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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
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E.C. "Deeno" Kitchen
Summary of Interview (October 10, 2002)
Kitchen gives background to becoming involved with the Gore legal team, starting with
the contest phase before Judge Sauls. He describes having just a few hours to prepare
for a very complicated case. He says Douglass wanted him on to the team because he
[Kitchen] knew Tallahassee as a local lawyer and had appeared before Judge Sauls
before. He says, "Douglass needed me to help him put a North Florida face on the
Democratic Party because it doesn't have one up here." He makes it a point that he
was going to be only a trial lawyer, not an appellate court lawyer during the process. He
talks about going into Judge Sauls's courtroom and seeing the crowds and thinking to
himself, "My God, what am I doing here?" He discusses his role which was to seek a
pre-trial conference. He adds, "I never read the damn complaint, and here I'm fixing to
conduct the pre-trial conference."
Kitchen goes into more detail about the courtroom strategy: get the Miami-Dade and
Palm Beach ballots as evidence and get past the Sauls's decision to go immediately to
the Florida Supreme Court to appeal. He remarks that he knew that Sauls was not
going to rule in the Democrats' favor. He adds, "I never thought we had a prayer to win
it." He thinks Sauls's decision was partisan but "was totally in keeping with Sandy
Sauls's view of our federal system and the Constitution." He emphasizes that Sauls did
not intentionally slow down the process to favor the Republicans--he was not "running
out the clock." He declares that the votes that Sauls ordered up from Miami-Dade and
Palm Beach should have been counted--which is what this lawsuit was all about. He
feels that all the votes should have been counted again--statewide--including over-votes
and under-votes. "I thought it was a tactical mistake [on the Democrats' part] to be in
just those few counties [for the recount]."
Kitchen states that the Republicans won the public relations war which impacted the
process, but adds that he does not think it affected Sauls's decision. He does not have
a good opinion of Jim Baker's tactics--"he went completely down [in my opinion]
because of that type of stuff." He comments on the Republicans criticizing the judges--
except the U.S. Supreme Court--and the Democrats choosing not to bash the courts.
He cites the reasons why Judge Sauls ordered the ballots to be brought up from South
Florida and then not count them. He again praises Judge Sauls.
Kitchen discusses the use of expert witnesses. He says he was trying to establish facts
in a trial court [Sauls's court] to build a record. He recounts his arguments against Barry
Richard by saying the "intent of the voter should govern." He assesses the
performances of David Bois and Barry Richard before Judge Sauls. He again says
Sauls should have counted the votes--all the votes--because they served as the
Kitchen presents his views of Katherine Harris--she was partisan because she was a
chair of the state Bush campaign. "I'm not saying she violated any law, but every
decision she made, she made the ones that helped her candidate." He analyzes the
Florida Supreme Court's 4-3 decision which ordered Judge Lewis to count certain votes:
he thinks the "decision was touched by the intimidation of the United States Supreme
Court." He feels that when the Florida Supreme Court sent the case back to Sauls, he
recused himself because "he just wanted out" so it went to Judge Lewis. He remarks
that he never felt there was a constitutional crisis at any time. He does not feel that the
legislature voting to seat Bush electors was a dangerous precedent but "it's, again, an
extremely partisan look."
Kitchen comments that "the five on the [U.S.] Supreme Court are not the ones that I
wanted to see do that" [choose the president]. "I was shocked at their decision, the
ultimate decision [5-4]." He adds, "I can't say they should intervene at all. There are so
many places that they might need to. But when you look at the decision that named the
president, I was shocked at that decision." He says he was also surprised by the use of
the Fourteenth Amendment in that decision. He adds that he would have felt "better as
an American if the whole of them [all nine justices] had done it, and not just those five. .
. That's what's so disturbing about it." He discusses Seminole and Martin counties'
violation of permitting Republicans to add identification numbers to request forms for
absentee ballots: "that's not the way we run elections." He agrees that the U.S.
Supreme Court decision was "pragmatic" but disagrees with Richard who says it was
nonpartisan. He agrees with Justice Breyer that there was feasible time to count the
votes. He remarks that the U.S. Supreme Court threw up "barriers" when they could
have extended the safe harbor date of December 12 to December 18.
Kitchen talks about how this experience impacted his life: "It felt like you're a footnote in
history. You did a little something. Hell, it was fun." He remarks that Tallahassee was
the "epicenter of the world." He states that "the butterfly ballot, alone, was the election."
He views the outcome as "[Bush] didn't win it. He got it." He discusses the impact of
the election on a national scale: the U.S. Supreme Court "took a hit" and it "ruled that
George Bush was president." His view of Jim Baker changed dramatically: "he went
down the tube" and he acted in a "disgraceful" manner.
Interviewee: E.C. "Deeno" Kitchen
Interviewer: Julian Pleasants
Date: October 10, 2002
P: This is Julian Pleasants. I'm in Tallahassee, Florida. It's October 10, 2002, and
I'm speaking with E.C. "Deeno" Kitchen. Just for the record, will you give me the
derivation of Deeno?
K: Certainly. My name at birth was Edward Charles Kitchen. My father was Edward.
My mother's brother was Charles. Deeno is a Lebanese endearment. It would
really be pronounced more like ADeenno [very little stress on the last syllable],
double An. But it meant Amy heart, my child. [It was] something my mom called
me when I was little.
P: Talk about what election day 2000 was like for you, and whether or not you
anticipated this extraordinary thirty-six day recount.
K: Well, of course, I didn't. I don't think anyone in the world anticipated it. Election
day, to me, I probably voted before election day, which is not unusual for me. But
I've always been close to politics and loved politics, being reared here in the
capital. My mother was a lawyer in a political position with the attorney general
through most of her career, so I've always been interested. The truth is, I really
didn't think that the Democratic ticket could win Florida, or come close to winning
Florida. So it shows you I was off base a good bit.
P: When was the first time you got involved with the Gore legal team, and who
K: Let me put something in perspective for you. November 2000 was a pretty good
time. Let me tell you why. The [University of Florida] Gators were going to the
SEC [Southeastern Conference] title game. Thanksgiving here is big in my
family. We go to my hunting camp for the weekend. We come back into town with
our wives and children. My buddy, Champ, my lifelong friend, and I were at the
hunting camp. All really good things. On November 29th, Champ died. This is
important for this reason: before he died on the 29th, Dr. Pleasants, I had
received three phone calls to get involved in the butterfly ballot [case]. One of the
counties, Seminole or one of the counties that had difficulties, Orange and
Seminole, whichever ones they were....
P: Seminole and Martin.
K: Martin, with the absentee ballots. I'd been contacted by the Democratic party. I
just told them, I'm really not interested. It's been my experience that you do that
stuff because you want your name in the paper, and you rarely get paid. I had
enough going on in the world without that. I've sort of been there through my
career. When Champ died it truly changed the picture because I got a call from
Dexter Douglass, who is a lawyer I've always admired. He has, in some ways,
been a mentor to me. He's always spoken highly of me and been a friend to me. I
told Dexter, Al just don't want to get into that, because this is an open ended
thing. You come in, and my Lord, you could be there the next six months. Your
world stops. The truth is, the second time Dexter called me, which would have
been December 1, I said, Yeah. Mike Coniglio called me and I said, Tell Dexter
to call me, and I said, Yeah. I figured that would make me stop crying. That's
really why I did it.
P: December 1st is the day before the contest with Judge Sanders Sauls.
K: Okay. Yes. It was that morning that I actually talked to Dexter [Douglass] and
confirmed, Yes, I would. That was a Friday. December 1 would have been a
K: So I said, ADexter, this is not pro bono. If it is, I just really don't [want to do it]. He
said, AUh-uh [No], I promise you, you'll get paid. [I said,] Okay. So he said, be at
my office at eleven o'clock, we've got some things we need to go over. And I did.
Eleven o'clock on that Friday I walked into the office. They told me that at three
o'clock there was a motion for pre-trial conference, and they wanted me to
handle it. [Laughing] I said, What's this case about? It should be noted that to this
day I've never read the complaint. I never did. That's significant as to the context
of all of this. This was, my God, lock and load. No one knows really what they're
doing, but we've got to move in a direction to try to win. I think it was eleven,
eleven thirty [that] I got to his office, and they showed me this motion, and it's at
three o'clock or two o'clock in the afternoon. So, I was on board. They signed a
contract with me on a piece of yellow legal pad paper. I want you to know I got
paid every penny. So that's a good thing about the Gore campaign [laughing].
P: Why would they wait so late to bring you in on what is clearly a highly
complicated case? Because this was 168, the contest, right? This is when the
Gore legal team was contesting the election.
K: No doubt. This is December 1. This is David Boies and Dexter [Douglass] and a
plethora of lawyers. There were lawyers everywhere. No shortage of lawyers.
Why they waited, I don't know. I know what Dexter told me. He said, look, I'm up
to my fanny in this thing. I've got lawyers from everywhere around here that don't
know where the Leon County courthouse is, and they're all looking to me. He
said, come help me. That was the reason I got in it.
P: So he wanted a local attorney who knew Judge Sauls and had appeared before
K: No doubt about that. I've always felt, Dr. Pleasants, the best way I knew to put it,
some thought in the press, Oh, man. Sauls is my buddy, but shoot, that doesn't
have anything to do with this kind of case. Although, he's certainly my friend.
Dexter needed me to help him put a north Florida face on the Democratic party
because it doesn't have one up here.
P: Plus David Boies is a top ranked, outside lawyer.
K: Yes. All of these lawyers are around, from the Tallahassee lawyers to other
lawyers all over. Dexter and I are what you might call sophisticated good ole
boys. That's what, I think, was the most important thing that I brought to the
P: One thing I've heard from talking with other Democratic lawyers, there were
some, I think it was from the Republican public relations group, Jim Baker [U.S.
Secretary of State, 1989-1992], who were saying that Dexter Douglass was wired
into the Florida Supreme Court. In other words, they kept calling it the Dexter
Douglass Court, and saying that he had approved all appointments to it. There's
some sense that he felt like he needed to step back because, obviously,
everybody knew that this case before Sauls was going to go before the Florida
Supreme Court. So is that a possibility, that he wanted to sort of step back from
K: I certainly can't deal in possibilities, but I can say this. It was clear from the
absolute beginning that my role was in a trial court. My role is never in an
appellate court. I mean, rarely it is. You know I've argued a lot of cases in
appellate courts, but that's not what I do. I'm a trial lawyer. It was always, from
the beginning, helping this trial court. That may have been [Dexter Douglass's
intention]. If that was a reason Dexter had, he never shared it with me. [It] could
have been, could not have been. But I don't think I would have helped with that
reason because, if it went over to the court, Dexter was going to be there, and I
P: Did you plan any of the strategy? Had the brief already been written? What did
you do between 11:30 and 3:00? Because you had to appear before Judge Sauls
K: Correct. But you see, all I was appearing for was on the motion to seek a pre-trial
conference. To seek one. Now, when I went to courthouse that day, I never
dreamed there could be so many people. I mean, it was unbelievable, the media
coverage. So, we get there and the first thing, literally, I remember saying, Deeno
Kitchen for Albert Gore, Jr., and Joseph Lieberman. I said, my God, what am I
doing here? As Sandy [Judge Sauls] said later at some point, I remember he
said, Deeno, I was saying where have you been? But anyways, so here we are. I
told the Court, we're here, we need to have a pre-trial conference in this case.
Judge Saul said, I think you're right. Let's start it right now. Well, again, I think
this is the context in which you have to see it. [I] never read the damn complaint,
and here I'm fixing to conduct the pre-trial conference. The good news was, I
knew, on our motion, we had a proposed order for a pre-trial conference because
I'd read that. That said all the things we wanted. So I flipped to the proposed
order. I said, the first thing we need is whatever was on that.
P: Let's get into the specifics. What did you want?
K: Boy, to really remember the details. We needed to know that we would have
equal time with them to present things. We needed to know how we were going
to deal with the ballot situation, where they were going to be, [and] public
P: At this point did you ask for the ballots to be brought up? That was later?
K: I want to tell you they were already there, but I'm not sure. I can't remember. I
know that those ballots were the heart and soul of what Deeno Kitchen was
trying to do. Now, to look at what was happening, you've got to recognize the
chaos. If you think there wasn't chaos, you're wrong. Within the Gore campaign,
we didn't always know what each other was doing. I can assure you the
Republicans didn't [either]. I mean, their big witness on voting machines said,
yeah, I think if it's [the ballot tally] close you ought to hand count it.
P: That was John Ahmann [expert on voto-matic machines]?
K: Yes. So, I mean there was real confusion, as you would expect. It's all thrown
together, and here we have to go. To me, it became clear early, I was in charge
of our evidence, of getting it in.
P: What you wanted was to get the votes in as evidence? Is that correct?
K: Absolutely. Absolutely. If we can get the ballots in evidence, this is how simplistic
I think, the Court is supposed to review the evidence. I knew what was going to
come up. The argument that, oh, no, you got this predicate, that predicate. If I
could get them in evidence. We put them in evidence around thousands of pages
of other documents, but they still got in. They got in subject to if some reason
comes up to take them out later, which never happened. I felt that those ballots
being in evidence in that case was the best we could accomplish before Judge
Sauls, second only to not letting anyone run out the clock.
P: So you did ask for an expedited calendar, did you not?
K: We were right there doing it. Remember, December 2nd, the Saturday, we were
going full go Saturday and Sunday. That was all part of it, but I think that was
somewhat decided. If he said it at that time, it'll be Saturday, I don't remember.
But I knew I wasn't going to the SEC championship game. I knew that, that was
P: Was all this predicated on getting through the Sauls decision so you could
immediately appeal to the Florida Supreme Court?
P: At this point, time is of the essence.
K: Absolutely. When I met with the campaign high command, including David Boies,
including the lawyer from L.A. who hired me, I can't remember his name, the one
whose yellow pad we signed [as a contract for Kitchen's legal services], I sat with
all of them and said, we have to have an understanding right now, or I've got to
leave. If you think I can get N. Sander Sauls to rule for you, I just as well go
home. I know him like a book. Some of the press thought we were all so close
through That's not the case, I know him. He's a trial judge. He's a friend of
mine. I mean, I know him, I know how he thinks. He loves me like a brother. He
ain't going to be for Al Gore. You can put that in your pipe and smoke it. There
was no way, in my mind. So I wanted to make it clear, if that's why you all are
bringing me in here, you're wasting your damn money. Now, if you're worried
about him running out the clock, time expiring before we could get to the
Supreme Court, I can tell you just as assuredly, he won't do that.
P: Dexter Douglass told me that there was a discussion that they might recuse him
because, as I understand it, the way the judges are chosen is just by random
choice. His name happened to come up. It could have been [Terry] Lewis, it
could have been [Nikki] Clark. As soon as his name came up, Douglass said,
well, he's the worst judge we could have drawn. Would you agree with that?
K: I can tell you I was not involved at all in any discussions about disqualifying him
or about him recusing himself. If that came up, it was before me or outside of my
presence. I can tell you that, in my mind, I never thought we had a prayer to win
it, and told them so.
P: What if it had been, say, Judge Lewis? Would you assume that you would have
K: If it had been Judge Lewis, I would have been a lot less inclined to think his
political thinking would be as involved in the process.
P: Do you think, when you look back, and we'll talk about it in some detail, Judge
Sauls's final decision was partisan? Was it in some degree determined by his
K: I have to think yes. Of course, every decision judges make is in some degree
determined by that. But I think that decision was totally in keeping with Sandy
Sauls's view of our federal system and the Constitution. That's what he thinks.
P: Did you see the Republicans as trying to delay the process?
K: When we got into the courthouse, I have to say no. I wouldn't mind blaming them
for a lot of things. I didn't see that.
P: Also, there was an initial complaint, at least a potential complaint, that Judge
Sauls would drag this out. For example, there were some interveners from some
right-wing conservative groups that he allowed to come in and testify. Why would
a judge do something like that?
K: I got to take up for Judge Sauls a hundred percent on this. He let everyone be
heard that had a right to be heard. He made sure it didn't last forever. He made
sure it was expeditious. He made sure he got his decision out, day and night
eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Now, he did that. I go back to what I
said early on. I told the campaign he would not rule for us. We were not going to
win Nassau County. We weren't going to win, and Dexter Douglass had a great
constitutional argument on that, but we were going to lose that. But what we
would not lose on, in my view, was him running out the clock. He wouldn't do
P: And he did finish in two days.
K: Absolutely. That was not the problem.
P: Which, I think, surprised David Boies and some others.
K: That did not surprise me. I made that very clear. I knew he wouldn't do that.
P: Talk about those fifty-one votes in Nassau County. That's interesting in that,
when the Florida Supreme Court issued their four-three decision, they allowed
the votes in Palm Beach [and], they allowed some votes in Dade County, but
they did not allow the fifty-one votes in Nassau. It seems to be a little
contradictory. I guess the issue was that Nassau County went back to the
machine count after the hand recount.
K: That's what I recall, now that you say it. Factually, I can't recall enough to really
comment on it. I don't remember.
P: What was the crucial issue? My understanding is that the one thing the Gore
legal team wanted was for Sauls to count the votes.
K: Absolutely. Well, absolutely. I mean, if he'd do that, we'd know the answer.
That's what was to me so ludicrous about the whole process. Count them. If we
don't have a case, go home. To make this all complete, I've never voted for a
Republican in my life. I was on the jury once and voted to hang one. [Laughing]
That's not true. I've never voted for a Republican. I voted Democratic. I skip a
whole lot of Democrats, but I vote Democratic. I voted for Al Gore and Joe
Lieberman, but deep down I wanted Bush to win so I could be against him. I
didn't like Gore, either. Do you know what I'm saying? Gore came out early on in
this process and said, as I recall what he said, let's hand count the state of
Florida. We agree, that will be it. I said, that ought to be what we do.
P: And this was early on.
K: Early on, yeah. That's one thing I say I think he did right. Now he did it, knowing
in his mind he thought he'd win, and the Bush campaign didn't accept it because
they thought they'd lose. So that makes perfect sense. But, count the doggone
votes. Remember, all of this lawsuit is about whether we're going to count them.
P: But isn't it a problem if we're talking about Dade and Palm Beach Counties.
K: No doubt.
P: You originally want him just to count the under-votes, right?
K: What did Deeno want, or what did the campaign want?
P: What did the campaign want?
K: When I got involved, they were already into these counties. I would not have
been on that horse if it had been me. I thought that was a good argument the
Republicans had: why are you just counting these, we ought to count all of them.
Then, as I understood it, the Supreme Court said, yeah, you ought to count them
all. They [the Republicans] said, no, we don't want to count anymore. I think we
should have counted them all, hand counted all of them. That includes over-
votes, under-votes, if they need to be thrown out, or if they need to be included.
Just the way the state of Florida does it.
P: Under the protest, all the votes have to be counted. But the Supreme Court
argued that under the contest it's a different set of rules.
K: I understand that was quite a strategic discussion within the campaign. It was
decided before I got involved. I would have rather tried to count them all. It's just
P: The Republicans, as soon as the request is made to bring the under-votes up,
they say, well look, if we're going to count them, again they take your position,
let's count them all.
K: Well, that was the obvious response to this process. It's a credible response.
Let's don't select which ones we're going to count. Let's count them all. I thought
it was a tactical mistake to be in just those few counties.
P: Because Gore is saying, count all the votes, and then saying, well, we're just
going to count the...
K: The ones that I think we're doing well in.
P: Yes. Do you think that hurt him in terms of public opinion?
K: Not particularly. I don't think that is really the way that came out. If you looked at
that particular time, Gore wanted to count all the votes, and the Republicans
were saying, we counted enough. That's the perception. I don't think, wait a
minute, he only wants [the counties he's doing well in]. But within this lawsuit, it
was an issue. Did it affect the outcome? No, not in my view.
P: Let me ask you for an overview. A lot of people I've talked to said that the
Republicans won the public relations battle. Jim Baker was saying, they've [the
ballots have] been counted once, recounted, and counted again. Then the
Democrats are challenging the military ballots. I talked to Barry Richard [attorney
for George W. Bush in 2000 election] yesterday. He said, at some point over
these days, Democratic senators were saying to Gore, well, maybe you better
give this fight up. It's going on too long. Judges saw this chaotic behavior. Do you
think that influenced the judges or Gore?
K: Let's get back to the first part of your question. I think they won the public
relations war without a doubt. My view of Jim Baker changed drastically during
that situation, but that's neither here nor there. They won that war. It did appear,
here, you're dragging, we need to get this over with. I think that, certainly in part,
bolstered the five [justices] on the Supreme Court of the United States to think
they could do what they did, and it would be okay because of the long delay.
That was public relations. The good, bad, and the indifferent of how we handled
it. I think they did win that, and I think it did have an effect down the line. I don't
think it had an effect on Judge Sauls. I don't think that was a problem.
P: One other issue that comes up frequently is the argument about Gore, that he
was trying to be very careful about his public image. He didn't fight as hard and
as tough as say, Jim Baker and Mac Stipanovich [Republican strategist] did. Mac
said, this was a war. Bring out your knives, loser go home. We want to win the
recount. We're not so much interested in public opinion. Maybe Gore didn't fight
hard enough, for example, with the military ballots. Maybe he should have gone
ahead and challenged them.
K: I can't say. You're suggesting that it might should have been done, [and] you
might be correct. The lawyer who hired me, when one of Baker's slams was on, I
want to say it might have been Judge Nikki Clark or one of [them].
P: I think that was who it was.
K: I feel terrible I can't remember his name. I said, hey, we're doing the same thing
P: You're not talking about Warren Christopher [U.S. Secretary of State, 1993-
1997], are you?
K: No, this was someone here. I said, we do the same thing they're doing. He said,
you haven't heard us attack a judge yet, have you? I said, you know, dammit,
P: In fact, the Republicans tried to recuse Nikki Clark.
K: Oh, I know that.
P: Whereas the Democrats didn't try to recuse Judge Sauls.
K: There's no doubt. That point was made to me, [that] we haven't done that. That's
why I told you earlier my view of Jim Baker, who is a lawyer. He went completely
down [in my opinion] because of that type of stuff.
P: I thought it was interesting in the context of the four-three Florida Supreme Court
decision, Baker referred to them as an activist court intervening in what should
be an election process. But when the U.S. Supreme Court voted five to four, we
didn't hear any talk about an activist court.
K: Imagine that. Imagine that.
P: But I see a certain amount of hypocrisy on both sides.
K: Of course. That's what I was pointing out. But they made the point to me, which
judge have we bashed? And I said, by God, we really haven't.
P: My understanding is that Gore specifically told Ron Klain [chief of staff to Vice-
President Al Gore] and Mitch Berger and those people that he didn't want to do
K: That could be. I mean, I don't know that.
P: You didn't have any contact with Gore at all?
K: No, sir.
P: Let me go back and talk about the ballots. Once Judge Sauls is sort of convinced
by the Republicans' argument, they bring all the ballots from Dade and Palm
Beach to Tallahassee. Why would he have done that and, then, not counted
K: Well, I believe that Judge Sauls said, okay, if you pass the threshold that I
believe the law requires, and don't ask me what that is but whatever it is, then
they'll be here to count. I believe that we had a heavy load to try to get to that
threshold. I really don't think we could have ever convinced him that just those
ballots, in this situation, should be counted.
P: Well, it also may be fortuitous, in a way, that he brought them up there because,
once the Supreme Court ruled, Judge Lewis had them, and Judge Lewis started
counting them. Otherwise, there would have been another one or two day delay.
So I'm sure the Gore legal team was happy to have those ballots.
K: Absolutely. I mean, that's step one. You got to have them. But, Dr. Pleasants,
again, see I go back to Sandy Sauls. He's as intellectually honest as anybody
you'll ever meet. Now, I know his philosophy tells him right and wrong, and that
plays into things. You can't help it if you're in a judicial position, it happens
everyday. We know the Supreme Court of the United States, and who's on what
side of what. He's a straight judge giving you his straight view. That's what I'm
trying to point out. I knew we weren't going to change that philosophical bent. It
wasn't going to happen. But that doesn't mean, if we do, he's got to have it here.
He's not trying to run out the clock. I know he wasn't.
P: Let's talk about the use of expert witnesses. Now, obviously, there's a dual
process here. You're trying to get this case over with, but you feel like you have
to establish some specific indication of the failures of these Votamatic machines.
I remember Steve Zach [attorney for Al Gore in 2000 election] had a machine,
and he opened it up, and all these chads came out. Was there any benefit to
that? Because one of the Republican attorneys, I think it was Phil Beck [attorney
for George W. Bush in 2000 election], just destroyed one of the Democratic
witnesses, and Zach sort of destroyed [John] Ahmann.
K: Yes. Well, I think we go back to the chaos. We need to get witnesses to do what?
And now we got to go find them. How many cases like this have ever been tried?
This isn't like we need an orthopedic surgeon who will say what we want, or we
need an economist who will say that there are hundreds of them out there, highly
credentialed. This is just one of those [instances of] what are we really trying to
prove? I think that's why the Ahmann thing went to hell. Common sense says, if
it's that close, there's a better chance you could keep counting them by hand
than rely on the machine, or whatever you call them.
P: Zach was pretty smart. He went back and got Ahmann's patent for improving the
machine. He put in a new stylus, which may indicate that these machines are not
as reliable as they could be. But in the end, all of that had no impact.
K: In my view? No.
P: Were you trying to establish facts for the Florida Supreme Court? Is that what
this was about?
K: Yes, and the next judge to hear it. You have to have a record, and where you
build a record is in that trial court. That's why, though all those documents that
we were putting in didn't sound like they might be important, they were important
because you never know who's going to hang their hat on what.
P: Now, talk a little bit about Barry Richards's response. He kept saying that it was
not enough to say that votes were rejected. His argument was that the votes
were rejected because they were illegal. He said that they did not conform to a
correct vote, that one person had voted for eight presidential candidates, which
made that ballot invalid. What was your counter-argument in that case?
K: Intent of the voter should govern, not some rule that says you can only vote for
one. Let me give you example: Number one. Vote for (1.) Al Gore X. Write in
vote, that's blank. Al Gore. [The interviewee is diagraming the ballot for the
interviewer.] That's an illegal ballot. That's an illegal ballot. But it's not if someone
looks at it and tries to discern the intent of the voter. That's where the rubber
meets the road, in this case. The latter should be done. Period. It should have
been done. Every ballot, when the presidency of the United States is at issue,
should be looked at. Where it can be determined, the intent of the voter should
be the standard.
P: In fact, the Florida Supreme Court, previously, had ruled that way.
K: Well, that's what I always understood the law was in this state. Not that I've ever
tried one of these cases before.
P: Well, it's not just based on a hyper-technicality. There are higher concerns, for
example, if you can determine the intent of the voter, which is what Florida law
K: That's what I always understood it to be. Now, I can't tell you that I read it
recently, but that's what I understood. That's certainly what we were arguing.
P: How would you assess the performance of David Boies in this presentation
before Judge Sauls?
K: I thought he presented it, what we had to present, as well as anyone could have.
I was very impressed with Mr. Boies.
P: What about Barry Richard?
K: Same. They did an outstanding job. I'm not so sure I liked the horse we were
riding, but being as we were riding him, I thought David Boies did a hell of a job. I
thought Barry, and the whole Republican side, did an outstanding job of saying,
we've counted enough, and we need to go home. These things are illegal. If you
can't follow instructions, they ought not to count. That's what this case was.
P: In the end, Judge Sauls rules. Basically, from what I can glean from his decision,
there are two factors. Number one, and I know this is what Barry Richard had
been arguing, is that the canvassing board, and they brought Judge Charles
Burton, of Palm Beach, up to testify, had carefully looked at these ballots and
had decided to reject a certain number. Therefore, he argued, they had not
violated their discretion. In other words, that's their job. If you have a recount, you
have three people who look at them, and they make the best determination they
can make. So, Sauls agreed with Barry Richard, on that point. Also, he argued
that there was no probability that counting these votes would change the
election, as opposed to a possibility. What did you think, in legal terms, of his
K: Well, let's get possibilities out of anything because they rarely play a role. Let's
think about it, what they're really saying. They're saying don't count these to see
what you think they are, because, the probability is, it won't matter. Well, why
don't you just find out? You see, they would have allowed, I'm sure, statisticians,
as it did, to say it probably won't change. But you won't look at the witness? It's
the most important witness in that case, the ballots. That's the answer to what
probably would happen more likely than not, [argued the Republicans]. Bull!
You've got the answer sitting in the courtroom. Look at it, see what it is! Then,
guess what? We all go home.
P: That was the basis of Boies's appeal. He said, how can he determine there's no
probability, because Sauls didn't count the ballots."
K: Dr. Pleasants, had we brought in a witness, a statistician, that looked at all these
counties and what was available other than the ballots, and [he or she] said, In
my opinion, more likely than not, if you count them, Gore wins. Does that mean
now we get to count them? Why don't we say, to hell with this statistician, count
them! That's where the hyper-technical Republican argument prevailed. But to
me, our problem was the vehicle we were using, not that particular aspect of it, if
I'm making sense. We should have counted the ballots. I thought we should have
counted them all. We should have tried to count them all, as opposed to the few.
P: Now, let's just say that Sauls would have agreed to count all these votes. There
are hundreds of thousands of votes. Wouldn't it have taken a tremendously long
time for him to look at all them? Of course, there wouldn't be any challenges.
K: It doesn't have to be just him. He can have it under his direction, just like the
Supreme Court ordered to be done. It doesn't mean the justices had to sit and
count them all.
P: He could have gotten all the judges. The ballots would have to be examined by
K: Well, I don't think they'd have to be examined by a judge. He could bring lawyers
in to do it. But the point is, he would oversee it. He could [say], those that you
think there's a real question about, let me look at them.
P: Just like they did with the canvassing board.
K: It can be done.
P: But, once again, if you count them, and there are Democratic lawyers or
Republican lawyers, you get back to this problem of bias, which is what the
Republicans were saying all along, that you cannot get a fair recount. Because in
Palm Beach, let's just say, all three members of the canvassing board were
Democrats. That was their argument, that recounts under these circumstances
are not accurate.
K: But Katherine Harris's certification is okay?
P: They would say the machine is unbiased. The Democrats would argue, well, look
[at] the machine. I think it's like Gore was saying, sometimes you put stuff on a
grocery store scanner and the computer doesn't pick up the price of some of
K: Lets forget Democrats and Republicans for a moment.
K: We want to find out who the people voted for. Okay? The machine rejects ten
ballots. How do you think we could better determine what the people intended?
Look at those ballots or not? The Republicans say, don't look because the
people who are looking could be biased. Don't look. Well, our system is, we got
Democrats and Republicans whether we like it or not. We got the Katherine
Harris's of the world, who, as elections chief in this state, was co-chair of the
Bush campaign. She's deciding what to certify and when she would receive
them. That's part of the system. These people should have counted all of them,
not just those few.
P: Well, let me go back to Judge Middlebrooks's decision. He denied Bush's
attempt to stop the recount. What he said was, we have always had different
standards in every county. And it's up to the canvassing board. They may have a
different standard in each county, but that's the way it's always worked. He
argued, again, it's a state, not federal, matter. The ultimate issue that you argued
is the intent of the voter.
K: How is the canvassing board comprised?
P: Well, there's the presiding judge who heads it up, there's a county commissioner,
and then there's the elections supervisor.
K: You know how those three are determined? You got judicial, executive, and
legislative at the local level. County commission, that's from the legislative
branch of the county. Circuit county judge is from the judicial branch The
supervisor of elections is from the executive. That's as democratic as we can get.
They count. Now, if they're crooked, that's our system. It's a sad thing to say.
P: But this has been examined as closely as any election in American history, and I
don't know of any examples of fraud in this election. Do you?
K: Fraud? No, I don't know of any. I'm not talking about fraud.
P: That's one reason to challenge in a contest, fraud, or the contestant was illegal,
or some bribery occurred, and that sort of thing. But the fifth reason to challenge
is that the will of the voter has not been properly assessed, and there is a
possibility that if you do that, it would change the outcome of the contest. Is that
K: That's what I understand.
P: Let me talk a little bit more about Katherine Harris. I don't know if you know, she
has written a book describing to some degree what went on. In that book she
argues that on no occasion did she violate the law, that she wanted to certify
November 14th [because] that's what the legislature says and the law says,
seven days after the election. When she certified on the 26th, [she states] that
was the option given to her by the Florida Supreme Court. So she argues that in
no case did she violate election statutes.
K: I take no issue with that.
P: Why would you consider her a partisan?
K: Because she was. I mean, when you're the chair of the campaign for the
president of the United States, you are a partisan. You can call it what you want,
that's what you are.
P: But so was Bob Butterworth [Attorney General of Florida, 1986-present].
K: Okay. I didn't say that made her [actions] illegal. You asked, did she violate a
law? No, I didn't say she violated the law. Number one, if we look at Katherine
Harris, remember I'm a University of Florida man and Ben Hill Griffin is
wonderful. [laughing] I'm just saying, when your job is to be the head of elections,
Bob Butterworth wasn't the head of elections, the secretary of state was, you
ought not be the chair of a national campaign. You just ought not. Our system
deserves better than that, just as it deserved better than Jim Baker bashing every
court in sight that he was concerned wouldn't rule with him.
P: In fact, probably all election supervisors ought to be non-partisan.
K: Well, certainly you wouldn't get any objection from a lot of us over that.
P: Now one element that comes up here...
K: Let me complete something, Dr. Pleasants. I'm not saying she violated any law,
but every decision she made, she made the ones that helped her candidate.
Would anyone disagree with that?
K: That's why they love her. She can go to any Republican governor across this
country. That's not illegal.
P: No, but if it had been a Democratic secretary of state, they probably would have
been partisan, too.
K: So. That may be. This one was.
P: Yes. Let me go back. Mac Stipanovich told me that when she [Harris] opened her
office Sunday, they said Sunday at five, if you're open, or Monday at nine. He
thought it was a mistake to open Sunday at five. It gave the appearance of
partisanship, although it was legal because they gave her that option.
K: That was one more time, wasn't it?
K: Every time she got a chance, she did what helped her side.
P: He also mentioned that, you know we talk about the 14th [of November] as the
date, she allowed Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade to present her a case as to
why they could delay the recounts. In fact, she did delay it past the 14th. Mac
Stipanovich said what she should have done was say, okay, let's make it the
17th. That's the day when overseas ballots are due. Let's just make it the 17th
She could have done that, theoretically at least.
K: Is that a question?
K: I'm going to repeat. In my view, she made every decision the way she felt would
help the Republican team. I didn't say they [the decisions] were illegal. To go to
the 17th would have made a lot of common sense, but [it] wouldn't have been in
P: That's right. Mac Stipanovich said, well, I can tell you we wanted to bring that
election to a close as soon as possible, with George Bush as the winner.
K: I don't blame him.
P: Yes. That's the way politics go.
P: He said, we were willing to adhere to the law, but nobody said we had to fight
K: That's right, and they did an excellent job of both of those.
[End of side Al]
P: Let me get your view of the four-three Florida Supreme Court decision, which in
essence ordered Judge Lewis to count 9,000 ballots from Miami, to certify 215
Palm Beach County votes, 168 Miami-Dade votes, and to count all the under-
votes. What is your analysis of that decision, and did you agree with it?
K: Okay. I'm going to give you the long and the short of it. I thought they were trying
to get to the intent of the voters in a broader manner, as the Republicans had
complained we were not doing, I feel, justifiably, complaining we were not doing.
I also feel that that decision was touched by the intimidation of the United States
Supreme Court. That's what I thought.
P: You mean the fact that the Supreme Court had already....
K: Justice Wells had already started saying, hey, whoa, now. That's the sense I
was getting from it, Dr. Pleasants. Remember, I wasn't involved in that. I'm just a
citizen, now, looking.
P: Okay. Was that doable? I know that when they sent the order to Leon County,
what they did, in effect, was overturn Judge Sauls's ruling. They sent the case
back to him, and he recused himself. Was it out of anger?
K: My best feeling on that, and I've been with him and his family, he just wanted out.
[Laughing] He wanted someone else to do it.
P: A lot of people would have liked to have avoided these cases. So it goes to
Judge Lewis. Would he have had time to count these votes?
K: I can't answer that. I would assume he could, but I don't know.
P: What about counting just the under-votes? Why would the Florida Supreme
Court just say under-votes? Was that a question of time as well?
K: I don't know that.
P: Okay. Were you surprised at how close the vote was, four-three?
K: Yes. Only because I think that's the product of, some of what I felt was,
P: From the U.S. Supreme Court?
P: Justice Wells gave a very strong, steaming dissent, and he talked about a
constitutional crisis. Did you ever see it in this context?
P: What about the legislature's decision? Tom Feeney [Florida state representative,
1990-94, 1996-present; speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, 2001-
present;] and the house are going to vote, and I think the tally is seventy-nine to
forty-one to seat Bush electors regardless of how all of this turns out, even if
Gore won a recount. Is that a dangerous precedent for a legislature to set?
K: I don't think it's dangerous. I think it's, again, an extremely partisan look. But you
expect the legislature to be partisan. See, Dr. Pleasants, that's what I wanted to
happen as a citizen. Do it so we can cuss them. What I didn't want, as a trial
lawyer, was the Supreme Court of the United States to do it. That hurt me, as a
lawyer. I'm just being honest with you. Legislature? Hell yeah, do it. If they want
to count them, count them. That's okay because that's what the Constitution
says. I mean, you can do that. That's why we have a president that didn't win a
majority. A plurality of the popular vote, the Constitution says it. Had George
Bush had the most of the popular vote, I wouldn't have thought one minute about
this thing. The only thing that makes it is that [Bush did not receive the most
P: Yes, although, constitutionally, he is the president.
K: I understand, and constitutionally the legislature can name the electors. So that's
okay. That's politics, and we can be mad at the politicians. The five on the
Supreme Court are not the ones that I wanted to see do that.
P: Were you surprised that the United States Supreme Court got involved at all?
K: When you say "at all" there are so many issues that maybe some should have
[been addressed by them], but I was shocked at their decision, the ultimate
P: Were you shocked that they intervened at all? Because Justice [Ruth Bader]
Ginsburg argued that there were only three times previously that they had
overturned state decisions. Normally, as we saw recently with the New Jersey
senatorial race, the U.S. State Supreme Court, in one sentence, said they would
not intervene, that it was a state matter.
K: Well, when you're dealing with the presidency of the United States, I mean, I
can't say should they intervene at all. There are so many places that they might
need to. But when you look at the decision that named the president, I was
shocked at that decision.
P: That's the five-four Bush v. Gore decision?
K: Yes, sir.
P: Do you see it as five-four? Some people argue it was seven-two because seven
of the justices thought there were problems with the differing standards.
K: History says it's five-four, and I agree with history.
P: Were you surprised that the decision essentially was based on the Fourteenth
Amendment, that there was, in fact, a violation when there were differing
standards in each county? It is unusual for a [Chief Justice] Rehnquist Court to
decide anything on the Fourteenth Amendment.
K: Dr. Pleasants, I think that just highlights the tragedy of the damn decision. You'll
never see another case, in the history of this republic, that turns on the
Fourteenth Amendment on a ballot situation like this. It's the only one you'll ever
P: One legal scholar, a man named Abner Green, said, if we took that decision and
carried it out to its large conclusion, there would be one voting machine in
America and one voting standard.
K: Absolutely, it's the only way you could have it. But you'll never see it again. You'll
never see that issue again.
P: So there's no precedent here at all?
K: No. There's a precedent if we have to elect George W. Bush again, in this
situation. [Laughing]. That's why so many legal scholars, and I'm not one of
those, have criticized it. I mean, there's a big website with them listed on there.
P: Judge [Richard A.] Posner [7th Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals, author of Breaking
the Deadlock: The 2000 Election, the Courts, and the Constitution], a fairly
conservative judge, said, about the five-four decision, that it was not legally
sound, but was a pragmatic decision. Do you see that as part of what's going on?
That the United States Supreme Court wanted to end the conflict, as it were?
K: Yes. I would have felt much better as an American if the whole of them had done
it, and not just those five. That's the problem. I can see, well, look, we've
counted, we've recounted, we need to move forward as a country. This is it. But
when it looks like the Bush boys did it, it makes it look bad. That's what's so
disturbing about it.
P: Barry Richard wrote an article for the Florida Law Journal, and he made a couple
of interesting points. He claimed that the Florida Supreme Court was not a
liberal, biased court, partly due to the four-three vote. It's a pretty close vote for a
"Dexter Douglass Court." They turned Gore down on at least five occasions.
They voted to uphold Lewis and Clark in Seminole and Martin counties.
K: Lewis and Clark.
P: [Laughing.] They voted against him in the Palm Beach County butterfly ballot
appeal. There were at least five times where the Florida Supreme Court voted
K: I couldn't agree more. That was ludicrous from the beginning. I said about an
hour ago, if they'd wanted to win, Martin and Seminole [Counties], they'd win.
And what's the Supreme Court of the United States going to say about that?
What could they really say about it? We throw those absentee votes out because
they were improperly done. They're tainted. That's what we've historically done
with absentee votes that way. So if they wanted to just have the Democrats win,
they could have done that.
P: Well, of course, Bush would have appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
K: But it would be a hell of a lot harder to do with the record that was built there.
There were improprieties in how those votes were done.
P: Well, there were improprieties in the requests for ballots. It didn't affect the
ballots themselves. There has been a lot of discussion as to whether that is
against Florida election law or, in the case of Martin County where they took the
ballot requests out of the supervisor's office, might be violating a Florida public
K: Here we go again. We're looking for some law as opposed to.... I'm talking about
what was right and what was wrong. It wasn't fairly done. Voting wasn't fair in
those absentee ballots because some people got a better chance to get theirs
counted than others, as I understood it.
P: Is that a Fourteenth Amendment violation, the Republicans can change and
K: It's certainly a due process violation of the Fifth, if not of the Fourteenth
[Amendment]. It's just, that's not the way we run elections. We all know that.
P: One person said that the Republicans were at fault for not putting the
identification numbers on, and the Democrats, for a change, had done it right
and, in the long run, it may have hurt them.
K: I'm trying to recall how those counties did that. I just remember at the time, I
wouldn't have decided at all that they had done wrong. If they're going to be
biased, let's give the Supreme Court five ways to have to reverse. That dog
doesn't hunt that the Supreme Court of Florida is a liberal court. It's not.
P: Barry Richard also claims that the United States Supreme Court was objective
and not partisan. They did this, even though it was unusual for the Rehnquist
Court to rule on the Fourteenth Amendment, without any partisan intent. He
argues that it's more of a pragmatic decision to stop the contest, as it were.
K: I agree, it is, in part, pragmatic. I disagree that it wasn't, in part, partisan.
P: At the end of the five-four decision, Dexter Douglass told me that Gore had called
him and that they had prepared a brief. The case was remanded back to the
Florida Supreme Court. Gore called and said, "Is there anything else we can do?"
Douglass said, the highest court in the land has ruled, even though they had a
brief. Were you aware of that brief?
K: I've talked to Dexter about that. No, I wasn't aware of it. Remember, I wasn't
involved in the appellant stuff, but there was no doubt in my mind that Dexter was
certainly correct. A first year law student would have known that if they read the
opinion, which I really never have read in detail, but I know what it did.
P: In his dissenting opinion, Justice [Stephen G.] Breyer said, well, what we ought to
do is send it back to the Florida Supreme Court. We'll ignore December 12, safe
harbor day, and let them go ahead and count them. Was that really feasible, do
K: Sure it was. Excuse me, why wasn't it? Tell me the argument of why it wasn't
P: Part of the U.S. Supreme Court argument was that on December 12th, time's up.
This is the safe harbor day, and we can't extend it.
K: Dr. Pleasants, let me share with you just quickly the case of the short, fat bass.
Judge Hugh Taylor from Gadsden County, great circuit judge, great legal scholar,
he explained that case to me one time. He was sitting on the Supreme Court of
Florida by invitation. They finished a docket and he said, let's go to my home. My
wife's going to feed us. We'll do a little bass fishing. They went bass fishing.
Judge Taylor caught a bass. [There's a] twelve inch [size] limit, he [the fish] was
eleven and a half inches. He said, doggone it. [He] went to throw him back, and
Justice Roberts said, Hugh, don't throw him back. He said, Judge, he's not but
eleven and a half inches. He said, Hugh, the Supreme Court of Florida says he's
twelve inches. So now, what's the problem about going past the 12th [of
December] if the Supreme Court of the United States says you can? That's my
point. They put up these barriers.
P: They could have said the 18th
K: They could have said just take your time [and] let us know. Now, are there
practical reasons why the world needed closure? Sure, sure there are.
P: But even at that point, all the Democratic lawyers tell me this: it is highly, almost
totally, improbable, that even if you recounted and Gore ended up ahead, there
would have been two slates of electors. At the very best, it would have been split
between the U.S. House and Senate. It would have come back to Florida, and I
think we know how Jeb Bush and the Republican legislature would have voted.
He couldn't win anyway.
K: It could be. I mean, I'm not saying that.
P: Unless he won at the U.S. Supreme Court. It seems to me, when you look at the
remand and you look at [Justice Antonin] Scalia's opinion, it was pretty clear that
it was going to be a five-four vote, even at that point.
K: I'm not disagreeing. I really don't feel like I can enlighten you in any way on that
because I don't know enough about it. That's just candid.
P: Let's talk a little bit about how this experience impacted you. Did it change your
life in any way?
K: It didn't change my life at all. I mean, it's like I get set up for the fifteen minutes of
fame thing. I was surprised. CNN, the world TV sets, are sitting there [watching].
But it was just the people who called that said friends of theirs said.... It was
amazing. But it was exciting, once I got involved in it. I told you how I didn't want
to be involved in it, but then I did. Boy, when I got there, that was surely exciting.
[It] felt like you're a footnote in history. You did a little something. Hell, it was fun.
P: What was Tallahassee like in general with this inundation of the world press
corps and TV commentators?
K: We were the epicenter of the world. I think, when you got down to the bottom
line, I thought it was great when the Florida [versus] Florida State game
interrupted this damn thing. [Laughing.]
P: Something of real importance.
K: For God's sakes, I'm telling [you]. I thought that was great. People first have to
get out of their hotel rooms. They asked coach Joe Gibbs one time, when he was
with the Redskins, did he think the Redskin-Cowboys was the biggest rivalry in
football. He said, the Redskins and Cowboys aren't a rivalry, Florida and Florida
State is a rivalry. I saw a picture, an aerial photograph a guy had in a sports pub.
He said, Deeno, I want you to see this. I'm looking at it, and it's Tallahassee. He
said, look carefully. So I'm looking. All the satellite dishes. It was this aerial shot,
and everywhere you looked these satellite dishes from these trucks were around.
P: And Japan, from all over the world.
K: The world. It was amazing. It was amazing. We had to have guards to get us in
and out of the courtroom. You couldn't get by. In fact, Dr. Pleasants, I remember
one reporter said, I can't remember who it was, said, Deeno, let me ask you a
question off the record. Sure. He said, Al understood, during one of your
presentations, you wrote down on your trial book, 'cause they're standing right
behind you [so] you couldn't write, to David Boies, I want to go get a beer.
[Laughing.] I said, put it on the record, hell yeah, I wanted to. I said, but Douglass
doesn't drink, and David said, me too. I mean, you get tired of sitting through all
that stuff. It was a tremendous, tremendous experience. In hindsight, all of us feel
dumb not to have known it beforehand, or I would have probably been on board
P: What about the press? Do you think they treated the lawyers and Florida fairly?
Because there are all these jokes about Flori-duh, and the state that's too dumb
to vote, and all that sort of negative publicity.
K: That's funny. I really had never had a thought about the press being unfair in
anything. It's just not something I thought about. We should be laughed at a little
bit on our voting. But you know, I guess what bothers me the most [about]
criticism of the Broward, Palm Beach, Dade thing, Dr. Pleasants, is you're
dealing with, so often, elderly people. Just being a lawyer, how many times have
I said to an elder, sign right there. No, nope, not there, over there. Right there by
the X. It's not all that doggone easy: some of these punch card things and lining
them up and doing that. The thing I felt worst about in all of that election is how
many little old Jewish men and women went to vote for Joe Lieberman and voted
for Pat Buchanan. That broke my heart because I know that they must have died
inside. Because the butterfly ballot, alone, was the election. Any statistician on
Earth has got to say that.
P: Even Pat Buchanan said that those votes weren't his. But again, we're going
back to this other concept, I'm arguing the other side, from a legal point of view,
they were not valid ballots. You know, if they punched the wrong place....
K: I understand that.
P: Some of the election supervisors said that they put the ballot on upside down.
K: I understand that. I'm not saying that should change. Here, let me put it this way.
Do you know who holds the gold medal in the 1972 Olympics basketball?
K: I don't accept that, but they got it. I feel the same way about your president. He's
the president, I'm not denying that at all, but he didn't win it. He got it.
P: So you see any number of reasons, if Ralph Nader had not run, the butterfly
ballot, Martin and Seminole counties, military ballots....
K: Here's what I'm saying. This simply. If on election day, November 2000, the
people of Florida who went to the polls to vote for president of the United States
had their intent reflected in the official count, George Bush would not be
president of the United States. That's all I'm saying.
P: I've talked to Republicans. A lot of them publicly admit that if everybody who
intended to vote for Gore did, it might have been a different way.
K: That's all. That's not casting blame on anybody.
K: That's just the way I see that.
P: How has this election impacted the state of Florida, in political terms?
K: Probably like it has impacted the country, to some extent, the polarization.
Although September 11th [2001 terrorist attack on the United States in New York
City and Washington, D.C.] changed a whole lot of that, obviously. There are
people that are still very angry, that don't feel their vote was counted. But we'll
survive. We'll make a run at Jeb [Bush, Florida governor, 1999-present]. We're
going to make a run at him. He might win.
P: Do you think some of the anti-Jeb Bush vote is part of this sort of holdover
resentment from 2000?
K: [It's] very logical that it would be. Some of it, not all of it, some of it.
P: Do you see that in the long run there is going to be a shift? The Republican party
has the house and senate and the governor. Do you see, over a period of time,
that there might be a shift back to the Democratic party?
K: Well, certainly, it will never be like it was. I'm told, I don't know this to be true, that
I was the youngest county Democratic chairman in the history of this state. I was
told that by people. I was Democratic chairman back in 1970. I came in with
[Governor Reubin] Askew [1971-79] and [Governor] Lawton [Chiles, 1991-1998].
That world will never come back. What may come back is, because of the
diverse make up of the state, that it could be Democrats can win again statewide.
P: Because the increase of the number of Hispanics.
K: [The] Hispanics [and] our senior citizens. We can still win, Dr. Pleasants, when
we've got a right-wing Republican, an identified right-wing Republican. We can
beat Bill McCollum [U.S. Representative from Florida, 1981-2001], my old
classmate. We'll whip him every time. But beating the Jeb Bush's is a lot more
difficult, the Connie Mack's [Connie Mack, U.S. Senator, 1989-2001]. That's
where the Democrats have a problem here. In particularly if we're perceived to
have the liberal candidate.
P: Liberal versus moderate is a lot tougher.
K: That's right, and conservative versus moderate, we win. That's the way I see it
P: One other point I wanted to bring up in terms of this press denunciation of
Florida. Just for example, South Carolina had more over-votes than under-votes
than we did. There's corruption in Louisiana. There's fraud in Chicago. I mean,
there are many other sources.
K: You've got to analyze it.
P: The key here is, this microscopic examination of our votes somehow made us
look like we were incompetent. Do you think we have now, by getting rid of
Votamatics and all that, have we now resolved those issues?
K: We haven't resolved them no more than any other state has probably resolved
them. One of our reasons is, whether we like it or not, and since I'm a senior
citizen myself now, we've got a lot of elderly people that it's sometimes difficult
for them physically to do. They're trying to do it. So, that's a problem. I could [go]
right back to that deed, that will that I've seen through my life. Please sign right
here and point, and it still gets messed up. That's not because they're stupid, it's
just part of the aging process. We've got a whole bunch of elderly people right
where this really happened a lot.
P: Well, you know, they got in the new machines, the new computer type machines,
and they had a huge number of problems with that.
K: The polls weren't open.
P: The polls weren't open, computers were down.
K: Some polls opened at four in the afternoon. Then, go back up to the computer.
Had to bring in trucks to get it. That's more execution, to me, than the voters not
being able to handle the thing.
P: But if all the equipment is correct and operating, there are enough people there
to help individuals, then that should take care of the problem. Because now, if
you have precinct-based machines where you just fill in the bubble, if you over-
vote, it will return it to you. It will spit it back out. I mean, it's almost impossible to
over-vote on those machines. So that should take care of some of those
K: I have no doubt that it will.
P: What is the long-term impact of this election on American history would you say?
K: What I fear the most is, and, again, maybe nine eleven [September 11, 2001
terrorist attack] helped calm that a little, the Supreme Court of the United States,
I thought, took a hit. The hit could have been worse, but for our attentions being
diverted. I remember David Boies said after Judge Sauls ruled on December 4th
he told the press that Judge Sauls has ruled, and our appeals [go] to the
Supreme Court of the State of Florida. I truly believe that the Supreme Court of
the United States ruled that George Bush was president, but our appeals [go] to
history. History, I believe, is going to say the one who really should have been
president wasn't president. Whether we all want him to be or not is another
question, but I really think history will say that.
P: Justice Stevens, in his dissent, said that the decision was wholly without merit.
They shouldn't have taken the case in the first place. It did undermine the
credibility of the United States Supreme Court.
K: There's no question. Law schools across this land will be studying that, and that
will not be something lawyers will be proud of, I don't think. I know it really hurt a
guy I had so much respect for, Jim Baker. Even though I've never been a
Republican, I always thought he was so sharp. He went down the tube, to me,
because he was a lawyer. Politicians, I understand, but when lawyers bash
courts the way he was doing....
P: So he was too partisan, is that what you're saying?
K: Oh, I thought it was disgraceful. They should have had someone else do it
P: But they won.
K: Hey, that's the way that works. The Soviets still have that medal.
P: That's right. Now, is there anything else that we haven't talked about that you'd
like to talk about or bring up, or any anecdotes that you have that you want to
K: I think you've asked me about more than I know. [Laughing.] I think we pretty well
covered it, at least my part of it.
P: Great. Well, I want to thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it.
[End of the interview.]