Associated Press
December 13, 2000

Gore Team Mulling Next Step

By Sandra Sobieraj

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After an excruciating daylong wait, Al Gore, his family and aides scrambled Tuesday night to sort through the U.S. Supreme Court's verdict and whether it spelled the end of his long battle to recount Florida's presidential vote.

Campaign chairman William Daley, noting that the court decision was "both complex and lengthy," said the vice president and running mate Joseph Lieberman would have no statement on possible next steps until Wednesday.

"It will take time to completely analyze this opinion. We will address the Court's decision in full detail at a time to be determined tomorrow," Daley said in a statement that capped a 33-hour, nerve-wracking wait since the nation's highest court recessed to deliberate on Monday afternoon.

Some chief Democrats said the answer was clear.

Sen. Bob Torricelli said: "This is a very difficult evening for him. It has gotten to the end."

Gore was at home at the Naval Observatory with his family and on the phone late into the night with his attorneys, his advisers said.

Several senior advisers said that as of 11 p.m. EST, Gore had made no decision on a next step concession or otherwise.

Tipper Gore tried to be a calming spirit for her husband's aides who worried about the next uncertain step, paging one with the message: "Hang tight with me. We're trying to figure it out."

Outside the Observatory gates, two dozen supporters of Republican rival George W. Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney, suddenly gathered and clamorously declared victory.

"He's going to concede. Otherwise, we're going to take the country," cried Philip Niedermair of Washington. He led the group in a shouted chant, "Get out of Cheney's house!"

A Democratic legal source close to Gore said after a quick read of the high court's opinion that it looked devastating and offered no room for further Florida ballot recounts the only way for Gore to overcome Bush's unofficial lead of less than 200 votes in the make-or-break state.

Two senior members of Gore's team said the vice president was told by some advisers Tuesday night that he had little choice but to drop out.

Another complained that the case was decided along partisan lines and, without the ability to do a recount, it leaves Gore no avenue to win.

Though his attorneys thought the ruling offered some hope for reviving a recount, several political advisers told the vice president that Democrats would try to force him from the race if he did not exit on his own. Others on the political team hoped he would fight, but they appeared to be in the minority.

And yet, several officials said it was unclear what Gore would do. He was likely to sleep on his decision and notify advisers Wednesday morning.

"It sounds like we lost," Gore lawyer W. Dexter Douglass said.

Gore attorney Laurence Tribe agreed on NBC that the decision appeared to leave "extremely little wiggle room" for recounts. But, Tribe said, "Until I read the opinion, I'm not willing to say it's all over."

The instantaneous buzz over Gore's next step stirred sometimes angry tensions in the Democratic camp.

Democratic party chairman Ed Rendell called on Gore to concede, a disloyalty immediately denounced by Joe Andrew, the Democratic National Committee national chairman in charge of day-to-day party operations.

"There's no other word for it but outrageous, what (Rendell) said and he does not have the authority to say it" on behalf of the DNC, Andrew said.

The DNC, Andrew added, stands by the unanimous vote of its executive committee five days ago "to pursue all means available to make sure every vote is counted and stand by Al Gore."

The Rev. Jesse Jackson pressed Gore to hang in until "the sliver of an opening the court left is pursued."

Jackson told The Associated Press that his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition on civil rights would obtain the ballots through Florida's open records law and count the votes themselves.

"No matter who the Supreme Court crowns, we will know before January the 20th that Gore got most of the votes," Jackson said.

Gore had waited out the nine federal justices' ruling mostly at home. In the afternoon, he logged 95 minutes of returning calls and reviewing memos from the West Wing office he will vacate one way or the other.

"It's a jury watch," vice presidential chief of staff Charles Burson said after meeting with Gore.

"But he has been remarkable his presence, calm and focus. It's been good for all of us. He is very steady."

Copyright 2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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