Democratic Activist Admits Effort To Change GOP Electors' Votes

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Democratic Activist Admits Effort To Change GOP Electors' Votes Friday, November 17, 2000

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that an Arlington, Va., political consultant with close ties to Warren Christopher has been looking into the background of Republican electors with the aim of convincing them to switch their votes.

Bob Beckel, who managed Walter Mondale's 1984 presidential campaign, told the Journal that he had yet to contact any electors, and that his activity was on an "ad hoc basis" without the backing of the Gore campaign. But he confirmed the investigative effort.

"It is information-gathering on my part, using my own network," he told the Journal. "I call on mostly Democrats, but some Republicans, too, and ask, 'Who are these electors, and what do you know about them?' I just wanted to know who these electors are."

If Bush eventually wins Florida, but loses still-undecided New Mexico, it would take only three GOP defectors to hand the presidency to Vice President Gore. Beckel admitted in an interview Friday with Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto that he has an uphill battle, but promised to persevere.

The following is a transcript of that interview:

NEIL CAVUTO: Have you been urging or talking to electors?

BOB BECKEL: No, Neil. I haven't been talking to electors. This was one of those stories that I didn't want to get out. A politician doesn't want the story to get out.

I had been, over the years, doing analysis of precincts and what was clear to me, looking at Florida, was that if I could get counts on the under-ballot people that didn't vote for president but voted for other offices that I could prove what I believed from the beginning: that Gore not only won Florida but won it big, probably by 25 or 30 thousand votes.

What I've done, I've done with my own dollar, and [the Gore campaign has] nothing to do as a matter of fact, the Gore campaign didn't want me to do it.

Too bad. I'll do it anyway.

I'm putting together a statistical analysis of Florida and three political scientists will approve of the numbers and we will try to get it to Republican electors.

In Florida, I doubt any of them will think about it. But with this criteria, in other states that Bush won and there are no binding state law on electors, there may be electors willing to .

CAVUTO: Let me cut to the chase here. You were essentially putting an information packet together for electors not just from Florida but elsewhere with the understanding that maybe they might change their mind even if a state has gone, let's say, George W. Bush's way? That they could go ahead and go another way?

BECKEL: Yeah, well, I mean, let's put it in historical perspective. There is, in every presidential election, at least one elector that changed their vote. It's not unprecedented. I didn't fall off the turnip truck last night. I have no doubt that this will be unsuccessful should Bush steal Florida fair and square, but .

CAVUTO: Wait a minute. You're saying "steal Florida fair and square." If you were to sway two or three electors and conceivably bring the votes go to Mr. Gore, you could force an election thrown to the House of Representatives. A lot of people are saying, Bob, you're trying to screw around with a Constitutional process here.

BECKEL: I'm saying that George W. Bush and his bought-and-paid-for Secretary of State are taking an election that has not been counted accurately. Now .

CAVUTO: Well, Judge Terry Lewis today, Bob, would differ with that. Let me cut to the chase here. Are you saying that an elector who has to represent the winner of his state, you're saying he's open to change his mind and vote for another guy?

BECKEL: First of all, in 26 states they're not bound to the person that won the state vote. Number one. Number two: Electors were chosen for a reason by the founders. If we can't petition them, why have them?

CAVUTO: Have the Gore folks encouraged you at all?

BECKEL: Not in the slightest.

CAVUTO: Are they aware of what you're doing?

BECKEL: I assume they are. I don't care whether they like it or not. That's not the point.

I'm out of politics now. I want [the electors] to go with their conscience. Any reasonable person looking at the facts in Florida will conclude that Al Gore won that state.

CAVUTO: Well, a lot of reasonable people can differ with that, Bob. I guess I don't want to talk about Florida, Bob. I want to talk about what you're up to. Maybe you have the best of intentions on your part, but the Bush people say you're trying to kidnap these electors.

BECKEL: Well, let me say it for them. I'm trying to kidnap electors in states he won that are not legally bound to him, that have a right to vote how they want to. And I want to put in front of them the facts about why Bush will be the first modern president not elected to the office.

CAVUTO: Okay. But step back from that, Bob. Let's say George W. Bush is certified the winner of the Florida election. I know you quibble with that, and the recount and you can but let's say the electors who might normally have gone or belonged to George W. Bush. If even one or two of them switch, you would be encouraging a Constitutional crisis, would you not?

BECKEL: The crisis is that a not-elected person may be the president of the United States. I hope it is, sure. I don't think it's going to happen. But as I say, I want them if George W. Bush doesn't have a conscience about the White House I hope the electors would. Whatever it takes.

I was trying to do this quietly, and obviously that didn't work. Whatever it takes to get into the hands of the electors the facts, if that changes their minds, more power to them.

CAVUTO: Who have you talked to?

BECKEL: No Republican elector will take my word for anything. I've contacted friends of mine in those states Republicans for the most part and asked them if there's anybody among the electors that are not you know hacks.

CAVUTO: Which states? Which states, Bob?

BECKEL: I won't get into which states.

CAVUTO: How many have you talked to?

BECKEL: No electors.

CAVUTO: How many friends of electors are you talking to?

BECKEL: Probably well over a hundred.

CAVUTO: A hundred different electors' friends?

BECKEL: If you take the total of places I called, networked, people I know in the states and asked them to identify electors who might be willing to look at some facts, there probably are it represents probably 100 electors.

CAVUTO: Have you contacted all of them?

BECKEL: No. Not all of them because it will take another week to 10 days to put it together.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you this, Bob. The ones that you've gotten through to what have you heard back? Have you heard whether any of the guys are leaning toward considering what you're talking about? What are you hearing?

BECKEL: Virtually none of them.

CAVUTO: Virtually none could leave one or two and throw the election back.

BECKEL: That's why you have such a good show, buddy. You have it. This is an unusual election. We have a guy that won the popular vote. We have a situation where nobody is surprised by anything. After this last week, do you think a couple of electors switching is a big surprise?

CAVUTO: I'm sorry, Bob. So you're saying there's the potential from the friends of these electors you talked to one or two of them could switch?

BECKEL: I think it is highly unlikely, but while there's still a chance, before they cast their votes on the 18th, I think it's important to get in front of some reasonable, thoughtful Republican electors and there are a few of them out there the facts about Florida.

And I think when they look at them, confirmed by nonpartisan political scientists that say, "Yeah, they're right," that maybe, just maybe, one or two of them would change their votes.

I doubt it. If nothing else, it makes the Republicans work overtime between now and the Electoral College vote, and I won't lose any sleep over that. I mean, if they can steal an election through a Secretary of State like this woman .

CAVUTO: Let's try to keep that kind of stuff out because this is fascinating.

Are you saying, then, that you're close to even one or two electors that might change? As you know, at these levels and numbers, all it takes is one or two to switch and all bets are off.

BECKEL: In answer to the question, Neil, let me be specific. There is no single Republican elector that said they were undecided as far as I know from people that talked to them.

CAVUTO: Do you have anyone on the fence?

BECKEL: No.

CAVUTO: Anyone who sympathizes with your argument?

BECKEL: You keep wanting to stay away from Florida, but every day helps my argument with other electors in other states that are appalled by it.

CAVUTO: Wait a minute. You have a couple who you're learning are sympathetic to your argument? I don't want to put words in your mouth.

BECKEL: I think there are a handful across these several states that are willing to .

CAVUTO: Is one state Florida?

BECKEL: They haven't certified electors in Florida. I think it's highly unlikely they'll go. That's not to say I won't try to get it to them and not to say that these independent political scientists will agree with me. They may not go along with the numbers and who's going to take data from me? This project is on my nickel. It's not inexpensive to do this.

CAVUTO: You're shrewd. Are the Gore people not officially encouraging you?

BECKEL: No. Absolutely not.

CAVUTO: How do you think it would look if they were?

BECKEL: I mean, frankly, Neil, I don't care. I didn't want the story to come out for this reason because it would look like some kind of political deal.

I don't know Al Gore all that well. I threw some advice into the campaign through a couple people near the end. That's it. If Gore were to tell me and say to stop, I wouldn't stop.

I have many illusions. But I want it clear to the electors and if this work is accurate and it's agreed to by political scientists I want the press to understand we're about to put in, if it goes through in Florida, the first illegitimate president of the modern century.

CAVUTO: Step back from that to avoid the Florida debate. Americans could look at this, Bob, and know where you're coming politically and understandable and say,"Gee, we got over the election in Florida and here's Bob, a Democrat, working behind the scenes for Al Gore to steal the election from George W. Bush." What do you say?

BECKEL: You know, frankly, I've been at this so long, I could care less. I mean, my conscience wouldn't be clear if I didn't know what I know about voting patterns and I didn't say something about it.

It is not about Al Gore. It's about the process. So people say I'm trying to steal it. Fine. If they have enough guts to say it to my face, let them try that. It doesn't bother me.

CAVUTO: You don't think it would be equally as tainted for Al Gore as the one you claim George W. Bush could get in Florida?

BECKEL: I'm on constitutional grounds. Electors can choose whoever they want in 26 states. What's not allowed is to have votes not counted, which is what's happening in Florida. So, no, it's not stealing anything.

CAVUTO: Are you continuing the discussions with friends of electors?

BECKEL: I'll continue as long as I have breath and wake up every day.

CAVUTO: You'll continue this regardless of what happens in Florida tomorrow?

BECKEL: I don't care what happens in Florida tomorrow. My guess is the fix is in but .

CAVUTO: You're going to continue through December 18th?

BECKEL: It's going to take another 10 to 12 days to finish the model and get it approved. And if I have to stand outside the door where they vote, I'll do it. I'm going to Montana.

I've got no dog in this fight, man, except what I believe honestly is a real constitutional crisis and that's what's happening in Florida.

And then, after it's done, who's going to care? I know I care, and at least I will have said what I believe in the depths of my soul and that is that we're watching one of the worst episodes.

And listen, I'm not above reproach myself. I have honestly in the past, done 150 campaigns. There have been on occasion where I have gone to the line and maybe over the line, but that that's the difference between sheriff of the county and president of the United States.

I've retired from the business, but I still believe deeply in the system and I know that people say that's Beckel trying to pull a scam. But I'm trying to put out the facts.

If they don't like it, they can't touch me anymore. I could retire tomorrow and not worry about it. I worry about it for my kids. I say, "I gave it a try," and let's see what happens.

CAVUTO: Thank you very much. Good seeing you, Bob.

Democratic Activist Admits Effort To Change GOP Electors' Votes

-- Ain't Gonna Happen (Not Here Not@ever.com), November 21, 2000


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