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Florida 2000
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Text: Vice President Gore on NBC's 'Nightly News'
Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Following is the transcript of Vice President Gore's interview with Tom Brokaw on NBC's "Nightly News."

TOM BROKAW: Mr. Vice President, you keep talking about the role of the people in all of this. Don't the people of this country deserve to know how you would react if next week sometime early the headline reads "Gore Loses in U.S. Supreme Court"? Now you don't have to speculate on that, I just have for you.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, I will respect the judgment of the Supreme Court, Tom, whatever it is. I will not attack the independent judiciary. I think that's wrong.

But nobody knows what the Supreme Court will rule. Nobody knows which questions they will rule on. We know that they rejected consideration of the question the Bush team most wanted them to address, that is the legality of the hand counts. And in effect said, "Yes, Florida law says it's legal to count those ballots by hand," by not reviewing the Florida Supreme Court's decision.

And that's my basic point. When a vote is cast--legally cast, it must be counted. You can't just arbitrarily set it aside or set it aside for any other reason.

BROKAW: All right. Well, let's then--why not count the more than 1 million votes that were cast in Miami-Dade County and in Palm Beach County as Governor Bush's team has requested today?

GORE: Those that have already been counted by the machine have been counted. Those that were rejected by the machine have not been counted.

You know, if you go through a supermarket checkout line, Tom, and you put all your items through the scanner, every once in a while the clerk stops and says, "The scanner--the computer's not picking this one up." They don't just set that aside and refuse to let you have it or give it to you for free.

BROKAW: But that...

GORE: They write down the amount by hand. And that's because computers make mistakes. And Florida law, just like the Texas law Governor Bush signed, recognizes that fact and requires those ballots to be counted by real people.

BROKAW: But Mr. Vice President, there are another 160,000 of those ballots in the state of Florida and you're not asking for them to be recounted.

GORE: Anyplace where the results are that close, they should be. And I offered to have all of them counted, and the Bush campaign turned that down.

More--also, you should know, Tom, that in quite a few Republican leaning counties, those ballots were counted by hand on the motion of the Republican election officials during the time for the machine recount. One of those counties was Seminole County, the last county to be reported.

BROKAW: And Republicans want to know that if you're so eager to have every vote counted why you don't repudiate that lawsuit that has been filed in Seminole County contesting those absentee ballots, just the application for them, in which the registration was filled in by others, fulfilling what many Republicans are saying was a mere technicality. Why not repudiate that lawsuit?

GORE: Well, you know, I didn't join that lawsuit. And now we know that there were three counties where apparently Democratic applications lacking those numbers were rejected and thrown out, but Republican applications were give to the Republican Party workers, who in some cases were allowed right in the election offices with their computers to tamper with those ballots. In other cases, they were allowed to take applications. In other cases, they were allowed to take those applications home with them and work on them. And while the Democratic applications were rejected, the Republican applications were changed by the party workers and those votes counted.

One side was rejected, the other side was included. Doesn't sound fair to me.

BROKAW: Final question, Mr. Vice President: If there is not a final recount by December 12 when the electors must be selected in Florida, will you set aside your personal interest and get out of this race in what you could perceive to be the interest of the country?

GORE: Tom, I am going to do the right thing whatever the outcome of this is. But I think our country has a tremendous interest, an overriding interest, far more important than which candidate wins and which candidate loses.

I want to win. I make no bones about that. But far more important is the principle that the next president should be legitimate--legitimized in an election in which every vote that is legally cast is counted.

Especially in a close election, Tom, when the passions are running high and feelings are so strong, it's more important than at any other time for the final decision to be in the hands of the American people.

The consent of the governed is the bedrock of our democracy. And the consent of the governed can only be given freely in an election where votes are counted, not where the machines miss them like those supermarket scanners.


GORE: But where every vote is counted and not arbitrarily set aside in some areas but not others by officials that control the machinery.

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