Donald Trump stepped in it during Wednesday's debate when he said that he would "keep you in suspense" when asked by moderator Chris Wallace if he would accept the outcome of the election. The Trump campaign is trying to control the damage by pointing to Al Gore refusing to accept the outcome of Florida being called for George W. Bush. While it's not a perfect comparison, leftists have been busy weaving a fictional tale about what happened in the Florida recount.
The Huffington Post and Los Angeles Times provide a tidy leftist narrative in which Gore took back his concession only after the networks uncalled Florida for Bush, resulting in a mandatory recount. Bush sued to stop it, Gore "sued to extend deadlines for recounts," then to the chagrin of leftists, the Supreme Court put an end to the recounts, anointing Bush as the new president of the United States. Gore "conceded like a gentleman," as Politico's Ben White tweeted.
This is not what happened. Here are five things you should know about how Al Gore lost the 2000 election.
1. The media originally called Florida for Gore. Associated Press TV writer David Bauder wrote in the Washington Post in 2000:
NBC had been first to declare a winner in Florida on Tuesday, saying Al Gore won at 7:50 p.m EST. Its rivals quickly followed suit, basing their information largely on polling data provided by Voter News Service, a consortium created by The Associated Press, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC.
Here is video proof of NBC calling Florida for Gore early on:
Eventually, the media recanted calling Florida for Gore. As the night wore on, Fox News called Florida for Bush, and the rest of the networks and news outlets followed suit. Gore did concede to Bush, but then retracted it when Florida became too close to call.
2. Machine recounts showed Bush had won, so Gore pushed for recounts conducted manually in four Democratic counties. Leftists for some reason seem to think that Bush was the plaintiff in Bush v. Gore:
It was Bush v Gore, not the other way around. You'd think Trump's brand of stupid was contagious, but they've always been this way. https://t.co/zyH7xIu9wW— Markos Moulitsas (@markos) October 20, 2016
But as Conservative Review's Rob Eno explains, the Florida Supreme Court set a deadline for manual recounts on November 26, and on the deadline Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris declared Bush the winner, and the results certified. Gore challenged the certification:
3. Gore conceded because he had to, not because he was some sort of gracious gentleman.
And if you actually read Gore's concession speech, he never conceded the vote counts. He only conceded the "finality" of the SCOTUS ruling. pic.twitter.com/3pkOSPydtc— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) October 20, 2016
Gore still seemed to be salty about it two years later, as he told ABC's Barbara Walters, "I believe that if everyone in Florida who tried to vote had had his or her vote counted properly, that I would have won. I strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court decision and the way in which they interpreted and applied the law. But I respect the rule of law, so it is what it is."
His then-wife Tipper told the Washington Post, "I still believe we won."
4. Leftists still believe that Gore was cheated out of the election. As the Daily Caller noted, Clinton last week said at a campaign rally to Gore, "Actually you did win, it just wasn’t close enough to make sure that the votes were counted." In 2002, Clinton said that Bush was "selected" president, implying that he didn't earn it legitimately.
It's not just her, as RedState points out:
If that phrase sounds familiar, it's because it's been a recurring theme for Democrats for almost 16 years now. It's a mantra that has been repeated by everyone from Joe Biden (who said Al Gore "was elected president of the United States of America") to Jimmy Carter (who said there is "no doubt in my mind that Gore won the election") to Jonathan Chait (who wrote a piece titled "Yes, Bush v. Gore Did Steal the Election").
But these leftists are in denial.
5. Bush was going to win the presidency no matter what. As Mark Levin explained to a caller in 2014, once Jeb Bush, then the Republican governor of Florida, certified the victory for his brother, then it was clear that Bush was going to be president. The only way it could have been challenged is if Congress took up the matter. If Congress had, Bush still would have been president because a majority of the state delegations were Republicans. The Senate would have taken up a challenge to the vice-presidency results, and because the Senate was split 50-50, Gore, who was still technically the vice-president at the time, would have been the tiebreaker, so it's possible Gore's running mate, Joe Lieberman, could have been vice-president. Regardless, there is no getting around the fact that Bush won the election.
Levin went on to explain that he felt the Supreme Court acted in order to rein in the Florida Supreme Court, which didn't stop recounts from happening beyond the imposed deadline, a violation of state law. However, as Levin argued, the Supreme Court didn't need to get involved because Congress could have resolved it. His book Men In Black: How The Supreme Court Is Destroying America delves deeper into the case.