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Gore promises to fight Bush win

The Associated Press

Al Gore’s lawyers say he won’t concede defeat in the presidential election if certified hand recount totals show George W.

Friday, November 24, 2000

Al Gore’s lawyers say he won’t concede defeat in the presidential election if certified hand recount totals show George W. Bush has more votes in Florida, but instead will contest the results in heavily Democratic Miami-Dade County, where the recount was canceled.

On a busy Thanksgiving Day, the vice president also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay out of the recount controversy. ”This court’s interference … would only diminish the legitimacy of the outcome of the election,” his lawyers said in papers filed Thursday with the nation’s highest court.

The justices could decide as early as Friday whether to grant Bush’s extraordinary request that they intervene and decide whether handcounted ballots may be added to the Florida vote totals.

Theodore Olson, attorney for the Bush campaign, said on NBC’s ”Today” show on Friday that the outcome of the U.S. court’s ruling was ”uncertain.” But he added that ”even if the United States Supreme Court does not intervene at this point, it might well decide later that this process, which changes the rules after the election, is unconstitutional.”

On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court rejected Gore’s bid to force Miami-Dade County officials to resume a manual recount of its Election Day ballots. Officials in that county halted their recount Wednesday, saying they could not complete it by the 5 p.m. Sunday deadline the state Supreme Court had set.

Gore campaign attorney David Boies, also on NBC, noted that Miami-Dade officials decided to stop their counting after Republican backers staged noisy demonstrations, ”mini-riots if you will,” outside the recount office. ”If that’s the reason they stopped counting, I think it’s very unfortunate.”

Gore’s lawyers said they will go to state court in Tallahassee to contest the Miami-Dade election results after the votes are certified, expected late Sunday.

”Nobody should be surprised by this. We’ve been saying all along that we wanted a full and fair count and that’s what we intend to see happen,” said Ron Klain, a Gore campaign legal adviser. He said some results in other counties also may be challenged, but he did not give details.

Asked if that meant Gore would not concede the election even if he was behind in votes, Gore campaign spokeswoman Jenny Backus said that was correct.

”We want a full, fair and accurate count and the only way left to do that is to file a contest for Miami-Dade,” she said.

The Florida Supreme Court, in setting the Sunday deadline for vote certification, anticipated the vote would be contested and wanted to ensure enough time for such challenges before the state’s crucial 25 presidential electors are chosen on Dec. 12. Whoever wins those electors will have enough votes to become the next president.