- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2000

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Vice President Al Gore, looking drained but not yet defeated, pledged yesterday to honor the results of Tuesday's extraordinary presidential election if rival George W. Bush wins the recount in Florida.

"We still do not know the outcome of yesterday's vote and I realize that this is an extraordinary moment for our democracy," Mr. Gore said in a brief statement at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel here.

Mr. Gore could become the first presidential candidate in 112 years to win the national popular vote and lose the presidency in the Electoral College if the Texas governor takes Florida.

In 1888, Democrat Grover Cleveland won the popular vote by 65 ballots but lost the Electoral College to Republican Benjamin Harrison.

"Despite the fact that Joe Lieberman and I won the popular vote, under our Constitution, it is the winner of the Electoral College who will be our next president," Mr. Gore said.

"Our Constitution is the whole foundation of our freedom and it must be followed faithfully, toward the true result ordained by the American people in our respective states," he said. His running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, stood by his side.

"We are now, as we have been from the moment of our founding, a nation based on the rule of law," Mr. Gore said.

Gore campaign Chairman William M. Daley, who followed the vice president to the podium, said he remains confident that Mr. Gore will be the nation's next president.

"There is no question he is ahead in the popular vote and ahead in the electoral vote," Mr. Daley said.

"There is one state left to be decided. We believe that when those votes are counted and the process is complete," Mr. Gore will prevail in both the popular vote and the electoral vote, he said.

Mr. Gore, who did not take questions, appears to have 260 electoral votes, 10 shy of the presidency. He would have won the White House without Florida had he won his home state. Mr. Bush, the governor of Texas, captured Tennessee's 11 electoral votes.

A serene Mr. Gore called free elections "the living heart of our democracy." He said the recount should "proceed expeditiously, but without any rush to judgment."

Mr. Gore also issued a message to Americans and foreign leaders that he will abide by the results if he loses Florida's 25 electoral votes.

"Let me make my own resolve clear: No matter the outcome, America will make the transition to a new administration with dignity, with full respect for the freely expressed will of the people, and with pride in the democracy we are privileged to share," Mr. Gore said.

"And I want all Americans, and indeed, the whole world, to be assured of that."

Mr. Gore tapped former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who oversaw his vice-presidential selection process, to monitor the recount in Florida. Mr. Daley and Mr. Christopher left for Florida last night.

Mr. Daley said the situation was such that he would not answer hypothetical questions. He also said he wants to make sure the recount is done in a "fair and forthright and honorable way."

The former secretary of state said the election, while "an extraordinary event," is not a constitutional crisis.

Three presidents have won the White House without prevailing in the popular vote: Harrison in 1888, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 and John Quincy Adams in 1824.

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