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)