Presidency hangs on recount

Florida too close to call

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— The 2000 presidential race was as tight as many pundits and polls indicated it would be. The outcome now hinges on a recount in Florida, which means America may not know who will be the next president for another day.

During the early evening of Tuesday, all major networks had listed Al Gore as the winner in Florida. Later in the evening, however, million-dollar television anchors were pulling the proverbial foot out of the mouth as they recanted their earlier predictions.

Then early Wednesday morning, the networks made another call, saying Gov. George Bush was to be the next president. But they again reversed themselves as late tabulations from Florida tightened up the race.

In fact, Gore had even called up Bush and conceded the election. But moments later, he called Bush back at the governor's mansion and told him he wasn't conceding after all.

As of early Wednesday morning, Florida's popular vote came down to a difference of an estimated 224 votes. Bush led in Florida 2,902,733 to Gore's 2,902,509 votes. By law, Florida has to recount its votes if the leader has a half of 1 percent lead or less.

In the meantime, Gore passed up Bush in the popular vote. As of 3 a.m. Mountain Time, Gore led 47,170,559 votes to Bush's 47,101,836.

The electoral college tally was at 249 for Gore and 246 for Bush. That makes the outcome in Florida absolutely critical. Whoever wins the state and gets the 25 electoral votes wins the race for the White House.

At the Routt County Courthouse Tuesday night, Republicans found themselves in for a rollercoaster ride depressed one minute, then jumping up and down after seeing Florida taken away from Gore's column.

Colorado went to Bush as expected with 51 percent of the vote to Gore's 42 percent. Ralph Nader netted 5 percent of the state vote.

Routt County also voted to change George W. Bush's title from governor to president. Bush received 46.4 percent of the county vote to Gore's 43.6 percent.

In a quick, informal poll of Steamboat Springs voters Tuesday, some people appeared to want a change, and a man they hoped they could trust.

"The country's due for a party change in light of all the scandals," said resident Tom Lindley as he left the United Methodist Church polling place on Oak Street.

Many of those who voted for Bush echoed the same sentiment.

"I felt like honesty was an issue," said Roger Johnson. But Johnson's wife was leaning toward Gore until the end of the campaign.

"I changed my mind this last week this stuff with Gore being caught in all those lies," said Linda Johnson.

"I distrust Gore," said Charlie Bates who also agreed with Bush's idea of "less government."

A few Bush supporters also cited the pro-life issue and rebuilding the military. And many of the pro-Bush people said they just plain didn't like Gore.

Many of the Gore supporters coming out of the booths Tuesday pointed to his experience as vice-president as reason enough for their vote.

"Clinton has done good stuff and Gore will continue his work," said first-time voter Andrew Johnston.

"He's been in office," agreed Keith Hicks. "He has more know-how and is more current on the issues."

Many Gore supporters called themselves liberal and were worried about the issues he has championed like abortion rights and the environment.

"I'm really concerned with the environment and I don't like Bush's direction," said Alan Good who feared a vote for Nader would be wasted.

But a large number of Nader supporters didn't look at it that way at all.

"I voted Nader so we can have a third party in 2004," said Dennis Williams.

"This will give us more of a choice," added his friend Dustin Davis.

Countywide results showed Nader picking up 8.5 percent of the Routt County vote. That was higher than Nader's national average, which was less then 5 percent of the popular vote.

Local resident Chuck Dixon said a vote for Nader is a wake-up call for the Democrats and Republicans.

"It seems like they're one main party," Dixon said of the two traditional parties.

"I think we want them (Democrats and Republicans) to know they're not doing what we want them to do," said his wife Amy Harris.

Nader's Green Party will certainly be a wake-up call to Democrats. In a lot of so-called swing states, Nader appeared to have taken away enough votes from Gore to change the outcome of the race. Many political analysts believe Nader supporters would have voted for Gore if Nader hadn't run for president.

To reach Frances Hohl call 871-4208

or e-mail fhohl@amigo.net

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