Wednesday, November 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Gore seeks popular support
From Vasantha Arora

WASHINGTON, Nov 28 — Confrontation looms in US politics as a defiant Vice-President Al Gore has sought popular support while refusing to concede the presidential election to Republican George W. Bush, certified winner of Florida’s decisive 25 electoral votes and the presidency.

The Democratic nominee, in a five-minute prime-time broadcast to the nation on Monday night, explained his case to fellow countrymen after his lawyers, earlier in the day, challenged the certification in a court in Tallahassee, the capital of Florida, urging the declaration of Mr Gore as the winner and therefore the President-elect.

A short while earlier Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed the document, certifying his brother as the winner of the Florida vote. Senior Republican Congressmen began addressing Mr Bush as the president-elect, an apparent public relations bid to force Mr Gore to concede election.

In contrast, Mr Gore argued that he was not engaged in a struggle for power, but rather in an effort to preserve democracy itself. “A vote is a human voice, a statement of human principle and we must not let those voices be silenced, the Vice-President said, obviously highlighting his demand for a recount in some counties.

In what appeared as an act of effrontery, Mr Bush’s top aides swiftly moved ahead with a blueprint for transition of power. “We feel it is our obligation to the American people and their votes” to move forward, Mr Bush said.

At his headquarters in Austin, Texas, Mr Bush met his designated White House Chief of Staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., and his running mate and transition chief Dick Cheney announced his decision to set up a full-scale transition operation in rented office space in here, using money from private donations.

The White House has declined to make available a 90,000 sq ft suite of offices and $5.3 million in public funds earmarked for the transition operations. It was inappropriate to provide resources to either candidate with the Florida result in doubt, its spokesman said.

Later, Mr Cheney told newsmen that Mr Gore’s obstinacy was getting in the way of a peaceful transfer of power. “Never before in American history, has a presidential candidate gone to court to try to change the outcome of an already-certified presidential election. But whatever the Vice-President’s decision, it does not change our obligation to prepare to govern the nation,” he asserted.

Mr Cheney said it would be a while before they could make major appointments though Mr Bush already had “extensive conversations and discussions” about potential Cabinet members. Indications are that Gen Colin Powell (retd) may be appointed as Secretary of State and Condoleezza Rice appointed White House National Security Adviser.

What raised the morale of the Bush camp was the falling public support for Mr Gore. Polls have shown around 60 percent of Americans, including around a third of Democrats, think it is now time for Mr Gore to concede the election to Mr Bush. That, in fact, made the Vice-President decide on a television appearance to explain why he was contesting Mr Bush’s certification as winner. Mr Bush was declared winner by 537 votes in about the six million that were cast.

“This is America. When votes are cast we count them. We don’t arbitrarily set them aside because it’s too difficult to count them,” Mr Gore said, adding, “I believe our Constitution matters more than convenience. So, as provided under the Florida law, I have decided to contest this inaccurate and incomplete count in order to ensure the greatest possible credibility for the outcome.”

Mr Gore’s lawyers filed papers in a Tallahassee court, explaining that the vote tally that formed the basis of Sunday’s certification included illegal votes and excluded legal ones in Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Nassau counties. They argued that some 9,000 ballots in Miami-Dade were not counted.

County Circuit Court Judge Sanders Sauls met briefly with attorneys for all sides and set a timetable that gives Mr Bush’s attorneys four days to respond to Mr Gore’s pleadings and another four days for both sides to submit additional replies.

In another development which favours the Gore campaign, the Florida Supreme Court agreed to examine briefs relating to the so-called “butterfly ballot” used in Palm Beach County, which some voters said was confusing and may have led some Gore supporters to vote for conservative candidate Pat Buchanan.

The US Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Friday arguments about the validity of hand recounts on the petition of Mr Bush filed before the Florida certification. 



Clinton not ready to ‘accept’ Bush

WASHINGTON, Nov 28 (PTI) — President Bill Clinton has made it clear that he is not yet ready to accept Mr George W. Bush as his successor in the White House.

He urged the nation to be patient until it learnt the outcome of the court cases now going on. “It will be over soon,” he told reporters at the White House after a Cabinet meeting.

As for the certification of Mr Bush by Florida state as the winner, Mr Clinton said: “It is not up to me to accept or reject.”

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