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Wednesday, 29 November, 2000, 00:30 GMT
Americans remain divided
The US Supreme Court
Patience is waning as the legal battle continues
By BBC NewsOnline's Kevin Anderson in Washington

Texas Governor George W Bush appears to be pulling ahead in the battle for public opinion.

But talking to people on the street reveals that Americans remain deeply divided on whether Vice-President Al Gore should continue to pursue legal challenges to the presidential election results in Florida, or concede.

Some expressed concerns that the process is damaging the country and its image abroad, while others believe that the process is proceeding peacefully and properly.

Patience wearing thin

Although there have been conflicting opinion polls, a recent survey showed more than 60% of Americans believe that the election process has gone on for too long. The public's patience is beginning to wane.

However a poll for the Washington Post, published on 3 December, suggested that a majority of those surveyed wanted the south Florida votes to be recounted and the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature to steer clear of the election controversy.
A Bush supporter protests outside of Al Gore's residence in Washington
A majority of Americans now believe Al Gore should concede
Don Rudy of Maryland was not swayed by Vice President Gore's plea for patience, and he is deeply troubled by the process of recounting.

"I think that the way that the way the votes are being tallied and retallied in Florida is inconsistent at best. At worst, I feel like it's just an opportunity for problems and for people to interject their own political feelings into the counting process," he said.

After George W Bush was declared the winner in Florida, he said, "I think it's time for Al Gore to cease and desist."

He is not alone in believing that it is time for Al Gore to concede. A Gallup poll in November showed that 56% of those asked believe it is time for Mr Gore to admit defeat.

And Mr Rudy is worried that the lack of a resolution could harm the nation by depriving the victor of necessary transition time.

The process has been an embarrassment for the country, he said.

"We've just put out our dirtiest and ugliest laundry on the line for all the nations of the world to see," he said.

Willing to wait

But just as the close result of the election shows a nation deeply divided, opinion varies widely on whether the process is taking too long or whether the nation is being harmed.

Workers count ballots in Florida
Some Americans are willing to wait until they are sure all the ballots are counted
Sallie Simpson of Washington DC does not believe that all of the votes have been counted and was especially concerned that absentee ballots were being left from the final tally.

She is prepared to wait. "I think that Gore should continue on until every vote is counted," she said, and she is not troubled that the process has led to some uncertainty.

"We have a president in place," she said, referring to President Clinton who is serving the remainder of his term.

"We have just not elected another one," she said.

The crucial endgame

And Edward Krys of Birmingham, Alabama, is not troubled by the legal battles over the election results.

The courts were the only way to decide the results of this historic election, he said, adding: "God forbid that the people would take to the streets like we've seen in many countries."

He has listened to statements by both candidates over the past few days, and he hears two candidates who both want to lay claim to the presidency. "Neither one is willing to give it up," he said.

He has patience for the process, but he hopes that one of the candidates realises that in the long run that this needs to be solved quickly.

"Because if this is dragged out, I think that even the winner will be a loser, and the confidence of the people will be lost," he said.

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See also:

27 Nov 00 | Middle East
Gaddafi offers US election advice
28 Nov 00 | Americas
Bush's cabinet in waiting
27 Nov 00 | Americas
Press fed up with election saga
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