Text: Christopher Says Election 'Far
Sunday, December 3, 2000
Following is the
transcript of Vice President Gore advisor Warren Christopher's interview on
CBS's "Face the Nation" with host Bob Schieffer and guest Gloria Borger of U.S.
News & World Report.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on "Face the Nation," nine days and counting until
December 12, when Florida must have its slate of electors. Yet the legal wrangling
goes on in Florida, and the nation waits for the Supreme Court to decide on
How long will Vice President Al Gore continue to contest the election? And
what are his options? We'll ask one of his top advisers, former Secretary of
State Warren Christopher?
And what are George Bush's options? We'll get his side from one of his top
lawyers, Ben Ginsburg.
Then we'll talk to two influential Democrats about what the vice president
should do: Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, and Senator John Breaux
of Louisiana, who has been talking to Bush and Gore.
Gloria Borger will be here and I'll have a final word on career choices. But
first, Warren Christopher on "Face the Nation."
SCHIEFFER: Good morning again. Joining us from Los Angeles, where he
thought he was taking a little time off back home, former Secretary of State
Warren Christopher; with us from Tallahassee, Florida, Bush attorney Ben Ginsburg.
We want to begin with Secretary Christopher. Mr. Secretary, just a while ago,
Dick Cheney told our friend Tim Russert flat out, it is time for Al Gore to
resign. What is your response?
WARREN CHRISTOPHER: Bob, I certainly don't agree with that. There is
no reason for him to resign. Maybe he meant concede. But there is no basis for
doing that at this point.
SCHIEFFER: Well, he said--that's what I meant. He meant that he should
CHRISTOPHER: Bob, it's late innings, but it's far from over. We're waiting
for three very important court decisions: first, the Supreme Court of the United
States, where both you and I heard that interesting argument last Friday. Second,
the proceeding that's now going on in Tallahassee, Florida, in Judge Sauls'
court, where we're seeking a recount by hand of the votes cast in two important
counties. And third, there is still the proceeding there in Tallahassee before
a different judge involving the absentee ballots from Seminole county and another
county in Florida. So it's certainly far too early to concede with those three
proceedings going forward.
Bob, there are a couple of interesting overnight developments that I think
underscore that. First, the vice president's increase in the popular vote has
now gone to over 300,000. And second, I was just amazed to find last night that
in New Mexico, the Republican counsel there, asked for a hand recount of the
New Mexico ballots. I was so surprised by that, I asked to see the letter myself.
But there is indeed a letter from the lawyer there who represents the Republicans
asking for a hand recount. So this is far from over.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Let me ask you, the Supreme Court, no matter which
way it rules, it seems to me, whether it rules that the counting of votes should
have stopped on November 14, or if the Florida court was out of order in saying
the count could go on for another week. Any way, the deadline comes--in that
case that's before the court--George Bush still winds up on top.
What is it the Supreme Court could do that could help Al Gore at this point?
CHRISTOPHER: Well, if they hold that the Supreme Court of Florida acted
correctly, I think that would be a big psychological boost for the Supreme Court.
The proceeding now going on in Tallahassee before Judge Sauls will almost certainly
wind up in the Florida Supreme Court. And were the United States Supreme Court
to say favorable things about the Florida Supreme Court, as many of them did
in court the other day, Bob, I think that would be a big boost, and would make
it clear that the Florida Supreme Court has got a lot of running room in the
way they handled this matter.
GLORIA BORGER: You've been watching those proceedings in Judge Sauls'
court. Do you believe that the Bush legal team is slow-walking that case just
to run out the clock on the Democrats?
CHRISTOPHER: Well, when they named 95 witnesses, and then yesterday
reduced it to 20, and now down to seven, it certainly seems to me that the matter
is going along very slowly.
The Gore team called only two witnesses, who were making very narrow points.
First, that the judge should review the ballots himself. And we're showing how
inaccurate and how misleading the counts can sometimes be from the Votomatic
machines. I think one thing that came through loud and clear yesterday was the
Votomatic machines, that is the punch card machines, are five times more likely
to cause undervotes, or so-called non-votes than the optical scanner would be.
SCHIEFFER: But isn't it true, Mr. Christopher, that it is in the Florida
cases that we're hearing being argued out, that's really the only place that
votes could be added to Al Gore's tally down in Florida. So I guess my question
to you is if the court rules against you down there in Florida, then will Al
Gore say it's time to go?
CHRISTOPHER: Well, there are two court proceedings, Bob, as I said earlier,
first in Judge Sauls' court. And either way that goes, it will probably appeal
to the Florida Supreme Court. And then the Seminole County matter, which is
in a different court, that could have a very important result as well.
So, as I say, it's late innings, but the contest is not over. I can assure
you that the vice president, when the time comes, will concede in a very gracious
way. He understands his obligations to the people of the country.
BORGER: Do you know when that time--do you have a set time in your mind
about when that time would be?
CHRISTOPHER: No, I don't, because it depends upon when the Florida courts
rule. The date of December 12, of course, is an important date.
BORGER: Let me ask you very quickly, Mr. Christopher. The Republicans
in the Florida state legislature are saying that they are going to have a special
session. They're going to elect their own state of electors--their own slate
of electors. What would be the result of that? Would that create some kind of
constitutional crisis here?
CHRISTOPHER: Well, that would certainly be a serious mistake on their
part. To substitute their will for the will of the voters of Florida, I think,
would be very divisive for the country. I think neither the vice president nor
Governor Bush should want that kind of a result. It would create a very serious
situation, and I think one that would cause far more difficulties than it would
SCHIEFFER: All right. Warren Christopher, thank you so much for getting
up early to be with us this morning. You're out in California.