Governor George Bush
Reaction to the Florida Supreme Court Decision in Palm Beach County Canvassing Board v. Harris
Texas State Capitol Building

November 22, 2000

This morning I talked to Secretary Cheney. We had a very good conversation. He sounded really strong, and he informed me that, as a precautionary measure, he went into the hospital. He was feeling chest pains. And turns out that subsequent tests, blood tests and the initial EKG, showed that he had no heart attack. I'm pleased to report that.

I know all Americans join me and Laura in wishing him all the best. Looking forward to talking to him this afternoon to continue strategizing about this election and the election results.

I am disappointed with last night's ruling by the Florida Supreme Court. We believe the justices have used the bench to change Florida's election laws and usurp the authority of Florida's election officials.

We believe the court overreached. Writing laws is the duty of the legislature; administering laws is the duty of the executive branch.

Two weeks after the presidential election, a court has decided that Florida's deadline for counting votes and certifying votes was not a deadline at all. The court has decided that the selective recounting of votes that have already been counted at least two times, and in some cases three or four times, will continue more than a week after the law says it should. And the court has ordered that the secretary of state must accept all this.

The court had cloaked its ruling in legalistic language. But make no mistake, the court rewrote the law. It changed the rules, and it did so after the election was over.

Manual recounts will continue in three selective counties, with no uniform standards, no clear direction, and therefore no fair or accurate result.

Even as recently as this morning, the rules changed in one of the three counties and Democrats are trying to change the rules in another.

The effect of the court's opinion will be that voters' votes are being evaluated differently in different parts of Florida. Some votes that were cast legitimately may be offset by votes that were not.

Voters who cast their ballots in accordance with the rules, in accordance with law, have rights. And voters who choose not to cast a vote for president have that right, and no one else has the right to make their choice for them.

Voters who clearly punched prefaces in other races on the ballot, but did not do so in the presidential race, should not have their vote interpreted by local officials in a process that invites human error and mischief.

All Americans want a fair and accurate count of the votes in Florida. And I believe if there is a fair and accurate count of the votes in Florida, we will prevail.

If Vice President Gore is seeking some common ground, I propose a good place to start: He should join me in calling upon all appropriate authorities in Florida to make sure that overseas military ballots that were signed and received on time count in this election. Our men and women in uniform overseas should not lose their right to vote. I hope the vice president will personally support me in this call.

I believe Secretary Cheney and I won the vote in Florida. And I believe some are determined to keep counting in an effort to change the legitimate result.

It is important that votes are counted accurately. And it's equally important that votes be counted fairly and in a process that is seen to be fair.

As we approach our national holiday of Thanksgiving, we have much to be thankful for. We should be thankful that we live in the greatest nation on the face of the Earth.

Laura and I wish all our fellow Americans and their families a happy Thanksgiving. Thank you very much and God bless.


BUSH: Not that I know of.

QUESTION: Governor, do you plan to appeal the Florida Supreme Court decision?

BUSH: We will refer you to my lawyers in Florida. Jim Baker is doing a good job.

QUESTION: What options are you considering?

BUSH: I refer you to our folks in Florida, they are--Jim Baker is in charge of the team in Florida, and he's doing a really good job down there.

QUESTION: Governor, do you feel that the court was biased?

BUSH: I feel the court overstepped its bounds, just like I said in my statement. I think it was a reach. And as I said, the legislature's job is to write law. It's the executive branch job to interpret law.

Last question, I've got to...

QUESTION: Any misgivings about Secretary Cheney and his selection...


BUSH: No, not at all. Secretary Cheney will make a great vice president. And as I reported today--I'm pleased to report that he sounded very strong on the telephone.

And he did the right thing. He felt some warning signs, and he went into the hospital and had them checked out.

And he's going to make a great vice president. And America's beginning to see how steady and strong he is.

Last question.


BUSH: I feel great. I believe I'm going to win, particularly if the vote is accurately and fairly counted.

Like many Americans, I am amazed at what I see on the TV set, the changing of rules on a regular basis. If somebody doesn't like what's happening one day, they try to change the rules the next.

But I'm confident that, when it's all said and done, the vote will stand in Florida. So I feel great.

I'm looking forward to a good Thanksgiving meal, I might add, with my family.

And Dick Cheney is healthy. He did not have a heart attack. He did the right thing. Anybody who tells you--anybody who's had heart conditions will tell you that if there's any sign, any warning sign at all, it's important to have it checked out, and that's what he's done. And I was so pleased to hear his voice this morning; he sounded strong and vibrant.

Thank you all. I hope you have a good Thanksgiving.