- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2000

Republican vice-presidential nominee Richard B. Cheney says "it's time" for Vice President Al Gore to concede defeat in the 2000 presidential election, held nearly a month ago.
"So far, he's chosen not to do that, to pursue other avenues, and that's probably his prerogative. But … long-term, I think history would regard him in a better light if he were to bring this to a close in the very near future," Mr. Cheney said yesterday in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Warren Christopher, a legal adviser to the Gore campaign, told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" yesterday, "I think it's far too early to think about conceding … when it's a [close] contest like this. I've always tried to open myself to the possibility that the other side might win.
"I think it would be very healthy if Secretary Cheney and the Governor Bush team would at least admit to that possibility."
Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, says there are a "number of Democrats who are privately concerned" that the post-election battle for the presidency "is continuing well into a month."
"Al Gore, at this rate, … will be remembered as the Tonya Harding of American presidential history, unwilling to accept the results after we've had a count, a recount, and a selected hand recount in overwhelmingly Democratic areas," Mr. McConnell said on "Late Edition."
But Mr. Gore, interviewed on "60 Minutes" last night, said the election will be over in two weeks and he will accept whatever outcome occurs in the legal fight.
"At the end of the day, when all processes have taken place, if George Bush is sworn in as president, he'll be my president. He'll be America's president," Mr. Gore told interviewer Leslie Stahl.
Mr. Gore pledged to respect and to abide by the looming court decisions.
"I will respect whatever outcome is reached in the Supreme Court of Florida and the U.S. Supreme Court, of course, and I won't be attacking the courts in either case," Mr. Gore said.
"I will respect whatever judgments are made, but the simple principle here is that every vote should be counted."
Mr. Gore said he does not expect to lose the election, but he said his family and his religious faith would enable him to deal with such an outcome.
Mr. Gore, in an upbeat mood, dismissed reports from his advisers that he is "a lost soul" and that he is in "deep denial."
"No, I deny that," Mr. Gore said, laughing.
Mr. Cheney, who heads the Bush transition team, told NBC "we're getting close" to the end of the election battle.
"I would hope it'll get resolved within the next few days. Hopefully, it will be over and wrapped up" by Dec. 12 or sooner, he said on "Meet the Press." Dec. 12 is the federal deadline for having electors in place.
"From the standpoint of transition, a lot of people do not understand we're down to only about six weeks left. It is very hard to put together a complete government for the United States, tougher than it's ever been because of the complexity of issues and clearance procedures required," Mr. Cheney said.
"We really, really need to get on with that as quickly as possible, and we are, I think, rapidly approaching the point where there will be damage to the nation, at least to the capacity of the next government to function, if we don't get this resolved."
In his televised remarks yesterday, Mr. Cheney alluded to the economic concerns Mr. Bush addressed on national television Saturday, before he and his running mate met with top Republicans in Congress at Mr. Bush's Texas ranch.
Mr. Bush had said he feared a potential "economic slowdown." Mr. Cheney yesterday went further, saying he believes the nation is on the "front end of a recession."
As for the contentions by Mr. Gore, Mr. Christopher and other Democrats that Mr. Gore could still win the presidency, Mr. Cheney said: "We have had votes. They have been cast. There's a process for counting, a process for recounting, a process for certification. We have been through that process, and we now ought to get on with the process of putting together the new government."
Mr. Cheney also said he was not ready to identify specific people who would serve in a Bush Cabinet. But he said, "Governor Bush has given us directions" to assemble a Cabinet that "represents the best of America" and that is "diverse in every sense of the word."
"I would expect that certainly within the next couple of weeks we'll be able to start making some announcements," he said.
Mr. Bush acknowledged he spoke with Sen. John B. Breaux, Louisiana Democrat, by phone Saturday, which led to speculation he might be considering him for an administrative post. But Andrew Card, Mr. Bush's chief-of-staff designate, told ABC's "This Week" that the conversation with Mr. Breaux was "not about a slot in the administration."
Mr. Bush's 537-vote victory over Mr. Gore in Florida was certified last week by the Florida secretary of state. Mr. Gore is pushing for hand recounts in some heavily Democratic areas of Florida in a bid to replace those electors with his own slate before the Dec. 12 deadline to have electors in place.
Tom Feeney, speaker of the Republican-controlled Florida House of Representatives, said yesterday on "Fox News Sunday" he's not certain if the "key drop-dead date to have your electors in place is Dec. 12, Dec. 18, or Dec. 27."
But Mr. Feeney said he expects the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the state Legislature's right to decide who gets that state's 25 Electoral College votes, which will determine the presidency.
He's pushing for a special session of the Florida Legislature to enforce Mr. Bush's certified win in Florida by naming the state's 25 electors. Published reports suggested Mr. Feeney wanted to have the special session Wednesday, but he did not offer a specific date yesterday, citing concerns raised by the president of the Florida Senate that lawmakers move cautiously with regard to a special session.

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