The country awoke this morning still unsure of who had been elected its new president, though it appeared certain as of this afternoon that Vice President Al Gore had won the popular vote by the slimmest of margins. Both campaigns dispatched envoys to Florida to monitor the official recount, where Bush leads by fewer than 1,800 votes, with a few thousand absentee ballots from citizens living overseas possibly still uncounted. Florida officials have said that the new count would be validated on Thursday afternoon. With 99.9 percent of precincts nationwide reporting, Gore leads Texas Gov. George W. Bush by about 170,000 votes out of 100 million cast -- a difference of just 0.2 percent. In 1960, John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon by 118,574 votes en route to the presidency. In the electoral vote count, Gore now has 260 votes and Bush has 246. Oregon also remains too close to call, but mathematically it will make no difference in deciding a winner. The winner of the popular vote has not lost a presidential election since 1888, and though many pundits had been predicting that it may happen this year, they all expected that it would happen to Bush. "The vice president is excited that he won the popular vote," Gore campaign spokeswoman Kyl Spell. Spell also addressed reports of possible irregularities in precincts throughout the state of Florida. "We've been hearing some reports from the field, but we're not willing to comment on them at this time." Bush made brief remarks to the press this afternoon, saying he was confident that the recount would confirm that he had taken Florida and would thus become the 43rd president of the United States. ``This morning brings news from Florida that the final vote count shows that Secretary Cheney and I have carried the state of Florida,'' Bush told reporters in a midday appearance. ``If that result is confirmed in an automatic recount, as we expect it to be, then we have won the election.'' Gore, meanwhile, slept past noon after nearly 48 straight hours of campaigning and watching the returns. He remained cloistered with advisers or relatives in Nashville. He planned to thank campaign workers later in the day and then escape for several days to Center Hill Lake in Smithville, Tenn., not far from the Gore family farms in Carthage. Asked whether the Gore campaign would mount a court challenge if the Florida recount did not go Gore's way, campaign chairman William Daley replied: ``I doubt it.'' The election seemed to be over at around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning when the networks called the Florida race for Bush. The vice president even called Bush to concede the race at around 2:30 a.m. But as more votes came in and the margin narrowed, Gore took the probably unprecedented step of calling his opponent back to rescind his concession. The make-up of the 107th Congress was much more clear this morning than the nation's next president. The Republicans are guaranteed of keeping control of the Senate, as they now hold a 50-49 advantage with the race in Washington now too close to call. If Democrats succeed in knocking off incumbent Sen. Slade Gorton there, there would be a 50-50 tie. If Bush and Dick Cheney are elected then, Cheney, as president of the Senate, would break any tie. But if Gore and Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman are successful, Lieberman would have to resign from the Senate, giving the state's Republican governor the chance to appoint a successor. Five incumbents lost their Senate seats yesterday -- Bill Roth of Delaware, Chuck Robb of Virginia, Spencer Abraham of Michigan, John Ashcroft of Missouri and Rod Grams of Minnesota. In the most closely-watched Senate race in the country, Hillary Rodham Clinton became the new junior senator from New York, defeating Republican Rick Lazio decisively. In the House, the Democrats looked as if they would pick up either two or three seats, narrowing even further a tenuous Republican majority and ensuring that J. Dennis Hastert would return as Speaker.Comments powered by Disqus
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