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Americans Eager on Election Twist

December 9, 2000

Paul Carufel owns a cigar, sports and billiards shop in Bismarck, N.D., so he knows about winning and losing. But he doesn’t see our never-ending election saga in those terms.

``So many people were saying democracy is shot, this is bad for the country,″ said Carufel, behind a glass counter filled with cigars. ``But I don’t think it’s such a terrible thing. I hope something good comes out of all of it ... so we don’t have to go through this again.″

Cerufel’s was one of the more equivocal reactions to Friday’s decision of the Florida Supreme Court, ordering manual recounts of the undervote across the Sunshine State and giving life to the presidential hopes of Vice President Al Gore.

``I have lost a lot of trust in the process. I believe the courts will steal this for Al Gore,″ said Tom Strutz of Helena, Mont.

Emmett McKee, sipping a beer on his way into New Orleans’ Superdome to watch the state basketball championships, uttered an expletive when he heard the latest election news.

``That’s horrible,″ said the 36-year-old lab technician, recovering. ``That’s not right.″

But Bill Smith, a 30-year-old history and civics teacher from Iota, La., also attending the hoop championships, said the decision made him rethink his position that Gore should concede.

``If there are votes out there that should be counted, they should be counted. Now you have a ruling supporting that,″ he said.

Said Ed ``Tut″ Mentzel, 50, of Farmington Hills, Mich., a Gore supporter who said he was ``going nuts″ because of political developments: The decision ``is only fair. If Gore or Bush is going to win, let him win by the popular vote.″

The decision was announced in late afternoon, as Americans raced home at the end of the work week. Kevin Dahl, a worker at Chicago’s Mercantile Exchange, thought the decision was ``ridiculous. We could go back in history and change every election in this country. Why because Gore lost do we suddenly need this new standard?″

Steven Bulger, 41, a Chicago mortgage consultant, said he was shocked by the ruling. ``You just sensed this thing would be shoved through with momentum, when I think everyone has been thinking, ‘Why not recount? Why not a statewide vote?’ Now, whoever wins, wins for sure.″

John McDonough, 38, was waiting for a train at Boston’s South Station. A Democrat, he said he was frustrated by the drawn-out process to determine the president.

``It’s taking longer than I would like, but I think even if you are a Republican you have to admit this isn’t a clear win, and it’s important to get this resolved the right way and count all the votes, especially in light of the popular vote,″ he said.

There were others who were less patient. Although Scott Leger, general manager of the Studio Plus hotel in west Little Rock, Ark., voted for Al Gore, he now leans to Bush, and feels the vice president should concede.

``I think he should drop it,″ he said. ``I think he’s losing respect. I think they both are. If you can’t help yourself, how are you going to fix a country?″

Rose Garland, 45, a public information officer for the federal government in St. Louis, also is ``tired of the whole process, and I think they need to make a decision.″ She said George W. Bush should not appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

``I guess I would like to see Bush act like a bigger person than Gore and say ’OK, lets go with this and quit making it longer than it has to be,‴ she said.

Michael Smith, from Chattanooga, Tenn., visiting Atlanta was revolted by the court’s ruling: ``I think it stinks. This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of.″

How long did he think the dispute would go on?

``Too long.″

But James Weatherly, 19, of Seattle, said Gore should ``fight to the very end.″ He said the dispute will go on at least until late January.

He should know. He’s a tarot card reader.

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