. Let me go back to what Carl just said, though, about Gerry Ford. You know, he gives his short inaugural address and he says our long national nightmare is over and he has tremendous public support.

And then one month later because of the bungled way in which he handled the pardon of Nixon, he lost that public support. In about a month and a half, two months he went down by 20 points. That was because he was not considered a legitimate president. Even though he was the president, he didn't have that air of legitimacy about him so he couldn't take a real hard punch and stay high on the polls and presidents these days really need to be high in the polls.

BERNSTEIN: History will show that he was right to pardon Nixon.


KING: Hal Bruno. Yes, but that's history. We're talking about what happened then. Hal?

BRUNO: I would disagree with Carl in one sense about the division within the country. Yes, certainly partisans feel very strongly, but I think a vast majority of the American people simply want to go about their business and they can take this in stride. They would like to have it resolved sooner rather than later but whatever the resolution is the American people it without any trouble.

KING: We're out of time, guys. Hal Bruno, Carl Bernstein, Richard Shenkman, thanks very much. More of the same tomorrow night as we stay on top of the story 24 hours a day. Special report coming from CNN. I'm Larry King. Thanks for joining us. Good night. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.`com


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