Text: Warren Christopher on CNN's
'Larry King Live'
Tuesday, November 28, 2000
Following is the transcript of Gore adviser Warren Christopher's appearance
on CNN's "Larry King Live."
LARRY KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, here in Los Angeles,
Warren Christopher, former secretary of state, adviser to the Gore campaign,
legal adviser as well.
Why are you here? Why aren't you still in Tallahassee?
WARREN CHRISTOPHER: Well, Larry, I left on very short notice on election
night, went to Tallahassee and stayed two weeks, and I got a little tired of
the clothes I had there, so I came home for some new clothes and a little recharging
of these old batteries.
KING: When do you go back?
CHRISTOPHER: Well, I'm sort of, as they say in baseball, sort of day-to-day.
Probably go back for the Supreme Court argument.
KING: Will you argue in the court?
CHRISTOPHER: No, I will not argue. Larry Tribe, famous Supreme Court
advocate, will argue for the Gore campaign.
KING: What's this experience been like for you? There is no precedent
for it. You are a well-known lawyer, a prominent firm here in Los Angeles, former
secretary of state. What's it been like inside?
CHRISTOPHER: It's just extraordinary, it's one of the most intense
experiences I have ever had. America has never been through this kind of a thing
before, an election this close, you know, 547 votes out of the, you know, 50
million that have been cast overall for Gore--just incredible--and I think that
is fundamentally what's involved here. If the American people step back and
understand how close it is, then they will understand the reason for taking
great care to make sure we get it right.
KING: Do you agree that--the latest polls, with 57 percent saying that
Gore should give up, do you understand their frustration?
CHRISTOPHER: I certainly understand their frustration, I think we all
would like to have it over. But we would all like to have it over in the right
KING: And the right way is? Recount? They proposed today recounting
CHRISTOPHER: Well, as you probably know, Larry, Vice President Gore
has really a very targeted, very focused request to recount certain votes in
certain counties, just three counties now. I can illustrate this, I think, pretty
In Dade County, there were approximately 10,000 votes that were not counted
at all, they were thrown out by the machine in the same way your credit card
might be thrown out, does not read. And what we are asking is that those be
looked at by eyes, a hand count, so you get an eye count of them to see whether
they might by looking at the ballot, be able to discern whether it was for Governor
Bush or for Vice President Gore.
KING: But Secretary Cheney just said many people go in and don't vote
for president. They do it all over the country, many ballots come out in which
they don't cast a vote for either party and vote for senator, vote for Congress.
CHRISTOPHER: Well, Larry, I'm not--Thursday morning, when we made decide
as to what counties to ask for recounts in, we found anomalies in these counties,
more ballots of that character than seemed to be right, and so we asked for
the recount, and that's what we are trying--still trying to get that done in
KING: Now, today the vice president called for a recounting of the
CHRISTOPHER: Well, we have said for sometime that we would be glad
to have a recount for the whole state. You know, that is really an answer to
the position of the Governor Bush troops who say, look, you picked out four
Democratic counties, OK, we'll count the whole state, but they have never accepted
that. And I think where we are in court now is to ask for an accurate and full
counting of the ballots in just these three counties.
KING: And what are your prospects?
CHRISTOPHER: Well, I think our prospects are good, but it's litigation.
Litigation is always uncertain. What we want to do is to show the American people
and show the 50 million people who voted for Vice President Gore that we have
taken all reasonable and appropriate steps, and I give Governor Bush's team
the presumption of good faith in this matter and I think that they might ask
whether they shouldn't give out the same presumption to us.
KING: They are not giving you that, you think they are questioning
the good faith of your side?
CHRISTOPHER: Well, I think they are asking a concession at the present
time, that's premature, from our standpoint. Now, I don't gainsay the need to
start the transition process. Indeed, I have got a good deal of sympathy for
Governor Bush on that point. I think it's a wise thing that he is named Andrew
Card to be his chief of staff, and it's a wise thing they are starting down
the transition road. But we are in a very, very unusual situation, Larry. An
election this close calls for unusual measures, and it calls for unusual patience
by the American people.
KING: Should Gore also be starting down the transition road then?
CHRISTOPHER: Yes, it's easier for him. After all, he has been in office,
he knows the people there, and he is starting down that transition road. Very
quietly, he has been thinking about this, talking with people, talking with
Roy Neel, who's been his transition director.
KING: Has he sent out feelers?
CHRISTOPHER: I don't know that he's sent out feelers, but he certainly
has in mind, I think, who he would like to approach for various jobs.
KING: That's already set in his head, you think?
CHRISTOPHER: I think that's well set in his head.
KING: What has this been like for you, legally?
CHRISTOPHER: Well, I think my main role in this, Larry, is to help
in assembling a legal team that's really quite extraordinary.
KING: You did no arguing yourself?
CHRISTOPHER: No arguing myself. David Boies is one of the top litigators
in the country, maybe the best known litigator to handle the trial work in Florida,
leading lawyers in Florida like Dexter Douglass in Tallahassee, and then Larry
Tribe argue in United States Supreme Court, that's about as good a legal team
as you can possibly have.
KING: Have you been impressed with the other side?
CHRISTOPHER: I think that they gone about it in a very effective way.
Mr. Olson, who is their Supreme Court advocate, I think is a first-rate advocate,
and of course, they launched that litigation, they wanted to stop the recounting.
This whole process has been our wanting to go forward with the recount, their
taking various steps to prolong it or stop it.
KING: Do you think that, in effect, constitutionally they can, the
state legislature might just go into special session, say hang it all, and choose
the electors, which they can do?
CHRISTOPHER: I think that would be a--really quite an irresponsible
way to go about this. I tell you, Vice President Gore is very concerned about
his constitutional responsibilities, his responsibilities to the American people.
Going to pursue this litigation in an appropriate way, but when it comes to
an end, I can assure you that he will support the ultimate result.
KING: But the state legislature can do it, constitutionally can, so
why would it be a big mistake in your opinion?
CHRISTOPHER: Well, I think there is a legal process going forward,
and if they try to pre-empt that and rush in and reach a conclusion, it's going
to look unduly political, because, after all, it is a Republican-dominated legislature.
KING: We'll be back with some more moments with Warren Christopher,
then we'll have two prominent United States senators, and lots more to go on
this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: Some other bases with Warren Christopher.
How is the vice president holding up?
CHRISTOPHER: Very, very well. You know, I have had a lot of experience
with the vice president and he is at his best when things get really tough.
And I think that you see him acting very effectively presiding over these meetings,
I have been in conference calls since I have come back to California for a couple
of days. Maybe the best evidence, Larry, is to look at him on the screen, he's
looked good to me yesterday and today. He actually looks better now than he
did at the end of the campaign, for pretty obvious reasons. He has been home,
had some night sleep, seeing his family, so I think he is doing very well.
KING: Is his mood bitter?
CHRISTOPHER: No, not at all. I think...
CHRISTOPHER: Resolute--he is in the midst of, you know, a very historic
moment--that word is thrown around--but this is certainly a historic moment,
he understands that, he appreciates it, he's trying to be loyal to his followers
and to the country and to the Constitution.
KING: When you left government, you told us you were glad to serve,
but happy to get back here.
CHRISTOPHER: Certainly true.
KING: Were you happy to be involved in this?
CHRISTOPHER: Well, you know, things come along, chances of a lifetime.
And the opportunity to help the vice president select his running mate was something
that I enjoyed enormously and I think Joe Lieberman has been a superb choice,
and I suppose, as a kind of old warhorse in all of this, that I enjoyed getting
back into the fray for a few minutes.
KING: If the vice president is the next president, would you be involved
in that transition?
CHRISTOPHER: No, sir.
KING: You have told him that already?
CHRISTOPHER: He hasn't asked. But he selected Roy Neel to do it, and
I think I have gone about as far as I ought to go.
KING: Now, Dick Cheney was very optimistic about how the country is
going to come together after all of this. Are you?
CHRISTOPHER: Let me first say, Larry, that I have been concerned about
Dick Cheney's health and amidst all the tension we are all under, and I certainly
wish him well, and I thought he looked vigorous tonight and I appreciated that,
because the country needs people like Dick Cheney.
Yes, I think the country will come together, but we have a rocky four years
ahead, and maybe admitting that and not being too euphoric about that is the
best way to face this. This is going to be a very evenly divided country and
we'll need to find centrist coalitions that can get things done, because...
KING: So the far right and the far left are going to be out of this
picture, or have to be out of this?
CHRISTOPHER: They probably will have to be, but we've gotten many things
done in this country with the far right and the far left being out of the picture.
But I think recognizing how evenly divided the country is and finding people
who can work together is the key to the next four years. We can't put the country
on hold for four years, there will be crises that come up.
KING: So you are not as optimistic as Dick Cheney is?
CHRISTOPHER: Not quite. I think it's realistic to understand that there
will be rough times ahead in the next four years, and we'll have to find a way
to govern this country evenly divided.
KING: We're going to have Barry Richard and Jack Quinn next, two pretty
CHRISTOPHER: Yes, two very good lawyers.
KING: Thank you, Warren.
CHRISTOPHER: Thank you. Nice to see you.
KING: Warren Christopher, former secretary of state, he'll be going
back probably to Washington to watch the proceedings at the United States Supreme
Court, when those arguments take place on Friday.