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Friday, 8 December, 2000, 21:20 GMT
Gore defiant as support slips
Gore supporter
Time and support appear to be running out for Al Gore
Until Friday's sensational ruling of the Florida Supreme Court, Al Gore was suffering a battering in the courts, and in the opinion polls.

An MSNBC poll conducted of 509 Americans this week found that 53% were opposed to Mr Gore's legal challenges to the Florida results. Fifty-nine percent also said they believe Mr Gore should concede now.


He's a very competitive guy and he's in a fight for his political life

William Daley
Gore campaign manager
But with his reputation as a determined political fighter, analysts believe a concession seems unlikely before the final throw of the legal dice.

Some leading Democrats say the affair has, if anything only strengthened his resolve.

"He appears totally focused... he has been stronger, tougher and more effective than at any earlier time," said former New York governor Mario Cuomo, speaking to the Washington Post.

Al Gore's supporters seem to remain, for the time being, firmly behind their man, and believe counting of disputed ballots should continue.

Last hope

They point to a Newsweek poll of their supporters indicating almost 70% approval for further legal action.

Al Gore
Al Gore has a reputation as a fighter
"We're down but not out," said Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski. "We continue to support Al Gore."

Despite this, most of Mr Gore's closest advisors seem to acknowledge that the Florida Supreme Court appeal will be the final stand.

"This is really our last best hope... but we have a heavy burden," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Ed Rendell speaking to Fox News. "Time is running out for us," he added.

In the immediate aftermath of the dramatic election night, most opinion polls suggested that time was on the vice president's side.

In November, a Newsweek poll reported that three in four Americans thought it important to "remove all reasonable doubt" from the result.

Deepening concern

But despite many US political analysts dismissing the furore as 'democracy in action', a more recent opinion poll revealed 25% of those questioned thought the affair had "already become a crisis", with another 30% expressing deepening concern.

Bush supporters
Mr Gore will hope that this slogan is swiftly forgotten
Some commentators also suggest the longer and more drawn out the legal process becomes, the greater the risk of serious damage to Mr Gore's image and political future.

One of the most enduring images of the election aftermath has been the 'Sore-Loserman' banners waved by partisan Republican supporters.

This, say most, is one label Mr Gore will be eager to avoid if he wants even an outside chance of staging a rematch between himself and George W Bush in 2004.

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