From the best-selling author of A Vast Conspiracy and The Run of His Life comes Too Close to Call--the definitive story of the Bush-Gore presidential recount. A political and legal analyst of unparalleled journalistic skill, Jeffrey Toobin is the ideal writer to distill the events of the thirty-six anxiety-filled days that culminated in one of the most stunning Supreme Court decisions in history. Packed with news-making disclosures and written with the drive of a legal thriller, Too Close to Call takes us inside James Baker's private jet, through the locked gates to Al Gore's mansion, behind the covered-up windows of Katherine Harris's office, and even into the secret conference room of the United States Supreme Court. As the scene shifts from Washington to Austin and into the remote corners of the enduringly strange Sunshine State, Toobin's book will transform what you thought you knew about the most extraordinary political drama in American history. The Florida recount unfolded in a kaleidoscopic maze of bizarre concepts (chads, pregnant and otherwise), unfamiliar people in critically important positions (the Florida Supreme Court), and familiar people in surprising new places (the Miami relatives of Elián González, in a previously undisclosed role in this melodrama).
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October 01, 2001
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Excerpt from Too Close to Call by Jeffrey Toobin
The sun rising over the Atlantic casts a peach glow on the Lake Ida Shopping Plaza. Its architectural motif is typical of the lesser strip malls in Florida s Palm Beach County-ersatz stucco, with a roof of battered tiles. The first rays of dawn land on Good Stuff Furniture, where factory-closeout sofas and love seats are sold on layaway. One storefront over, engineers and hard hats arrive early at the construction office for the job of widening I-95, the truck-choked superhighway whose low rumble and smoggy haze never entirely leave this commercial square. The medical office of Dr. Jean-Claude Tabuteau is open only at night, to serve his working-class Haitian clientele, men and women who spend their days changing sheets and watering lawns at the resorts on the other side of the highway.
On the morning of November 7, 2000-Election Day-the mall had none of its usual subtropical torpor. One of the storefronts was home to the Democratic Party of Palm Beach County, and its offices served as the base for the biggest get-out-the-vote operation that anyone could remember. The plan called for one group of volunteers to work the phones in the party offices and another to disperse to the precincts. The poll workers were to be given their assignments, as well as their leaflets and signs, at a long folding table just outside the front door. A woman named Liz Hyman was in charge of the table.
Hyman had spent a few years as a junior lawyer in the Clinton administration and was now a young associate at a prominent law firm in Washington. She had taken a few days off to help the Democrats try to retain the White House. The plan in Palm Beach County called for the volunteers to vote in their own precincts as soon as the polls opened at seven and then to report to party headquarters for instruction and deployment. It was only a few minutes after the hour when the first of them pulled into the parking lot.
Several-many-were distraught. There was something confusing about the ballot, they said. They weren t sure if they had actually voted for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman. In keeping with the demographics of Delray Beach, the town where the mall was located, virtually all of the volunteers were elderly and many were Jewish. They had been especially motivated to support Lieberman, who was the first Jew to be nominated by a major party for vice president. What made the problem especially upsetting was that some of the volunteers thought they had voted for Pat Buchanan, a man they regarded as an anti-Semite. What, they wondered, could they do
Liz Hyman had no idea. Indeed, she didn t really understand what these people were talking about, and neither did anyone else at campaign headquarters. The local staff of the party had all voted by absentee ballot, so they had not seen the same voting machines as the volunteers who were arriving this morning. Like most politically attuned people, Hyman had a vague sense that voters were sometimes confused at the polls, but this seemed . . . different. These were experienced voters, indeed political veterans. Shouldn t they have understood what they were doing It was puzzling.
So Liz Hyman called her dad.