GOP Ratchets Up Recount Rhetoric

ByABC News
November 18, 2000, 3:54 PM

Nov. 18 -- Members of George W. Bushs campaign made serious accusations against the Democratic Party today, charging that backers of Al Gore have orchestrated a statewide effort in Florida to disallow overseas ballots from members of the military, and saying the hand count under way in two counties is now irreparably flawed.

The charges came even though a final tally of overseas absentee ballots has increased Bushs lead over Gore to 930 votes. The numbers have been released by the Florida Secretary of States office, but have not been certified.

At a press conference in Austin, Texas, this afternoon, Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes and Montana Gov. Marc Racicot claimed they have convincing evidence that the manual recount is flawed.

We now have clear and compelling evidence from eyewitnessesthat this manual recount process is fundamentally flawed and is nolonger recounting, but is distorting, reinventing and miscountingthe true intentions of the voters of Florida, Hughes said.

They cited several examples of alleged irregularities in Palm Beach and Broward counties, such as the ballots being used as fans, and Post-It notes affixed to ballots.

Both Hughes and Racicot chastised the Gore camp for what they called attacks on military ballots that were disqualified.

No one who aspires to be commander in chief should throw out the votes of the men and women he seeks to command, Hughes said.

And Racicot returned with renewed vehemence to the ongoing Bush theme: That machine recounts are the only new tallies that can be trusted.

Court Setback for Bush

On Friday, the Florida Supreme Court delayed certification of the election until at least Monday, when it will hold a hearing on the ongoing hand recounts of ballots in heavily Democratic counties. The high court will decide whether the ballots should be included in the final vote tally for the state a result that is expected to decide who will be the next president.