(12/05) Gore Justifies Continuing Contest

Tuesday, December 5, 2000

Following is the transcript of Vice President Gore's news conference on Florida election contest.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I don't really have an opening statement. If you want to ask any questions, feel free.

QUESTION: Mr. Vice President, sir, is this the last battleground, sir? If you lose at the Supreme Court of Florida, will you concede?

GORE: Well, the effort I have under way is simply to make sure that all the votes are counted. And when the issues that are now being considered in the Florida Supreme Court are decided, that'll be an important point. But I don't want to speculate on what the Florida Supreme Court will do.

QUESTION: Realistically, would you say the odds are against you now?

GORE: I don't really feel that way, no.

QUESTION: Do you feel like an underdog?

GORE: Well, you know, I've felt that way for two years now. But I don't feel anything other than optimistic. And the team down in Tallahassee feels that way also.

QUESTION: Mr. Vice President, you said last week that you thought your chances were 50-50.

GORE: Yes, I'll stay with that. I'll stay with that.

QUESTION: Even after the court rulings have gone against you consistently the past three or four days?

GORE: Well, I think the U.S. Supreme Court ruling was neutral. It may have even been slightly favorable to us, in the sense that it gave a clear road map to the Florida Supreme Court. But those are things that the lawyers can tell you more about than I can.

I just don't want to accept your premise that they've all been negative. I don't think the U.S. Supreme Court decision was negative.

QUESTION: Why do you...

GORE: And as for the other decision yesterday, everybody knew from the start that that was going to be ultimately decided by the Florida Supreme Court.


QUESTION: Do the votes in Seminole and Martin County count, the absentee ballots?

GORE: Well, there were more than enough votes to make the difference that were apparently thrown into--the applications for ballots were thrown into the trash can by the supervisor of elections there, apparently, even though they were missing the same number that the Republican Party workers were allowed to come in and fix the other applications with.

So I don't want to speculate on what remedy might be--I'm not a party to that case or the Martin County case.

But more than enough votes were potentially taken away from Democrats, because they were not given the same access that Republicans were. Remember, according to what's come out in that case--again, I'm not a party to it, but I've read about it.

Apparently the Democratic Party chair was denied the opportunity to even look at the list of applications, whereas the Republican Party workers were allowed to roam around unsupervised, inside the office and bring their computers in, and fix all of the valid applications for one side even as the Democrats were denied an opportunity to come in, denied a chance to even look at the applications and those applications were thrown out.

Now, that doesn't seem fair to me.

And apparently in Martin County, they were able to go in and take all the applications home with them.

So, you know, that's a...


QUESTION: ... talk about the black votes being discounted there?

GORE: Excuse me, say that, what?

QUESTION: The black votes that were discounted. Wasn't Jesse Jackson and the NAACP saying that the black votes were discounted in Florida as well?

GORE: Well, I am very troubled by a lot of the stories that have been reported about a roadblock on the way to one precinct, questions raised about various activities there. I do not have an personal or firsthand knowledge of those events. But whenever there are problems of that kind alleged, they are deserving of attention.

QUESTION: Will you meet with Jesse Jackson...

GORE: I talk with him regularly, of course. And I have worked with him closely.

I have spoken with Kweisi Mfume and Julian Bond. Penda Hair, who is a head of the effort by the NAACP against voter suppression, has been in touch with our people.

But I have no knowledge of those activities. I want to say to you clearly that, in my opinion, whenever you have allegations of those kind, that is a mater that the entire country ought to take seriously. They are not part of the ongoing court action, and I don't want to mislead you on that, but I certainty want you to know that I think that they're serious allegations.


QUESTION: ... you are not party to the suits in Seminole and Martin counties, but how will what happens there affect your decision to continue or to concede?

GORE: I don't know. I don't know what'll happen there. I think that those two cases are likely to travel the same route as the case that went into Judge Sauls' court and will end up in the Florida Supreme Court.

QUESTION: Will you hang on while that happens?

GORE: Well, look, I'm not going to speculate on what the outcome will be, what the remedy might be, depending on that outcome. Those are hypotheticals on top of hypotheticals, and I'm just not comfortable dealing with a hypothetical like that.

I do think that it's likely that all of the current controversies will end up being resolved, one way or another, in the Florida Supreme Court. And that's been predicted for a long time now, but...


GORE: Momento. Aqui.

QUESTION: Thank you. Gracias. What do you make of the fact, sir, that the American people don't seem to be outraged that not all the ballots have been counted?

GORE: Well, actually, you know, I spent a lot of time debunking the importance of public opinion polls. Every once in a while, I see one that I like.


One of them that caught my eye recently indicated that, by a very solid majority, the American people believe that every single vote that is legally cast should be counted and not just arbitrarily not be counted.

And the votes in Miami-Dade County, for example, deserve to be looked at and counted. And I think there is a very strong feeling among the American people that that ought to happen.

Thank you all very much. Appreciate it.