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Jackson predicts "Direct Action", plans Inaugural week rallies

Contending that Bush clinched the presidency through "voter fraud," the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson yesterday predicted "a lot of direct action" in coming weeks by demonstrators who believe that the Florida election "trampled upon" the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act.
Published on Monday, December 18, 2000 in the
Washington Post

Jackson Predicts 'Direct Action,' Plans Inaugural Week Rallies

by Amy Goldstein

As President-elect Bush took significant strides over the weekend to assemble his administration, Democrats persisted in questioning the legitimacy of his election. In tones that were sometimes muted, sometimes harsh, they sought to remind Americans of what they said remains a nagging uncertainty: whether the winner of the White House actually won the Florida vote.

Contending that Bush clinched the presidency through "voter fraud," the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson yesterday predicted "a lot of direct action" in coming weeks by demonstrators who believe that the Florida election "trampled upon" the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act.

"While the political campaign is over, the civil rights struggle to protect the franchise of our vote will continue," Jackson vowed on NBC's "Meet the Press." He said that rallies, protesting the actions of Florida election officials and the U.S. Supreme Court, will be staged across the country the third week in January--the week that begins with the federal holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and ends with Bush's inauguration.

Jackson railed against polling places where, he said, black college students were turned away and thousands of other Floridians, most of them African American, were denied a vote in a mistaken belief they were convicted felons. He also lashed out at the Clinton administration's Justice Department, saying it "did not do its job that day."

Jackson's biting accusations, combined with gentler efforts by the top two Democrats in Congress to fan continued uncertainty about the outcome, came yesterday as more than a dozen news organizations and other outside groups prepare to use Florida's strong public information laws to conduct new recounts of ballots by hand.

The Miami Herald, for example, plans to devote at least 50 reporters to undertake two statewide reviews, using different standards for determining which ballots should be counted for Bush or Vice President Gore, according to wire service reports. Similarly, the conservative group Judicial Watch intends to count by various methods, then report the tallies publicly.

Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) encouraged such work. Speaking on ABC's "This Week," he said, "The time has come to put the election behind us. It was a long election night, and we're ready to govern." While pledging collaboration, Daschle simultaneously said he favored fresh recounts, even if they could put Bush in an awkward position if it eventually appears that he lost.

Predicting that debate over the election "will go on for a long period of time," Daschle said, "history and the country should know exactly what happened, and what ultimately happened in Florida is an important part of what happened in the election."

House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), meanwhile, signaled his own skepticism about the outcome. Asked on "Meet the Press," whether Bush is "the legitimate 43rd president of the United States," Gephardt replied: "George W. Bush is the next president of the United States."

Amid such efforts to undercut public acceptance of a Bush administration, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) pleaded for Democrats to pattern themselves after Gore, who urged the parties to unify as he conceded the election Wednesday night. "He said the right things," Lott said of Gore's televised speech. "I think it would serve the country well if all of us, Republicans and Democrats, would follow that example."

© 2000 The Washington Post
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