Bush Wins Florida, Election -- Again!
For Fourth Time!

Florida Deadline Passes With Bush Leading

By WALTER R. MEARS
.c The Associated Press


(Nov. 26) - Florida's secretary of state prepared Sunday to certify the votes cast for George W. Bush and Al Gore in the near-deadlocked election that would determine which of them becomes 43rd president of the United States. But the struggle went on, the vote numbers under challenge even before they were declared.

The votes were due in the office of Secretary of State Katherine Harris by 5 p.m. EST, a deadline set by the state supreme court.

Palm Beach County, one of four in which Gore sought hand recounting of the machine-cast ballots, halted its marathon count to file partial results with the state in time for the deadline, though elections officials kept counting and planned to file amended results later.

''We have no choice but to shut down,'' said Charles Burton, the canvassing board chairman there, after Secretary of State Katherine Harris rejected a request for more time. Burton said there were 800 to 1,000 ballots and about two hours work left when the counting ended at 4:19 p.m.

Harris was to certify the statewide outcome, unofficially led by Republican Bush, but her action was being challenged even before she took it. David Boies, lead lawyer for Democrat Gore's campaign, said it would be challenged Monday on at least three grounds, probably more, all involving incomplete recounting or votes he said had been tallied for the vice president at some point and later discounted.

At stake are 25 electoral votes that would finally settle, for Bush or for Gore, the Nov. 7 presidential election.

At midafternoon Sunday, an unofficial count by The Associated Press showed Bush with an edge of 454 votes. Hand recounting of machine-cast ballots in heavily Democratic Broward County, the Fort Lauderdale area, and Palm Beach County, had narrowed the Bush edge.

Bush led by 930 votes before the recounts there. Absentee ballots from servicemen abroad added votes to his column.

Either way, it was an all but invisible margin out of 6 million votes cast in Florida on Nov. 7.

Anticipating a certification in which Harris, a Republican, would report Bush the leader, Gore was said to be preparing a speech to be delivered on Monday, explaining his case for the continuing challenge.

Florida's Democratic senators, one just elected, previewed it at a news conference in Tallahassee.

''If either candidate were to be declared the victor and electoral votes awarded based on the status today, neither candidate would be legitimate,'' Sen. Bob Graham said. ''What is putting the presidency in jeopardy is the prospect of illegitimacy.''

Sen.-elect Bill Nelson said American's don't want ''an election that they feel like has been rigged or has not fully been counted.

''We shouldn't have a rush to judgment,'' he said. ''Rather, we should be on a path toward justice.''

Democratic congressional leaders said nothing would be settled Sunday or soon. ''We're now in a two-week-or-so period in which you have a contest on both sides of this election,'' said Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, the House minority leader.

''What they're trying to do is overturn every rock, looking for more Gore votes, extend this as long as possible,'' said Gov. George Pataki of New York, one of the politicians both sides have summoned to Florida to watch the recounting and talk about it.

Pataki said on CBS' ''Face the Nation'' that he believes Bush won and that the Democrats are trying to recount him out of victory.

Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the Senate's Democratic leader, said on NBC's ''Meet the Press'' that he ''truly'' believes Gore won Florida, and that a full, fair recount would show it.

''I've talked with most of my colleagues over the last several days and there isn't any interest in conceding anything at this point,'' Daschle said.

There are court challenges in Florida on both sides, with more to come when courthouses open Monday. The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday will hear Bush's case against a state Supreme Court recount decision. Gore lawyers said they will challenge certification of a Bush lead by Harris, a Republican who campaigned for the Texas governor.

Bush has the option of dropping his appeal to the Supreme Court should he be certified the winner. That seemed unlikely because it would concede to Gore the recounted votes that put the vice president closer to winning a post-certification challenge to the count.

''I think both sides have decided to take this election beyond the certification,'' Daschle said. ''Whether or not she makes any pronouncement tonight is not really relevant.''

The Sunday deadline was set by the Florida Supreme Court in the unanimous decision Bush appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Florida justices ruled that ballots cast by machine and ordered recounted by hand should be included in the Bush and Gore totals, and that the numbers should be reported to the secretary of state by 5 p.m. EST Sunday.

Harris had planned to certify the outcome as of Nov. 17, the deadline under state law. Bush's attorneys said the state Supreme Court improperly overrode that law when it set a later deadline.

The three Palm Beach canvassing board members who unsuccessfully sought more time all are Democrats - and the Gore campaign is going to court against them on Monday to challenge their recounting method, complaining they used too stringent a standard in determining what was a valid vote.

That was one of the issues on which Gore was basing his challenge to certification.

In Broward County, where Gore made more substantial recount gains, the canvassers were less restrictive in judging a voter's intent on punchcard ballots that did not register in voting machines because they were not properly punched, only dented.

Boies told a Tallahassee news conference Gore also will contest certification because of the decision by Miami-Dade County canvassers to drop their recount, and because questioned ballots that had been judged to be for the vice president there and in Nassau County were subsequently taken away from his total.

With the certification challenges, Boies said, ''the counting now becomes a matter of judicial interpretation.'' He said judges or appointed special masters in Leon County, site of the state capitol, would look at ballots from Miami and other contested precincts and decide which candidate should get them.

AP-NY-11-26-00 1719EST
===============================================================================


Bush Is Certified Winner in Florida
Texas Gov. Declares Victory; Lieberman Says Dems Will Contest

By WALTER R. MEARS
.c The Associated Press


(Nov. 26) - Florida's secretary of state certified George W. Bush the winner over Al Gore Sunday night in the state's near-deadlocked presidential vote - but court contests left in doubt which man will be the ultimate victor and 43rd president of the United States. Bush said he had won the White House and asked Gore to reconsider his challenges.

''Now that the votes are counted, it is time for the votes to count,'' Gov. Bush said from the state capitol in Austin, Texas, after Secretary of State Katherine Harris, a campaign supporter, announced that he had captured Florida by an infinitesimal 537-vote margin.

Bush announced that running mate Dick Cheney will direct his transition operations in Washington, and that former Secretary of Transportation Andrew Card will be his White House chief of staff.

So saying, Bush tried to preempt Gore with a campaign to persuade Americans that the election is over with, and that the outcome announced in Florida should be the last word.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, already had declared that it won't be, declaring that he and Gore had no choice but to challenge the Florida certification.

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

Moments after Republican Harris declared Bush the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes at a ceremony in Tallahassee, Lieberman said she had certified ''an incomplete and inaccurate count'' and he and Gore would challenge it.

But Bush, in a nationally-televised address from Austin, said ''I respectfully ask'' that Gore reconsider further contesting the hair-line Florida count.

If the certification of a 537-vote Bush margin stands, the Texas governor would win 271 electoral college votes - one more than necessary for victory - to 267 for Gore.

Harris said Bush had 2,912,790 votes and Gore had 2,912,253. That gave Bush the 537-vote lead out of 6 million cast, although Harris rejected partial returns from Palm Beach County. An unofficial AP tally including recounted Palm Beach County votes showed Bush ahead by 357.

The secretary of state's formal declaration, which set off GOP cheers outside the Florida capital and at the state capitol in Austin, Texas:

''Accordingly, on behalf of the state elections canvassing commission and in accordance with the laws of the state of Florida, I hereby declare Governor George W. Bush the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes.''

Lieberman said, ''The integrity of our self-government'' could be cast into doubt without Democratic steps to get the most complete and accurate count possible. Gore's lawyers were to file their challenge in the courts of Leon County, site of the state capitol at Tallahassee, Monday morning.

James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state speaking for Bush - who was making his own statement later Sunday night - said that count already has been delivered, repeatedly.

He said Bush ''won this election'' under the rules set by law before Election Day, Nov. 7 - and under rules changed after the election. Baker denounced Gore's lawyers for what he called an extraordinary resort to the courts - although Bush has his own set of lawsuits, including the appeal the U.S. Supreme Court, which hears oral arguments on Friday.

''At some point there must be closure,'' Baker said. ''At some point the law must prevail and the lawyers must go home.

''We have reached that point,'' he said. ''... It is time to honor the will of the people.''

For all that, Baker said Bush will ''absolutely'' go ahead with his case in the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging the state supreme court ruling that led to the extended certification deadline and hand recounts of ballots cast by machine in four disputed Democratic-leaning counties.

''We have no assurance that the other side will stop,'' he said.

Anticipating the certification, Gore was preparing a speech to be delivered on Monday, explaining his case for the continuing challenge.

Gore, who got 337,183 more votes than Bush nationwide on Nov. 7, said he has an obligation to the people who supported him and Lieberman, more than for any Democratic ticket before them. In an interview with The New York Times, he said ''every vote that is legally cast must be fairly and accurately counted in accordance with the law ...

''If at the end of this process .... if Governor Bush is successful, I will spare no effort to help him unify the country behind his leadership,'' Gore said, ''and I would expect him to do the same if I am successful.''

Sen. Trent Lott, the Republican leader, called on Gore ''to end his campaign and concede this election with the honor and dignity the American people expect.''

Sen. Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader, said that was not going to happen. ''I've talked with most of my colleagues over the last several days and there isn't any interest in conceding anything at this point.''

The votes were delivered to Harris in line with a 5 p.m. EST deadline set by the state supreme court, which allowed hand recounts through Sunday, 12 days past the date she had said certification should be final.

Palm Beach County halted its marathon count to file partial results with the state in time for the deadline, and reported a net gain of 180 votes for Gore - with an unknown number to come post-deadline.

Lieberman protested that hundreds of votes were being discarded by the secretary of state. ''How can we teach our children that every vote counts if we are not willing to make a good-faith effort to count every vote?'' he asked, speaking from a lectern flanked by two American flags, at a hotel across from the White House that is at stake in the struggle.

David Boies, lead lawyer for Democrat Gore's campaign, said the certification would be challenged Monday on at least three grounds, probably more, all involving incomplete recounting or votes he said had been tallied for the vice president at some point and later discounted.

Hand recounting of machine-cast ballots in heavily Democratic Broward County, the Fort Lauderdale area, also had narrowed the Bush edge.

Bush led by 930 votes before the recounting in those counties. Absentee ballots from servicemen abroad had added votes to his column.

Harris issued her delayed and contested certification in the Cabinet Room of the state capitol in Tallahassee. With a blue fountain pen, Harris signed the certification documents. Then canvassing commission members Clay Roberts and Bob Crawford signed, too. All three are Bush supporters.

Harris kept her statement formal, citing state laws and announcing the certified count. Then she turned to Crawford, the state agriculture commissioner, sitting on the election panel in place of Gov. Jeb Bush, who stepped aside because the candidate is his brother.

''We've got a razor-thin election for the most important job in the world,'' he said. ''... But I think it's over. It should be over.''

''And while we have a winner tonight and we have a loser tonight, it's going to take both of these gentlemen to bring this country together again and I hope we can get on with that work soon.''

Florida's Democratic senators, one just elected, argued Gore's case at a news conference in Tallahassee.

''If either candidate were to be declared the victor and electoral votes awarded based on the status today, neither candidate would be legitimate,'' Sen. Bob Graham said. ''What is putting the presidency in jeopardy is the prospect of illegitimacy.''

Sen.-elect Bill Nelson said American's don't want ''an election that they feel like has been rigged or has not fully been counted.

''We shouldn't have a rush to judgment,'' he said. ''Rather, we should be on a path toward justice.''

Democratic congressional leaders said nothing would be settled Sunday or soon. ''We're now in a two-week-or-so period in which you have a contest on both sides of this election,'' said Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, the House minority leader.

''What they're trying to do is overturn every rock, looking for more Gore votes, extend this as long as possible,'' said Gov. George Pataki of New York, one of the politicians both sides have summoned to Florida to watch the recounting of ballots and talk about it.

The three Palm Beach canvassing board members unsuccessfully sought more time for their recount. All three are Democrats - and the Gore campaign is going to court to challenge their recounting method, complaining they used too stringent a standard in determining what was a valid vote.

That was one of the issues on which Gore was basing his challenge to certification.

In Broward County, where Gore made more substantial recount gains, the canvassers were less restrictive in judging a voter's intent on punchcard ballots that did not register in voting machines because they were not properly punched, only dented.

Boies told a Tallahassee news conference Gore also will contest certification because of the decision by Miami-Dade County canvassers to drop their recount, and because questioned ballots that had been judged to be for the vice president there and in Nassau County were subsequently taken away from his total.

With the certification challenges, Boies said, ''the counting now becomes a matter of judicial interpretation.'' He said judges or appointed special masters in Leon County, site of the state capitol, would look at ballots from Miami and other contested precincts and decide which candidate should get them.

AP-NY-11-26-00 2155EST
=============================================================

Bush Statement on Florida Certification

Reuters


AUSTIN, Texas (Nov. 26) - Following is the text of a statement by Republican George W. Bush shortly after Florida certified him the winner of the state's presidential election:

Good evening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Republicans and Democrats agree we need to provide an excellent education for every child at every public school. Democrats and Republicans agree that our seniors deserve a secure retirement and a prescription drug coverage in Medicare.

Already there is some bipartisan groundwork on efforts to reform Social Security and Medicare. We have a duty to find common ground to reform these vital programs for the greatest generation and for future generations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All of us in this election fought for our views. Now we must live up to our principles. We must show our commitment to the common good, which is bigger than any person or any party. We cannot change yesterday, but we share a responsibility for tomorrow.

Time runs short, and we have a lot of work to do. So tonight I'm naming Secretary Dick Cheney to chair our transition effort, and Secretary Andy Card to serve as my chief of staff.

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

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

Thank you very much, and God bless America.

Rtr 22:00 11-26-00

=================================================================================

Bush claims victory, plans transition

Republican campaign lays claim to the White House; Gore
to contest results; legal challenges leave final result in doubt


By Alex Johnson
MSNBC

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Nov. 26 — Florida’s secretary of state declared Sunday night that Republican Gov. George W. Bush of Texas had won Florida by 537 votes, and with it the 25 electoral votes that would be enough to elect him president of the United States. Bush claimed victory a few hours later and said he would begin working on a transition to power. But the dramatic events in Florida resolved little, as a week or more of courtroom battles remain to be fought from Tallahassee to Washington.

CERTIFICATION OF the Florida results set off wild celebrations in Austin, Texas, and a promise from Democrats to challenge the results.
In a nationally televised address, Bush said: “The election was close, but tonight — after a count, a recount and yet another manual recount — Secretary [Dick] Cheney and I are humbled to win the state of Florida.
“We will therefore undertake the responsibility of preparing to serve as America’s president and vice president.”
Bush called on Democratic Vice President Al Gore to abandon legal challenges his lawyers plan to file against the certified results. Bush said a contest would be a repudiation of Florida’s electorate and “is not the best route for America.”
“I respectfully ask him to reconsider,” Bush said.
Bush mentioned several policy initiatives and said he was proceeding with plans for a transition. He announced that Cheney, who would be vice president-elect, would head up the transition team and that former Transportation Secretary Andrew Card would be his White House chief of staff.

Bush’s call came in response to a statement Sunday night by Gore’s running mate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who said the Democratic campaign would formally contest Florida’s certified results on Monday.
In a nationally televised statement, Lieberman denounced the declaration for Bush, saying it was based on an “incomplete and inaccurate” vote count. Thousands of Floridians’ votes were left uncounted or counted improperly, said Lieberman, who said it was important to uphold every American’s right to have his or her vote matter.
“Because of our belief in the importance of these fundamental principles, Vice President Gore and I have no choice but to contest these actions as provided for under Florida law,” Lieberman said at the vice president’s residence in Washington.
Gore plans to make his case for a long legal fight in a speech at midday Monday, arguing for the need to remove all doubt about the contest for Florida’s decisive 25 electoral votes.


Speaking moments after Lieberman, Bush’s representative in Florida, former Secretary of State James Baker, criticized the Democrats’ challenge, saying Bush had won Florida five times — on Election Day, after a statewide machine recount, after tabulation of absentee ballots, after manual recounts in some counties and now, finally, with Florida’s certification.
“It is time to honor the will of the people,” Baker said. “It is time to let the orderly process of transitioning go forward.”

DRAMATIC DECLARATION
Secretary of State Katherine Harris’ dramatic announcement certifying Bush as the winner in Florida followed a day during which the nation watched election officials in Palm Beach County race the clock to report results of a manual recount by a court-mandated deadline.
In the end, their long hours of work went unrewarded. The county’s canvassing board was unable to finish by 5 p.m. ET, and it turned in a partial report, which Harris rejected. Instead, the county’s vote stood as tabulated after a statewide recount on Nov. 14.
In any event, the county’s recounted returns, which officials announced after they counted the remaining ballots Sunday evening, would not have been enough to allow Gore to overturn Bush’s lead in Florida’s 66 other counties.
Harris, a Republican who was co-chairman of Bush’s Florida campaign, was joined in Tallahassee by the two other members of Florida’s election canvassing board shortly after 7:30 p.m. ET. All three signed the official state declaration of Bush’s victory after Harris read off the numbers: Bush had 2,912,790 votes, and Gore had 2,912,253.
But a variety of legal action remains before the Florida vote, and the identity of the next president, is any clearer:
Gore’s lead attorney in Florida, David Boies, said at a news conference Sunday that the campaign would contest the results in three counties: Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Nassau.

Gore’s legal team was reviewing procedures in a variety of counties Sunday and might add other challenges later in the day, Boies said. A prime candidate was Seminole County, where two Republican operatives are accused of altering about 4,700 absentee requests by adding voter-ID numbers after the election supervisor declared them invalid.
The Bush campaign has sued in five counties — Hillsborough, Okaloosa, Orange, Pasco and Polk — where it contends election boards systematically excluded absentee ballots filed by members of the armed forces serving abroad.
As they dashed between courtrooms and strategy meetings, lawyers for both sides worked on their preparations for Friday’s hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear one of two appeals by Bush to bar any hand-counted ballots in Florida.

NBC News legal affairs correspondent Pete Williams called the Supreme Court’s decision a “stunning legal development” because the court had never before decided to review a state Supreme Court ruling during a presidential election.
Republican lawmakers in Florida were also considering convening a special session of the Republican-majority Legislature, possibly this week, to intervene in Bush’s behalf if necessary.
If the Florida election is certified for Gore, or certified for Bush but with a tangle of legal challenges, the Legislature could try to take the extraordinary step of selecting a slate of electors aligned with Bush.

MSNBC.com’s Miguel Llanos and NBC’s Pete Williams contributed to this report

===============================================================================
Sunday November 26, 2000; 8:07 PM ET

Harris Certifies Bush, Calls Rule of Law True Winner

After nearly three weeks of sustained attacks from Democrat politicians and their media friends, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris pronounced a double winner Sunday night in the Nov. 7 election: Texas Gov. George Bush and the rule of law.

After Harris certified the final vote tally that showed Bush still in the lead, state canvassing board member Bob Crawford invoked the words of baseball great Yogi Berra:

"Berra said it's not over till it's over," recalled Crawford. "Well, now it's over."

Then Secretary Harris put the final coda on the election dispute, first thanking supporters and then sharing her own thoughts about the nation's ordeal:

"I wish to recognize the tireless effort of all of the elections personnel throughout the state of Florida and I commend them for a job well done.

"And I also wish to thank the thousands of people throughout the country who have been such an encouragement to me and my staff through their letters, their faxes, their flowers and their e-mails. And I want to say especially that I thank them for their prayers."

"I'm confident that the Department of State has conducted itself with integrity and independence. And I want to thank the employees of the Department of State as well.

"Finally I wish to point out that our American democracy has triumphed once again. And this is a victory in which we can all take a great deal of pride and comfort. The true winner in the election is the rule of law.


================================================================================
With Carl Limbacher and NewsMax.com Staff
For the story behind the story...

Sunday, Nov. 26, 2000

Like It or Not, Al, It’s Over

It’s over, Al. You lost. Now be a man and admit it.

Sure, the election was close. Gov. Bush won by a hair’s breadth in Florida. But had he won by a mere one vote, he’d still win Florida’s 25 electoral votes and a ticket to Washington, D.C., and a four-year lease on the White House.

So get over it, Al, and admit that your campaign’s sleazy attempt to steal enough votes to overcome Dubya’s lead just didn’t make it, even with all those Broward dimples and piles of chads on the floor and the help you got from the seven dwarfs on the Florida Supreme Court and all those Democrat election officials who did everything possible to invent votes for you.

This great nation needs a breather now to get ready for the new Bush administration. If you continue to send in the shysters and the goons, you are going to do serious damage to the nation you say you love. There’s a transition that needs to get under way, and what you’re doing by contesting the outcome of the Florida vote that two machine recounts and a whole lot of suspect hand counts run mainly by your people say Bush won is nothing less than an assault on the people of this nation.

President-elect Bush needs time to put his new administration together and the meter is running - January 20 isn’t all that far away. So get out of the way, Al. As the battle flag of Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher, commander of the Irish Brigade in the War Between the States, proclaimed: "Faugh a’ Ballagh" (which means in Irish "Clear the Way").

Get over it, Al, and repeat after us: President-elect George W. Bush. Say it again: President-elect George W. Bush. Get used to it. Roll it over your tongue and say it again: President-elect George W. Bush. That’s the way it is.

And then - Faugh a’ Ballagh!


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