- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2000

NASHVILLE The battle for the presidency took a decidedly ugly turn yesterday as the Gore camp charged thousands of voters were "disenfranchised" and the Bush camp accused the vice president of refusing to accept his defeat.
"Vice President Gore's campaign did not like the outcome of Election Day," said George W. Bush's campaign chairman, Don Evans. "A Democratic process calls for a vote on Election Day. It does not call for us to continue voting until someone likes the outcome."
But Al Gore's campaign chairman, William M. Daley, charged the Bush camp with putting "a demand for finality ahead of the pursuit of fairness."
"Technicalities should not determine the presidency of the United States. The will of the people should. Demanding an end to this election is not the same as demanding that the person who the people want as president takes office."
The two sides spent the day in vitriolic discourse, with one side making a charge and the other firing back. The exchanges grew more vicious as a nearly completed recount in Florida showed Mr. Bush's 1,784-vote edge cut to just 225.
Mr. Daley said the Democrats have no intention of stepping aside no matter the result of the recount but instead will work with voters to support "legal actions to demand some redress for the disenfranchisement of more than 20,000 voters in Palm Beach County."
"We have come to believe there are serious and substantial irregularities" stemming from the ballot in Palm Beach County, said former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who is monitoring the recount in Florida for Mr. Gore.
"That ballot was confusing and illegal and arising out of this is the need for redress in order to make sure that the will of the people can be properly honored in this situation."
The Gore campaign believes a paper ballot used in Palm Beach County confused many Gore supporters and led them to vote for Reform Party nominee Pat Buchanan unintentionally. Mr. Buchanan got 3,407 votes in Palm Beach County, far more than in surrounding counties.
The ballot charge drew a heated response from Mr. Evans.
"My counterpart at the Gore campaign has made some statements about ballots in Palm Beach County that don't tell the whole story. He knows that 19,000 ballots have been invalidated for overcounting casting votes for two candidates for the same office.
"He neglects to point out that in 1996, a year with much lower turnout, a similar number 14,872 ballots were invalidated for double-counting in Palm Beach County and statewide, 143,000 ballots were invalidated for overcounting," Mr. Evans said.
Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said, "I think that is an important fact that the American people need to know that unfortunately Chairman Daley omitted. It's troubling that Chairman Daley is making an issue without giving you all the facts about the ballots."
Bush strategist Karl Rove said the so-called "butterfly ballot" in Palm Beach County is the same type used in judicial elections in Mr. Daley's home base of Cook County, Ill.
"I really thought it was ironic that Chairman Daley went to great lengths to decry the butterfly ballot as confusing and undemocratic. Maybe Mr. Daley's in a better place to decry democracy and confusion in Cook County than he is in Florida."
And he said Democrats should have known if there were going to be problems with ballot confusion.
"Democrats designed the ballot, Democrats ran the Election Day, Democrats led the count of the ballot," Mr. Rove said.
As the temperature rose, the Gore campaign suggested it wants additional voting in the election.
"One of those new possibilities is a new election in Palm Beach County," Democratic lawyer Kendall Coffey said in Tallahassee.
The Bush campaign, however, said it was moving ahead as if the race had been decided.
"The process ought to move forward. We cannot stop and wait until the last ballot struggles in … before an orderly and necessary set of steps are taken," Mr. Rove said.
Bush aides at a press conference yesterday portrayed the Texas governor as a virtual president-in-waiting and defended his moving forward with plans to name Cabinet members.
Although the Republican nominee has not announced any players in his administration, his aides made no attempt yesterday to retreat from reports that Mr. Bush will name retired Gen. Colin Powell as his Secretary of State and Andrew Card, chairman of the Republican National Convention and deputy chief of staff in his father's White House, as his chief of staff.
He is also expected to name running mate Richard B. Cheney as chairman of his transition team if he does indeed capture Florida and the presidency.
"Do you need to be thinking about governing the country? Certainly, you do," Mr. Evans said. "We know what the results were from Election Night, and so it's only appropriate that the governor begin to think about governing this country."
Gore aides called the Bush campaign presumptuous for working on a presidential transition.
"I believe that their actions to try to presumptively crown themselves the victors to try to put in place a transition, run the risk of dividing the American people and creating a sense of confusion," Mr. Daley said in Tallahassee.
He called Mr. Gore "the people's choice," noting that the vice president appears to have won the popular vote nationally.
"Here in Florida it also seems very likely that more voters went to the polls believing that they were voting for Al Gore than for George Bush," Mr. Daley said. "If the will of the people is to prevail, Al Gore should be awarded a victory in Florida and be our next president."
The renewed offensive on the Republican side grew partly out of fears that Mr. Gore's campaign will stop at no tactic to overturn the election results in Florida and take the presidency.
"It looks like we're going to have to pry the guy out of there with a crowbar," said one Republican operative.
While Mr. Evans, speaking just hours after the Rev. Jesse Jackson visited Palm Beach County to demand another vote, said the process demands "calm, thoughtful" people to carry it out, he blamed Democrats for abusing the process.
"The Democrats who are politicizing and distorting these events risk doing so at the expense of our democracy," Mr. Evans said. "Throughout this process it is important that no party … act in a precipitous manner or distort an existing voting pattern in an effort to misinform the public."
While Bush aides still were careful not to call the Republican the president-elect, neither did they leave any doubt that Mr. Bush should secure that title within days, if not hours.
"Our view is that this is a process that on Tuesday night yielded a winner," Mr. Evans said.
Mrs. Hughes said, "There has been a final vote count that showed that Governor Bush carried the state of Florida, and therefore was elected to the presidency on Tuesday night."

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