Friday, January 07, 2005

Clinton vs Schumer re: Electoral Votes

New York Post
January 7, 2004

WASHINGTON — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton made a grandstand political play yesterday, breaking from most of her fellow Democrats — and her state's senior senator, Chuck Schumer — when she praised an ultimately futile bid to toss out Ohio's electoral votes and prevent George Bush from being officially certified president.

"As we look at our election system, I think it's fair to say that there are many legitimate questions about [the election's] accuracy, about its integrity, and they are not confined to the state of Ohio," Clinton said.

Schumer shot down his colleague's comments saying there was no indication the results were rigged.

"My view is that you don't hold up the election unless there is concrete, real evidence of fraud. I haven't seen that," he said.

Clinton wound up flip-flopping on the issue — voting with the vast majority of senators of both parties to certify the results and abandoning the Rev. Jesse Jackson, to whom she intimated that she would vote to block the certification.

The bizarre day on Capitol Hill came as a handful of Bush critics attempted to do something that hasn't been done in more than 100 years: Block a president-elect from having the Electoral College results officially certified.

On the floor of the Senate, Clinton challenged lawmakers to question the results, even though many believe that doing so would make the Democrats look like sore losers and far-left conspiracy mongers.

Only eight of the Senate's most liberal members, including Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, joined Clinton in speaking in favor of the failed effort.

A possible candidate for president in 2008, Clinton said she spoke in favor of the effort to derail the election because of her concern about "electoral integrity," but voted against it because of the timing well after Election Day.

Clinton's vote came as a surprise to Jackson, who told The Post that he spoke to her to urge her to block certification.

"She told me I was preaching to the choir," Jackson said.

In a separate debate on the other side of the Capitol, Rep. Anthony Weiner of Brooklyn was also one of the few lawmakers expressing support for contesting the election.

Weiner, who is running for mayor, said he never planned to vote against certifying the election results, despite signing a letter with 22 other congressmen calling the results into question.

He said he favors an investigation into the results and wants to see legislative changes to make voting easier and more accurate.

"I'm not among the people who think John Kerry won Ohio," said Weiner. "But I do think there were problems. This was our only opportunity to register complaints."

Bush beat Kerry in Ohio by 118,000 votes.

Rep. Major Owens (D-Brooklyn) was the only New Yorker to vote in favor of decertifying the results. The measure was defeated, 267-31.