- The Washington Times - Monday, November 13, 2000

Vice President Al Gore, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman and their wives took in a movie Saturday night. The feature was titled "Men of Honor."

This coming Friday, if Mr. Gore still trails in Florida, senior Democrats may call on the running mates to live up to that title.

Senior Democrats support Mr. Gore's intention to wait for a count of overseas ballots in Florida. But Democrats are increasingly urging Mr. Gore to accept those results and set aside legal action.

Former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia, a centrist Democrat, joined the chorus yesterday. He said Mr. Gore should concede if a hand recount and the overseas ballots show he has lost Florida.

As yet, the Gore campaign is unwilling to accept the notion.

"There's no constitutional crisis," former Secretary of State Warren Christopher said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"We'll see if other things need to be done," following the hand count and the tally of overseas ballots, Mr. Christopher said.

"The decision has not been made yet," Gore campaign chairman William M. Daley said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"That will be a judgment that he will have to make at that time," former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, Maine Democrat, said on the Fox News Channel.

By Friday, Mr. Gore could face a difficult dilemma. He must gauge when the goodwill of Americans who think it is fair to wait for the overseas ballots will sour into resentment and damage his future prospects if he drags the election out further.

Former Sen. Dale Bumpers of Arkansas said Friday that a gracious, statesmanlike exit could help Mr. Gore in 2004.

"There might come a time when the vice president would be well served to say the country's interest is more important than the interests of one person or political party, and go ahead and concede," Mr. Bumpers said.

"That would be reassuring to the nation and to the world. It would put him in an unbelievably advantageous position for the Democratic nomination in 2004," Mr. Bumpers said.

"But they haven't even counted the overseas ballots," he said. "That will be the time for him to make a decision."

Former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey, Mr. Gore's rival for the Democratic nomination, told college students in North Carolina that Mr. Gore is likely to prevail. But Mr. Bradley said the election should end next Friday, absent indications of fraud.

"It wouldn't be wise for a candidate to mount a drawn-out legal challenge once the final votes are counted," Mr. Bradley said at Guilford College in Greensboro.

Two Democratic senators, Robert G. Torricelli of New Jersey and John B. Breaux of Louisiana, also have urged Mr. Gore to back away from threats of litigation.

The best idea is "to count the votes and respect the decision," Mr. Breaux told reporters.

Mr. Gore has said almost nothing in public since the day after the election. He was photographed Thursday jogging in Nashville's Centennial Park, playing touch football Friday with his family in Washington and going to the movie with the Liebermans Saturday night at Mazza Gallerie.

Instead, he has let his advisers do the talking. Some of their concerns have caused Mr. Gore harm, even among his supporters.

"If the will of the people is to prevail, Al Gore should be awarded a victory in Florida and should be our next president," Mr. Daley said Thursday in Tallahassee.

The Washington Post, in a Friday editorial, derided the statement as "poisonous" rhetoric at a time of uncertainty.

Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, who is monitoring the Florida returns for Mr. Bush, says it is fair to wait until the overseas ballots are counted. But he warns that further court action by Mr. Gore could lead Mr. Bush to seek recounts in other close states, such as Oregon, Wisconsin and Iowa.

"The nation is growing a little weary of this," Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, said yesterday on CBS. Whoever wins the election has "a rapidly diminishing mandate," Mr. McCain said.

Througout the weekend, television reports chronicled John F. Kennedy's razor-thin popular-vote victory over Richard M. Nixon in 1960.

Mr. Nixon believed the machine run by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley William Daley's father engineered a victory for Mr. Kennedy in Illinois. The Democrat won Illinois by 8,858 votes.

Some historians believe Mr. Nixon did not seek a recount because of Republican irregularities downstate. Regardless of the reason, Mr. Nixon chose not to fight in court.

On Nov. 14, 1960, Mr. Kennedy met with his vanquished rival at the Key Biscayne Hotel, where Mr. Nixon was vacationing with his family.

"Well, it's hard to tell who won the election at this point," Mr. Kennedy told Mr. Nixon, according to Christopher Matthews' book, "Kennedy & Nixon, The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America."

The meeting was little more than a photo opportunity, but it conveyed a message of unity and enabled Mr. Kennedy to start preparing for the presidency.

By next weekend, leaders in both parties may be calling for another such session.

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