After an apparent victory for Texas Gov. George W. Bush early
this morning, Vice President Al Gore retracted his concession
around 3:30 a.m. when the results in Florida narrowed to a less
than 1 percent margin and Democratic officials in the state
contacted the Gore’s campaign.

Regardless of the outcome in Florida, the election appears to be
the closest in history.

As of 4:30 a.m., with 96 percent of precincts reporting
nationwide, fewer than 70,000 votes of about 95 million cast
separated the Democrat and Republican candidates.

“The race is simply too close to call. Until this is
resolved, the campaign continues,” Gore campaign chairman
Bill Daley told the crowd in Nashville. Bush campaign officials had
not addressed the media or the crowd in Austin, Texas, at press
time.

Gore conceded the election to Bush in a phone call at 2:30 a.m.,
but after the Florida margin narrowed, Gore retracted his phone
call just as he was seemingly poised to address supporters and
accept defeat.

It was an incredible political spectacle by any standard.

TV networks projected Bush the winner, igniting GOP celebrations
in Austin. An hour later, the conclusive vote they cited in Florida
had tightened.

Supporters in Nashville chanted, “Recount!”

Republicans maintained precarious control of Congress as the GOP
bid to hold the House, Senate and presidency for the first time in
46 years.

In the most dramatic election in decades, it all came down to
Florida. AP’s analysis showed the narrowest of margins with
final votes still being tallied in several Democratic counties. The
networks projected a Bush victory that would put him over the top
and that sparked gloom in the Gore camp in Nashville and triumphant
cheers in Texas.

A Bush victory would give America its second father-son
presidents after John Adams (1797-01) and John Quincy Adams
(1825-29).

Bush was said to be poised to claim his prize.

Florida would give Bush 271 votes in the Electoral College, one
over the majority needed to claim the presidency. Just thousands of
votes separated the two candidates in Florida out of almost 6
million cast, and the margin was sure to require a recount.

Several states were still to close to call. With Florida
officials continuing their tally, the New York Times said Bush had
won and congratulated him on “the amazing political feat of
leaping to the White House after only six years in public
office.”

With the election so tight, Democrats were sure to second-guess
Gore’s refusal to involve President Clinton in his campaign.
They also were sure to rue the day that Green Party candidate Ralph
Nader entered the race and siphoned off Gore votes in several key
states.

Florida had been the epicenter of the campaign and Tuesday night
was chaotic. At one point news organizations said Gore was the
winner, but they backtracked as more votes were counted and Bush
eased ahead.

Republicans retained control of the Senate — if narrowly
— and looked likely to keep a small majority in the House as
well. Bush or Gore, the next president will be submitting his
first-year agenda to a deeply divided Congress.

Gore won big battlegrounds in Pennsylvania, Michigan and
California while Bush claimed Texas, Ohio and a string of smaller
states, including Gore’s Tennessee and Bill Clinton’s
Arkansas.

Green Party candidate Ralph Nader had just 3 percent of the
national vote, but did well enough in to potentially tip several
states to Bush.

Ever confident, Bush went out for dinner and awaited final
returns. When the news media called Florida for Gore in midevening,
Bush said, “I don’t believe some of these states that
they called, like Florida.”

Regarding the vice president, Bush said, “I’ve run
against a formidable opponent.” Gore, awaiting returns in
Nashville, wasn’t heard from until his calls to Bush.

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