By JESSE HOLLAND
WASHINGTON – Vice President Al Gore floated two possible solutions to Florida’s contested presidential election tonight, suggesting a hand recount of all 6 million ballots cast in the state’s 67 counties if Republicans won’t accept results of recanvasses under way in three counties selected by Democrats.
Within minutes, GOP sources said Texas Gov. George W. Bush would reject the proposed statewide recount, just as his campaign has vigorously opposed new counting in scattered counties.
Running mate Joseph Lieberman at his side, Gore also proposed that he and his Republican rival meet as soon as possible, “not to negotiate but to improve the tone of our dialogue in America.”
With lawsuits pending in state and federal court, recounts moving haltingly and no swift end in sight to the election, Gore said he was offering a way to break the deadlock, leaving it up to the Republicans to respond.
Gore said his preference was to complete hand recounts in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, adding those votes to certified results from 64 other counties and an unknown number of overseas absentee ballots to be counted at week’s end.
If the Republicans accepted that, he said he was prepared to accept the results without legal challenges.
Going further, he said he would be prepared to “include in this recount all the counties in the entire state of Florida” in the hand recount – a process that would involve reviewing 6 million votes. He said that could be done in seven days, barring further interruptions.
In addition to suggesting an immediate meeting with Bush, Gore said the two White House rivals should meet again once the election is settled. That session would be to “reaffirm our national unity,” and he said that should his rival win, he would be prepared to travel anywhere to meet with him.
Gore made his proposals in a formal setting, standing before a microphone in the vice president’s residence, family mementos behind him on the mantle.
Lieberman, a senator from Connecticut who campaigned extensively in Florida, stood nearby but did not speak.
Gore cast his remarks as an attempt to honor the Constitution.
“This is the time to respect every voter and every vote,” he said. “This is the time to honor the true will of the people. So our goal must be what is right for America.”
Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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