On CBS News' Face the Nation, the Bush camp's James Baker defended the request for a federal injunction to stop election officials from the hand recount of votes in Palm Beach County. A hearing on that request is set for Monday. Baker claims such recounting simply creates a "slippery slope" of partisan conflict - and that the Bush side would vigorously contest further recounts of votes in Florida.
"We've had one full recount," said Baker, who was U.S. Secretary of State under Bush's father. "We ought to live with that. Both parties should live with that. It showed a very narrow margin for Governor Bush, and there are votes to be counted from the overseas absentee ballots."
Baker added the Bush camp would dismiss its lawsuit if the manual counts were suspended, claiming such counts "give rise to so many opportunities for human error and, indeed, even mischief." He proposed that both sides agree to abide by the result of the count of the overseas absentee ballots, which must be counted by November 17.
Gore campaign chairman William Daley said the manual counts are provided for under Florida election law and should be completed.
"Then we'll have an honest understanding of exactly the numbers in the election," Daley said. "It is obviously upsetting to all of us that this election was not clearly determined on election day and this process has to move forward, but those are the laws are Florida. The people of Florida have a right to have their laws followed."
A hand recount has been completed in New Mexico, as dictated by that state's law - and it appears that Bush will win there rather than Gore. Does Baker think the second New Mexico count should not have occurred?
"We're not condemning every hand recount," Baker explained. "What we are saying is that the process (in Florida) is constructed in such a way as to create (confusion). There are no standards to guide the local officials. And when you just have a hand recount in four selected counties that are predominantly Democratic, you are not treating the other voters of Florida equally and you're proceeding in a manner that, in our view, is unconstitutional."
Responded Daley: "Secretary Baker seemed to indicate when the hand count in New Mexico went there their way, that's fine. No one knows how this is going to go - there is all sorts of speculation. Nobody knows what is going to happen at the end of the hand count."
Nor would Daley rule out further legal action on behalf of the Gore campaign.
"We stated last Thursday we would look at all options here and we have talked to lawyers, talked to supporters in Florida," he said. "Five individuals on their own have filed their own lawsuits in Palm Beach. The decision has nt been made yet, a final decision on whether or not a lawsuit would be filed. But that's being looked at right now."
Baker said that the Florida recount as it is progressing is inherently unfair because Democrats have selected heavily Democratic areas. Daley, the former Commerce secretary, countered by saying that Floridians "have every right" to proceed similarly in other areas as well.
Neither Baker or Daley would offer a timetable as to when the controversy might end.
And Daley dismissed any notion of corruption occurring during the recount. "This is going to be the most open and observed hand count probably in the history of America," he said. "You've got all sorts of observers."
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