- The Washington Times - Monday, November 27, 2000

Vice President Al Gore today will fight impressions of an inevitable George W. Bush presidency by making the political case for challenging Florida's election results.

Mr. Gore, trying to prevent public impatience, will deliver a nationally televised address at noon.

Aides said Mr. Gore will tell Americans why he is contesting Florida's declaration that the Texas governor won the state a victory that would give Mr. Bush the presidency.

Mr. Gore's running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, gave a likely preview of the address last night.

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris unjustly certified Mr. Bush as the victor based upon "incomplete and inaccurate" tallies, the Connecticut senator said.

"What is at issue here is nothing less than every American's simple, sacred right to vote," said Mr. Lieberman, flanked by U.S. flags in a ballroom at the Hay-Adams Hotel, across Lafayette Park from the White House.

"How can we teach our children that every vote counts if we are not willing to make a good-faith effort to count every vote?" he said.

"We are now going through an unprecedented time in American history," Mr. Lieberman said. "The campaign is over, but what we do now will be as important to the future of our country as anything any of us did during the campaign."

Hours before Florida certified the results, Mr. Gore granted an interview to The New York Times at his official residence in Washington. The newspaper published the interview on its Web site last night.

"I think it is important for the integrity of our democracy to make sure that every vote is counted," Mr. Gore told the newspaper. "Especially in a close election."

Mr. Gore said the additional recounts he seeks could be finished by Dec. 12, the deadline for naming members to the Electoral College.

Mr. Gore, trying to convey bipartisanship, told the newspaper he has selected a Cabinet that includes Republicans. Mr. Gore declined to divulge their names.

Congressional Democrats, some of whom previously warned against a lengthy court fight, appear to be coalescing around Mr. Gore.

Mr. Gore told The New York Times that not one Democrat has privately urged him to concede.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts last night chided Mr. Bush for asking Mr. Gore to drop his court challenge. The Republican exhibited "tactics tonight and not statesmanship," Mr. Kerry told CNN.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri will head to Florida today in a show of support for Mr. Gore.

"I've talked with most of my colleagues over the past several days and there isn't any interest in conceding anything at this point," Mr. Daschle said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"We're in this for whatever length of time it takes to ensure that we get the job done right."

Mr. Gore spent most of the day behind closed doors at his official residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory. Mr. Gore worked on today's speech, met with William Daley, his campaign chairman, and discussed his legal strategy in phone calls with advisers.

Mr. Gore's surrogates spoke as if they were reading from the same sheet on the Sunday talk shows.

The vice president has a moral right to contest the result because he leads in the national popular vote and in the electoral vote aside from Florida, Mr. Gore's attorneys and political allies said.

Mr. Gephardt told CBS' "Face the Nation" that Mr. Gore captured the popular vote by 300,000 votes nationwide and has mustered 267 electoral votes without Florida.

"It's very important that we be sure that every vote is counted in Florida and that's why this contest on both sides is going to go forward," Mr. Gephardt said.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Mr. Bush's appeal to discount hand recounts in Florida. The court's decision to take the case appears to have reduced pressure from Mr. Gore's Democratic colleagues.

In recent days, senior Democrats such as Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana urged Mr. Gore not to fight beyond Florida's state Supreme Court. But Mr. Breaux called for patience yesterday.

"I would have liked for the Supreme Court of Florida to be the last word," Mr. Breaux said on ABC's "This Week" program.

"But now Governor Bush has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. So, appropriately or not, that will now be the final word hopefully," Mr. Breaux said.

Mr. Daschle said he believes Mr. Gore will become the next president. If not, he said, Mr. Gore will be the Democratic front-runner in 2004.

"He certainly won the country on the second-largest [popular] vote in our nation's history," Mr. Daschle said.

"That alone dictates that regardless of how this plays out, there's a bright future [for] Al Gore."

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