- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Al Gore, pleading for patience, last night cast his election challenge as a fight for principle, not just a personal quest for the presidency.
The vice president, in a five-minute address broadcast nationally, tried to counter the impression that the election is over and Texas Gov. George W. Bush will be the 43rd president of the United States.
"A vote is not just a piece of paper," Mr. Gore said as he stood before a backdrop of American flags at his official residence in Washington.
"A vote is a human voice a statement of human principle and we must not let those voices be silenced."
Mr. Gore said a complete count is more important than whether he prevails.
"If the people do not in the end choose me, so be it. The outcome will have been fair and the people will have spoken," Mr. Gore said.
But "ignoring votes means ignoring democracy itself."
Mr. Gore said he is contesting Florida's "inaccurate and incomplete count" to ensure "the greatest possible credibility for the outcome."
The vice president said Americans who want closure now should take the long view and wait for a more complete count that will withstand scrutiny 200 years hence.
Mr. Gore's remarks capped a day in which Democratic leaders presented a united front, hoping to stall Mr. Bush's momentum.
The vice president invited television cameras to his residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory, to capture a conference call with top Democrats.
Mr. Gore and his running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, chatted with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, stationed in Tallahassee, Fla.
"We've had the opportunity now to talk to so many of our colleagues over the last several days, and there is overwhelming support for your effort to ensure that we have a fair and full count," Mr. Daschle told the vice president.
Mr. Gore said he is standing for the importance of each voters' ballot.
"If we ignore the votes that have been cast, then where does that lead?" Mr. Gore asked. "The integrity of our democracy depends upon the consent of the governed, freely expressed in an election where every vote is counted."
But Mr. Gore also revealed a glimmer of ambition in his talk with Congress' top Democrats.
"This really is about the larger principle. But on a personal basis, I'm also very encouraged," Mr. Gore told them. "If every vote is counted, there are easily more than enough to change the outcome and decide the election in our favor."
Mr. Gore is trying to hold his Democratic coalition together at least until Friday, when the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether to discount Florida's hand recounts.
A few initial cracks began to show yesterday.
Rep. Julia Carson, Indiana Democrat, said Mr. Gore should give up "because the country is 'battle-torn' and shouldn't go through more of this fighting."
Sen. Robert G. Torricelli of New Jersey and former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich stopped short of calling on Mr. Gore to concede. But they said the election should come to a quick conclusion.
"There are a couple of stray cats, but 99.9 percent of the Democrats are behind Al Gore," Rep. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, told the Associated Press.
Republican leaders tried to ratchet up pressure on Mr. Gore. Bush running mate Richard B. Cheney called a news conference to discuss the Texas governor's transition plans. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, talked of holding confirmation hearings in early January for Mr. Bush's appointees.
The Republican rumblings prompted a rebuke from Mr. Gore's running mate.
"They're trying to move their train from the station," Mr. Lieberman said last evening in an interview broadcast on PBS. "But the election is not over."
Mr. Lieberman said he and Mr. Gore are operating on a schedule the Florida Supreme Court established, "and that is to have this all done by December 12th," when Florida must certify its electors.
Mr. Gore skipped a Cabinet meeting at the White House. But President Clinton echoed the vice president's chief argument.
"In all this interplay, it is easy to lose what is really important, which is the integrity of the voter," Mr. Clinton said.
"If every vote can't [be counted], is there a good reason why they're not counting that vote?"
Gore campaign chairman William Daley and legal adviser Ron Klain also played a part in the public relations offensive. They conducted another conference call to brief House Democrats about the vice president's legal strategy.
Mr. Gore, Mr. Lieberman and their wives, Tipper and Hadassah, dropped by the Cheesecake Factory in Washington, where they were photographed greeting supporters.
In Florida, Mr. Gore's aides argued that the vice president has the moral authority to fight on because he won the popular vote nationwide.
"The American people want to see the election certified for the candidate who won the most votes," Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway told reporters in Tallahassee.
"As a matter of fact, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman got more votes across this country and we believe they got more votes in Florida."

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