St. Petersburg Times Online: Election 2000
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Election briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 3, 2000

Bush holds court with GOP leaders

AUSTIN, Texas -- Gov. George W. Bush met with Republican congressional leaders on his ranch Saturday, continuing a public relations push to solidify his image as the next president even while his political fate awaits a slew of legal challenges.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and House Speaker Dennis Hastert spent several hours with Bush, discussing a Republican agenda for Congress, the slowing economy and a host of other issues. Saturday's session was a clear attempt to portray Bush in charge, forging ahead with the transition and with political strategy.

"Dick (Cheney) and I felt like we won the first election three times and we're confident that when it's all said and done that he and I will be honored to be the president and vice president. That's why we're having these meetings," Bush said alongside running mate Dick Cheney at the ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The four men gave reporters a broad-brush overview of GOP priorities: tax relief, paying down the debt, securing prescription drug assistance for the elderly and formalizing a national energy policy in light of rising oil prices.

Bush also said he was reaching out to Democrats. He said he spoke Friday with Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana, a centrist Democrat often mentioned as a likely member of a bipartisan Bush Cabinet. Bush called Breaux a longtime friend and "good solid citizen."

Bush said he didn't discuss administration positions with Breaux. "I had a good discussion with him. I knew it might put him in an awkward position that we had a discussion before finality . . . has finally happened in this presidential race."

Hastert: Congress ready to act if needed

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Saturday night that he hopes Congress doesn't have to become involved in selecting the next president, but "if we have to do our Constitutional duty we'll certainly do that."

In a telephone interview after his meeting with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott in Texas, Hastert said of the contested election, "I would hope this thing can be cleaned out" before it gets to Congress.

Gore diminishes his public visibility

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Al Gore, after a whirlwind media blitz, has gone quiet.

While Texas Gov. George W. Bush busied himself Saturday with presidential-style activities, Gore strolled to a Starbucks with his wife and daughter, ate lunch with actor Tommy Lee Jones and relaxed at his Washington home.

He told reporters that he had been "making quiet progress" on the transition. But that's all he intends to say this weekend, according to his aides.

Gore's silence marks a sharp change from earlier last week, when he embarked on a marathon round of TV appearances and interviews that seemed aimed at preventing Bush from dominating the news with images of his government-in-waiting.

But with the Supreme Court considering one election case and various Florida judges dealing with others, Gore's aides said it wouldn't be appropriate for the vice president to be offering a running critique. "He's decided not to comment at all, to respect the independence of the courts," Mark Fabiani, a Gore aide, said.

Chris Lehane, Gore's campaign press secretary, said Gore didn't need to demonstrate that he was ready to begin acting as president. "He's the same vice president who's been ready to take on the job at a moment's notice for eight years," Lehane said.

Florida's Bushes spend weekend in N.Y.

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba, spent the weekend in New York City.

"The governor is truly enjoying some personal time," spokeswoman Elizabeth Hirst said.

Bush and Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan are also on personal time today, according to the schedule sent Friday from the governor's office.

Protesters face off outside Lieberman home

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Hundreds of people protesting the contested presidential race staged noisy demonstrations Saturday outside the Connecticut home of Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman.

Lieberman's critics accused Democrats of trying to steal the election through repeated vote recounts in Florida. Democrats charged Lieberman's critics with anti-Semitism for holding the rally on the Jewish Sabbath. Lieberman is an Orthodox Jew.

Gore loses 14 votes in Palm Beach tally

WEST PALM BEACH -- Al Gore lost more votes in Palm Beach County after a final adjustment of the hand recount there.

The Democratic vice president lost 14 votes, according to the numbers released by elections officials Friday.

Instead of the net gain of 188 announced Wednesday, Gore recorded a net gain of 174 votes over Republican George W. Bush in the counting that ended Sunday, figures released by Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore showed.

New Mexico GOP examines more results

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Republicans plan to examine election results across the state to determine whether to press for further scrutiny by the state canvassing board.

Republican National Committee member Mickey Barnett, an Albuquerque lawyer, said Friday that if more anomalies like one in Roosevelt County were found, then the party may ask the board to undo its approval of the statewide election results.

"They could rescind it" if the certification was determined to be in error, Barnett said.

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