Text: Bush Campaign Press Conference
Tuesday, November 28, 2000
Following is the transcript of the Bush campaign's press conference with
communications director Karen Hughes and spokesperson Ari Fleischer.
KAREN HUGHES: Later today, Governor and Mrs. Bush will travel to the
ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he will continue to work for the next several
days on staff and transition issues. Secretary and Mrs. Cheney will join him
later this week.
And Ari Fleischer is here with me to answer any of your questions or bring
you up to date on progress of the transition.
Earlier this afternoon, Vice President Gore made some additional comments
about his challenge to the outcome of the election in Florida. Having failed
to make his case with the American people last night, he apparently felt the
need to restate his arguments.
The vice president said today that he wants the process to arrive at, and
I quote, "a fair, expeditious and truly democratic conclusion." As people across
America are realizing, it already has.
We had a count of the votes in Florida, and then a complete recount of all
those votes, and then a selective manual recount of some of those votes. We
had one deadline for certification of the votes that was set by Florida law
before the election, and then we had another deadline for certification of the
votes that was ordered by the Florida Supreme Court after the election.
The original count, recount and certification deadline are all behind us.
The selective manual recounts and the post-election court-imposed deadline for
certification of Florida's votes are behind us. And now, having come up short
in all those counts and all those times, Vice President Gore is proposing to
make up yet another set of rules. He proposes yet another count and yet another
deadline. Common sense does not allow it and the rights of the citizens of Florida
to have their votes count do not allow it.
We have previously talked about attempts to change the rules in the middle
of the game. Now, regrettably, it appears that the vice president wants to go
back and change the rules after the counting is over. The vice president has
now instructed his lawyers to go back to court to try to overturn the certified
results of the Florida election.
Now that he, by his own action in demanding a manual recount of the votes,
has delayed the amount of time available for his contest, he wants to short-circuit
the amount of time that we have to answer his challenge.
The law allows up to 10 days for us to respond to the vice president's challenge
to the outcome of the election. The judge, in his order yesterday, cut that
time by more than half to four days. The judge set forth a timetable yesterday
of having us come to court by Friday, and we will abide by that timetable.
I'll be glad to answer your questions.
QUESTION: Are you going to delay naming any prospective appointments
until the Supreme Court has its hearing?
HUGHES: Well, as Secretary Cheney said yesterday, I believe what he
said that he did not feel it was likely that the governor would make any announcements,
although he would not entirely rule it out. That's, of course, a decision the
governor will have to make.
But at this point, I think that Secretary Cheney has said that it does not
QUESTION: Did Colin Powell tell you he's reluctant to participate in
anything before--while there's so much court stuff still going on?
HUGHES: I'm not aware of that, but I think I'm going to defer to Ari
to answer any questions on transitions.
QUESTION: What are the plans for bringing people down here?
ARI FLEISCHER: I have no information on that.
I have not heard that.
QUESTION: What about plans for bringing people down this week? Is he
one of the people that might come down?
FLEISCHER: Secretary Cheney, as you know, will be coming down here
at the end of the week to meet with the governor at his ranch. And they will
be discussing transition efforts. And if we have any additional announcements
to make we'll, of course, always keep you posted.
QUESTION: Karen, a class action suit was filed today, saying the Bush-Cheney
ticket is unconstitutional, claiming both are from Texas, and, therefore, the
electors in Texas may be in jeopardy. I know you looked at this at the time
the Cheney appointment was made. Do you have any concerns that this could sabotage
HUGHES: No. As you noted, that was reviewed. Secretary Cheney is a
resident of the state of Wyoming. He has maintained a residence there for a
number of years. He served that state in Congress. And this was all looked at
prior to his selection as the governor's running mate.
QUESTION: Karen, if, as you suggest, in essence, the game is over,
if Gore's trying to change the rules after the game, why is that Governor Bush
still is asking aides to call him governor and not president-elect? Why is he
not resigning as governor of the state of Texas?
HUGHES: Well, as I think I told you all the morning after the certification
or late that night, the governor has asked us all to be humble and to be gracious.
He felt it's most appropriate while this contest is under way that we continue
to refer to him as Governor Bush. And he will make decisions about the governorship
at the appropriate time.
QUESTION: Is it still under way? I thought the contest is over.
HUGHES: Well, the vice president has gone to court to challenge the
QUESTION: So he doesn't consider himself a president-elect until that
has run its course?
HUGHES: Well, I think that, as we stated the other night, that the
votes of the people of Florida have now been certified.
HUGHES: The votes of Florida elected Governor Bush and Secretary Cheney,
but he feels that it's the responsible thing to do to move forward with the
transition, but to do so in a humble and gracious way.
We recognize that Vice President Gore has gone to court in Florida to try
to overturn the outcome of this election, and there's been a hearing scheduled
in that, I think, for later this week. There's some deadline been set by the
judge for later this week.
QUESTION: ... he considers himself a bona fide president-elect, do
you consider yourself part of a new administration?
HUGHES: Well, I think you can try to argue all the semantics here.
I think Governor Bush has asked us to be humble, to be gracious. As Secretary
Cheney said yesterday, we feel a responsibility to begin the tremendous work
of preparing a transition.
As Secretary Cheney outlined yesterday, there's a great deal of work to be
done. There are a lot of decisions to be made, there are a lot of staff selections
to be considered, there's just a lot of work to do. And they feel, Secretary
Cheney and Governor Bush feel a responsibility to begin that process of preparing
We are, however, mindful of the fact that the vice president, obviously, a
little more than an hour ago, reiterated that he is continuing in court to challenge
the legitimate outcome of the election.
QUESTION: Karen, according to some who are associated with this campaign
have said that the Democrats are trying to steal this election?
HUGHES: I don't believe I've ever said that. What we have said is that
the vice president has now instructed his lawyers to go to court to try to challenge,
to overturn the outcome of the election.
QUESTION: What was the governor's reaction last night to the vice president's
remarks, when he talked about, you know, it's a democratic thing to count votes,
that everybody in the country is at risk if all votes aren't counted? He seemed
to be questioning the legitimacy of the government without the counts that he
What is his gut reaction to that?
HUGHES: Well, I think his reaction is the same as what I outlined here
today. And that is, again, that the votes have been counted. And the votes have
all been recounted. And in some cases they've been again manually recounted,
in some counties I think as many as four or maybe even five times by the end
of all the process.
Clearly, as we saw on television the other night in a ceremony that I described
to the press as more formal and more--I had a greater sense of finality than
I expected to see, you saw the canvassing board certify the results of that
But we are now in uncharted waters. We're in an unprecedented period where
a presidential candidate is going to court essentially to try to contest and
overturn the results of an election that has now been certified.
QUESTION: ... the governor resigning so the state of Texas can get
rid of all uncertainties as to who's going to be in charge here for the upcoming
HUGHES: Well, again, he will make that decision at the appropriate
QUESTION: ... the timetable for the announcement of potential Cabinet
HUGHES: I'll refer to Ari on that transition question.
QUESTION: Insofar as the governor has already named Andy Card as his
chief of staff and that Secretary Cheney has said it's not likely until after
the legal wrangling is over, is any delay or any immediate announcement considered
in the context of the legal wrangling or is it just a question of the administration
timetable? What's the consideration there?
FLEISCHER: The governor's focus, as far as the transition personnel
is concerned, is really on two areas. One is beginning the process so we can
build a White House staff, a senior White House staff, as well as selecting
members of the president's Cabinet.
And the governor is going to make his decisions in a deliberate fashion, as
events warrant and as he sees fit.
And we'll announce that timetable to you at the appropriate time.
QUESTION: ... that doesn't clarify whether or not the secretary's remarks,
it's not likely until after the legal wrangling is completed, is an expression
of concern that it would be inappropriate or whether it's just a question of
all the dominoes falling in a chronology.
FLEISCHER: No, I think again the governor is focused on what he needs
to be focused on, along with Secretary Cheney, which is this process is now
1/3 over for a transition. Typically, you have about 75 days, now we're down
to about 50 days. And it is the responsibility of the two to proceed. And they,
as always, even as the process had begun right after Election Day, would make
announcements on a timetable that they had arrived at and they thought was a
most appropriate timetable. They'll share that with you at the appropriate time.
QUESTION: ... at the ranch, potential?
FLEISCHER: Whenever we do have guests, we'll be sure to advice you,
QUESTION: On intelligence briefings: Is Condi getting the briefings
first and then passing it on to Governor Bush or will he get them directly from
Sandy Berger? Has that been worked out?
HUGHES: Do you know that? I don't know.
FLEISCHER: Yes, I think that process is still being worked out for
the process of notifying the governor and appropriate staff of what security
briefings will be available. That process is still in a state of flux, it's
QUESTION: There's been no briefing yet?
FLEISCHER: No briefing yet.
QUESTION: I realize this is kind of unchartered waters, but I mean
how would this normally work? I mean, normally would it go through staff to
the governor or, you know, in this case, the president-elect? How would this
normally go through?
FLEISCHER: Normally go through staff to the governor--or to the president-elect.
HUGHES: I want to make sure you all also note that Governor Bush, this
morning, called President-elect Vicente Fox in Mexico, in advance of his inauguration
later this week on December 1 to offer his congratulations. And they had a brief
But Governor Bush did call him to offer his congratulations.
QUESTION: Is he sending anybody to Mexico for the inauguration?
HUGHES: Not that I'm aware of.
QUESTION: Has he talked to any other heads of state, any foreign leaders
called the governor to offer congratulations...
HUGHES: Not that I'm aware of. Not that I'm aware of.
QUESTION: Has he gotten congratulations from any high-level people
in this country...
HUGHES: Well, he's been making a series of telephone calls. I think
he's called fellow governors, members of Congress. He's been making a series
of telephone calls. I'm sure he's been receiving some congratulations and some
advice and recommendations as he works on transition business. But I'm not aware
that he's been called by other heads of state. We probably ought to double-check
with Condi about that, but I'm not aware that he's--I was briefed this morning
that he had spoken with President-elect Vicente Fox.
QUESTION: Karen, why is he going up there? Is he sick of the fish bowl
here? Is he trying to bring people in? What is the purpose of him going to the
HUGHES: I think that it's a tranquil place where it's easy to do some
thinking and reflecting and to spend time on the telephone and to call around
As those of you who've been parked outside across the street from the mansion
know, the mansion has been somewhat hectic in recent days, with very enthusiastic
crowds gathered around, which is great, except for when you're inside trying
to think or work. It's sometimes a little hectic. So I think it's just a tranquil
HUGHES: Very, very much so, yes. Yes. When you're in a meeting inside,
you can pretty much hear the...
HUGHES: ... chanting and things outside, right. So it's just a more
tranquil place, I think, in which for him to reflect and think as he prepares
QUESTION: Karen, does the governor feel like he's got an arm tied behind
his back as he tries to move forward? Is it weird? Is it strange? What's the
HUGHES: Well, it's certainly unprecedented. I don't know if I'd describe
it the way you did. But I think it is--it's obviously, we all recognize that
this is an unusual circumstance, as both Secretary Cheney and Secretary Baker
described it yesterday.
It's unprecedented. So we're all trying to operate as appropriate as we go
Thank you all very much.
HUGHES: We're trying to work out a system of regular briefings, yes.
I appreciate your patience very much. I think once Ari gets to Washington, we're
trying to work that out now. When we get our transition office opened there,
we will try to have regular briefings for you.
I imagine we will have some regular briefings on transition from Washington,
because that is where Secretary Cheney will be located most of the time, and
that is where he will be. And that's why Ari will probably travel up there.
Ari, do you know yet?
HUGHES: Have suitcase, will travel.
QUESTION: When the governor has announcements to make, would he be
making them here or in Washington?
HUGHES: Again, that has not been decided yet. But we'll do our best
to keep you advised. And I'm going to stay here. So I will be here and Ari will
be in Washington, so we should have both...
QUESTION: ... the Supreme Court suit. You said that you're worried
about the Gore people trying to lengthen the court battle. Would you be willing
to drop the Supreme Court suit for the sake of time?
HUGHES: Well, the governor brought that based on some important principles,
and he feels those are still important principles. And so long as the vice president
is continuing with contesting the outcome of the election in Florida, we think
it's important that we remain before the nation's highest court.
Thank you all very much.