Gore recount lawyer declares, 'Senator Franken has won'
David Edwards and Rachel Oswald
Published: Tuesday March 31, 2009

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Many Democrats, still smarting over the halted Florida recount of 2000, see shades of Bush v. Gore in the battle currently being waged by Republicans to prevent the seating of Al Franken in the Senate.

David Boies, Al Gore's lead attorney during the Florida recount, attempted to address Democratic fears in a Monday interview on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, where he confidently proclaimed, “I don’t think there’s any doubt. I think Senator Franken has won this election.” (Emphasis added)

Of course, Boies was on the losing end of the Bush v. Gore argument.

Democrats have more reason to be nervous of a repeat of 2000 (though, at least this time they're in the driver's seat) in the wake of a Monday Poltico story, in which Sen. John Cornyn was quoted as saying it might be “years” before a Republican-led federal challenge to Minnesota’s statewide recount is resolved. The recount had Franken in the lead by more than 200 votes.

Cornyn went so far as to threaten “World War III” if Democrats attempted to seat Franken before the GOP had had its fill in the federal courts.

Noted Maddow, “Right now, control of the Senate and by extension control of President Obama’s agenda is at stake, and once again Republicans are playing to win at all costs.”

Boies said that it was a “little ironic” that the party that fought so hard (and successfully) to prevent a statewide Florida recount in 2000 is now asking for its own recount in Minnesota.

However, Boies and the rest of Gore's legal team were criticized by legal experts for not asking for their own full-state recount of ballots in Florida, as The New York Times reported in 2000.

The Gore campaign was criticized for, among other things, requesting manual hand recounts in Democratic-leaning counties, rather than demanding a recount of the entire state.

"It had the appearance of being manipulative," said Thomas Merrill, a law professor at Northwestern University told The Times after Bush was anointed the winner by the Supreme Court. "It had the appearance of making it look as if [Gore] didn't want a level playing field. I think it seeped into the way the judicial system perceived things."

Much like 2000, the endgame strategies seem to center on which political party appointed which judge.

“It’s just about taking advantage whereever you can find it,” Maddow said of Republican strategies in Franken v. Coleman. “They think that advantage is to be found in stretching it out as long as possible.”

Added Boies, "When you have politicians, who on the one hand preach state rights and then whey they don’t like a state result, preach let’s go to federal court and drag it out, I think that’s what causes some of the cynicism people have in general about politics in this country.”

For now, Republicans are for the most part escaping massive public anger over their attempts to drag out what many now believe to be the inevitable seating of Franken. This is largely the result, says Boies, of greater concerns over the plight of the national economy.

Thankfully, said Boies, enough Americans are tuned into the GOP’s "battle of financial attrition," as Maddow termed it, and are providing the Franken campaign with sufficient financial donations that “permits them to battle on in the courts to the extent that they have to.”

This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Mar. 30, 2009.

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