|Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback||
Florida Supreme Court Hears Gore Appeal; Circuit Court Judges to Rule on Democratic Challenge of Absentee BallotsAired December 7, 2000 - 5:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Florida's high court, back at the center of the presidential stand-off. After today's arguments, the anticipation intensifies.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We are also waiting for rulings on whether to throw out thousands of mostly pro-Bush absentee ballots. Plus:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Everybody's asking when Gore will concede. There's another question, how?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: Bill Schneider speculates about Gore's endgame.
WOODRUFF: And we'll help you make heads or tails out of these and other turns in the continuing election saga.
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.
Well, what began at polling places exactly one month ago today could finally end any time now in the courts. The Florida Supreme Court is weighing an appeal by Al Gore, perhaps his last shot at another recount, and, in turn, the presidency.
And two lower court judges are deliberating challenges to thousands of absentee ballots which helped to give George W. Bush his narrow lead in Florida. Kate Snow and Bill Delaney have been covering today's courtroom action.
First, let's go to Bill on those absentee ballot cases, one of which just wrapped up -- Bill.
BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Judy. Just wrapped up within the past 20 minutes or so. You know, when all is said and done -- and a lot's been said in Leon County Courthouse in the past 48 grueling hours or so -- this still boils down to not so much an argument over what happened. The two sides pretty much agree on that, but what to do about what happened. Should 25,000 valid absentee ballots be thrown out because about 2,500 absentee ballot applications were filled in by Republican operatives?
Democratic plaintiffs say that's against the law, it was wrong. Republicans say it wasn't nearly enough to justify throwing out ballots. In Martin County, some 500 absentee ballot applications filled in voter IDs put in by Republican operatives. In Seminole County, some 2,000 absentee ballot applications had their voter ID numbers put in by Republican operatives. In both cases the problem was a computer glitch. Democratic absentee ballots that were sent out didn't have the same problem. Still, plaintiffs insist this was intentional, illegal misconduct rising to the level of a felony. And it tainted the whole election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERALD RICHMAN, PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: What the facts are is that they took a public office and that public office was then turned into an agent or an arm of one particular political party, and the reason doesn't matter, because the law says you cannot do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DELANEY: Democratic -- Republicans respond look, the statute may have been violated in this case, but the statute they say was not mandatory. It was a direction in which -- which should have been followed. It simply wasn't serious enough, they say, to throw out an entire election. They say the voters in this, the absentee ballots voters, simply were innocent and shouldn't be disenfranchised.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY YOUNG, SEMINOLE COUNTY CANVASSING BOARD ATTORNEY: All we want and all the Seminole County officials want is the clear, unequivocal voices of the Seminole County voters to be heard. They cast their vote. They participated, and they don't want to be discounted or thrown out or silenced in any way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DELANEY: Now, in the Martin County case, we've been promised a written ruling by tomorrow, Friday at noon. In the Seminole County case, judge a little more vague. The judge in the Martin County case did say he intended to consult with Judge Nikki Clark. So we expect at some point the two judges are going to talk about all this. Now following all this and watching these two judges up close for the past 48 grueling hours has been our own Gary Tuchman. He's been in the courtroom.
Gary, what was it like.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I feel like I'm getting to know these judges very well. And as a matter of fact, I just talked to Judge Nikki Clark a short time ago. She did say on the bench that she would have a written ruling. She knew it had to be soon, but she didn't know when it would be. So I very specifically said to her, is it possible it will be as early as tomorrow, and she said to me absolutely nothing. She looked at me and she walked away. She did not want to say.
But as Bill just said, Judge Terry Lewis did say he would have a ruling by noon tomorrow. He didn't say if it would be written or not, but he did say he would consult with Judge Clark. So we have Lewis and Clark who will both consult with each other, we assume, and it's possible we get two rulings tomorrow, but we don't know at this point.
What we do know with Judge Clark, she is very concerned about two specific issues. She asked the Democratic plaintiffs' lawyer should the voters be punished for the act of the elections supervisor...
WOODRUFF: Gary, I'm going to interrupt you so we can hear the attorneys for the plaintiffs in that Seminole County case. So, let's go to them now.
RICHMAN: ...need to be able to ask questions. You want to know what the judge is thinking and what questions are unanswered in her mind or may not be clear so you can go ahead and give specific responses to it.
QUESTION: She seemed to express a concern about not wanting to thwart the will of the voters. She mentioned that a couple of time, clearly on her mind. What's your thought to that?
RICHMAN: No one wants to thwart the will of the voters. The question is how do you maintain the integrity of the process when you have clear violations of the law and mandatory statutes, and that's what's happened here. It's -- the only way to remedy it, where it's commingled is the remedy that we've asked for in this case.
Otherwise, you get away with it. You infect the integrity of the process and just take for example, the argument about the ballot. Supposing a busload of Republicans show up at the polls at 7:02, close to the example the judge used, and the Republican elections supervisor says OK, these are Republicans. I'm going to let them in. But if they were Democrats, I wouldn't do it. The votes that they cast would be purely valid votes, expresses the will of the voter, but what does it do for the process if you allow that to happen?
QUESTION: Several observers say that this case could be Al Gore's best last chance?
RICHMAN: I hope it is a good chance for Al Gore, and I hope he will stay in there, and I hope we can win because the will of the people of the United States was that Al Gore should be president. And the will of the people thwarted by different things that have happened in Miami and in Broward County, Palm Beach County. I voted the butterfly ballot, and I can say on national television that I almost voted for Pat Buchanan; that the ballot was really that bad and I think it's a tragedy that no judicial relief was provided in that case. The will of the voters really has not been upheld in Florida by what's happened in the process to date. QUESTION: You're asking the judge to do so much. Implications are so huge, aren't you worried that there's so much of a burden that you have no chance of winning?
RICHMAN: Not at all. We've got -- we've got two alternatives we gave to the judge. One is to throw out the 15,000 which we believe is the precedent under Florida law. There's another possible alternative where she could throw out a lesser number, but that lesser number would be no less than -- I believe the number is 1,504. So, in either case it's going to have a very significant affect on the national election.
WOODRUFF: Gerald Richman, who is the attorney for the plaintiff in that suit, the Seminole County voter who brought suit, charging that the Republicans received favorable treatment by being allowed to fill out the -- finish filling out those absentee ballot applications. Our apologies to CNN's Bill Delaney and Gary Tuchman who were in the middle of giving their report when we went listen to what Mr. Richman was saying.
Well, now let's turn to Al Gore's appeal to the Florida Supreme Court and to CNN's Kate Snow -- Kate.
KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, in a hearing that lasted just over an hour and a half, Chief Justice Charles Wells seemed to dominate the question-and-answers, but all of the seven justices had a shot at it. They each asked at least a couple of questions, looking for guidance, something to guide them through this process as they deal with a case that could end up determining who wins the presidential election.
CLERK: The Supreme Court of...
SNOW (voice-over): Gore attorney David Boies had barely introduced himself when the first question was launched.
CHIEF JUSTICE CHARLES WELLS, FLORIDA SUPREME COURT: Mr. Boies, let me -- let me start...
SNOW: Chief Justice Charles Wells wanted to know who has the power to decide on matters involving a state's electors for president: The legislative branch or the judiciary?
Justice Major Harding followed up.
JUSTICE MAJOR HARDING, FLORIDA SUPREME COURT: Where do we get our right to review the appellate review? From the rules and from the Constitution. And doesn't that create a federal question?
DAVID BOIES, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: I don't think so, Your Honor, because...
SNOW: Boies insisted the court can and should review ballots. The legislature, he said, only dictates the manner in which a state's electors are chosen, not the timeframe.
BOIES: This is a situation in which you have a statute that the legislature has passed that provides very specific remedies.
SNOW: There were questions about the standards used to review ballots and about singling out a few counties rather than recounting the whole state.
JUSTICE BARBARA PARIENTE, FLORIDA SUPREME COURT: Why wouldn't it be proper for any court, if they were going to order any relief, to count the undervotes in all of the counties?
BOIES: This and other courts have looked not at the entire type of ballot that may been involved, but only those ballots that were actually contested by a party.
PARIENTE: But we've never had...
SNOW: Justices also pounced on Bush attorney Barry Richard, immediate questions about their right to review the case. Richard agreed they have that right, but not as much latitude as Boies said they did.
BARRY RICHARD, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: This is nothing more than a garden-variety appeal from a final judgment by a lower court.
SNOW: Justice Harry Lee Anstead wanted to know about those 14,000 disputed ballots from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.
JUSTICE HARRY LEE ANSTEAD, FLORIDA SUPREME COURT: Isn't it highly unusual for a trial court to admit into evidence certain documents and yet never examine those documents before making their decision.
SNOW: "No," said Richard. "The judge didn't have to review the ballots unless he found evidence to support the Gore team's argument for a recount."
PARIENTE: Are you really saying that the votes, the 9,000 votes in Dade County, which were the exact same votes that were looked at in Palm Beach County and Broward County, should not be looked at in a contest action?
RICHARD: Not at this point.
SNOW: And the key question may have come right at the end of that hearing, when Chief Justice Charles Wells asked to David Boies, the attorney for Gore, can all of this, if we want to resolve this, can it all be done before December 12th, next Tuesday, which of course is the deadline for choosing Florida's electors? Mr. Boies responded to that by saying, yes, sir, I think you can do this, we can count these ballots before that Tuesday deadline.
Back to you, Bernie. SHAW: Thank you, Kate Snow.
Now, let's talk to representatives of the Bush and Gore legal teams. First, Gore campaign attorney Ron Klain. He's joining us from Tallahassee.
Ron Klain, isn't your highest hurdle a reviewing court's reluctance to overturn a lower-court ruling?
RON KLAIN, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: Well, Bernie, I think that's always the case. I will say, though, that the last time the Florida Supreme Court got involved in this dispute it did overturn a trial court's judgment, Judge Lewis' ruling. So they've made it very clear that they're prepared, I think, to do the right thing in this case, and from our perspective, of course, that right thing is an order to count these uncounted ballots.
SHAW: If the Florida Supreme Court says we're not going to count one ballot, what does that mean for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman?
KLAIN: Well, Bernie, I don't think they're going to hold that. Obviously, it would be a very bad decision from our perspective.
But I think that the law and the facts are on our side. Florida law is very clear that the candidate who won the election is the candidate who got the most votes, and here, where the margin is razor- thin, the only way to know which candidate got the most votes is to look at those ballots and count those ballots. And I thought several of the justices at oral argument today seemed very sympathetic to that point of view.
SHAW: Do you feel you have a better shot in the Seminole and Martin counties cases than before the Florida Supreme Court?
KLAIN: Well, Bernie, our case, our contest, the one we're pursuing, is the one that's before the Florida Supreme Court. And I think we have a very, very strong case there.
As David Boies made clear at argument today, we think Judge Sauls made some erroneous legal rulings. We think he was wrong to say that only a statewide recount was possible, wrong to refuse to look at those ballots that were in evidence. That's where our case is, that's where our argument is, and that's what we've been focused on here.
You know, it's sad that it's taken four weeks to be in a position where we finally are at the point and time where the Florida Supreme Court will make the decision whether or not to have those votes counted. But that's where we are, that's what we're fighting for, and it's high time that those votes finally were counted.
SHAW: December 12th is fast approaching. The lawyers in the courtroom today acknowledged the difficulty of counting all of Florida's ballots. What makes you think that the Florida Supreme Court is going to order the recount in three counties?
KLAIN: Well, those are the counties that we've contested. Those are the counties where there are irregularities and machine failures and large numbers of these uncounted ballots where those votes need to be counted. And in terms of the time, we think it's very clear, Bernie, that 13,000 ballots could be counted in a single day.
There's more than enough time to fix what went wrong in Florida and to let those votes be counted. And it can be done in just one day, and then we'd know who got the most votes, Al Gore or George Bush.
SHAW: And finally, if Al Gore loses before the Florida Supreme Court, will it be time for him to clean out his locker?
KLAIN: Well, Bernie, I don't think Al Gore is going to lose before the Florida Supreme Court. I think that when we're here fighting for the cause of having every vote counted, the courts will back us up on that claim and they will order that those votes be counted.
Also, I think the fairer question really is -- the question really should go to Governor Bush. Is he prepared to claim the presidency with uncertainty over whether or not he actually got the most votes, and when we know that sooner or later -- historians, journalists -- will look at those ballots, they'll find the truth?
I think it's in the country's interest for us to find that truth now before someone is sworn in on January 20th, not later after it's too late.
SHAW: Ron Klain, thank you.
Now, the other side...
KLAIN: Thank you, Bernie.
SHAW: You're quite welcome.
On the other side, Bush campaign attorney George Terwilliger, also in Tallahassee.
Mr. Terwilliger, what will you do if Florida's highest court strikes down Judge Sanders Sauls' ruling?
GEORGE TERWILLIGER, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: Well, we'll have to look at our options if and when that occurs, Bernie, and the grounds upon which they do it: see if there's any basis for further appeal and make recommendations accordingly. But you know, from what we heard in court today, I think that we felt very good about our case at the trial court level, felt very good about the way the case went in before the Supreme Court today.
SHAW: How much confidence do you take in a reviewing court's reluctance to overturn a lower court?
TERWILLIGER: Well, that's -- that's certainly part of the picture here. Normally, you know, courts on appeal do not begin anew the trial. They review the trial for some error that was made below. Judge Sauls made a very careful, well-reasoned decision in this case, based on both facts and law. And of course, appellate courts are less likely to overturn cases where the trial judge, as the trier of fact, has made findings. And that is, in fact, what occurred here.
SHAW: Do you think if Judge Sauls had examined those ballots, it would have changed his ruling materially?
TERWILLIGER: No, I really don't, Bernie, because despite the rhetoric that we continue to hear from the other side, the case isn't about examining ballots. The case is about what ballots count as a vote. And they would like to rewrite the rules so that so-called "dimpled ballots" that never counted as votes before in Florida under the conditions that they're in here would now count. And I really think it's high time for them to sort of drop this misleading rhetoric.
And I must say I'm very troubled when I hear things such as Mr. Klain just said about a cloud hanging over the presidency of Governor Bush should that come to be a reality. There's not going to be any cloud. These votes have been counted and recounted, and the result of that is that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney won this election.
SHAW: Finally, as you survey the legal land -- three cases -- very candidly, is your side more vulnerable than in the Seminole and Martin County cases?
TERWILLIGER: Well, I don't think so. As you know, Bernie, we had one decision in our favor, dismissing one of those types of absentee ballot cases today. We think that the other cases, which are built on similar facts, went in very similarly today and yesterday. And we're very optimistic about those, but we'll have to see what the courts say.
SHAW: George Terwilliger, thanks very much.
And still ahead here on INSIDE POLITICS: Is the end near? How the candidates are preparing for the conclusion of this presidential race.
WODDRUFF: In Florida, Al Gore's attorneys argued the legal case that may be his last best hope. The vice president watched from Washington with his campaign making optimism the order of the day.
Our Jonathan Karl reports.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hi, how are you all?
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His fate, for now at least, in the hands of the Florida Supreme Court, Vice President Gore took his running mate out for lunch. Gore had watched state's high court hearing on television, immediately afterwards calling lead counsel David Boies to congratulate him on a case well argued.
It may be a case of wishful thinking, but the Gore team has prepared for what would happen after a victory before the Florida court. Celebration would be premature because they'd still face significant legal hurdles.
First, they've prepared for what they expect to be an immediate appeal from the Bush campaign to the U.S. Supreme Court. There's also the question of getting the disputed ballots counted by Florida's Tuesday deadline to choose its electors.
DAVID BOIES, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: There were a couple of questions about how much time it would take and we talked about 300 ballots an hour.
KARL: The Gore team maintains the counting could be done in two days, or, with enough counters, in as little as 10 hours.
BOIES: You have to keep in mind that out of the millions of votes that were involved in this election, we're now down to only about 13,000 or 12,300 votes that are contested.
KARL: But even if they get the recount, and even if that recount gives Gore the lead, he faces another major battle: Florida's legislature could certify Bush as victor.
TOM FEENEY (R), FLORIDA HOUSE SPEAKER: We have a duty to protect Florida's participation in the Electoral College.
KARL: With the guidance of Walter Dellinger, the former U.S. solicitor general, the Gore team has crafted a legal strategy to challenge the right of Florida's Republican-controlled legislature to send its own slate to the Electoral College.
BOIES: In terms of legal options, obviously you have the legal option of challenging that in some form.
KARL: Gore's team won't even talk privately about the details of their plan, but it would likely include an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
KARL: Now if Gore loses appeal before the Florida Supreme Court, his campaign refuses to say definitively that he would concede, suggesting that he may wait to heart outcome of the Seminole and Martin County cases. But Democrats on Capitol Hill have sent a very clear message to the Gore camp saying that that unified base of support that Gore has enjoyed for this appeal will crumble if he loses before the Florida Supreme Court and then does not yet concede -- Bernie.
SHAW: Jonathan Karl, thank you.
For his part, Republican George W. Bush is waiting out the Florida battle, spending his time considering Cabinet appointments in the event of a victory.
Joining us now from Austin, our own Candy Crowley.
Candy, if this ends in the next few days with Bush as the winner, are they planning a big celebration?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was told not to look for a big celebration at this point. They realize that the time for that really passed on election night, when they had, you know, thousands gathered in the square in Austin with the singers and bands.
That is something that they don't believe considering the timing nor what has gone on is particularly appropriate. Perhaps some low- key sort of thing, but basically what I'm hearing from Bush's senior staff is that they realize this will be the time to bring the country together and that will be more the tone that you will hear. Sort of moving right into the president-elect mode minus the big celebration.
SHAW: Cabinet choices, how are they shaping up?
CROWLEY: Well, I'm told that so far at least as of a couple of hours ago, the governor himself had not contacted any of his Cabinet possibilities, and has not really honed in on, you know, a particular person for a particular spot except for in some cases.
We all know about Colin Powell. Also Don Evans. He was chairman of the Bush campaign. He is close friend of the governor's. I am told within the campaign it is understood that Don Evans could be tapped as the commerce secretary, that that job is his, should he want it, and they fully expect that he would.
Beyond that, just some interesting names coming up and Bernie, this is handfuls of smoke at this time, hard to grasp on to how much comes from the outside in and how much from the inside out of the Bush campaign, but interesting name coming up and that is Dan Coates, the former senator from Indiana who retired a couple of years ago.
His name has cropped up in the defense secretary slot as one of those whose name is being mulled over. Again. there are other, a couple of governors out there. Tom Ridge has been named -- has been one of those names that has been floating around, although he's made it quite clear that he wants to stay in the Pennsylvania governor's house.
So -- but, Dan Coates was sort of an interesting name that came up. But again, they sort of float in and float out at this point and we are told that as yet except for Colin Powell, Don Evans, that basically what they're doing now is just the sort of preliminary reaching out to people.
SHAW: What's floating on the senior staff?
CROWLEY: Senior staff is in place. It's not in public place at this point. Timing at this point is crucial to the Bush campaign. They don't want to look too pushy but they don't want to wait too long, but the governor has, in fact, selected who he wants to be his senior staff. As you know Andrew Card is already in place as chief of staff. But there will be other sort of familiar campaign faces and those who have been with the governor for many years.
SHAW: Candy Crowley, who one day will sleep in her own bed. Right now, she remains in Austin -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: We know she that looks forward to that.
Well, there's much more ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Still to come, the latest from Florida from the front page to the op- ed page, we'll check the reactions across the country with our roundtable of guests.
Plus, as partisans clash outside the capitol, Florida lawmakers prepare to take action inside: a preview of the special session. And later,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: Despite what he said over and over again in the campaign:
GORE: I need your help, because I want to fight for you!
SCHNEIDER: Too many people believe he's fighting for himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Our Bill Schneider on the vice president's struggle against public perception.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
SHAW: ... asking that thousands of ballots be tossed out. Allegedly, the Republican officials mishandled ballot applications.
Florida's Republican-controlled legislature is gearing up for a special session tomorrow. Lawmakers may consider naming the state's 25 presidential electors, who would be loyal to George W. Bush.
WOODRUFF: And joining us now, four journalists to talk more about today's developments: Linda Kleindienst of "The South Florida Sun-Sentinel"; Megan Garvey of "The Los Angeles Times," who's covering Governor Bush in Austin; David Postman of "The Seattle Union Record," and I want to say, David, you normally report for "The Seattle Times," but they are on strike so you're doing duty yeoman's work for "The Union Record"; and, finally, Michael Goodwin, executive editor of "The New York Daily News."
Linda Kleindienst, to you first. You've covered Tallahassee, you know the state capitol, you know the courts -- is the educated thinking that these seven justices could overturn Judge Sauls?
LINDA KLEINDIENST, "THE SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL": I think that's a possibility. It's a very independent court. You could tell by their questions today they were very curious about some things that went on during the trial. And you notice that they were questioning, why didn't the judge ever look at the ballots? That seemed to be an issue with several of the justices.
WOODRUFF: And when do we expect the decision? What's the thinking on that?
KLEINDIENST: Well, some folks, including the attorneys for both sides, have predicted it could come as early as tonight. I think most people are thinking, though, that it might be tomorrow; that the justices might want to take some time to review the record. They had asked several questions about issues that were included in the record, and they may want to take the time to read that so that they're not accused of rushing to judgment.
WOODRUFF: David Postman in Seattle: You're hearing from the public out there. Are people prepared to accept whatever the Supreme Court ruling is? Are they prepared for a ruling in Gore's favor or are they pretty much, you know, have they pretty much have a built-in expectation, now, that Governor Bush is going to be the winner all the way from now on?
DAVID POSTMAN, "THE SEATTLE UNION RECORD": I think that is the sense, that we know who the winner is and this is the denouement that is playing itself out and here. And I think people are not so much losing patience as they are just losing interest in it.
We've gone past that real exciting stage where people were riveted to every turn of, you know, a ballot; where this was the discussion that you would hear when you went out about town. And people -- that seemed OK during Thanksgiving, maybe; but now that the Christmas lights are going up I think people are just tired of it and ready for it to end. And in their minds, really, they're already there. They've already started to move on.
WOODRUFF: If that's the public reaction in Seattle, Michael Goodwin, what about in New York?
MICHAEL GOODWIN, "THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": I think that people are somewhat tired of it, of course. But I do think that when there is some kind of an ending, whatever it is, a new twist, a new bombshell decision, people will get excited again, they'll get energized again -- it'll come back onto, I think, the front burner of people's minds. And I would caution people that it's probably not over yet, that there probably is another twist or two left in this game.
WOODRUFF: Megan Garvey, what about that? You're in Austin covering Governor Bush and his people. What if the final twist turns -- makes a U-turn and goes against Governor Bush? Are they prepared for that there?
MEGAN GARVEY, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES": I think that, really, that's not something that's even been considered, particularly as some of Al Gore's legal remedies in this case have, sort of, narrowed. I think that would really come as a tremendous shock to Bush's aides and his supporters. I am not sure they would be prepared if that happened.
And I think, you know, in the words of some of his spokespeople in the last few weeks, there's always been an appeal. So the idea of what the final decision here is, is still up in the air. I think we're still waiting to find out exactly what the end point will be.
WOODRUFF: Linda Kleindienst, to you in Tallahassee.
Is it your sense from, not only covering the state capitol but, of course, paying attention to what Florida voters are thinking -- that the legal outcome, whatever it is, is going to be accepted as legitimate?
KLEINDIENST: I think so, the vice president's attorneys said today that they will accept whatever the Florida Supreme Court rules, that they view them as the final authority on Florida election law. They don't expect to appeal any decision out of here. And I think most Floridians are ready to see this come to an end and I think they hope it will come to an end before the legislature has to go into session on it.
WOODRUFF: David Postman -- Seattle -- people in the Pacific Northwest, to the extent you've been able to gauge this, will they accept the final result as legitimate?
POSTMAN: I think so. And again, I think part of that is just the amount of time that everyone's had to watch this process and sort of educate themselves; and realize that, you know, when this does end and whatever that final end is, that nobody could argue that there wasn't some avenue that hadn't been tried.
And I think that some of that has just been patience -- people have been willing to wait a certain of time; but I think that people are going to want to see what the reaction is from congressional leaders -- from other politicians, and to see if we have, still, the defensiveness and the reluctance to concede. And if you see that from democratic officials if, in fact, the vice president doesn't prevail, I think then people are going to become agitated.
WOODRUFF: Michael Goodwin in New York, you said a moment ago that there still could be twists and turns that no one expects. What make you say that?
GOODWIN: Well, just the track record of this case. I think that every time there have been several false starts where we thought we were close to the endgame. I think you could look across the country -- you'll see headlines in just about every paper -- "endgame, endgame."
Well, in fact, that hasn't happened yet and I think there are additional avenues of appeal. There is, of course, the wildcard of the Florida legislature, which could be appealed. So this thing could blow past the December 12 deadline; maybe December 18 is the more likely date, when the Electoral College finally does meet. So I hope, for the sake of the country, that it's going to be over soon, but I'm not absolutely confident.
WOODRUFF: And Megan Garvey in Austin for "The Los Angeles Times," what about, again, among the Bush people -- we've seen more of Governor Bush, himself, out front this week. A little less of Dick Cheney; is that more a sign of confidence on their part or what?
GARVEY: I think so. I think it's also an awareness of what the public wants to see, what is acceptable. I think that they sort of acknowledged that the meeting three days after the election where he sort of appeared in this oval-office-like setting with his top advisers was seen as presumptuous by many -- even people who supported him.
But I think now, you know, with the inaugural date fast approaching, with, you know, 30 days into the post-election period, I think that people want whoever will be the next president to appear presidential and if it's Bush, I think that he wants to sound and look presidential which is exactly what he started to do again this week.
WOODRUFF: I want to go down the line just quickly now. We've got barely a minute and ask each one of you if there's a lesson out of this whole experience what is it, in just a few words?
Linda Kleindienst, to you first.
KLEINDIENST: Well, I think the biggest lesson for Florida is that they need to take the look at their election processes, which Governor Jeb Bush has pledged to do here and not to take our votes for granted.
WOODRUFF: David Postman?
POSTMAN: Well, I think that the lesson for us in the media is don't jump to any conclusions until after all of the votes are counted.
WOODRUFF: And Michael Goodwin?
GOODWIN: Well, I think that probably any states certainly, New York state, would not fare well under this kind of scrutiny, either. I think the ballot processes across country probably could use a lot of improvement.
WOODRUFF: And finally, Megan Garvey?
GARVEY: I think I'll just have to second that again. I think that the whole election process, how we actually vote is going to coming under incredible scrutiny and maybe be fixed in some sort of fundamental ways.
WOODRUFF: All right. Megan Garvey with "The Los Angeles Times," Linda Kleindienst with "The South Florida Sun-Sentinel," David Postman with "The Seattle Times," now "Union Record" and finally, Michael Goodwin, with "The New York Daily News." Thank you all four of you we appreciate it.
And when INSIDE POLITICS continues, Republicans and outnumbered Democrats in the Florida legislature. Mike Boettcher on their possible battle over the state's presidential electors.
SHAW: The Republican-dominated Florida legislature is scheduled to meet in special session tomorrow.
National correspondent Mike Boettcher has the story.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's historic and it's very emotional.
MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fort Apache, Tallahassee. Outnumbered almost two-to-one by Republicans, Florida's House Democrats meet to plan their defense in the upcoming special session.
LOIS FRANKEL (D), FLORIDA HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Don't anyone get, like, overanxious and feel like you have to save the world, OK?
BOETTCHER: Words of advice from Democratic House leader, Lois Frankel, who is determined not to surrender, but who knows her party is about to be overrun by Republicans legislators. Her fellow Democrats vow not to go down quietly.
KENNETH GOTTLIEB (D), FLORIDA STATE HOUSE: The most important thing for us to do is to speak out and let the world know what's really happening instead of all the rhetoric and spin that people hear because this is definitely not what the Constitution says that we're supposed to do. It's illegal.
UNIDENTIFIED FLORIDA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: We're taking the will of the people and changing the will of the people by just a political decision and shame on us for doing that. Shame on us.
BOETTCHER: But across the Capitol, Republican Senator Dan Webster says politics didn't drive him to be the first to warn fellow Republicans that a special session would be needed. It was the U.S. Constitution. He told that to a group of senators on November 10th.
DANIEL WEBSTER (R), FLORIDA STATE SENATE: There, I just said I just want to let everyone know, based on what the U.S Constitution said, we may be right in the middle of this whole matter.
BOETTCHER: His fellow senators laughed then, but three weeks later, there was Webster, sitting on the Republican-dominated legislative committee that recommended that Florida lawmakers name its own slate of presidential electors.
He rejects the notion that Republicans are trying to steal the election. He believes if action isn't taken, Democrats could steal it. WEBSTER: Our inaction on tainted electors will elect Al Gore by default as president of the United States if that situation arises because our electors won't be counted. He'll win by less than a majority, less than 270 votes, but he will win the presidency. So, if they are able to paint a picture that we don't need to act, don't believe it on principle. It's on the election of another person other than George W. Bush.
BOETTCHER: The special session is expected to move quickly with a resolution naming the legislatures 25 electors passed by Wednesday. But both sides know the impact of what they do, and how they do it, will have a larger impact to be studied for many years after their historic vote -- Bernie
SHAW: Thank you, Mike Boettcher.
And when we return, if necessary, can Al Gore still make a graceful exit? Our Bill Schneider considers the options.
WOODRUFF: If -- if -- the legal proceedings in Florida play out in George W. Bush's favor, Al Gore will face the difficult task of conceding the race.
For more on that, we turn to our own Bill Schneider, who's been doing some thinking about it.
SCHNEIDER: I have?
You know, some people are asking when Al Gore will concede. There's another question: how? Because if and when the time comes, Gore has to do it in a way that will preserve his political viability.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Gore has to look like a martyr, not a loser. A martyr needs a cause bigger than himself. That's Gore's problem. Despite what he said over and over again in the campaign:
GORE: I need your help because I want to fight for you!
GORE: Too many people believe he's fighting for himself. Gore's negatives have risen to the point where most Americans now have an unfavorable opinion of the vice president. Ironically, Gore did his best job tackling that perception in his convention speech last August.
GORE: Sometimes you have to chose to what's difficult or unpopular. Sometimes you have to be willing to spend your popularity in order to pick the hard right over the easy wrong.
SCHNEIDER: But what is the "hard right" he's fighting for now? Democracy? GORE: If you ignore the votes, you ignore democracy itself.
SCHNEIDER: OK, but that cause does seem to coincide rather conspicuously with Gore's own interests. Is he fighting for us, or for him?
If Gore's principle is every vote must count, Republicans can trump that with other principle: You have to play by the rules. A principle Gore has acknowledged.
GORE: Despite the fact that Joe Lieberman and I won the popular vote, under our Constitution, it is the winner of the Electoral College who will be the next president.
SCHNEIDER: The model for an inspiring concession speech was this one in 1980 when Ted Kennedy made it clear to his party that he was fighting for something bigger than himself.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endorsed, the hope still lives, and the dreams shall never die.
SCHNEIDER: Al Gore was at his best, too, as the fighting populist at the Democratic convention.
GORE: I want you to know this: I've taken on the powerful forces and as president, I'll stand up to them and I'll stand up for you.
SCHNEIDER: If it becomes necessary, a Gore concession can become another metaphor for his cause.
GORE: This is not just an election between my opponent and me, it's about our people, our families and our future, and whether forces standing in your way will keep you from living a better life.
SCHNEIDER: Just like they kept me from becoming president, he might say.
SCHNEIDER: Gore has to make it clear he's fighting for a cause, not grasping at every feeble opportunity to win so that his cause will endure even if victory, this time, slips away -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much.
And there's much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. When we return, Republican discord on Capitol Hill -- Chris Black on reaction to House Whip Tom Delay's biting comments regarding budget negotiations.
And President Clinton talking about impeachment, Monica Lewinsky and other issues. All part of his interview with "Rolling Stone" magazine.
WOODRUFF: Gore versus Bush, now under consideration again by Florida's high court. Will it prove to be the vice president's court of last resort?
SHAW: Plus, how do you handle a Congress divided, especially when the House Republican whip is whipping up controversy?
WOODRUFF: The soon-to-be ex-president dreams of rockin' on inside the pages of "Rolling Stone."
ANNOUNCER: From Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS, with Judy Woodruff and Bernard Shaw.
SHAW: And welcome back to this extended edition of INSIDE POLITICS.
In the presidential election impasse, both sides are back in a familiar mode: waiting for rulings from the courts. Al Gore and Joe Lieberman watched live television coverage this day of the Florida Supreme Court as it heard arguments in their contest of the state's vote count. Aides say Gore believes he has a strong chance of prevailing in that case and winning 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
In Texas, George W. Bush kept working on a presidential transition, but he was briefed about the court proceedings in Florida. His lawyers argued against the Gore camps' appeal for some 14,000 disputed ballots to be hand counted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID BOIES, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: This is a situation in which you have a statute that the legislature has passed that provides very specific remedy.
BARRY RICHARD, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: This is nothing more than a garden variety appeal from a final judgment by a lower court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: Meantime, a Florida circuit court judge now is deliberating a challenge by a democratic lawyer to nearly 15,000 absentee ballots cast in Seminole County. Another judge is weighing a similar challenge to nearly 10,000 absentee ballots from Martin County. If some or all of those ballots were thrown out, it could -- could -- wipe out Bush's narrow, certified lead in Florida, and tilt the election toward Gore.
Bill Delaney is covering those absentee ballot cases, and Kate Snow is at the Florida Supreme Court.
Kate, first to you. SNOW: Well, earlier today, Bernie, the spotlight was here on the Florida Supreme Court as they held a hearing, oral arguments from both sides, the Bush side and the Gore side before the court on that Gore contest that you'll remember Judge Sanders Sauls ruled on earlier in the week. Of course, the Gore team has appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court.
We've just been told that they will not make any decisions tonight. The Supreme Court going home for the night. The justices did talk, though this afternoon. After that hearing, they did discuss this case. We're told that we won't hear anything until at the earliest 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. But of course, at that point their ruling could come at any time.
Now for just over an hour earlier today, the seven justices peppered questions, they threw questions at both the Gore attorney, David Boies and the Bush attorney, Barry Richard. Questions which didn't waste any time getting right to the point. Chief Justice Charles Wells spent a lot of the time with his questions about whether they have the power to decide this case. Whether they could indeed insert themselves in this case as a Supreme Court or was that the role of the legislature.
Also questions about whether they would be creating new law versus interpreting law. David Boies arguing that the Gore team's opinion is indeed they can get involved at this point, that they should count ballots. The opposite point of view from the Bush team, the attorney for Bush Barry Richard saying that they need to simply uphold what the lower court, Judge Sanders Sauls did because the Gore team in their words, never offered enough evidence.
Back to you, Bernie.
SHAW: Thanks, Kate Snow.
Bill Delaney, now to you.
DELANEY: Well, Bernie, you know, what's interesting about all this is that the two sides, the Democrat plaintiffs and the Republican defendants, don't much disagree on what happened here. Both sides pretty much agree that absentee ballot applications were altered, were filled in. Voter IDs were put in by Republican operatives.
Democrats say that may have given an advantage to Republicans and Democrats go well beyond that and say it was intentional illegal misconduct that taints the entire election. And what they want is for 25,000 valid absentee ballots to be thrown out in Seminole and Martin Counties because 2,500 applications for those ballots were filled out by Republican operatives.
Now, Republicans say that's nonsense. You can't throw the baby out with the bath water. Yes, a statute may have been violated, they say, but that statute was not mandatory, they say. It was only directory, and what was done to those applications which had printing errors by putting those voter IDs in was not serious enough to throw out an entire election, that the absentee voters themselves were innocent and shouldn't be disenfranchised.
That's what the two judges in this case have to wrestle with. We expect a verdict not any time sooner than noon Friday. They will be written verdicts handed down by the two judge, one judge presiding over the Seminole County case and one over the Martin County case.
Back to you. Bernie.
SHAW: Thank you, Bill. Bill Delaney -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: And now, let's bring in CNN election law analyst David Cardwell in Tallahassee. David, we also want to say you're the former Florida state elections director. First to the Supreme Court arguments we heard today. David, what did you discern from the questions the justices asked of the two sides?
DAVID CARDWELL, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: Well, what struck me was the concern that the justices showed for the federal issue, whether or not they even have jurisdiction, and if they do make a ruling would they be creating new law. The U.S. Supreme Court decision from this past Monday has obviously affected them. They recognize what the U.S. Supreme Court told them. And the very first question, in fact, before David Boies was even able to say good morning, Chief Justice Wells hit him with a question about the federal issue, and that seemed to kind of run through a lot of the questions throughout the one hour of questioning.
WOODRUFF: Are you saying, David, that that would make these justices more reluctant to overturn the circuit judge here?
CARDWELL: Well, let's at least say they may be very careful that if they do decide to do something other than merely affirm the circuit court decision by Judge Sauls, that they want to be very, very precise in how they write their opinion and base it on so that they don't leave open a question that can be taken back up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
WOODRUFF: David, at one point the Gore attorney, David Boies, said that -- quote -- "We believe the ballots can be counted in the time available," meaning before December 12th. As someone who knows Florida elections and election law, do you believe it can be done in that period of time?
CARDWELL: Well, it also depends how many are going to be counted. There's a question of do they count just the 9,000 ballots from Miami-Dade County that are in dispute, the so-called undervotes, or do they count any of the ballots from Palm Beach County or do they try to count all of Miami-Dade County.
If it's all of Miami-Dade County, that is just such a difficult task. That's huge. That's over 600,000 votes that would have to be counted. But if it's just the 9,000 votes that could be done. But that raises another issue, and as you know, there's questions that have been raised about partial recounts versus full county recounts. So if they decide to go that route, they may just open up another legal issue. WOODRUFF: David, just quickly now to the two county cases, Seminole and Martin counties. You were able to listen to those. In either one is the case on behalf of the Democratic plaintiff stronger than the other?
CARDWELL: They're basically the same. The basic allegation is that absentee ballot request forms, not the ballots themselves but merely the request forms, did -- that the Republican Party printed did not have the voter ID number on the form. That's now required by a statute that was enacted in 1999, and this is the -- excuse me, '98, effective in '99 so this is the first election cycle that we've had that on the books.
Most voters don't know their voter ID number, but the computer program that produced these card, these request forms was supposed to have printed that number on it. It did not do so. So, there was evidence introduced that really was not refuted, that Republican Party operatives did, in fact, right those numbers on the card. What the dispute is, is what's the effect of that? Did it adversely impact the election and was it such a severe example of misconduct that it really taints the entire absentee ballots.
What seem to be particularly troubling to Judge Nikki Clark in the Seminole County case was that here was about little more than a thousand absentee ballot requests which could have an impact on 15,000 ballots, and she asked a lot of questions about the remedy and whether something could be done short of disqualifying votes.
WOODRUFF: All right, David Cardwell. We thank you. We're going to have to leave it there. We know you've been with us all day and you're going to be at it still. Thanks very much -- Bernie.
SHAW: As this legal battle for the White House goes on, we have new information about who is helping Al Gore foot the bill.
CNN's Brooks Jackson is here with the list the Gore camp filed with the IRS this say -- Brooks.
BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, the list was long, 140 pages, listing $3.3 million in donations to the Gore- Lieberman Recount Committee. But the biggest name of all turned out to be a dot.com multimillionaire who's also a registered Republican. Silicon Valley's Steve Kirsch gave half a million dollars, the largest single donation. Kirsch Infoseek. He's been quoted as saying statistics convinced him Gore got more votes than were counted.
Tied for second at $200,000 each, Los Angeles producer Steve Bing and Houston trial lawyer John O'Quinn, who won big in the breast implant case.
Next on the list, six more wealthy donors who gave $100,000 each, including one of the parties biggest soft money donors, S. Daniel Abraham, founder of Slimfast Foods, and a familiar name, Jane Fonda, wife of CNN's founder Ted Turner. Fonda listed her address as Atlanta, Georgia, and her occupation as actress. Altogether the top nine donors gave half a -- excuse me, a million and half dollars to Gore, nearly half of all the money he raised before November 27th, the last day covered by the report. The law puts no limits on the size of donations to recount funds and Gore is taking what he can get. In fact, 70 percent of Gore's money came in donation of $25,000 or more.
George W. Bush, on the other hand, says he won't accept more than $5,000 per person, $10,000 per couple, a voluntary limit. Yet he's been able to raise about twice as much as Gore, and in case you were wondering neither recount committee can legally take money from labor unions, corporations or non-U.S. citizens who are not permanent residents of the United States -- Bernie.
SHAW: Brooks, as you know, all our viewers know you to be our follow the money man and in many of your reports you've always mentioned the Federal Election Commission. Why did Vice President Gore make this disclosure to the Internal Revenue Service?
JACKSON: Bernie, this is a strange one, and it shows you just how cloudy election law is in this area. Al Gore's recount committee chose to register under Section 527 in the Internal Revenue Code. The election law itself doesn't require any disclosure of these recount fund, but Congress last year passed a law saying these 527 organizations have to file. And so Al Gore is complying with the law.
George W. Bush organized his recount committee differently, and there are no legal limits, or legal requirements for him to disclose. He's making voluntary disclosure only on his Web site. Gore's is more detailed. He gives occupation and employer information, street address and is subject to legal penalties if they report something wrong. Bush is reporting only voluntarily.
SHAW: Clearly, that's why you follow the money. Brooks Jackson, thank you -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. Well, we learned a lot there.
Still ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, attending to business on Capitol Hill. The lame duck session, and one partisan distraction.
Plus, President Clinton reflects his eight years in the White House, as the fight over who will be his successor rages on.
WOODRUFF: On Capitol Hill, Congress is meeting in a lame-duck session to finish the year's budget business. But as both parties call for bipartisanship, one prominent Republican is rocking the boat.
Our Chris Black on the politics inside the nation's capitol.
CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): House Republican Whip Tom DeLay was dodging reporters on Thursday, saying -- quote -- "There's too much about me in the press this morning, so they're all mad."
DeLay's headlines saying -- quote -- "If President Clinton wants to shut down the government, that's his problem, not ours," annoyed his own Republican leaders, and disrupted budget negotiations between Congress and the president.
GOP leaders say they want to strike a budget deal as soon as possible, explaining away the whip's comments.
REP. J.C. WATTS (R-OK), CONFERENCE CHAIRMAN: Tom is a hard- charging, very focused, and very passionate about these issues. But the speaker is going to have the last say on these things.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... been a person that has been called a uniter, not a divider, because...
BLACK: DeLay's tactics and his history as a ruthless partisan are also creating conflict with the campaign promise of his fellow Texan to change the tone in Washington.
NORMAN ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: He also clearly has more of a desire to draw sharp ideological lines and push for confrontation than the president-elect, the other party leaders, or an awful lot of the rank-and-file members.
BLACK: Democrats see DeLay as the perfect conservative foil.
ORNSTEIN: Democrats love to have Tom DeLay around. Now that Newt Gingrich is gone, he's the kind of devil figure that gets their juices flowing and gets the money coming in.
BLACK: The latest disruption only lasted a day, because everyone wants this session to end, so the next president, whoever he is, begins with a clean slate -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Chris, to the issue of power-sharing over in the Senate, Majority Leader Trent Lott and the minority leader, Tom Daschle, got together this morning. What do we know about that meeting?
BLACK: Well, Judy, it's very clear that the Republican chairmen are not willing to give up their gavels. If Dick Cheney is the vice president and the tie-breaker, they will be able to have that one-vote advantage. But the Democrats say if it's 50/50, they want equal staff, equal resources, equal votes in committee.
So what happened today is that Trent Lott and Tom Daschle spent more than an hour together on preliminary talks in which Tom Daschle made it very clear that his caucus is completely united. It obviously can keep the Senate from doing anything.
So they say they will try to reach some accommodation by the end of December.
WOODRUFF: We shall see, Chris Black, at the Capitol. Thanks very much -- Bernie.
SHAW: Our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield, is here.
Jeff, we hear a lot about how limited the new president will be because of the close race, the divided Congress. Are we missing something here?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I think so, and that is the enormous executive power that a president has. If you just look at a legislative program, then division could weaken him, but you're talking about somebody who can have rules written for him or issue executive orders on things like what government contractors have to do in the realm of equal opportunity, what lands, federal lands, are protected from exploration, from oil drilling.
You're talking about a president who can draft rules about things like gays in the military up to a point, about people with disabilities can be treated within a law already passed.
So there's an enormous range of activities where a president with the proverbial stroke of the pen has enormous power, no matter how divided the Congress is.
SHAW: But a divided Congress still can limit a new president?
GREENFIELD: Oh, sure. I mean, clearly on high-ticket items, like a Supreme Court nomination, a president facing a divided Congress is going to have to be careful. When the Congress went Republican in 1994, even at the lower level of federal appeals judges, Clinton couldn't get some of his oldest friends in.
But still, the pool from which a president will draw judicial nominations will be very different if it's George Bush or Al Gore. Appointees to a board like the National Labor Relations Board, which can tilt the playing field one way or the other, toward labor or toward management -- these are things a president can do, and it makes an enormous difference.
SHAW: So the idea that the presidency might not be worth having...
GREENFIELD: I think if you talk to folks who are experienced enough in Washington, they'll tell you that that's just so much hooey. In fact, one Democrat I talked to made the point that a lot of Democratic rank-and-file people, if you gave them the choice, the president -- the presidency or the Congress, would choose the Congress.
And this Democrat said, you know, the Republican base knows better. The right-to-life folks, the National Rifle Association folks, they know that a president, in areas ranging from gun policy to fetal tissue research to a whole range of issues, can make an enormous difference. And so the idea that a president, because he was elected in a very close race and has a Congress that's not tilted toward his side of things is weak -- well, he may be weaker than a president with a huge mandate but, boy, that's a lot of power at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue no matter what.
SHAW: Sure is; Jeff Greenfield, thank you.
SHAW: You're welcome.
Coming up on INSIDE POLITICS: President Clinton in a "Rolling Stone" interview.
WOODRUFF: With the identity of the new president still up in the air, Bill Clinton is talking about his eight years in the White House. In an interview with "Rolling Stone" magazine, he discusses impeachment, Monica Lewinsky, and what might have happened if he could have run for a third term.
White House correspondent Kelly Wallace reports.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Bill Clinton, these are times to reflect about what might have been. Another four years in the oval office? He says he may have pursued that option if there was no 22nd Amendment limiting a president to two terms.
"Oh, I probably would have run again," he told "Rolling Stone" magazine.
"Do you think you would have won?"
"Yes, I do," he said. "But it's hard to say because it's entirely academic."
There are things he says he would have done differently. For one, not moving so quickly his first year in office to overturn the ban on gays in the military: "I think it backfired partly because the people that were against it were clever enough to force it," said Mr. Clinton. "The Republicans decided they didn't want me to have a honeymoon."
And there are new thoughts about other controversial issues, such as reassessing prison time for nonviolent drug offenders. The man who once said he never inhaled now says smoking marijuana should not necessarily lead to jail time: "I think that most small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized in some places, and should be. We really need a re-examination of our entire policy on imprisonment," he told the magazine.
And, of what's now known as "the Lewinsky matter," he believes the man who led that investigation, former Independent Counsel Ken Starr, did what the conservatives wanted him to do: "He was hired to keep the inquiry going past the '96 election and to do whatever damage he could. That's why he was put in, and he did what they asked him to do."
(on camera): A lot of thoughts about what might have been, and some predictions for what would be in that interview before Election Day. Mr. Clinton saying he thought the presidential contest would be close, but that Al Gore would win Florida and the presidency. Two predictions still just that one month after voters went to the polls.
Kelly Wallace, CNN, the White House.
SHAW: And that's all for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. But, of course, you can go online all the time at CNN's allpolitics.com.
WOODRUFF: For more on this election, join Wolf Blitzer at 8:00 Eastern on CNN for a special edition of "THE WORLD TODAY." And Jeff Greenfield hosts a one-hour special report on the day's developments at 10:00 Eastern.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
I'm Bernard Shaw. The "MONEYLINE NEWS HOUR," next.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.