Why Trump’s Election Results Comments Are No Different from What Al Gore Did in 2000

By: Robert Eno | October 20, 2016

Last night, during the debate, Chris Wallace asked Donald Trump if he would “absolutely accept the result of this election?” Trump said he will “look at it at the time,” and went onto give reasons why, including voter fraud. He didn’t rule out that he would accept the results. How is that any different than what Al Gore did in 2000? Why is the media treating it so different?

After the debate the media went into a frenzy, calling it “scary” and “unprecedented” that Donald Trump said he will see at the time. It is a seemingly pretty straightforward answer. If, on election night, the margin of victory in four states is such that the losing candidate can demand a recount — a situation that could switch the final outcome — why would The Donald concede on election night, “at the time?”

The day after the final Supreme Court ruling, December 13, 2000, Al Gore finally conceded Florida and the 2000 presidential election. Something he had fought against doing for over a month.

Conservative Review contributor Jeffrey Lord brought up, amidst the hyperbole, that Al Gore didn’t accept the results of the election on Election Night in 2000. In fact, Gore brought the case all the way to the Supreme Court, and lost. Then he begrudgingly conceded the election, and the press and Left called George Bush illegitimate for four years.

What Donald Trump said in response to the question by Wallace is no worse than what Al Gore actually did.

The U.S. Election Atlas has a complete timeline of what happened in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election. Here are key highlights of the post-2000 election drama.

Early in the morning on November 8, 2000 Gore called George W. Bush to concede the election, after the final results came in from Florida. Here is the ABC News report at that time.

Later on in the morning, Al Gore called Bush to “retract his concession.” This came after his team told him that the Bush lead had started to diminish significantly.

After dawn the final results of the election in Florida were known. The result was a narrow victory by George W. Bush, “reported to be 1,784 votes; Bush leads Gore 2,909,135 (48.8%) to 2,907,351 (48.8%) with other candidates receiving 139,616 votes (2.4%).”

Florida law required, at the time, a machine recount when the election margin of victory was under 0.5 percent.  That recount was ordered, and by the end of the day on November 8, 2000, Jeb Bush — the brother of George W. Bush and governor of Florida at the time— recused himself from the vote counting process.

Over the next 35 days a contentious process unfolded. At every step of the way, Al Gore contested the results of the election. First he called for hand recounts in certain counties where Democratic voters held a large majority as Florida law allowed a candidate to be selective in calling for hand recounts. Then, as the process went on, he continued to use the courts to try and get the result he wanted.

Two days after the election on November 9, 2000, “Sixty-four of Florida’s 67 counties have recounted their votes, Bush leads Gore by 362 votes in an unofficial tally by the Associated Press.” From that point on, every tally of the Florida election results had Bush in the lead.

The next 12 days were a back and forth between the Bush and Gore campaigns, and the Secretary of State of Florida in the courts. The main contentions were whether manual recounts could continue, even if they were only in certain counties. The dispute worked its way up to the Florida Supreme Court where arguments were heard from all parties on November 20, 2000.

The next day, the Florida Supreme court set a deadline for the certification of the election as November 26, 2000, or early November 27th as the 26th fell on a Sunday.  The court also ruled that manual recounts could continue, but did not order them to.

Over the next four days, Gore continued to try and force some counties to manually recount ahead of the November 26, 2000 deadline.

Palm Beach County missed the 5 p.m deadline on November 26, 2000, set by the court and Secretary of State Katherine Harris. There were a reported 1000 ballots left uncounted. Later on in the day Harris certified that Bush had won Florida by “537 votes.”

Al Gore still did not concede the election, 19 days after Election Day. He chose to continue to fight the results. The next 16 days saw a series of court cases, court decisions, and legislative actions that culminated in a United States Supreme Court decision. Here is how the US Election Atlas described the decision:

The U.S. Supreme Court renders a complex decision to overturn the Florida Supreme Court ruling that called for manual recounts. The court’s unsigned “per curiam” decision carried the opinion of seven justices and says that the recounts as ordered by the Florida court suffered from constitutional problems. However, four Justices wrote dissenting opinions regarding possible remedies in the case. The court said in the 7-2 per curium that “Because it is evident that any recount seeking to meet the Dec. 12 date will be unconstitutional … we reverse the judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida ordering the recount to proceed,” “It is obvious that the recount cannot be conducted in compliance with the requirements of equal protection and due process without substantial additional work.” The case was remanded to the Florida court “for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.”

The day after the final Supreme Court ruling, December 13, 2000, Al Gore finally conceded Florida and the 2000 presidential election. Something he had fought against doing for over a month. At no point in the process did Gore ever hold a lead.

During this whole process, the media never called into question the “fundamental proposition” that losers must concede the presidency for “democracy to work.” They by and large supported Gore throughout the process.

To this very day, prominent Democrats are still categorizing the election as “stolen” and maintaining that the presidency of George W. Bush was “illegitimate.” Take for example a speech that Vice President Joe Biden gave in June of 2013, of which the Daily Kos said, “Joe Biden All But Declares Bush and Illegitimate President.”  In the speech Biden said, when introducing Al Gore at an Ed Markey fundraiser, “this man was elected president of the United States of America …” Biden continued “… but for the good of the nation, when the bad decision, in my view, was made, he did the right thing for the nation.” Even the Daily Kos writer was taken aback by Biden’s frankness.

This is pretty amazing stuff coming from a sitting Vice-President–to take a hammer to the very legitimacy of the prior Administration. Don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like that before. Of course, it also helps when it happens to be true.

The Left has still not gotten over the 2000 election, 16 years later. Salon, less than a year ago opined, “we really did inaugurate the wrong guy.” Today, the folks at the same publication are apoplectic over Trump’s remarks.

What the media fails to see is that their double standard between Trump and Gore buttresses Trump’s argument that the system, and its insiders are rigged against him.  Instead of hyperbolic ranting about Trump destroying democratic institutions, why not wait until Election Night and see what the results are? If the vote is close, and recounts are allowed by law, why not give Trump the same courtesy you gave Gore for 35 days in the late fall of 2000? That is all Trump is asking for.

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