Lieberman Asks for Continued Support
Tuesday, December 5,
is the transcript of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's news conference on Capitol Hill.
House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt introduced Lieberman.
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT:
Al Gore and Joe Lieberman enjoy strong support with our caucus for what they're
doing to try to get every vote counted in Florida. They have strong support
for their effort to go to the Supreme Court of Florida and to get a full review
of the decision that was rendered yesterday in the circuit court.
And I'd like to now call
on Joe Lieberman to give you his view of where we are, but I wanted all of you
to know that the Democratic Party is strongly supporting everything that's being
done in this contest by the Gore-Lieberman ticket.
SEN. JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN:
Thank you, Dick.
Thank you. Thanks from
the bottom of my heart to Dick Gephardt and to all the leaders who are here
today, for their friendship and their support throughout this campaign and for
the tremendous support that was just given in this meeting by them and by the
rank and file of the House Democratic Caucus.
This was a most encouraging
meeting for me, and I will certainly convey the substance and the spirit of
it to Vice President Gore. I think the members of the House Democratic Caucus
feel, as Al Gore and I did, proud of the race we ran, proud of the principles
we ran on, grateful for the support we received throughout America, winning
in the popular vote, as of today, 267 electoral votes, and confident that a
majority of those that went to vote in Florida intended to vote for Al Gore
for president of the United States. And that simply principle, as you know,
is what we are continuing to pursue in the courts of Florida.
We have always said that
the final arbiter of the contest over the election in Florida would not be any
of the candidates for president or vice president, or not even the secretary
of state of Florida, but the Florida Supreme Court.
This is the court that
we took our substantive argument to; they responded favorably. Their judgment
has been frustrated by the actions of various parties along the way.
Yesterday, of course, Judge
Sauls' decision was a disappointment. But with all respect, we believe and our
lawyer certainly believe that that decision was wrong on the law. And we, therefore,
go to the final arbiter, the Florida Supreme Court, the system of justice, the
rule of law for a judgment in this case, which we think will be the final judgment,
and we hope, and sincerely believe, will be a favorable judgment for us.
We're also confident that
this can be done expeditiously, both the judgment of the Florida Supreme Court
and the count of that ballots that we hope and believe will result from that
So, most of all, it was
a very good meeting. It was a positive meeting. In fact, members of the caucus
had very good ideas and arguments on our behalf to keep this cause moving forward
And the word we heard was
the Florida Supreme Court, is that it, win or lose, for you?
LIEBERMAN: We said
that's the kind of decision and judgment that will be made by the vice president.
But we've always said that the Florida Supreme Court will be the final arbiter.
And if, as I hope and believe,
we win in the Florida Supreme Court, there aren't many other places to go. We
won't need to go anywhere else. And I think the Bush campaign and the Republicans
will not have anywhere else to go, certainly not within the judicial system.
So I think we can conclude
this in a timely way. This is an unprecedented situation, the closest election
for president in American history. It has, in that sense, been an unprecedented
test of our democracy. But I think every American and both political parties
should feel, at this moment, encouraged and proud of the way we are dealing
If you talk to people as
I have in recent days from outside of the United States of America, they're
impressed by the way we're dealing with this. We settle these kinds of disputes
with the rule of law and civil procedures, not with civil wars or violence,
and that's the way we feel about this next step.
QUESTION: Are you
confident that the votes that you want to be counted will be counted?
I'm hopeful. You know, the Florida Supreme Court essentially said in its decision
a while ago that the ballots should be counted in those three counties where
there were questions.
That was what Florida law
required. Once a judgment was made by the county canvassing board that there
was evidence to justify the hand count, then the hand count had to go forward.
As the law says, it's a mandatory obligation. So we were surprised and very
disappointed, for instance, when the Miami-Dade County board decided not to
fulfill its obligation to count those votes. When the secretary of state refused
to accept the votes counted by the Palm Beach board just because they were sent
in two hours late, when she had discretion to send them in, we think, in each
of these actions, the decision of the Florida Supreme Court, interpreting the
law of Florida, making an essentially an order that these votes be counted by
hand, was frustrated and blocked.
And, therefore, essentially
what we're asking the Florida Supreme Court to do is to enable its previous
decision to be implemented and for the votes to be counted. And, of course,
we will all live with and abide by that decision.
QUESTION: Do you
feel like the public patience is running out on this? Do you sense that?
LIEBERMAN: I honestly
don't. As I talk to people--and this is all impressionistic--you know, there
are people who feel intensely, in parts of both camps. But I think the great
majority of people are watching this with interest. They're patient. They know
that there's no crisis in the United States of America, that the government
is proceeding and stable. And, frankly, I think as the weeks have gone on, a
lot of them have, in the fullness of their common sense, turned to other mattes,
such as preparing for the holidays.
So I think that we're talking
here about days to reach a conclusion that a majority of the American people
can feel, as time goes on, was fair, and people around the world can look at
and say, "Look, the United States, even in this test, met the test."
Dick Gephardt made a point
the other day that I think is so important to keep coming back to, that next
year, someone--some university or a group of students--will under a Freedom
of Information action in Florida go in and gather these ballots and count them.
And it will not be good
for our country, it will not be good for whoever is president then, if the result
of that count would justify the seating in office of someone other than the
one who was there.
So let's end it as best
we can, in the most credible way that will give the most legitimacy and authority
to our next president. And then, win or lose, all of us will unite and go forward
for the betterment of the country.
Thank you very much.