Democrats’ pessimism mingled with gallows humor yesterday as Vice President Al Gore pinned his final hopes on today’s hearing before the Florida Supreme Court.
Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, a Gore supporter, said the unresolved election is not hurting the country. But he scoffed at Mr. Gore’s suggestion he has a “50-50” chance.
“If he does lose and he’s contemplating a new profession, I would advise against going out to Las Vegas and becoming an oddsmaker,” Mr. Frank told CBS’ “Early Show.”
“He’s losing in the courts. That’s a fact of life. I am not optimistic that he’s going to prevail,” Mr. Frank said.
Kentucky Gov. Paul E. Patton suggested the Florida Supreme Court is Mr. Gore’s last stand, even as Florida lawmakers called a special session tomorrow.
“I believe that the Florida Supreme Court will make a decision by the end of the week,” Mr. Patton told the Associated Press.
“Whatever the outcome, it should provide the final determination of this election.”
Mr. Gore quietly tended to business at the White House yesterday as liberal interest groups rallied in Tallahassee, Fla., demanding one more tally.
Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway said the Florida Supreme Court has good reason to support Mr. Gore’s election contest.
“The lower court ignored the most important evidence,” Mr. Hattaway said.
“You need to count all the votes to determine who won the election and that hasn’t happened yet.”
At the White House Tuesday, Mr. Gore expressed keen interest in the ongoing lawsuits in Seminole and Martin counties. Mr. Gore is not a party to those suits and he is counting on the Florida Supreme Court to order more recounts, Mr. Hattaway said.
“I think those suits” in Martin and Seminole counties “raise serious issues. It’s appropriate they’re getting a hearing,” Mr. Hattaway said.
But he added, “our hopes are here in the Florida Supreme Court.”
The Gore team’s legal brief to the high court did not disguise the urgency of the vice president’s plea.
“Now is the last chance for a legal judgment to be rendered in this case,” Mr. Gore’s attorneys argued.
“In but a few more days, only the judgment of history will be left to fall upon a system where deliberate obstruction has succeeded in achieving delay and where further delays risk succeeding or handing democracy a defeat.”
Liberal defenders rallied to Mr. Gore’s side yesterday. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Patricia Ireland, president of the National Organization for Women, called for more counts at a rally in Tallahassee.
Mr. Jackson likened the turmoil in Florida to a disputed election in Yugoslavia.
“If we were in Yugoslavia and Milosevic was losing a race, there’s one contested state, and his brother, the governor, was over that state, and the machinery of state broke down and he became the winner by virtue of the breakdown of that machinery, we would say that race does not pass the smell test of transparency,” Mr. Jackson said.
“And that’s what has happened in Florida.”
This article is based in part on wire service reports.