The Guardian December 6, 2000


Bush campaign uses mob tactics in Florida

by Tim Wheeler

Citing the Republican drive to block the counting of votes in Florida, 
including "organised intimidation" of the Miami-Dade canvassing board, Vice 
President Al Gore vowed to fight on until every vote is counted.

In a five-minute televised speech on November 27, Gore explained why he and 
running mate, Joseph Lieberman, went to court in Florida to contest the 
certification of Republican George W Bush as the winner of the state's 25 
electoral votes.

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, co-chair of the Florida Bush 
campaign, declared Bush the winner with a margin of 537 votes out of nearly 
six million cast.

She rejected a request by the Palm Beach County canvassing board that she 
extend even by two hours the 5pm Sunday deadline so that the board that had 
toiled for days could complete their hand recount.

Harris contemptuously rejected a unanimous ruling by the Florida Supreme 
Court that hand-counted ballots in three South Florida counties be 
certified, instead returning to her original November 14 vote total.

Without mentioning Bush or the Republicans by name, Gore warned that 
"ignoring votes means ignoring democracy itself. And if we ignore the votes 
of thousands in Florida this year, how can you or any American have 
confidence that your vote will not be ignored in a future election."

Contrary to Republican claims that Florida votes have been counted and 
recounted as many as three times, Gore pointed out that nearly 10,000 
Miami-Dade ballots rejected by voting machines have not been counted even 
once.

He denounced a blizzard of GOP [Republican] legal manoeuvres as a stalling 
tactic to prevent an accurate count of the votes in Florida. "In one 
county", he said, "election officials brought the count to a premature end 
in the face of organised intimidation."

Lieberman denounced the "orchestrated demonstrations" on November 22 inside 
the Miami-Dade government building as a scheme "not just to express a point 
of view but to disrupt and halt the counting of ballots."

The incident was broadcast live on C-Span and other television networks.

A gang of young thugs were shown pounding on the doors and windows of a 
room where the canvassing board had begun a recount. They chanted "Fraud" 
and "The fix is in!".

In the hallway, the Republican mob surrounded Joe Geller, chair of the 
Miami-Dade County Democratic Party, screaming accusations that he was 
attempting to "steal" a ballot.

Several Sheriff's deputies arrived and the mob demanded they "cuff" Geller.

Finally, the deputies and Geller raced down a hallway pursued by the thugs, 
who knocked over and trampled two television news cameramen. Geller had a 
sample ballot in his pocket.

In another incident, Democratic Party spokesman Luis Rosero was conducting 
a news conference. The Republican goons surrounded him. "I was punched 
twice in the back and kicked once", Rosero said. "I think we have hit a new 
low here."

The November 24 Wall Street Journal carried an article exposing the 
fascist-like Bush campaign provocation.

The headline was "GOP Protest in Miami-Dade is a well organised effort". 
The subhead read, "Bush campaign pays tab for aides from Capitol Hill flown 
in for rallies".

Written by Journal staffers Nicholas Kulish and Jim Vendehei, the article 
reported, "Right up front on television images of the event last Wednesday 
were Thomas Pyle, an aide to GOP Representative Tom DeLay, and Michael 
Murphy who works for a DeLay fundraising committee.

"Shortly after the door-kicking, window banging protest, the Miami-Dade 
canvassing board made a sharp U-turn, suspending a recount that was 
expected to help Al Gore chip away at George W Bush's lead."

The board had originally voted unanimously to do a hand recount of all 
600,000 ballots in this heavily Democratic county.

The Journal reported that the office of House Majority Whip DeLay, a 
Texas Republican, "took charge of the effort on Capitol Hill, passing on an 
offer many staffers couldn't refuse: free airfare, accommodations and food 
in the Sunshine State, all paid for by the Bush campaign."

The goons were housed in hotels on the beach and received $30 daily for 
food. As many as 750 were shuttled in and out of South Florida.

After successfully shutting down the recount in Miami-Dade, the goon squad 
headed north to Broward County where they "joined a platoon that included 
about 20 other congressional staffers who had watched the Miami-Dade 
commotion on CNN and wildly cheered their compatriots televised antics."

They attempted to force an end to the Broward County recount.

They checked into fancy resort hotels in Fort Lauderdale.

George W Bush's father, the former President, practiced all these tactics 
here and around the world as director of the CIA, sending in hired 
operatives to steal elections or overthrow democratically elected 
governments in Chile and other nations in the interest of the transnational 
corporations.

As Vice-President under Reagan, Bush's office became the headquarters for 
Reagan Doctrine "low intensity" contra wars on four continents, at a cost 
of millions of lives.

Rep Jerrold Nadler (Democrat-NY) had a telling comment on the goon squad in 
Miami. "A whiff of fascism", he called it.

* * *
People's Weekly World, paper of the Communist Party, USA (abridged)

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