WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democrat Al Gore says Florida voters will not let the state's Republican-controlled state Legislature decide the presidential race.
"I can't believe that the people of Florida want to see the expression of
their will taken away by politicians," the vice president told CNN's John King on Wednesday.
"The people of Florida have the right to select the candidate for president that they want," said Gore. "If the politicians ever tried to take that away from the people, I think you'd see quite a negative response to it."
A joint committee within the Florida Legislature met for the second day
Wednesday to consider a special session to draft a bill
to appoint electors. Such a move would almost certainly hand Republican George
W. Bush the victory because the Legislature is controlled by the GOP and the
governor's mansion is occupied by Bush's brother, Jeb.
'Count all the votes'
The vice president reacted strongly when asked if he was demanding special
treatment in extending counting deadlines and asking for more recounts. He
compared the disputed ballots in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties to products
that pass the supermarket checkout computers without being added into the total
"What happens when it misses one? Do they give it to you for free?" Gore
asked. "No, they do a hand count of that item. And those computers are far
more sophisticated than these Votomatic machines."
Gore insisted that elections should be determined by the will of the people and "not by politicians who have control of the election machinery, and who decide, for whatever reason, to let some votes in that are legally cast, and take other legally cast votes and exclude them."
The vice president said he's refused to say that the Republicans are trying to "steal the election" because he and Bush have an obligation to "pave the way" for the victor to unify the country.
"The only way to avoid having a cloud over the next president is to count
all the votes," Gore said, adding that all legal strategy boiled down to one thing: getting all the votes counted.
'An incredible story'
Responding to a query about his political viability following this battle
for the White House, Gore said he hopes to be in a position to run for
re-election in 2004.
"But a higher obligation still is the obligation I have to the Constitution and to the country, to insist the election have integrity and it not be something that ends with a cloud of illegitimacy," the vice president said. "And there is one way to do that and that is to count the votes, and there are thousands and thousands of votes that have never been counted even once."
He predicted the election would be decided by the middle of December and
admitted it has been an emotional roller coaster. "It's an incredible story, the way it's unfolded, isn't it?" Gore said.
But he said this experience is not as difficult as the campaign.
"It's nice to sleep in the same bed every night and to be surrounded by
my family, and to get seven, eight hours of sleep, and exercise every day, so
in many ways it's much more relaxing and much easier than the campaign trail,"
the vice president said.
Gore said he relaxes by playing with his grandson. When asked what his grandson might read in his eighth grade history books, Gore said he hoped the boy would read "that the Gore-Lieberman administration was a great success, following one of the most exciting and closely fought election contests in American history."