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Al Gore Delivers Concession SpeechAired December 14, 2000 - 8:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is a CNN election 2000 SPECIAL REPORT. The election without end approaches its final hour. Sixty minutes from now, Al Gore addresses the nation, one night after the Supreme Court dealt a fatal blow to his White House hopes. George W. Bush will follow with his own primetime remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We'll see what happens. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: His first chance to appear without challenge as the president-elect. As the players prepare to write election 2000's final chapter, not everyone wants to close the books.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: He will be the president legally, but he does not have moral authority, because his crown did not come from the people. It came from the judges.
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ANNOUNCER: We look ahead to the next American president and survey the five weeks just past to see how history will judge this election and its dynamic ending.
Reporting now from Washington, anchors Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff, and in New York, senior analyst Jeff Greenfield.
BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening.
We are one hour away from what could be the biggest speech in the political career of Albert Gore Jr., a speech bigger than any concession speech that we in the news media, and even the vice president himself, thought he would give more than a month ago.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Gore's address is expected to close out election 2000, an election that went from being just a tight race to an eye-opening civics lesson, and then, at times, a heart-wrenching legal battle. SHAW: At one point, more than a dozen lawsuits were unfolding across Florida and in federal courts in Atlanta and the nation's capital.
WOODRUFF: And that's not to mention the election-night confusion that humbled many of us in the news media.
SHAW: Our colleague, Jeff Greenfield, joins us now from New York -- Jeff.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: You know, Bernie and Judy, in 1824, Andrew Jackson lost the White House to a son of a president, John Quincy Adams, even though he won the popular vote. Four years later, in a rematch, Jackson won the White House. In 1888, President Grover Cleveland lost the White House to a grandson of a president, Benjamin Harrison, even though Grover Cleveland won the popular vote. Four years later, Cleveland won the rematch.
If Al Gore, who has lost tonight to the son of a president whom he beat in the popular vote wants a rematch in four years, what he says tonight and how he says it will be a key first step in that potential rematch, folks.
WOODRUFF: We'll be coming back to you a lot during this evening.
Well, Vice President Gore will have plenty of time to think about his political future. But today he spent part of the day tying up loose ends from election 2000.
CNN's Jonathan Karl joins us live from the Naval Observatory, where the vice president lives -- Jonathan.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And believe it or not, Judy, the vice president spent much of the night here tonight entertaining guests at his home at the Naval Observatory: a long-scheduled holiday party, obviously scheduled long before we knew we would still be in the middle of this election battle and on into the day of his concession speech. The vice president, though, has written that speech, we are told. And all the pieces are in place for what some of his supporters are saying will be the biggest night of his political life.
KARL (voice-over): The battle finally over, the Gore team is packing its bags -- lawyers, political strategists, and volunteers closing their makeshift headquarters in Tallahassee.
At about noon, behind closed doors, the vice president gave his first farewell speech of the day via speaker phone to his legal team, thanking them for creating -- quote -- "the greatest virtual law firm in history."
During the call, the vice president invited members of his legal team to a holiday party at the vice presidential residence, and then jokingly told them -- quote -- "my house is the one with the people out front yelling, 'get out of Dick Cheney's house.'"
Gore's aides are using words like "gracious" and "statesman-like" to describe the vice president's speech tonight. As one top adviser said -- quote -- "this is about helping people heel and moving forward." Republicans have the same hopes for the vice president's speech.
SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: I've seen other senators say that the most important speech perhaps at this juncture will be the one that is made by the loser rather than the winner, and I expect he will be magnanimous. I expect he will ask the American people to join him in supporting the next president of the United States.
KARL: Most senior Democrats agree that it is time for Gore to concede, although some, expressing outrage at the Supreme Court decision, are suggesting he should fight on until the Electoral College votes are actually cast and counted.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: The man has gone through a lot, and for those people who say that he should withdraw, they should walk in his shoes. I think it's a personal decision, it's a political decision, and we have to recognize it just doesn't concern him, it concerns our Constitution and it concerns the feeling of the American people.
KARL: And Jesse Jackson held a rally in Tallahassee, protesting what he called an "illegitimate" victory for George W. Bush. Afterwards, in an interview on CNN, Jackson said Bush will be a president without the moral authority to lead.
JACKSON: He'll be the president legally, but he does not have moral authority, because his crown did not come from the people. It came from the judges.
KARL: One top Gore aide said vice president will talk about the principles he fought for during this recount period, but will say that he will respect the rule of law, and also talk about how it is time for Republicans, Democrats and independents to get together because the country's problems, the country's challenges are too great for partisanship -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: John, how many people around the vice president would agree with Jesse Jackson that a President Bush will not have the moral authority to lead?
KARL: Well, Judy, you know, several people around the vice president, although the vice president has been very direct in telling his aides that he does not want to see people on his staff, people associated with him questioning either the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, questioning the wisdom of its decision, or questioning the legitimacy of George W. Bush.
That said, there are several of his top aides that, in fact, are very upset even that George W. Bush is giving a speech tonight. Several aides that I have spoken to have said: This should have been Al Gore's night. And they think it's inappropriate that, an hour after Al Gore gives his speech, that George W. Bush will come out and do the same.
WOODRUFF: All right, Jon Karl, thanks very much. The fight continues in some ways -- Bernie.
SHAW: Governor Bush remained relatively quiet this day out of courtesy to the vice president, saving his comments until after Gore addresses the nation.
Joining us with some reaction to this day's events from the Bush camp: CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley -- Candy.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, this is, in effect, tonight George Bush's debut speech as president-elect. He has been hoping and waiting for this moment for 36 days now. He no longer has to hope. He has only a couple more hours to wait.
CROWLEY (voice-over): He is the man of the hour -- just not this hour.
BUSH: Nice to see you all.
CROWLEY: The Bush family has taken political and personal blows in the past, says a friend. And the governor now wants to give the vice president room to do things his way.
BUSH: I woke them up.
CROWLEY: So George Bush was seen but not heard to say much as he waited out the evening speech of Al Gore. What follows will be the first speech of the second Bush era. The governor, says a senior staffer, will deliver a tone-setting speech. He will talk about seizing the moment, and using it as an opportunity to bring people together, to put national interests above partisan ones.
LOTT: I want him to make a very positive, unifying sort of speech. He needs to reassure the American people. I think he needs to ask for their help and their support. And I think he will need to make some commitments of his intentions.
CROWLEY: There will be talk of general goals, but no specifics, no word on a Cabinet or the senior staff. Bush has had his national security team and senior staff largely locked in and waiting to go. But the announcements will wait a bit longer. Coming together, says an aide, is the most important message tonight. And it stands alone. Bush will use the Democrat-controlled House chamber of the Texas legislature as the backdrop for his address.
He will be introduced by the House speaker, a Democrat. Message: Some of my best friends are Democrats. I have worked with them. And we got things done. For Bush, reaching out will mean going an extra mile. His campaign says the governor hopes to meet with the vice president, among others, during a visit to Washington, now sooner rather than later.
CROWLEY: Bush often flashed bipartisan credentials during the campaign. But this is not about politics or even philosophy. This is now about practicality. George Bush will need to move this nation forward. But first, he must pull it together -- Bernie.
SHAW: Candy, the Bush camp is using this theme "coming together." But, in reality, politically during the campaign, this was a candidate who said he was out to restore dignity to the White House.
CROWLEY: Absolutely. And I -- you know, there were many times during the campaign, that, in fact, there was a tone, if you will, that was harsh, that it was the key to the campaign. And a lot of things were said on both sides. And whenever George Bush was asked about that, he said: This is about politicking. And governing is something else again. Look, what they know is just the reality of it again, that, you know, if he wants to get anything done, if there is to be success in this administration, it has to be done with both Democrats and with Republicans.
And, in fact, tonight, Bernie, much of this speech is about reaching out to Democrats. It's not about reaching out to his own party. It's about reaching across that aisle already and going for Democrats, because that's the only way he's going to be able to lead.
SHAW: Candy Crowley, waiting for the speech in Austin, thank you.
GREENFIELD: And joining us now for more insight on this remarkable evening, CNN senior White House correspondent, John King in Washington.
John, we keep hearing that the vice president is going to be gracious, that there's not going to be certainly any bitterness in the speech. But maybe I'm projecting, but it seems to me, if I lost a presidential race under these circumstances, there would be a tremendous amount of regret, even anguish about it. Are you hearing anything about that from his aides, as to where he is, the vice president, privately?
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, privately we hear there's regret. There's frustration. There's anger. We know he's called home to Tennessee to ask friends in the month-long we've been waiting to this over, how did I lose my home state? We know that he's questioned others about the legal strategy they have pursued down in Florida. We should note, of course, though, that he made all the difficult final calls in the end. Those decisions on legal strategy were his.
But go back to your point, Jeff, at the beginning of the show. This is a man who must decide in the next several months whether he plans to run again. So for tonight, he needs to put all of that aside. He needs to explain to the American people why he did what he did, why we went through this the past 30-plus days, and why he believes it is critical now for Democrats to embrace Governor Bush as the legitimate president of the United States. He must do that.
His aides say he understand if he is to leave this process with credibility, enough credibility to perhaps mount a comeback and some evidence he's thinking about that. Among the phone calls today, a thank you call to John Sweeney, the head of the AFL-CIO, a very powerful man in helping the vice president get to the nomination and in turning out labor voters on Election Day.
So, you get a sense here everyone says he hasn't made up his mind, hasn't thought about it, wants nothing more than to get a vacation in after another week or so. But you also get the sense that he is certainly thinking about it.
GREENFIELD: So, does that suggest that in this speech that he gives tonight, he's going to remind people of some of the issues on which he ran? Or is that the sort of thing that's just not the right time for that now?
KING: What we are told is he will give a general sense, as Jonathan Karl mentioned, that it's time for nation to come together because there are problems that need to be solved: education, Social Security, health care. We will not get a campaign speech from the vice president tonight. But this is a man who wants the American people to remember him fondly, who wants the American people to think of -- think that he fought for a good cause as he steps aside here. And he is a person to remember most of all if he is to run again, that would have to first go through a Democratic primary that will be more competitive. He will not get the pass he received this time. So most of all, he wants the Democratic base out there to think that he fought for them, that this fight was for them, and that he will forever be their friend and that perhaps he might be calling them again a year or two down the road.
GREENFIELD: Just on quick last point, my experience is that aides are always willing to be more publicly or at least in communication with someone like you, more open about their anger than the principle. Are you hearing from the aides a little more anger at the way this ended than from Al Gore?
KING: Oh, certainly. They're scathingly critical of the Supreme Court. They believe this Supreme Court stopped the recount Saturday and then said last night, you know what? We have to call this off because there's not enough time to finish the recount by midnight tonight. They're scathingly critical of the conservative majority of the court, and let's step back and remember there's a bit of a Hatfields-McCoy nature to all of this. It was Bill Clinton and Al Gore who ran George Bush out of the White House eight years ago. George W. Bush, an enforcer in his father's White House, was furious at the time. Now he will come to Washington next week, sit down with President Clinton for a courtesy call. Sit down with the vice president for a conciliation meeting, perhaps even lunch, we're told, and then he will prepare to move into the White House that his family believes was stolen from them eight years ago. GREENFIELD: John King, who will be covering the first battle in the Iowa caucuses of 2004 in about a week and a half. Thanks very much -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Good impression, Jeff.
Well, for some more insight on this incredible election, we're joined by CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider -- Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's hour 864 of election night and we're still here. It's the longest election night on record. Well, what we're waiting to hear from Al Gore, I think tonight, is will he use the word concede? That's the interesting word. It's often called a concession speech, but to say I concede is a way of saying I lost the election.
He doesn't believe he lost the election. He knows that he didn't lose the popular vote. He's beating George Bush by about 300,000 votes nationwide and he honestly believes that he won the state of Florida, but they just won't count the votes. And eventually, they may count the votes because they are public property and there are several news organizations that have applied for permission to count the votes and they can under Florida law.
So, he thinks eventually he'll be shown to have won the state of Florida. So, he doesn't want to say he lost. His campaign found a new principle, a new cause in the post-election period -- every vote must count. He's rallied Democrats to that cause and he doesn't want to give it up.
WOODRUFF: Bill, he can -- can he not set a tone in tonight's remarks without actually using the words "I concede"?
SCHNEIDER: I think he can. Essentially, he wants to make it clear he's not challenging the legitimacy of George Bush's claim on the presidency. He's going to withdraw his own campaign, but he doesn't want to say he lost. He has to make it clear to Democrats that they shouldn't challenge the legitimacy of Bush's campaign. Otherwise, I think he will be seen as what some Republicans have already been saying, a sore loser and that is no way to have future in American politics.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider. Thanks very much -- and Bernie.
SHAW: Next, Election 2000's place in history.
WOODRUFF: Perspective from historian Robert Dallek when we return. And why African-Americans continue to carry the fight for Al Gore.
SHAW: Later, Greta Van Susteren dissects the Supreme Court's ruling on Election 2000.
WOODRUFF: And preview of the speeches by Al Gore and George W. Bush with experts on political communication. You're watching a CNN special report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: There'll be more conspiracy theories arise out of this to make the single bullet theory look very solid.
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GREENFIELD: Well, this election clearly is one for the history books. After five weeks of legal and political battles, George W. Bush, who came out behind in the popular vote as we mentioned, will move into the White House.
Such a situation is not unheard of. In fact, three previous presidents won the election without winning the popular vote. The first time, 1824. Andrew Jackson got the most votes from the people and the Electoral College, but not a majority of either vote. The election went to Congress, and the presidency went to John Quincy Adams.
In the 1876 election, the calendar turned to the next year before Rutherford B. Hayes was declared the winner. His challenger, New York Governor Samuel Tilden won the popular vote, but three states sent competing slates of electors to Washington, and a special Congressional commission recognized the Hayes electors, giving him the presidency by one electoral vote.
In 1888, President Grover Cleveland won the popular vote, but Benjamin Harrison captured the states richest in electoral votes, and won handily in the Electoral College.
What does this mean for present circumstances? We'll try to find out by talking with presidential historian Robert Dallek from Boston University.
Professor Dallek, I noted at the outset that John Quincy Adams and Benjamin Harrison lost the next time out to the people they'd beaten. Rutherford Hayes didn't even bother to run again. Does this suggest anything about George W. Bush's political future.
ROBERT DALLEK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: These historical analogies are imperfect and, of course, this is the great challenge now to George W. Bush that a crisis like this presents an opportunity and he can rise above it and be an effective president and he can win a second term. On the other hand, he could fall on his face the way Rutherford B. Hayes, I think, did and the way Harrison did.
So it's an open question, and this has got to be on his mind, I think the understanding of the odds against him of getting a second term.
After all, he's lost the popular vote. This will be the biggest deficit of any entering president, any president-elect in American history -- 337,000.
Before that, Tilden beat -- won that election over Hayes by 264,000. Of course, it was a much smaller population. But still, to lose by 337,000 votes and then end up in the White House, that's a pretty difficult number to overcome.
GREENFIELD: Well, one thing, though, that those 19th-century presidents didn't have that George W. Bush will have is something called television. And we do remember that in 1960 John Kennedy more or less tied Richard Nixon -- there are some people who think he actually lost the popular vote -- and pretty quickly, through the medium of television, he established himself as the president.
Doesn't this suggest that President-elect Bush, if we can call him that, does have one big advantage in trying to establish his power as president?
DALLEK: Jeff, he does, but there's a big difference between 1960 and 2001. In 1961, John Kennedy faced an international crisis. There was all this discussion of missile gap, the threat from the Soviet Union, Castro and Cuba, and foreign affairs is a unifying issue. It's something you can rally the country around.
And George W. Bush doesn't have anything like that. And so, even with television, although I think you're quite right -- indeed, my guess is, tonight, from everything I'm hearing, this will be a masterful performance. He's going to speak in the well of the Texas lower House. He's going to be introduced by a Democratic speaker of the lower House.
It's very shrewd politics, and it's going to be orchestrated on television in a very effective way, and that will help him, I think, launch his presidency. But there's a difference between this and 1961.
GREENFIELD: For sure. But one of the things that happened when John Kennedy was elected by this very narrow margin was the day after he was elected, his first two appointments were reappointing J. Edgar Hoover as head of the FBI and Allen Dulles as head of the CIA, as a way of saying, continuity, unity, and also probably a way of saying, I don't have the mandate to change this even if I wanted to.
Does that suggest that -- what we've heard about already, the idea that President-elect Bush will have to reach into the Democratic Party for some of the people in his White House staff, is now a political necessity?
DALLEK: Well, I think he might have done some of this anyway, because, you know, there's an irony in this election. The way I see it is that Bush's one great strength has been -- at least in Texas -- has been that he, as he's described himself, a unifier. He was someone who was very accommodating to the Democrats.
And he's going to enter the White House now with this strength, being a unifier and accommodator, and he needs to do that. And of course, it's going to depend on who he puts in place. If he picks some minor Democrats in minor positions, it's not going to help him very much. He needs one or two, I think, prominent Democrats, who can give him the kind of credibility with folks on the other side of the aisle.
GREENFIELD: All right, Professor Robert Dallek, thank you very much for joining us, and...
DALLEK: My pleasure.
GREENFIELD: ... we'll see whether or not these prognostications come true in the next four years. Back to Washington.
SHAW: And up next, some thoughts from CNN's Wolf Blitzer on where the Gore team is assigning blame. For those in our line of work, the answer may hit a little bit too close to home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE ANDREW, DNC NATIONAL CHAIRMAN: No matter what Al Gore does today, the Democratic Party is committed to making sure that the public knows who actually won in the state of Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: Joining us now with more insight into election 2000's end game, CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Normally you'd see him in the anchor chair at this time of the evening.
He covered Al Gore as part of the White House beat for seven years.
Wolf, the anger inside the Gore team: where's it directed most?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You know, there's obviously a lot of anger at the Supreme Court justices, at some people in Florida -- Republican officials in Florida. But I have to tell you, for these past five weeks, I've spoken to a lot of the Gore people on an almost daily basis, and the theme a lot of them, most of them keep hitting directly at me is that they think this would have been a totally different situation these past five weeks if the TV networks had not called George W. Bush the winner shortly after 2:00 a.m. that day, during our election coverage. For 45 minutes we were all speculating about the Gore presidency.
They think the dynamic of these past five weeks would have been totally different if we had said that night, you know what, we don't know who won in Florida, it's just simply too close to call, we're going to have to take a closer look at the ballots. And as a result, they're really angry at what we did, and they say, perhaps rightfully, that we're going to have to take a real close look at our role in how this unfolded because of the mistakes that we made that night.
SHAW: Well, institutionally, CNN already is doing that. Another subject, any second-guessing about not turning to Bill Clinton for help?
BLITZER: You know, surprisingly, there isn't a whole lot of second-guessing on that. You would've thought some people, especially Bill Clinton fans, say, well, you should have used Bill Clinton more. He was so popular. He had a base. But among the inner circle of the Gore folks, they're not second-guessing that, unless they're saying that he would have been too divisive. And the fact that they carried swing states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, which were critical to the election, that was in part because they didn't highlight Bill Clinton. They highlighted Al Gore.
So on the Bill Clinton front, I don't think there's a whole lot of second-guessing.
SHAW: So what are they second guessing?
BLITZER: I think they're second-guessing -- I think John King touched on this earlier -- they're second-guessing themselves and Al Gore is second-guessing himself in (a) not carrying his home state of Tennessee. But even on a relatively minor, what they thought, at the time situation, not spending more time in a state, let's say, a traditionally Democratic state like West Virginia.
Those five electoral votes in West Virginia, you add them to the 267 electoral votes that Al Gore did have, would have made all the difference. Traditionally, West Virginia goes Democratic. They didn't spend a lot of time there.
George W. Bush went to West Virginia in the final days of this campaign and it obviously had an impact.
SHAW: Thanks, Wolf. We'll see you in a few hours, hosting that special post-speech report -- special report at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. A full hour.
BLITZER: Thank you, Bernie.
SHAW: You're welcome. Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, and after the break, coming up, legal analyst Greta Van Susteren takes a long, hard look at yesterday's ruling by the highest court in the land.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS: The last few weeks have been exhausting, I think, for the entire court. But in a lot of ways it shows the strength of our system of government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Comments today from Justice Clarence Thomas, who, with the other justices of the Supreme Court, 22 1/2 half hours ago, Greta Van Susteren, handed down a decision that brought this presidential election some finality.
We now know who the president is going to be, and it's directly related to the what the justices did.
Greta Van Susteren, our legal analyst, joining us now. Why couldn't this have been a simpler decision? Why did it have to have so many dissents, so many different pieces to it?
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, primarily because there are nine people making the decision, and this is such a volatile issue, and two people looking at a particular issue may have a different view.
I mean, take the simple issue of the hand counts, which is were the hand counts constitutional or not. And one of the big things that bothered the majority is that there were differing standards from county to county to county, but Justice Stevens said, well, wait a second, no, there was one simple standard -- that's the voter's intent -- set by the legislature in Florida. Both views are frankly defensible, but the problem is more people thought it was unconstitutional than thought it was constitutional.
So when you have lots of decision-makers, you're going to have this problem.
WOODRUFF: Greta, why did the dissents, in this opinion, from four justices, feel so much more, seem so much more strongly felt than did the majority opinion, or what we could see of it?
VAN SUSTEREN: Because of the passion. This is democracy. This is voting. You know, so many -- people marched in my lifetime for the right to vote. Some of these justices have been very passionate about the right to vote. Justice Stevens thought that the majority was disenfranchising voters: people's right to speak, the right to choose, which makes America different than many other countries.
Justice Ginsburg was concerned that we were stripping the states of their rights, that the states get to make the decision.
These are important issue, and they knew that America was watching. They knew so much, because they actually, for the first time, stepped out of what they usually do and let us have audiotapes. They were well-aware that America was watching how important it is to each one of us.
WOODRUFF: Was it Justice Felix Frankfurter who wrote about beware of getting into a political thicket, and yet that's precisely what the justices have done with this ruling. Is this setting an important precedent for the court to have done this?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, certainly -- they are oftentimes called to deal with unpopular matters such as this where there's huge disagreement. I mean, it certainly was unprecedented that we got the audiotapes. It was not unprecedented that they got involved with this case.
Look, there's going to be a lot of criticism that this is a political decision, but remember, each member of the court was appointed by a politician, but when he or she dons the robes, you're supposed to abandon that.
WOODRUFF: Greta, over your shoulder, we're seeing pictures of the motorcade with Vice President Al Gore arriving at the Eisenhower Old Executive Office Building here in Washington, D.C., just a matter of a couple of miles from the vice president's residence. Sounds like there are some supporters, maybe government employees out there who maybe work for the vice president, cheering as his motorcade pulls into that building, which sits immediately adjacent to the White House
This also happens to be the building where the vice president has his office. He has, sort of, a token office in the White House, where he presumably spends time, but his main work, we're told, is done, and that's where most of his staff has an office, in the Old Executive Office Building.
VAN SUSTEREN: Can I add one other thing why there's so much passion? Remember, this is a virtual tie. The American people are divided. So it doesn't seem so unusual that the United States Supreme Court would have a virtual tie. But fortunately, we have an uneven number of justices, so at least someone usually wins. It's usually 5- 4. We don't often have three, three, three, but at least that's one of the points of having nine people, so that we can break the tie.
WOODRUFF: One other thing, Greta -- and you were talking about this just before we went on the air. What's the significance of the body of this opinion being be so-called "per curiam," meaning they're no names on it?
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, that actually sort of distresses me. You know, the body of the opinion is per curiam. The justices didn't sign on, saying, me too, I'm for it, we know that it represents the court. And I actually think it's sort of extraordinary that these civil servants -- that's what they are -- and who make such important decision sort of don't step up to the plate and say, I'm deciding this.
When you look at the opinion, you have the per curiam, which is the decision of the court. You then have what are called concurring opinions and dissent, and two justices names don't appear there at all: Justices O'Connor and Justice Kennedy. And if you remember, those were the two...
WOODRUFF: They were the ones who were the swing.
VAN SUSTEREN: They were the swing. Now some people say their fingerprints are all over this decision. I don't see them. I want to see their names. I want to see who voted how, when and where. And actually that surprises me, that the court seems to have sort of -- I use the term hidden. I think a lot of people would disagree with me, but I think step up to the plate and be accounted for on such an important decision. Get rid of that per curiam. Sign on. WOODRUFF: All right, Greta Van Susteren. Thanks very much. We appreciate it. We'll see you a little later.
SHAW: And still ahead on this special edition of THE WORLD TODAY: questioning the legitimacy of this election. Some Florida voters say they were disenfranchised, and that made the difference. What they plan to do about it, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: I believe that there should be a concession speech. As difficult as it is, I believe that George W. Bush at this point is the winner and Al Gore's the loser. Now, you know, that's difficult for some to accept, but that's the fact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: No matter what Al Gore says this night, there will be those who do not rally around the new president, those who say the events of the past five weeks put the legitimacy of a Bush administration in question. Among them, many African-American voters in Florida who say they were denied their legal right to vote.
CNN's Bill Delaney has more.
BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the march in Tallahassee, Florida, and promising more to come all over the country -- voters.
PROTESTERS: We want justice! We want justice!
DELANEY: Led by Reverend Jesse Jackson, minorities, union members...
PROTESTERS: Recount the votes!
DELANEY: ... who say George Bush will be president because they weren't counted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There should be a recount because America can do better.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to discourage African-American folks a lot, because we see that justice was not due to all and justice was not given to all, they will not come out and vote.
PROTESTERS: There is no justice!
DELANEY: Tens of thousands of African-American votes, protesters said, were not counted in Florida alone, because machines didn't work or because registered voters' names weren't on official lists at polling places. Jackson said the loser won.
REVEREND JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: Driving while black and now voting while black -- the election was essentially taken and stolen. You must get your votes in the public booth, not the private chambers of judges who are your political allies.
DELANEY: Jackson called for a continuing series now of nonviolent protests against what he called "an illegitimate election."
(on camera): Anger over the vote is not limited to Florida. In other places, too, there's a lingering sense a historic turnout for minorities has led to an historic injustice.
(voice-over): In Newark, New Jersey, with the 19th largest African-American population in the country, a sense of history, that the long struggle to enfranchise blacks had come to this.
TERRY FARMER, SOCIAL WORKER: A lot of people waited their life just for this right, the right to vote, the right to have the count. For them not to go into those counties and make sure that each vote was counted is outrageous. And the rest of the world was looking at this.
DELANEY: As George W. Bush begins his presidency, African- Americans will be watching and listening with particular intensity. Many say if they had been heard on election day, he wouldn't be there at all.
Bill Delaney, CNN, Tallahassee, Florida.
SHAW: And CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider now with some elaboration.
SCHNEIDER: Well, Bernie, the Bush campaign was simply shocked to discover on election night that they were carrying less than 10 percent of the African-American vote nationwide. That is worse than Bush's father did in 1988 or 1992. It is worse than Bob Dole did among African-Americans in 1996.
In fact George W. Bush, the Governor of Texas, got only 5 percent of the African-American vote in Texas.
Why did Bush do so poorly among African-Americans after he made a display of his outreach to them and he wasn't a traditional kind of Republican who had problems with African-American voters?
I think the answer is not so much with Bush but with Bill Clinton, who was a hero to African-American voters. They identified very closely with him in his persecutions, and Gore was Clinton's man.
All of that was before the contest phase, which came about after the election. What happened then, in the last five weeks. is that somehow this turned into a civil rights issue. That's very mysterious to a lot of Americans who can't understand what this had to do with race or civil rights.
But there are allegations that voting machines in minority districts in Florida were not good quality machines and they kept a lot of blacks from voting properly, and also Gore staked his campaign on the claim, every vote must count. That claim has a lot of resonance among African-American voters. They struggled for 200 years for the right to vote, and when Gore defined his campaign as about the right to vote and to count every vote, that resonated deeply among black Americans -- Bernie.
SHAW: Thank you, Bill Schneider.
WOODRUFF: Well, taking a look now at some other news. The bomb- damaged USS Cole returned for repairs today to the Mississippi shipyard where it was built. A shroud covered the gaping hole in its side as it arrived atop a transport ship. The Cole was damaged in an October 12th suicide-bombing in a Yemen port that killed 17 sailors.
In the stock markets, today's news about the presidential election appeared to boost blue chips moderately. At the closing bell, the Dow industrials finished up 26 points at 10,794. On the Nasdaq, profit warnings and investment downgrades sent the composite index sliding 109 points to 2,822.
And to learn more about last night's United States Supreme Court decision and to talk with others about it in our chat room, we invite you to visit our Web site at cnn.com.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN BREAUX (D), LOUISIANA: It's not just the most important for Al Gore. It's probably one of the most important speeches in the history of our country, because what he says tonight is going to set the tone probably for the next four years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Al Gore will address the nation tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, to be followed at 10:00 p.m. by George W. Bush. These are extremely important speeches for both men, not just in content, but in delivery as well.
And joining us tonight in Washington to talk about that, former Clinton White House spokesman Joseph Lockhart, and in San Francisco, Kenneth Khachigian. He's a former speechwriter for presidents Nixon and Reagan.
Gentlemen, let's talk first about Al Gore. Joe, you know the man pretty well. How tough is this for him tonight?
JOE LOCKHART, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, this is very tough. I think he's worked most of his adult life toward the point to become president, and to have sort of slip away in the way it has is very, very difficult. But I think overriding that is this is also an institution, the government, that he's been involved in all his adult life and that he group up in, and I think he understands the stakes. I think he doesn't need to be told that he has a role in moving the government forward and legitimatizing this election, and I think that's what he'll do.
WOODRUFF: Ken Khachigian, from the perspective of the other side, the other team, what does Al Gore need to do tonight?
KENNETH KHACHIGIAN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL SPEECHWRITER: Well oddly enough, even though it's a very hard speech to give, I think this is an easy speech to write. The American people are very generous, and I think that while they were tough on him during the contesting period, they'll be sympathetic with him right now.
So he needs to understand that. He should not give the stump speech and he should not be pious about anything, but I think he should look forward. More than anything else, he should look forward.
There's two audiences out there: the audience for today, the supporters who feel like this is all over with and are discouraged. But it's the audience of tomorrow. And he needs to think about that if he has a political future.
I think he ought to show some humor as well. Abraham Lincoln told a great story about losing an election, and he said, reprised the story of the boy in Kentucky running to see his sweetheart, who stubbed his toe, and he said: "I'm too told cry, but it hurts too much to laugh."
WOODRUFF: But Joe Lockhart, whether he shows humor and is gracious and all the rest of it, he's run a very tough campaign. Can he just drop all the points he was making during the campaign and mention none of that tonight?
LOCKHART: Actually, I think that would be a disservice both to himself and to all the people who supported him. Campaigns and politics are supposed to be about ideas, and at times conflicting ideas. And so much has gotten lost both in this campaign and especially in this last 35, 36 days.
So I think he has to pay some tribute to the people who've supported him and talk about the ideas and how the battle of ideas and politics goes on. There'll be differences between the parties, but I think the point -- the overriding point he'll have to make is that the country comes first and that this is a legitimate result.
WOODRUFF: And Ken Khachigian, if he does that, if he harks back to the ideas that he talked about during the campaign, is that going to be like rubbing salt in a wound?
KHACHIGIAN: No, I don't think so. I don't disagree with Joe. When I say don't give the stump speech, I think he can talk in a very high-toned sense about the principles he adhered to. And I don't think he should -- he should say that he wanted the honor of the job as well, but also that there were important principles he stood for.
And I think, frankly, while he wouldn't be taking advice form me necessarily, I think he ought to set the stage if has a political future. He can do it now by looking forward and being very generous and gracious about the day while being the warrior that he was.
GREENFIELD: This may be heresy from ex-political operative to two ex or current political operatives, but you know, Richard Nixon gave the worst, most graceless concession speech in history probably, in 1962. "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore." Six years later, he was president.
Bill Clinton gave a dreadful nominating speech for Michael Dukakis. Four years later, he was president. And his Monica Lewinsky speech was a failure, and he rode that out.
Could we be putting too much emphasis in this post-oratorical age on how important a speech is to Al Gore?
LOCKHART: Well, I think it's -- it may not be that important. Actually, I think the Bush speech as far as where the country goes is more important tonight.
But I think for Gore this is a very personally important moment, and he will have the stage, the country looking to him tonight. And I think he should do -- I mean, he's gotten a lot of unsolicited advice today. I think he's probably rightfully ignored all of it. And I don't see this as sort of a make or break. I see it as an opportunity for him to talk about why he did what he did, and you know, the intellectual underpinnings of all that.
WOODRUFF: Ken Khachigian?
KHACHIGIAN: Well, you know, while I agree with the notion about the American public overlooking Richard Nixon's last press conference, the fact is they still remember it and they still refer to it.
I think Al Gore has the opportunity tonight to give a speech that people will just remember in only positive ways, and we do have short memories in this country, but we do have memories.
WOODRUFF: All right, Ken Khachigian, Joe Lockhart, and we'll be talking to you all in the next hour after we hear from the vice president to look ahead to the speech from George W. Bush.
We're going to take a break in our special coverage as we are just minutes away, five minutes away from the address by Al Gore. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that we will come together and rally behind Bush. I think that shadow of doubt will always cast over that, but we'll come together. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAW: At the top of the hour, Vice President Al Gore will step before the cameras to deliver an address to the nation. That will be followed by CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE."
He joins us now -- Larry.
LARRY KING, HOST, CNN "LARRY KING LIVE": Thanks, Bernie and Judy.
We're going to have two additions of "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight. Following the Gore speech, we'll be talking with former Senator Sam Nunn, and Bob Strauss, the former DNC chairman, and senators Hatch and Breaux and McCain, and Laurence Tribe and Bob Woodward and Norm Ornstein. And then following the speech by Governor George W. Bush, we'll have Bob Dole and Jesse Jackson and Barry Richard and Bob Woodward and our own Jeff Greenfield. Lots of wrap-ups coming.
We'll have two additions of "LARRY KING LIVE." The first one follows the address ahead -- Bernie, Judy.
SHAW: Thank you, Larry, and as we await the address, CNN has learned that Vice President Al Gore has telephoned Texas Governor George W. Bush to say that he is withdrawing from this race.
WOODRUFF: That phone call, Bernie, the second time in 36 days that a call of concession, if you want to call it that -- of course, we don't know what words the vice president used. He made the call early in the morning hours of December -- of November the 8th. But then an hour or so later he called back, and said, I'm going to have to take that back because the votes coming in from the state of Florida are very close and I'm not ready to concede after all.
So here we are 36 days later.
SHAW: Jeff, in a word, what will you be listening for tonight?
GREENFIELD: ... a tone...
SCHNEIDER: Oh, sorry, go ahead.
SHAW: Tone, you say, Jeff?
GREENFIELD: I'm going to be listening for tone. I'm going to be listening for whether or not the Al Gore, who we've heard about so often from his friends and colleagues, who can be funny and eloquent in private -- so often seems less than that in public. And I'm going to see whether or not he can acknowledge, as Ken Khachigian said, a certain sense of hurt.
I mean, a man who at 7:50 on the night of November 7th thought he'd won the White House, who then at 2:18 in the morning was told he had lost it, then three different times his candidacy seemed to be revived -- by votes in Florida, perhaps, by the Florida Supreme Court -- and then through 36 days of this, to be told, guess what, it was -- what you thought had happened at 2 o'clock in the morning on November 8th is still true, you have lost: whether he can at least acknowledge to us that there is some personal pain in all this.
SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, we asked people around the country what they thought of the Supreme Court's decision, and what we found was that a majority of Americans, but only a bare majority, agrees with what the Supreme Court did, and that follows the vote very closely. Did this make people lose confidence in the United States Supreme Court? Two-thirds of Americans said, no, it did not.
But in the speech we're just about to hear, the question is should Al Gore concede that he lost the election or should he withdraw from the race without conceding?
By 2-to-1 Americans say he should concede that he lost the election, but among Democrats there's a very close division on that issue.
SHAW: This is the ceremonial office, and Judy, we understand that Tipper Gore and their children are there, as well as the Liebermans and their daughter.
WOODRUFF: Twenty-four years after entering public office, Al Gore Jr. prepares to leave public office.
The vice president of the United States.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening. Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States, and I promised him that I wouldn't call him back this time.
I offered to meet with him as soon as possible so that we can start to heal the divisions of the campaign and the contest through which we just passed.
Almost a century and a half ago, Senator Stephen Douglas told Abraham Lincoln, who had just defeated him for the presidency, "Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I'm with you, Mr. President, and God bless you."
Well, in that same spirit, I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country.
Neither he nor I anticipated this long and difficult road. Certainly neither of us wanted it to happen. Yet it came, and now it has ended, resolved, as it must be resolved, through the honored institutions of our democracy.
Over the library of one of our great law schools is inscribed the motto, "Not under man but under God and law. That's the ruling principle of American freedom, the source of our democratic liberties. I've tried to make it my guide throughout this contest as it has guided America's deliberations of all the complex issues of the past five weeks.
Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity of the people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.
I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new president elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together in fulfillment of the great vision that our Declaration of Independence defines and that our Constitution affirms and defends.
Let me say how grateful I am to all those who supported me and supported the cause for which we have fought. Tipper and I feel a deep gratitude to Joe and Hadassah Lieberman who brought passion and high purpose to our partnership and opened new doors, not just for our campaign but for our country.
This has been an extraordinary election. But in one of God's unforeseen paths, this belatedly broken impasse can point us all to a new common ground, for its very closeness can serve to remind us that we are one people with a shared history and a shared destiny.
Indeed, that history gives us many examples of contests as hotly debated, as fiercely fought, with their own challenges to the popular will.
Other disputes have dragged on for weeks before reaching resolution. And each time, both the victor and the vanquished have accepted the result peacefully and in the spirit of reconciliation.
So let it be with us.
I know that many of my supporters are disappointed. I am too. But our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country.
And I say to our fellow members of the world community, let no one see this contest as a sign of American weakness. The strength of American democracy is shown most clearly through the difficulties it can overcome.
Some have expressed concern that the unusual nature of this election might hamper the next president in the conduct of his office. I do not believe it need be so.
President-elect Bush inherits a nation whose citizens will be ready to assist him in the conduct of his large responsibilities.
I personally will be at his disposal, and I call on all Americans -- I particularly urge all who stood with us to unite behind our next president. This is America. Just as we fight hard when the stakes are high, we close ranks and come together when the contest is done.
And while there will be time enough to debate our continuing differences, now is the time to recognize that that which unites us is greater than that which divides us.
While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America and we put country before party. We will stand together behind our new president.
As for what I'll do next, I don't know the answer to that one yet. Like many of you, I'm looking forward to spending the holidays with family and old friends. I know I'll spend time in Tennessee and mend some fences, literally and figuratively.
Some have asked whether I have any regrets and I do have one regret: that I didn't get the chance to stay and fight for the American people over the next four years, especially for those who need burdens lifted and barriers removed, especially for those who feel their voices have not been heard. I heard you and I will not forget.
I've seen America in this campaign and I like what I see. It's worth fighting for and that's a fight I'll never stop.
As for the battle that ends tonight, I do believe as my father once said, that no matter how hard the loss, defeat might serve as well as victory to shape the soul and let the glory out.
So for me this campaign ends as it began: with the love of Tipper and our family; with faith in God and in the country I have been so proud to serve, from Vietnam to the vice presidency; and with gratitude to our truly tireless campaign staff and volunteers, including all those who worked so hard in Florida for the last 36 days.
Now the political struggle is over and we turn again to the unending struggle for the common good of all Americans and for those multitudes around the world who look to us for leadership in the cause of freedom.
In the words of our great hymn, "America, America": "Let us crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea."
And now, my friends, in a phrase I once addressed to others, it's time for me to go.
Thank you and good night, and God bless America.
SHAW: With brevity, Vice President Al Gore describing how he feels. He said: "Now the United States Supreme Court has spoken, let there be no doubt. While I strongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it."
Prior to beginning his remarks, he said he called Governor Bush and congratulated him, and he used the c-word: "I offer my concession."
And the vice president promised to be personally at the disposal, at the new president-elect's disposal, and he called on all Americans to unite behind our next president.
WOODRUFF: Bernie, he -- as you say, it was a concession. He did acknowledge disappointment, a little bit of humor. But Jeff Greenfield, there also was a word to those people, he said he's sorry he won't get a chance to fight for. He said: "Those especially who feel their voices have not been heard," he said, "I heard you, and I will not forget."
GREENFIELD: Yes. I think there are a couple of interesting notes in that. One is that there were -- on three occasions, there were very graceful bits of humor, appropriate to the occasion. When he said, "I called Governor Bush and I promised him I wouldn't call him back this time" -- a reference to that retracted concession phone call. When he said, "I'm going to go back to Tennessee and mend some fences, literally and figuratively." That was a nice way of referring to what John King told us earlier, a real sense of regret that he failed to carry his own state, which would have given him the presidency.
And at the very end, instead of reaching for very high-flown rhetoric, he quoted a line of his from his 1992 vice presidential acceptance speech aimed at Republicans, "It's time for them to go," and he said, "It's time for me to go."
And I thought that, you know, there was not a trace of bitterness in this speech. It was, I think, actually a more low-key and personal rhetoric than we heard from him a lot during the campaign: a very nice set of touches here.
SHAW: John King, one of the touches I heard: majesty.
KING: A bit of majesty, Bernie. This vice president not known for his rhetorical skills, here a very delicate balance: to bestow legitimacy on a man he was first to call president-elect in an official capacity, George W. Bush. But also a way for the vice president, as Jeff mentioned, to jokingly say: "It's time for me to go," but to also leave the suggestion that perhaps he might be back in some capacity.
Will he run again? He said he doesn't know. He wants to take a vacation with his family. But what did he say: "There will be time enough to debate our continuing differences. They're not all settled" -- even as he hands off and promises to cooperate with Governor Bush. And he said he will remember those he regrets that he won't be here to fight for, especially for those who need burdens lifted and barriers removed, specially for those who feel their voices have not been heard.
Translation: Perhaps their votes not counted -- Bernie.
SHAW: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: And Candy Crowley, listening to all this in Austin, Texas, where Governor Bush is, we heard Al Gore say in that same spirit, he said, "I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside." CROWLEY: It is hard to imagine that the Bush campaign at this point, when certainly feelings are still raw -- this must have been an extremely difficult speech for the vice president -- hard to imagine the Bush campaign could have expected much more. It was a generous speech, and it was really a very clear speech. There was a discussion about whether he would use the word "concession," about, you know, perhaps he would at the last minute say something that left you wondering.
There was no wondering about this. He called on his supporters to put aside the partisan rancor.
Just a little bit of news in terms of that phone call, I'm told it lasted less than two minutes. From the Bush team point of view, the governor thought it was a very gracious phone call from Al Gore. The two will meet on Tuesday in Washington, I am told, and agreed to that. The governor said he was very glad for that hospitality.
So the two face-to-face on Tuesday -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Candy Crowley in Austin. Bill Schneider's here with us in the Washington studio.
What did you hear, Bill?
SCHNEIDER: Well, I heard an irony when he said -- he jokingly at the end, "It's time for me to go." When he made that speech as vice president nominee, at the Democratic convention in 1992, the people who said -- whom he said about "It's time for them to go" was President Bush, George Bush's father. So in a way, events have come full-circle.
I also heard him say the word that he used throughout this campaign over and over again: "fighting." He always called himself a fighter. He said: "I didn't get the chance to stay and fight," "This is worth fighting for," and "It's a fight I'll never stop."
He fought for this. He fought throughout the campaign. He fought after the campaign. And the message is clear: He intends to keep on fighting. He went down fighting.
SHAW: As we have said, Al Gore is the fourth presidential candidate to have won the popular vote but lost the election. Out of more than 100 million votes cast on election day, Al Gore won 50,158,094. George W. Bush won 49,820,518. Gore led the Texas governor by more than 300,000 votes.
WOODRUFF: George W. Bush is the first person to win the presidency, despite losing both New York and California, the two states with the largest number of electoral votes. But it was Florida that became the focal point of this election. After a flurry of lawsuits, recounts, and Florida's legislature stepping in, it was Bush who finally grabbed that state's 25 electoral votes.
So the final tally, Bush, 271, to Al Gore, 267.
And now we turn our coverage of this historic evening over to CNN's Larry King.
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