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Florida 2000
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Text: Bush Spokeswoman Karen Hughes
Monday, November 13, 2000

Following is the transcript of George W. Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes, reacting to a judge's refusal to deny a hand recount of votes in four Florida counties.

HUGHES: Good afternoon, again.

At this point, almost a week after the election, I hope that all of us can agree that all America wants a fair and accurate count of the votes in the state of Florida.

We are increasingly convinced that the manual recount which is now under way in selective, heavily Democratic, hand-selected counties, cannot produce that fair and accurate result.

I know for the last several days that families across America have watched on our television screen as vote-counters hold up ballots, trying to see a glimmer of light, trying to ascertain the intent of a voter based on the tiniest pin prick, or one corner or two corners of the new American word "chad," trying to ascertain--essentially read the mind of a voter on a paper ballot.

To produce a fair and accurate count, votes need to be counted fairly and accurately. Because there are no uniform standards governing this manual recount in four heavily Democratic areas, the votes in these four selective counties are not being counted accurately or fairly; they are being counted subjectively and selectively.

They are being counted differently than votes in Florida's 63 other counties. They are being counted differently within the four counties themselves. In fact, in one of the four counties, the rules on how to count them changed in the middle of the counting process.

It's becoming increasingly clear that Vice President Gore's campaign simply wants to keep counting votes until they like the results. The vice president's remarks today are troubling. All week the vice president and his campaign have said that Florida's laws should be followed. Yet, today, the vice president essentially said we should ignore the law so that he can overturn the results of this election.

According to Florida's laws, counties have until 5 p.m. tomorrow to certify the results of an election that took place, now, almost a week ago. The vice president now wants to waive that law, so Democrat officials in Democrat precincts can try to overturn the results of this election; results which were confirmed not just by one, but by two fair and accurate counts.

The people of Florida, as I said earlier, deserve to have their votes counted fairly and accurately, not selectively or subjectively.

The Gore campaign says it wants a fair and accurate count of votes. The only way that is now possible is to accept the results of the recount of Florida's votes along with the final count of the overseas absentee ballots that are due in, by law, by Friday.

Governor Bush has agreed to abide by that fair and accurate count no matter what it might be, and Vice President Gore should do the same.

I'll take a few questions.

QUESTION: Are you prepared to appeal the federal court ruling this morning? And if the 5 deadline tomorrow is abandoned, will the Bush campaign litigate or petition to open up counties such as Duval? Two parts.

HUGHES: On the first part, the lawyers in Florida, I understand, are discussing that. There have not been any decisions made as to whether to appeal the federal court's ruling this morning.

What was the second part?

QUESTION: If the 5 deadline is not kept for tomorrow and the--and the recount to be certified, will--and if it's extended, will the Bush campaign seek to open up other counties for recounts?

HUGHES: Well, obviously, we have to make those decisions at the times things happen.

We continue to hope that Florida's--that the law will be upheld. The law is very clear, according to our lawyers. It says that the votes shall be certified by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

The secretary of state's office--the secretary of state, by the way, is an independently elected official, elected by the people of Florida to administer that state's elections. And I believe that she, this morning, ruled that those--the counties did in fact have to report a vote count by law. That's not a subjective decision, that is an objective decision, based on the law of Florida which requires that those results are certified by 5 p.m. on Tuesday. And we hope that that will be the case.

QUESTION: Karen, are you saying that if the hand count is completed, that those votes--those vote counts will not be accurate counts? You're saying that will not be the accurate vote count?

HUGHES: I think that anyone in America who was watching television over the last two days can conclude independently for themselves that that manual recount cannot possibly be fair or accurate or consistent.

We saw people holding up ballots, trying to, basically, read voters' minds. And I think that everyone in America who was watching that on television, realized that there is no possible way for that to be a fair or accurate count.


QUESTION: Karen, is there any dialogue right now between the two campaigns, or at what point both of you agree this should be stopped?

HUGHES: Not that I'm aware of, Mike. We've made it very clear at what point Governor Bush believes that this should be concluded. And that is, again, we have now had a vote; we've had a recount of that vote, a fair and accurate recount, and the final votes remaining to be counted in a fair and accurate way are the overseas absentee ballots, which are due in by Friday.

Governor Bush--we don't know the outcome of that. Governor Bush has agreed to abide by the outcome of that, and we wish that Vice President Gore would do the same thing.


QUESTION: Are you saying that you protest those...

QUESTION: ... in Iowa and Wisconsin and whether you might seek a recount in one of those states?

HUGHES: No, we have not made those decisions yet.


QUESTION: ... votes that have switched sides?

HUGHES: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Do you protest the votes that have switched sides since Gore has gained a few votes by the hand count?

HUGHES: No, what I'm saying is that I think that all Americans who were watching--who've been watching this manual recount have realized that it is being conducted with differing standards, with no standards at all in many cases, and that it is both selective and subjective, and not--therefore, not fair or accurate.


QUESTION: Are you--in that situation where there are two votes, one you accept and one you don't accept?

HUGHES: There are no uniform--there are no uniform...

QUESTION: You say there are no standards at all?

HUGHES: Well, there are no uniform standards to guarantee...

QUESTION: But that's more than no standards. There may be no uniform standards...

HUGHES: Well, the standards changed in the middle of the count one day, and so that would indicate to me...


HUGHES: Well, that would indicate...

QUESTION: ... as though they're going from one to three to six to nine.

HUGHES: Well, I think they went from one to two at one point in the process, so they did--they did change the standards.


QUESTION: ... there are manual recounts in these certified--even if it's tomorrow at 5, that you won't accept them if manual counts are included in them, you'll think they're illegitimate?

HUGHES: I'm just--I'm just saying that I think every American who watched on television this weekend as people held up those ballots realized that there is no way to fairly and accurately and consistently count those a consistent basis and to make those votes equal to the votes of other Floridians, remember, whose votes were cast and counted and then recounted, and those votes are not being subject to the same treatment as the votes are in those four counties. And so I think we've gotten...

QUESTION: So why not have a hand count...

HUGHES: ... we have gotten to the point where it's very difficult to have a fair and accurate count.

Thank you all very much.

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