Do you notice something odd? The Bush campaign today launched a ferocious attack on the hand counting procedures being used in Palm Beach and other counties in southern Florida. They’re no longer challenging hand-counting as inherently unreliable and perhaps open to ‘mischief,’ they’re leveling explicit charges of ballot tampering and fraud.
The Bush folks are also charging the Democrats with plotting to toss out military absentee overseas ballots because they lack postmarks. Bush surrogate, Montana governor Marc Racicot charged that “the vice president’s lawyers have gone to war in my judgment against the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces. In an effort to win at any costs, the Democrats have launched a statewide effort to throw out as many military ballots as they can [italics added].”
(This, you might say, is the Bush team’s effort to play the Sturm und Drang, Stab-in-the-Back, Last-Days-of-the-Weimar-Republic card.)
The implication of this quickly escalating rhetoric is pretty clear: the Republicans are scared to death of what might be found in those hand counts.
The problem is that the hand counts don’t seem to be going that well for the Democrats. At least that’s what CNN and the rest of the nets seem to be reporting. A hand recount of a third of the precincts in Broward county yielded only 59 new votes for the vice-president. A Democratic member of the Palm Beach canvassing board said he wasn’t “seeing much of a change” in the vote totals so far in the recount in his county. Gore’s got to get a thousand votes to catch up to Bush; and it doesn’t look like it’s going that well.
So what gives? What does the Bush campaign know that the rest of us don’t?