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US President, Bill Clinton
"No-one will ever be able to say again - my vote does not count."
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The BBC's Paul Reynolds in Austin
"Mr Bush projected an image of calm confidence"
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The BBC's Rob Watson in Nashville
"Al Gore clearly has not given up his hopes of becoming president"
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The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"This election has split America down the middle"
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The BBC's Gavin Hewitt, in Miami
"Who wins Florida, wins the election"
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Wednesday, 8 November, 2000, 22:33 GMT
Florida holds key to White House
election workers recounting vote in Miami
Recounting the vote in Miami, Florida
The United States faces another night of uncertainty as votes are recounted in Florida to determine the winner of the closest presidential election in decades.

The Republican candidate, Texas Governor George W Bush, has said he is confident that the recount will be completed on Thursday and that he will be confirmed as the 43rd US president.


The Florida result will push one candidate into the lead
In an election night described as unprecedented in US politics, Democratic candidate Al Gore conceded defeat to his Republican rival - only to retract that concession half an hour later as it became apparent that the Florida results were still too close to call.

In the US as a whole, Vice-President Gore was narrowly ahead of Mr Bush on Wednesday, with 49% against 48% of the vote.

Mr Gore said there should be no "rush to judgement" in the Florida recount. But a BBC correspondent in Texas, Philippa Thomas, says the mood in the Bush camp is now "bullish".

In the first Florida count, Mr Bush had a majority of about 1,700, out of some six million votes cast. Under the state's electoral law, a recount is mandatory if the results of the two candidates differ by 0.5% or less.

George W Bush
George W Bush is confident of victory

"If that result is confirmed in an automatic recount, as we expect it will be, then we have won the election," Mr Bush said.

Further complications have arisen in the Florida count, over postal votes which remain to be counted and some reports of suspected irregularities at one or more polling stations.

The postal votes - many of them from US military personnel overseas - can take up to 10 days to arrive.

Conflicting reports
Midnight: Networks say Gore has won Florida
0300: Networks retract reports of Florida victory
0730:Gore congratulates Bush on victory
0830: Gore retracts concession of victory
Florida recount begins
GMT, times approximate

Both campaign teams are sending former secretaries of state to monitor the recount - James Baker for the Republicans and Warren Christopher for the Democrats.

"We expect it to be done by tomorrow afternoon," Clay Roberts, director of the Florida Division of Elections, said in the state capital, Tallahassee.

The election has left the Republicans with reduced majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate. First Lady Hillary Clinton won the New York Senate seat for the Democrats.

Sleepless night

Republican communications director Karen Hughes said Mr Bush slept for about three hours after a tumultuous night during which Mr Gore rang him back to retract his earlier admission of defeat.

Mr Bush said he was amazed to get the call.

"I felt like I was prepared to go out and give a speech thanking my supporters, and he withdrew his earlier comments, and here I sit," he said.


No American will ever be able to seriously say again 'my vote doesn't count'

President Bill Clinton

According to Mrs Hughes, Mr Bush told his rival during the second phone call: "Well, Mr Vice-President, you need to do what you have to do."

Counting is also still under way in one other battleground state - Oregon. But it is less critical than Florida, which has 25 electoral college votes.

Mr Gore, ahead in the national popular vote by about 240,000, could still lose if Mr Bush wins in the electoral college. Not since 1888 has the winner of the popular vote failed to secure the college.

Confusion

In a night of confusion, television networks reported the results of exit polls indicating a Bush victory in Florida - but the gap between the two candidates narrowed rapidly as results came in from Democrat-leaning areas of the state.

Hillary Clinton
The first lady's win ensures the Clinton era lives on

Democrats have accused Ralph Nader's Green Party of denying their candidate the presidency. In Florida's knife-edge ballot, Mr Nader polled more than 95,000 votes, or 2% of the vote.

The TV networks were forced to revise their reports twice in the space of a few hours. Earlier in the night, they had predicted a victory in Florida for Mr Gore, before subsequent exit poll results appeared to indicate a Republican victory.

Home setbacks

Results from strongly Republican states had already ensured that Mr Bush needed only to add Florida to his tally in order to secure the presidency.

Mr Gore won California, the largest state in terms of electoral college votes, but he lost his home state, Tennessee.

In another rebuff for the Clinton administration, Mr Bush won Arkansas, the home state of outgoing President Bill Clinton.

Turnout was expected to be around 52% - higher than in 1996, but not up to the 1992 level.

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See also:

08 Nov 00 | Americas
TV networks behind turmoil
08 Nov 00 | Americas
How Bush could lose, but win
08 Nov 00 | Americas
The election in quotes
08 Nov 00 | Americas
Hillary rules out 2004 presidency
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