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Republican Party - The Republican Party In The New Millennium

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The 2000 presidential election signaled the end of Bill Clinton's two-term tenure as president. Candidates from both the Republican and Democratic Parties were eager to replace him. As the presidential primaries began in New Hampshire on February 1, 2001, antiabortion activist Gary Bauer, Texas governor GEORGE W. BUSH, billionaire publisher Steve Forbes, Utah senator Orrin Hatch, former UNITED NATIONS ambassador Alan Keyes, and Arizona senator JOHN MCCAIN were vying for the top spot on the Republican Party ticket, while Vice President ALBERT GORE and former New Jersey senator and professional basketball player Bill Bradley were vying for the top spot on the Democratic ticket. Bush, then 54, and Gore, then 52, eventually earned their party's nomination in August. Sixty-five-year-old RALPH NADER won the nomination for the GREEN PARTY.

The presidential race pitted Gore as the Washington veteran with vast political experience on Capitol Hill and in the White House against the more folksy Bush who billed himself as a savvy outsider capable of bringing common sense, morality, and a "compassionate conservatism" to a scandal-ridden EXECUTIVE BRANCH. Political opponents attacked Gore for his lack of charisma and Bush for his intellectual shortcomings. Although supporters maintained that the two candidates advocated widely divergent policies, many voters found little to distinguish them, while pundits and late-night talk show hosts took to characterizing Bush as "Gorelight" and Gore as "Bush-light" in reference to candidates' apparent attempts to water down their platforms to placate Middle America.

As daylight turned to twilight on election night, it became evident that Florida's 25 electoral votes held the key to victory in the U.S. Presidential race. Early returns combined with exit polling results indicated that Gore had a commanding lead in the state. By 8:00 P.M. EST, all of the major television networks projected that Gore had defeated Bush to become the nation's next president.

However, the polls had not yet closed in the Florida's panhandle, which is in the Central time zone. A few hours later, the lead swung to Bush, forcing the networks to retract their projections. By 2:15 EST, Bush appeared to have a decisive lead of about 50,000 votes, and all of the major networks declared Bush the winner. A few hours later Bush's lead had shrunk to a few thousands votes, and the networks were again forced to retract their projections.

When the votes were finally tallied on November 8, minus the late-arriving overseas ballots, Bush was ahead of Gore by 1,784 votes, or less than .5 percent of the total number of votes tabulated for the U.S. Presidency in Florida. Under Florida Election Law, a recount was automatic in these circumstances, unless Gore refused, which he did not. The recount was

Republican National Political Convention Sites, 1856 to 2004
Year Site Year Site
SOURCE: The World Almanac and the 2000 Republican National Convention web page.
1856 Philadelphia 1932 Chicago
1860 Chicago 1936 Cleveland
1864 Baltimore 1940 Philadelphia
1868 Chicago 1944 Chicago
1872 Philadelphia 1948 Philadelphia
1876 Cincinnati 1952 Chicago
1880 Chicago 1956 San Francisco
1884 Chicago 1960 Chicago
1888 Chicago 1964 San Francisco
1892 Minneapolis 1968 Miami Beach
1896 St. Louis 1972 Miami Beach
1900 Philadelphia 1976 Kansas City, MO
1904 Chicago 1980 Detroit
1908 Chicago 1984 Dallas
1912 Chicago 1988 New Orleans
1916 Chicago 1992 Houston
1920 Chicago 1996 San Diego
1924 Cleveland 2000 Philadelphia
1928 Kansas City, KS 2004 New York City

performed by machine and was designed to correct any errors in the first machine tabulation of the vote. On November 10 the first recount was complete. Bush's lead had dwindled to 327 votes.

Emboldened by his gains in the machine recount, Gore sought a manual hand recount of votes cast in certain heavily-Democratic counties. Bush opposed any manual recount, which sparked a series of court battles that culminated before the U.S. Court. In BUSH V. GORE 531 U.S. 98, 121 S.Ct. 525, 148 L.Ed. 2d 388 (U.S. 2000), the Supreme Court ruled that the system devised by the Florida Supreme Court to recount the votes cast in the state during the 2000 U.S. presidential election violated the EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE of the FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT to the federal Constitution. Because there was no time to create a system that was fair to both candidates, the Supreme Court effectively stopped the recount process in its tracks, allowing George W. Bush of Texas to win Florida's 25 electoral votes, enough to become the 43rd President of the United States. (Although Green Party candidate Ralph Nader won no electoral votes in any state presidential race, election experts have opined that he cost Gore thousands of popular votes in several closely contested states that Bush won. For example, 97,488 Florida voters selected Nader as their candidate.)

The 2000 election results marked the first time since 1954 that the GOP controlled the White House, Senate, and the House of Representatives. Although the Republicans lost 4 seats in the Senate and one seat in the House in 2000, they still had a nine-vote advantage in the House, while Republican Vice President Dick Cheney held the tie-breaking vote in the evenly-divided Senate. In 2002 the Republicans increased their Congressional advantage to 51–48 in the Senate (with one independent) and to 229–205 in the House (with one independent).

At the state level, Democrats gained three governorships in 2002 and Republicans lost one, with a total of 24 new governors taking office. This was the largest number of new governors since 1960. Prior to the election, party control of governors stood at 27 Republican, 21 Democratic, and two independents. After the election, party control stood at 26 Republican and 24 Democratic governors. Democrats picked up key posts in Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania and won surprise victories in Kansas and Wyoming. But Republicans won in the traditionally Democratic strongholds of Georgia, Hawaii, and Maryland. Overall, the governor's office switched party control in 20 states.

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