Hastert: 'Bush Will Reach Out ... Bring Country Together'
(CNSNews.com) - U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said the "closest" presidential election in American history has been decided through a "constitutional" process and Hastert called on Americans to "come together."
Hastert's comments followed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that essentially settled the five-week election dispute between Bush and Democrat Al Gore over the ballots in Florida. With that state's 25 electoral votes, Bush's total is 271, only four more than Gore's total.
"Our system has endured a great trial and the wounds that have come from the passions of partisanship must begin to heal for the good of the country," Hastert said. "The Congress stands ready to work with the next President on the people's business.
"I have great faith in our system of government and I have great faith in the American people. Together, we will move on from this political crisis by starting work on the people's business," Hastert said.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) met with Vice President-elect Dick Cheney Wednesday on Capitol Hill to talk about transition matters. After that meeting, Lott told reporters he was happy with the Supreme Court's decision and said Congress and the American people must now move on.
"I'm absolutely convinced that George W. Bush will be the right man for the difficult times we find ourselves in. I think he is going to reach out and is going to try to bring this country together. I think he is going ask for the people's support and their help and I think that will be well received," Lott said.
Louisiana Senator John Breaux, one of the Democrats mentioned as a possible nominee in a Bush cabinet, said he would have preferred a more one-sided verdict by the Supreme Court.
"I wish it had been a 9-0 decision instead of a 5-4 decision. I also wish it had been a decision that you didn't have to be a Philadelphia lawyer to try and understand what they were trying to say. It was sort of like a remedy without a solution." Breaux said on NBC's Today program.
U.S. Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, thought Gore's challenge created dangerous consequences for America.
"Far worse than partisan recounts, Vice President Gore winked and nodded and finally, tacitly supported efforts to prevent counting absentee ballots cast by military personnel, many stationed in harm's way around the world. That was inappropriate for a potential commander in chief," Bartlett said in a statement.
Bartlett continued, "Gore's unprecedented challenge delayed the transition and may have dangerous consequences. It takes time to put a foreign policy team together. There are rogue nations and terrorists only too willing to perceive any uncertainty as a sign of weakness and an invitation to plan trouble for Americans and our allies."
Senator Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) said in an interview on MSNBC, "Clearly, the race for the Presidency has come to an end. George Bush is going to be the next President of the United States. If we don't have a recount, it is very difficult to get any votes."
Representative Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) said on Fox News Channel, "I guess, at this point, there's nothing else for Al Gore to do other than to be the gentleman that he is and realize reality."
In a joint statement, House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), said, "We support and respect Vice President Gore's right to respond on his own time schedule. Until he does so, we will have no comment."
Sounding an ominous tone, Representative John Lewis (D-GA) told the Atlanta Journal- Constitution, "I think this decision will haunt the political process in America for years to come."