- The Washington Times - Friday, November 17, 2000

Vice President Al Gore's running mate said yesterday the pair will not concede even if Texas Gov. George W. Bush leads after overseas ballots are counted in Florida and will continue to fight in court because that is "the American way."
"That option, just in the interest of justice, has to remain on the table, because that's what the American way is," Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman said on NBC's "Today" Show.
"When you feel that you've not received a fair deal, the one place you turn in America is to the courts."
Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris plans to certify the state's election results tomorrow. But there is no indication Mr. Gore plans to concede this weekend if he is the loser in the certified final tally.
Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman suggested yesterday that the presidential election will not be legitimate unless the hand recounts from three heavily Democratic counties are added to the Florida tally.
"The choice really is whether the voters are going to decide this election by having every vote count or whether that process is going to be short-circuited without all the votes being examined," Mr. Gore said on Tom Joyner's syndicated radio show.
Mr. Lieberman said unless the hand recounts are included, "this country will go into the new century divided, with a president who does not have legitimacy."
Both Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman stopped short yesterday when interviewers asked whether they think Republicans are trying to steal the election.
"I would discourage the use of that word because, again, however it comes out we're going to come behind the winner and please understand there are high emotions on the other side," Mr. Gore told co-host Tavis Smiley on Mr. Joyner's show.
"I never would use the word 'steal,' but honestly, the secretary of state in Florida has acted in a way that seems to me to be so unilateral, one-sided and contrary to the spirit of the law," Mr. Lieberman said on NBC.
Mrs. Harris announced Wednesday night that she would not accept hand recounts from three predominantly Democratic counties. She also certified totals from the 67 counties in the state, which put Mr. Bush up by exactly 300 votes.
Mr. Gore pledged on the radio show that if he wins he "will certainly fight all the way for the principles that need to be defended."
But Mr. Gore added that he would try to "reach out to the people who disagree with me."
Mr. Lieberman, who made the round of morning television news shows, noted that former President Jimmy Carter has offered to serve with former President Gerald R. Ford as impartial overseers of the Florida recount.
"I mean, who knows? The League of Women Voters could come in and monitor," Mr. Lieberman said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"I hate to get law enforcement officials, but if we wanted, we could have, you know, U.S. marshals there. There are any number of ways that we could certify that this was a fair count and that's all we want."
Mr. Lieberman said on NBC he is encouraging Mr. Gore to press the fight.
"I don't know if I'm pushing him the hardest. But in my heart of hearts, first I know what everyone knows, which is that Al Gore and I won the popular election. We got more votes than Governor Bush and [former Defense] Secretary [Richard B.] Cheney.
"Second, we're ahead in the Electoral College. And third, I honestly believe that if every vote cast in Florida was counted, that Al Gore and I would have won Florida."
On CBS, Mr. Lieberman said that Florida's secretary of state "wants to decide the election herself without letting the votes in Florida be counted."
Mr. Lieberman noted the conventional wisdom is "that Governor Bush will probably carry the absentee ballots" in Florida.
The Connecticut senator also said the eventual president will assume the presidency "with a cloud over his head" unless the recounts are permitted.
"Basically, all we're saying is, 'Let's count the votes. And if you don't want to count them in three counties that look Democratic, let's count them throughout the state, or let's at least talk about it,' " Mr. Lieberman said.
"And it's very disappointing that Governor Bush and Secretary Harris rejected both of those opportunities to end this in a civil way," he said. "Now I'm afraid we're looking forward to more litigation, which is unnecessary."

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