A somber George W. Bush assured the nation last night that he had won the U.S. presidential election, mere hours after the state of Florida finally certified his victory.
But Vice President Al Gore '69 will formally contest the Florida certification today and a profusion of local and federal court challenges are pending, 20 days after voters cast their ballots.
Addressing a nationwide television audience from Texas last night, Bush pointedly urged Gore to withdraw his legal protests and concede the election. He also named his vice presidential candidate, Dick Cheney to head his transition team and announced that former Mass. state representative Andrew Card would be his chief of staff.
"Now that the votes are counted, it is time for the votes to count," Bush said.
"The election was close, but tonight, after a count, a recount and yet another manual recount, Secretary Cheney and I are honored and humbled to have won the state of Florida, which gives us the needed electoral votes to win the election," he said.
Just after 7 p.m., Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris declared Bush to be the state's official winner, by a margin of 537 votes, of the state's presidential contest last night.
Moments later Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph I. Lieberman said that Gore's campaign would formally challenge the results of the Florida election.
Lieberman said that Harris had held "an incomplete and inaccurate count," giving the vice president no choice but to contest the certification.
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