Thursday , November 9, 2000
Reform Party presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan speaks about the Florida recount on NBC's Today Show.
MATT LAUER, ANCHOR: As we've been reporting, still no winner in the presidential race. The re-count continues in Florida, and much of the controversy over the final vote count in the Sunshine State centers on a confusing ballot in Palm Beach County. Confusing, because many voters say they mistakenly picked Pat Buchanan over Vice President Al Gore.
Pat Buchanan, good morning.
PATRICK J. BUCHANAN, REFORM PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, how are you doing, Matt?
LAUER: I'm fine. Not the way you wanted your name used in the headlines after the election, but there it is nonetheless. What do you make of all this, Pat?
BUCHANAN: Well, you know, I looked at it as closely as you folks have, but it does seem to me that those are probably not my vote in those precincts in Palm Beach County, the out-size nature of my vote. And I've looked at that ballot, and it is--on the left side, it is Bush and then Gore, one, two, but if you--the dots, one, two, are Bush, Buchanan. And so my guess is I probably got some votes down there that really did not belong to me. And I feel--I do not feel well about that. I don't want to take any votes that don't belong to me. And...
LAUER: That's kind of the tip of the iceberg, though. If we look at a couple of thousand votes that may have gone your way because of that, then we have to look at the bigger issue, 19,000-plus votes...
LAUER: ...that were nullified because voters pushed not only one, but two candidates for president.
BUCHANAN: All right, well, Matt, we've got to take a look at those--those ballots. If the two candidates they pushed were Buchanan and Gore, almost certainly those are Al Gore's votes and not mine. I cannot believe someone would vote for Gore and say, `I made a mistake, I should have voted for Buchanan.' Maybe a small minority of them would have done that. But I--I've got to think that the vast majority of those would naturally belong to Al Gore and not to me, because we didn't run any ads, as I recall, television or radio spots, in Palm Beach County. I've got a condominium down there, my wife does, and we visit there a lot, but we didn't run ads there. And my only two visits were from Orlando, north, down there, and they were brief visits because we had an abbreviated campaign because of the surgery. So I find it hard to believe those are truly my votes. And I...
LAUER: So how do you sort this out then?
BUCHANAN: Well, that's...
LAUER: What's your suggestion?
BUCHANAN: The sorting...
LAUER: Tom mentioned you were there in 1960...
LAUER: ...so you've seen these close races.
BUCHANAN: Well, let me--and let me interrupt and say to my friend Tom that Illinois was stolen and--and quite frankly, Nixon didn't challenge it. And there was a real case as to whether Lyndon Johnson's Texas was stolen. That was routine in those days. As for Missouri, it was also up for grabs, it was a few thousand votes there. Problems in the city. And also, Nixon was--or Kennedy was given about a hundred-plus thousand votes in Alabama that went to...
LAUER: All right, take me back to 2000 for me.
BUCHANAN: All right, let's go back to 2000. How do you resolve this question? I don't know that you can do a--a re-vote in that area, because the--the constituency down there has clearly been dramatically influenced now by this enormous amount of media coverage controversy, `Al Gore was robbed,' etc. So you're not going to get the same snapshot you got Election Day. So I don't believe that it's just or fair to Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney to hold another election in Palm Beach County.
LAUER: Yet, on the other hand, you seem to be leaning in the direction that you think Al Gore lost this election because of confusion.
BUCHANAN: I think Al Gore...
LAUER: If he, indeed, lost it.
BUCHANAN: I believe that, very probably, given the--if the 19,000 votes come out the way you're talking, Matt, that they're Buchanan/Gore votes in those two punched holes, I have to think, given the 3,000 plus the nine--19,000, that Al Gore very probably won Florida and therefore won the nation and won the presidency of the United States. And--but I don't know, for one, what exactly we ought to do about that.
LAUER: Pat, are you--do you think we're talking about ineptness or are we talking about some kind of corruption?
BUCHANAN: No, you're talking--I understand the lady down there that put together this new ballot is a--is a Democrat, and the--both parties signed off on the new ballot. But when I took one look at that ballot on election night, I think one of the networks had it up there, it's very sim--easy for me to see how someone could have voted for me in the belief they voted for Al Gore. It's--it's quite simple. You simply hit the second dot. It's by the Gore line, it's the second line on the thing. The first is Bush. Folks would say, the second is Gore. They might not look over to the right and see that the second is actually Pat Buchanan. I think it is ineptitude. I think it was--it--it is--but both parties signed off on this particular ballot and so I don't see how you can organize another--another referendum or another vote just for Palm Beach County. That would be grossly unjust, I think, to--which is Gore territory--to Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I think Tom mentioned, also, around the country I'm sure there are people that make mistakes all over the lot. Are we going to open them all up?
LAUER: Do you think, though, that--that people can trust the process from here on out, Pat? That they can look at this re-count and say, it will be handled in a fair, even-handed manner?
BUCHANAN: Well, let me tell you something. And I have to do go back to 1960. I think Richard Nixon was robbed of the presidency in 1960, clearly robbed. And can you trust the process? I think you--you've got to trust it. Look, human error is responsible for this. Once you get into all these machines and get into all these different patterns, people are going to walk in there--I mean, I've got to say, I went into the voting booth myself and I was confused about, you know, one referendum and where exactly you voted.
BUCHANAN: There's a red button, and then finally I saw the button down at the bottom that did say `vote.' And being an untutored individual, I finally hit that. But I was in there a long time, myself.
LAUER: Let me just finish up with your final tallies. Ralph Nader gets four percent of the vote nationwide, you get about one percent. Are you done as a candidate?
BUCHANAN: Well, let me--you know what, let me say this. The reason we got one percent is partly the fault of these networks. Not once on the evening news were we covered. We were not in the debates. Nobody heard or saw our message. Matt, I've got to say, if--if I've turned into a spoiler candidate from someone who had a broad agenda for the country, it is not entirely my fault. If all my votes had gone to George Bush, he would have won the popular vote and he would win Florida. On the other hand, the same is true of Mr. Nader. And I think the media ought to take a look at its role in reducing other candidates to spoilers and then contending that they're spoilers.
LAUER: All right. Pat Buchanan.