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Gore, Bush tangle in Florida recount debate

The Associated Press

Court cases pending and countywide hand recounts in dispute, Florida’s contested election remains an unpredictable struggle, the White House the prize, following an unusual long-distance exchange between Al Gore and George W.

Thursday, November 16, 2000

Court cases pending and countywide hand recounts in dispute, Florida’s contested election remains an unpredictable struggle, the White House the prize, following an unusual long-distance exchange between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

”I don’t know what the final results will show,” Gore said Wednesday night as he suggested a statewide hand recount of Florida’s 6 million votes as a way to achieve a ”fair and final” result without further legal maneuvering.

”The outcome of this election will not be the result of deals or efforts to mold public opinion,” Bush countered a few hours later in rejecting the vice president’s suggestions. Hand recounting, which Gore wants, ”introduces human error and politics into the vote-counting process,” Bush said.

Bush holds a 300-vote lead over his rival in Florida, the state that will hand one man or the other a majority of the Electoral College and the keys to the White House.

The dueling appearances by the two White House rivals capped a tumultuous day in which Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris announced that she would not accept the results of any hand recounts when it comes time to certify final totals on Saturday. Only absentee ballots from overseas, due in by midnight Friday, will be rolled into the totals, she said. Gore’s lawyers said they would challenge her decision Thursday.

With Gore urging them on, officials in Broward County said in advance they intended to continue recounting 588,000 ballots by hand Thursday. Just up the Florida coast, Palm Beach County officials said they too intended to review ballots cast on Election Day.

Thursday’s legal docket stretched to the federal appeals court in Atlanta, where judges called for written arguments on Bush’s bid – he lost in Miami federal district court on Monday – to shut down the recounts altogether.

Just over the legal horizon was the U.S. Supreme Court, and already there were predictions the election to pick the nation’s 43rd president would wind up there. ”Anything this important is going to find its way to the most important court in the land,” former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, a longtime friend of Bush’s running mate Dick Cheney, said in an interview.