Bush edges Gore

George Fairbanks

Andrew Johnson and
Pete Johnson
The tightest presidential election in nearly 40 years ended with Texas Gov. George W. Bush the victor.
Garnering 271 electoral votes — just one more than he needed to win — Bush edged out Democratic nominee and Vice President Al Gore, who captured 249 electoral votes. Eighteen electoral votes were undecided at press time. Those results are without Wisconsin and Oregon included because both had yet to report.
The popular vote was similarly close with Bush tallying 49 percent, slightly more than Gore’s 48 percent. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader ended up with 3 percent.
Political experts pointed to battleground states as the key to an election victory. Of those, Bush took Missouri, Ohio and Florida, while Gore took Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Iowa.
At GOP headquarters in the St. Paul Radisson Hotel, Bush supporters chanted “Go cheeseheads!” as Wisconsin results were slow to come in.
And when Florida reverted back to undecided for a few hours the crowd ignited with excitement.

The new president
Bush, 54, first entered the political arena in 1994 as governor the nation’s second largest state, Texas. In 1998, he was re-elected making him the first governor of the state ever to be elected to consecutive four-year terms.
Before entering political life, Bush gained moderate fame as part-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball club in 1989, a stake which he sold after winning his first election.
Bush first witnessed the rigors of running for the country’s highest office when he helped his father in 1988. The elder Bush, then-vice president under Ronald Reagan, had his son help with the campaign. He defeated Democratic nominee
The 2000 campaign was not Bush’s first taste of the rigors of running for the country’s highest office. In 1988, he helped his father, then-vice president under Ronald Reagan, defeat Democratic nominee Gov. Michael Dukakis in the presidential race. The elder George Bush’s election victory assured a Republican legacy that extended into the 1990s, until Democratic President Clinton defeated him in 1992.
Bush graduated with a master’s degree in business from Harvard, after receiving a bachelor’s degree from Yale University. Upon graduation, Bush spent time in the Texas Air National Guard.
During a Reagan-Bush Republican era, the younger Bush spent his time as a businessman in Texas’ gas and oil industry.
Bush ended his campaign Tuesday after stops in Wisconsin, Iowa, Arkansas and Tennessee, a few of the remaining battleground states.
By the end of his 17-month odyssey, Bush had survived several significant pockets of turbulence — the most recent being a 1976 DUI arrest made known only days before the election. Perhaps the most serious of his obstacles was a post-Democratic Convention boost that saw Vice President Gore briefly overtake Bush.
In the early months of the election, a battle-tested Bush maintained consistent double-digit leads over Gore, having first survived the charge of reform-minded Arizona Sen. John McCain. The Vietnam veteran hotly contested Bush in early Republican primaries.
“We’ve poured our hearts and souls into this campaign and the people are going to decide,” Bush said. “I trust their will; I trust their wisdom.

End of an era
His Democratic opponent, Gore, can take solace in the tightness of the race.
Depending on perspective, Gore has either been one of the best vice presidents in American history or, on the flip side, demonized mainly for his association with President Clinton and the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Gore has been groomed to be president since he was a child.
His mother and father, a senator from Tennessee, cultivated his son for this campaign. Gore seems to have done it all through his 24 years of public service.
Gore, after witnessing his father’s heartbreaking loss and exit from the senate, abandoned politics and became a successful journalist. However, thanks to his upbringing, the younger Gore was drawn back in the political arena.
He started as a U.S. Congressman from his boyhood home of Tennessee and, moving on from there, entered the U.S. Senate.
After an ill-timed and unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1988 Gore returned to the Senate.
However, in 1992 a little-known governor from Arkansas named Bill Clinton picked him to be his running mate against George Bush and Dan Quayle. That bid proved successful.
At DFL headquarters in St. Paul, a tense night of election-watching ended in despair.
Jaina Lewis, co-chair of Minnesota College Democrats, said election night was hectic but not any more than the final week of campaigning.
“It has not been a hostile environment,” she said. “A week ago we were being yelled at by the Nader people.”

The outsider
Green Party candidate Ralph Nader didn’t expect to be the next president as he headed into Election Day. His goal was to earn 5 percent of the popular vote so the party can receive federal campaign funding in 2004. He received 3 percent of the vote nationally, and received 5.3 percent in Minnesota, garnering a third-place finish.
Nader’s candidacy was characterized by his message of campaign reform, anti-corporate stances and his harsh criticisms for both Gore and Bush.
Nader and his running mate, Winona LaDuke, failed in their attempt to surpass the 5 percent popular vote barrier, to qualify the Green Party for Federal Election Commission Official status — a category which qualifies the party for federal matching funds.
The third party did, however, garner more than 5 percent in several states — Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Rhode Island and Vermount — and Washington, D.C.
Nader, who was the most prominent third party candidate for president, stressed the 2000 election as a step towards building a progressive third party movement.
“Without competition, (the two major parties) are never going to internally reform,” Nader said.
Political pundits believed Nader’s candidacy hurt Gore’s chances.

George Fairbanks welcomes comments at [email protected]
Andrew Johnson welcomes comments at [email protected]
Pete Johnson welcomes comments at [email protected]