November 3, 2004 | Broadcast

American Morning

Let’s begin by taking a look at the electoral college board. You can see there, 254 electoral votes for President Bush; 252 for Senator Kerry. Ohio, where we are this morning, in green, meaning that it is just too close to call today.

For the second time in four years, a presidential race is in limbo a day after the election. It all hinges on Ohio and its 20 electoral votes.

We begin this morning from Washington, D.C. with some differing points of view.

Democratic consultant Victor Kamber joins us; also, former RNC Communications Director Cliff May.

Good morning to you guys.

Thanks for being with us.


O’BRIEN: Let’s get right to it.

Victor, do you think, considering the scenario that we have now, it’s essentially a numbers game? Do you think Senator Kerry should concede or should he wait it out, see what happens in Ohio?

KAMBER: Frankly, I hope he waits it out and sees what happens in Ohio. I think every vote should be counted. I don’t think we need to have long protracted court actions and the like, but we have a number of votes that still are out there. The fact that if it waits one, two or three days, so be it. It was a long, hard fought campaign by both sides. I’m certainly disappointed it wasn’t clearer, clearer for my side. But I still believe there’s an opportunity here and I’d like to make sure that every vote is counted. And if George Bush is the winner — O’BRIEN: Well…

KAMBER: … is the winner in the end, so be it. I’d like it to be a clear win.

O’BRIEN: You say one, two or three…


O’BRIEN: … days, but actually, Cliff, we’re not talking necessarily one, two or three… MAY: Ten days.

O’BRIEN: We’re talking 10 days, right? MAY: Yes. And my guess is that Senator Kerry is likely to concede rather than do that. And I’ll tell you part of the reason why. As you say, it’s a numbers game. But let’s recall that President Bush in this election has won more votes than any presidential candidate in American history ever. He’s won 51 percent. That’s the first time any candidate has won a majority of the votes, not just a plurality, since 1988.

And if you, by the way, if you start looking at Ohio carefully, and, again, all the votes should be counted, you probably want to look at other states. The margin of difference, for example, in Pennsylvania is narrower than the margin of difference in Ohio right now. So it’s a fairly convincing victory.

But, look, we’ve got a system set up where when you have close elections, it can be difficult.

KAMBER: It’s interesting… MAY: But I think it’s clear — I know what you’re going to say…

KAMBER: It’s interesting… MAY: Look…

KAMBER: … that Cliff wants to count the popular vote this cycle… MAY: No, no, no, no.

KAMBER: He didn’t last cycle. MAY: Let me say, whoever wins the electoral vote absolutely wins the election. That’s the way the game is played. I understand.

KAMBER: So let’s wait and see. MAY: But, Victor, on the other side, let’s also say that all your friends who have the “Re-Defeat Bush” signs up, they must be saying right now, Kerry should concede because he lost the popular vote.

KAMBER: No, all I’m — listen, again I’ll say it, whether it’s five days or 10 days, let’s just count all the votes and then get on with it. Ten days is not going to — after having four months last time, after what we’ve gone through, after the way this country is as divided as it is, it would be better and healthier for the country to make sure. And if there are other states, Cliff, there are — where there’s numbers in question, so be it. Let’s revisit those states.

That’s what the process is.

O’BRIEN: Victor, let’s…

KAMBER: Every American that voted should be counted.

O’BRIEN: You guys, we don’t have a ton of time.

Victor, I want to ask you, what did the Democrats do wrong? When you look at the popular vote that President Bush has walked away with, a huge increase over 2000, I mean clear signs that something has changed.

(AUDIO GAP) not do?

KAMBER: Well, you know, that’s a hard question and I’m not going to be a second guesser. First of all, I think the campaign did an extremely good job and, you know, there’s going to be a lot of Democrats who are going to — especially those who weren’t in the campaign and who didn’t make any money out of it and who are on the outside. They’re going to second guess every one of those staffers that was on the inside.

I’m not one of those. I happen to believe the campaign worked hard, the candidate was terrific and did a terrific job. We won the three debates. We worked very hard. We ran against a man who was popular and who was president during a war time. It became tough.

Are there decisions that should have been made differently? Should he have gone to a different state at the last minute or concentrated on another state? Hindsight will tell us that as you analyze things. But as we stand today, I think the Democrats should be proud (AUDIO GAP) campaign; maybe a losing one but it was a very strong one.

O’BRIEN: That’s going to be our final word this morning, guys.

Victor Kamber, Cliff May, we’re out of time, so we’ll check in with you first the next time.

Thanks, guys.

Appreciate it. MAY: Bye-bye.