VICE-PRESIDENT Al Gore will not concede defeat in the US election battle, even if the state of Florida declares him the loser on Sunday, a senior campaign aide said yesterday. The statement, by Ron Klain, carried the clear authority of the campaign as a whole, and guarantees that the escalating stand-off will continue into another week.
Mr Gore's Republican rival, George W Bush, has already indicated that he will not accept a Gore victory in Florida that is based on contested recounts and is appealing to the US Supreme Court to have the recounts declared invalid. Whether the Supreme Court will even consider the case is not yet known.
The Gore campaign had hoped that recounts by hand in three south Florida counties would allow him to overturn Mr Bush's current 930- vote lead. But a setback yesterday in the Florida Supreme Court - which refused to order the resumption of the recount in Miami-Dade county - makes that more difficult. Mr Klain put a brave face on the decision, expressing confidence that there were still enough miscounted votes in two other Florida counties - Broward and Palm Beach - to put Mr Gore into the lead. But his insistence that Mr Gore would not capitulate showed the campaign was also preparing for the worst.
Mr Gore needs to find an extra 931 votes if he is to win Florida's 25 electoral college votes, and with them the presidency. And he needs to find them before 5pm on Sunday - the deadline set by the Florida Supreme Court earlier this week for any revised election returns to be filed.
The deadline was set by the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday, when it reversed two decisions by the state's Republican Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, and gave its blessing to the manual recounts. …