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Toobin - Too Close to Call, rev. ed. (2002) - Synopsis

Toobin - Too Close to Call, rev. ed. (2002) - Synopsis

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Published by Mark K. Jensen
Synopsis of Jeffrey Toobin, Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election, rev. ed. (New York: Random House, 2002). Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on November 3, 2008.
Synopsis of Jeffrey Toobin, Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election, rev. ed. (New York: Random House, 2002). Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on November 3, 2008.

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Published by: Mark K. Jensen on Jun 07, 2009
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UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper LXI: November 3, 2008, 7:00 p.m.
 Jeffrey Toobin,
Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000Election
(New York: Random House, October 2001; paperback October2002, with “revised and expanded epilogue”).Cast of Characters.
79 individuals:candidates, campaign officials, Floridaofficials, lawyers and strategists in “thebattle for Florida,” Palm Beach Countyofficials, Miami-Dade County officials,Broward County officials, U.S. SupremeCourt judges, a U.S. District Court judge,Florida Supreme Court judges, LeonCounty Circuit Court Judges, and a PalmBeach County Circuit Court judge (xi-xiv)
Chronology: Recount 2000.
A table of events day-by-day, Nov. 7-Dec. 13, 2008,divided in four columns: StatewideDevelopments, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade,and Broward Counties ([xv]-[xix]).
Prologue: Florida Sunrise.
First signof Palm Beach County butterfly ballotproblem on Election Day (3-5). Theclosest, most dramatic, and mostcomplicated election in U.S. history (5-6). The subsequent battle is best understoodas a continuation of the campaign inwhich the “passion gap” between thecandidates was the most importantfactor (7-8).
Ch. 1: A Big Problem.
Ron Klain,whose relation to Gore and the campaigntypifies its aloofness from gritty intimatebonds (9-11). Michael Whouley,organizer of the campaign’s fieldoperation, calls Natalie Zellner, who calls Theresa LePore, the supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County (11-13). The butterfly ballot (13-16). Gapbetween Gore’s campaign managementand campaign workers (16-17). With exitpolls showing Gore winning Florida,between 7:49:40 and 7:52 p.m. EST NBC,CBS, & ABC called election for Gore whenNew Mexico goes for Gore; then, between2:16 and 2:20 a.m. Fox, CBS, and NBC,and ABC called Florida for Bush, and Goredecided immediately to concede—without consulting Michael Whouley (17-21). When Nick Baldick, Florida votecounter, reports that the networks usederroneous numbers from Volusia Countyand Florida is too close to call, a franticeffort succeeds in reaching Gore with thenews; he withdraws concession (21-25).
Ch. 2: The Flight of 
Recount One
 John Hardin Young, recount expert,advises getting people to Florida; RonKlain will help run the effort there (26-29). Warren Christopher agrees to headit; a party line emphasizing process isadopted (30-31). Operatives are togather information (31-32). Failing tofind a law firm in Tallahassee willing torepresent them, Klain assembles a“virtual law firm” (32-34). Team decidesrecounts, not lawsuits, are called for;Bush’s lead in Florida slips to 327 (34-36). Ironically, William M. Daley, son of notorious Chicago mayor Richard Daley,is Gore’s campaign manager (36-37).Daley and Christopher decide whichcounties to “protest” (demand recounts)(37-39).
Ch. 3: “People Get Screwed EveryDay.”
[Daley quip to Gore (56)] JamesBaker, not involved in the campaign andbusy with the Carlyle group, chosen torun the Florida effort for Bush (40-42).Ben Ginsberg, veteran of the 1984recount battle in Indiana’s 8
Congressional District, stolen byDemocrats in the House, an event thatlet to “the radicalization of theRepublican minority in the House” (44;42-45). Baker and Christopher eachregarded their situations as “dire” (45-47). Baker wants to paint recounts assubversive and use the federal courts tostop them (47-48). Former Republican
Missouri Sen. John Danforth disagreesand is out (49-50). Democrats’ call forpartial recounts gives birth to theRepublicans’ equal-protection theory (50-51). Rove orders pro-Bush protestersinto the streets (51). Gore’s people weretoo fearful of appearing “aggressive” (51-52). Baker in charge (52-53). On Sat.,Nov. 11, Republicans file suit (53). Gorerelished the process of the struggle but“never seemed agonized” (53-54). Daleyand Christopher “felt a Gore victory wasnearly impossible, even though morepeople in Florida had gone to the pollsthere intending to vote for the vicepresident than for Bush” (55-57).
Ch. 4: In for a Landing.
KatherineHarris, Florida’s secretary of state, wasthe granddaughter of Ben Hill Griffin Jr.,citrus baron (58-62). The chaoticDivision of Elections office, run by ClayRoberts, by 6:00 a.m. reported Bush2,909,135, Gore 2,907,351; with themargin less than 0.5%, an automaticrecount was to be made (62-63). TheBush campaign endlessly repeated thatall the votes had been “counted andrecounted,” while Harris and her officekept quiet about the fact that 18 of Florida’s counties (1.58m votes) merelyretallied and did not recount, however,despite a previously issued ruling thatthey should do so; “to this day, the votesin the eighteen counties still have notbeen officially recounted” (66; 64-67).Mac Stipanovich, a Republican lobbyist,was named Katherine Harris’s minder,telling her: “You have to bring thiselection in for a landing” (69; 68-71).Decision needed on the four manualrecounts demanded by Gore (71-73).Gov. Jeb Bush’s gets involved; Harris’soffice acts “as a wholly owned subsidiaryof the George W. Bush campaign (73-76).
Ch. 5: The Palm Beach Story.
JudgeCharles Burton, a member of Palm BeachCounty’s three-member canvassingboard, charged with certifying thefairness and accuracy of elections (77-79). “The least typical county in theUnited States,” with the contrast of richPalm Beach and poor Belle Glade: by Thursday, thousands were incensed andthe county was a focus of nationalattention (79; 79-81). Three precinctswere recounted on Friday, the day JudgeBurton, with the connivance of KereyCarpenter (a Harris aide), invoked therule that “hanging chads” counted butmere “sunshine” through the chad wasnot enough to count; this limited Gore’sgains, and a later count showed thisstandard cost Gore 784 votes in PalmBeach County, enough to swing Florida)(81-88). At 2:00 a.m. Sunday, in araucous meeting, the board votes 2-1 fora county-wide manual recount (88-91).But Burton, acting alone, asks Harris foran opinion; she shut down the recount,but on Thursday the Florida SupremeCourt authorizes it to proceed (91-93).
Ch. 6: Shall versus May.
Organizationof Bush’s “armada of legal firepower” inFlorida (94-97). The Gore team lacks fireat the top as well as in the ranks; RonKlain becomes its de facto head (97-99).In federal court in Miami, with Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School arguing forBush, the Bush team’s equal protectionargument is rejected on Nov. 13 (99-101). On the same day, Judge TerryLewis in Tallahassee is asked to decide if Katherine Harris could use an ambiguousstate law to justify prematurely certifyingthe election (101-06). Klain enlists DavidBoies to argue appeals to the Floridacourts (106-07).
Ch. 7: “This Is Guatemala.”
JudgeLewis’s ruling says Harris has discretionto reject late returns (108-09). Boies’s“low-key panache” (110-11). He finds inthe decisions of the Florida SupremeCourt the view that ?\”[t]he real partieshere . . . are the voters” (113; 111-14).On Wed. night, Nov. 15, Harrisannounced she would certify on Sat.,Nov. 18 (114-18). Simultaneously, Goregave a speech that was fair-minded, but
far removed from the (in Klain’s words)“Guatemala down here” (118-20).Christopher and Daley rejectsubpoenaing Katherine Harris (120-21).On Thurs., Nov. 16, the Florida SupremeCourt said the recounts could proceed(121-22).
Ch. 8: Cold Winds in Tallahassee.
OnFri., the Gore team decides they will file acontest after Harris’s certification of theelection (123-25). Then, late on Fri., Nov.17, the Florida Supreme Court, “on itsown motion,” barred Harris fromcertifying the election (125-27).Katherine Harris, many Florida SupremeCourt judges, and other political figuresattended Sat. night’s Florida-Florida Statefootball game (128-29). William Kristolpushes Bush team to complain publicly of the Democrats’ effort to keep overseasballots from counting; Liebermancapitulate[s] completely” on Sun.morning’s “Meet the Press” (129-32). The Florida Supreme Court rule late on Tues., Nov. 21, that the counties haveuntil Nov. 26 to recount (132-36). JamesBaker “in a state of coiled fury” attacksthe court and says the Florida legislature(controlled by Republicans) may step in(136-38).
Ch. 9: Mayor Loco, Crazy Joe, andthe Battle of Miami.
Miami lawyerKendall Coffrey’s decision to work forGore’s team struck the Cuban communityas craven opportunism, because of theElián González case (139-44). RogerStone, a Republican operative, wasfamiliar with how to use Spanish-language radio (144-47). The recount inMiami-Dade County is delayed by astruggle in the canvassing board (147-52). On Wed., Nov. 22, Stone organizesRepublican protests that shut down theMiami-Dade recount in the Clark Center,“never to be resumed” (157; 152-58).Dick Cheney has a heart attack (157-59).
Ch. 10: Thanksgiving Stuffing.
TheBroward County recount nets a gain of 567 votes for Gore (160-63). Bumblers inPalm Beach County adopted aninappropriate strict standard, then took Thanksgiving off; Gore only got about200 more votes here (164-68). Toobindownplays the significance of Republicanefforts to lower the number votes byblacks, but does not discount themaltogether (168-70). Bush team legalmaneuvering (170-71). In Jacksonville,Duval County, Democrats failed to realizein time that some 26,000 votes weren’tcounted, concentrated in African-American precincts, a “caterpillar” ballotbeing largely to blame (171-73). Thestruggle over overseas ballots added 123votes for Bush (174-76).
Ch. 11: Rstone@goamerica.net.
Goretoo remote, scholarly, detached, “almostbloodless,” etc. (177-79). Gore takes toBoies (179-81). On Fri., Nov. 24, the U.S.Supreme Court granted certiorari andexpedited consideration (181-82). Thecourt’s involvement stood Chief JusticeRehnquist’s principles on their head(federalism, ripeness) (182-84). TheFederalist Society and the court’spolitical interest (184-85). Palm Beachmisses the Nov. 26 deadline (185-88).Harris certified the election with Bushwinning by 537 votes (188-91).
Ch. 12: Lose Slow, Lose Fast.
Clintonbelieves Gore should be much moreaggressive (192-94). Gore team’s legalreasoning (195-97). Nov. 28 conferencecall on strategy (198-202). Judge N.Sanders Sauls, redneck judge for thecontest litigation (202-05).
Ch. 13: Great Americans.
Republicanstrategy: vote totals are key (206-07).Baker moves to recuse a distinguished judge, Nikki Clark, because she is black(208-10). Trial preparations (210-11).Boies decides to focus on the ballots(211-13). Supreme Court argument, Dec.1 (213-16). Contest litigation before Judge Sauls (216-23).

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