Bush Rejects Gore Offer on Florida Recount
Legal fight continues as Republican secretary of state rejects hand recount results and says she'll certify totals Saturday.
BY: David Espo
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.
Gore and Bush made separate television appearances Wednesday evening, the vice president at his official residence in Washington, the Texan at the governor's mansion in Austin. Both men strove for a statesmanlike presentation, and maneuvered for maximum television exposure.
Gore went first, in the evening news hour in the East, standing in front of a mantle with a family photo visible in the background. "We need a resolution that is fair and final. We need to move expeditiously to the most complete and accurate count that is possible," he said.
Suggesting expanded recounts, he said, "Machines can sometimes misread or fail to detect the way ballots are cast. And when there are serious doubts, checking the machine count with a careful hand count is accepted far and wide as the best way to know the true intentions of the voters."
He suggested he and Bush meet immediately, "not to negotiate, but to improve the tone of our dialogue in America." And he proposed a second meeting, after the election, "to reaffirm our national unity."
In his own remarks a few hours later, Bush stood in the living room of the governor's residence. "Not for...Vice President Gore, or for me, but for America, this process must have a point of conclusion, a moment when America and the world know who is the next president," he said. He referred to the deadlines contained in Florida law, the last of which, he said, occurs Friday, when overseas absentee ballots are due.
"The way to conclude this election in a fair and accurate and final way is for the state of Florida to count the remaining overseas ballots, add them to the certified vote, and announce the results as required by Florida law," he said.