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Florida 2000
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Text: Gore Advisers Daley and Boies
Thursday, November 16, 2000

Following is the transcript of a press conference with Gore campaign chairman William Daley and adviser David Boies, reacting to the Florida Supreme Court's order authorizing counties to conduct hand recounts of ballots.

WILLIAM DALEY: Good evening. Let me, before I start, tell you I recently spoke with my friend and my counterpart in Bush campaign, Don Evans, the chairman. I had watched him announce that they would not contest or call for a recount of the Iowa vote. And I returned the favor by announcing that we would not contest the vote in Texas.


We are obviously gratified by the unanimous ruling of the Florida Supreme Court authorizing the continuation of the manual recounts. The Supreme Court's clear and unambiguous ruling that the counties are authorized to proceed with the manual recount is a victory for everyone who wants to see the votes counted fully and fairly here in Florida.

Now that the legal hurdles have been cleared, the counting can resume in Palm Beach, continue in Broward, and be reviewed in Dade. We urge these counties to conduct these recounts as quickly as is possible.

The delays have been largely the product of lawsuits filed by Republicans or erroneous legal opinions from the secretary of state. With these obstacles gone, we hope that the counts can be finished in the next few days.

We think it is particularly significant that the Florida Supreme Court sent a clear signal to the counties that their counts can continue, notwithstanding the secretary's efforts to terminate those counts three times in the past three days.

Judge Lewis set aside the effort to terminate the counts Tuesday at 5 p.m. The Florida Supreme Court rejected the secretary of state's application that cut off the counts yesterday morning. And now the court has said that the counts can go forward in spite of the order of last night to cut off these counts.

The Florida Supreme Court has spoken: The counts can continue, notwithstanding the secretary of state's deadline.

In the end, our goal remains clear and simple: Let the will of the people be done by having the votes of the people of Florida. We hope the secretary of state will not try to impose other obstacles in the path of this count and we hope that the counties will complete these counts as fast as humanly possible.

QUESTION: ... something about whether the secretary of state should include the count, once its done? Are you hoping that they'll come out and say something about that later? Do you think you have to go back to court?

DAVID BOIES: That was not the issue that was in front of the Florida Supreme Court. If the counts are completed, when the counts are completed, then the revised and corrected tallies will be presented. At that point, if the secretary of state were to reject those corrected tallies, then the issue would be ripe.

Obviously, we would hope that once the counts have been completed, those counts would be accepted. I doubt if the Florida Supreme Court meant to have these counts go forward only to have them be ignored.


QUESTION: Well, does that mean all of Judge Terry Lewis--everything into the hands of Judge Terry Lewis and his ruling tomorrow morning?

BOIES: Well, Judge Terry Lewis is the trial court. And obviously the trial court will probably make an initial decision on an issue like that. That decision will then ultimately perhaps end up in the Florida Supreme Court.

QUESTION: If the secretary of state has said she's going to reject any new votes. She said the votes she has are the votes she's going to count, that's exactly what you're fighting in court. So even though you may get new counts, she still doesn't have to accept them.

BOIES: Well, there may be a difference of opinion about that. You have a situation in which Judge Lewis has already ruled that the deadline that the secretary of state set, which was 5 p.m. Tuesday was an arbitrary deadline. In other words, the only deadline that the secretary of state has set is a deadline that Judge Lewis already has ruled to be inappropriate. That isn't even something that needs to be decided tomorrow.

The second point is that I think it's very unlikely that the Florida Supreme Court would have directed that these recounts go forward if all they meant was to do--was to preserve the votes for history. This is a situation in which every time the courts have looked at this issue, the courts have said, "Let the recount go forward, because the people have voted and we want to know how they voted and we want to take those votes into account."

QUESTION: If the Florida Supreme Court has spoken clearly about counting votes, why would they have called it an interim order? And why, given the fact that these votes that they didn't specify? One of the things that you asked was for a clear cut thing to say the secretary of state or the attorney general was wrong. They didn't rule on that at all.

BOIES: I think what the Supreme Court did was ruled on the only issue that was directly in front of it, and courts are wont to do that. Parties often ask the courts to give them guidance; courts usually refuse to give advisory opinions.

What the court did was rule directly on the single issue that was directly presented to it by Palm Beach. And it ruled quite unambiguously that these counts ought to go forward.

Yesterday, of course, the Supreme Court rejected the secretary of state's petition that said, "Stop these counts." We of course came out and said, "Well, that means that they mean for it to go forward." The other side said, "No, all it means is that we get to go to a lower court."

Here today, the Supreme Court was explicit and unambiguous: Those votes are to be counted.

QUESTION: Mr. Boies, how important is it from a public opinion of view to get these numbers out there day by day, as they're released, to reveal whether or not the Gore campaign is picking up votes?

BOIES: I'm not really an expert on the political aspects of it. I think that this recount is going to be completed in a few days. Whether you get interim reports or not, there's going to be a final, corrected tally within a few days.

QUESTION: What's a few days? Three? Ten?

BOIES: I think it is probably not three. I think that it is probably not more than about 10. Vice President Gore, when he was talking last night, said that he believed that this could, if it began without interruption, be completed in a week or so. It is a matter of days, not weeks or months.

QUESTION: Could the secretary of state effectively call the election on Saturday, after she's counted the absentee ballots, and then have those numbers change perhaps dramatically within the course of the following week?

BOIES: I suppose, having lived through the last four days with all of you, that almost anything is possible.

Certainly, in light of the clear direction from the Florida Supreme Court, we would hope, and maybe optimistically expect, that the secretary of state would not take any further action to try to prematurely end this process. But, obviously, she will decide what she will decide.

QUESTION: Is it correct to say that you now presume that the Florida Supreme Court is, so to speak, in your corner?

BOIES: No, I don't think I'd want to say that. What I would say is that the Florida Supreme Court has ruled consistently with what every other court that has been presented with this question, lower federal courts and lower state courts together, have said, and that is that people have voted and those votes should be counted.

I don't think that puts them in our corner or somebody else's corner. I think that's what the law is.

STAFF: We'll take one more question.

QUESTION: You believe this includes more than Palm Beach County and you also believe this mandates Katherine Harris to include the Palm Beach County votes in the final tally?

BOIES: No, what the Supreme Court decided was that there was no legal impediment to the votes being counted, and that they should go forward in Palm Beach and continue, obviously, to go forward in Broward County.

The court specifically mentioned circuit court decisions not only in Palm Beach County, but in Leon County as well. So that I think that the Supreme Court was not making a decision that was good for Palm Beach County only.

Palm Beach County was the only county that had brought this case for a declaratory judgment to the Florida Supreme Court.

STAFF: Thank everybody. Thank you.

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