Florida once again keeps nation waiting for election results

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," November 12, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


ANDREW GILLUM, FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We don't just get the opportunity to stop counting votes because we don't like the direction in which the vote tally is heading.

RON DESANTIS, FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Those results are clear and unambiguous just as they were on election night, and I am honored by the trust that Floridians have placed in me to serve as your governor.

SEN. BILL NELSON, D-FLA.: He's thrown around words like "voter fraud" without any proof. He's worried when all the votes are counted he'll lose the election.

GOV. RICK NELSON, R-FLA.: Bill Nelson is a sore loser. We've won. We've had to win make this election twice now. I will be going to Washington as the next U.S. senator from Florida.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Some of the sights and sounds of the candidates there as you look at the actual vote totals tonight. The Senate race between Rick Scott and Bill Nelson, a little less than 13,000 votes separates the two, a difference of 0.15 percent. Then the Florida governor's race, a little bit bigger margin, 33,000 between Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum.

Here is how the timeline works. Thursday the results of the machine recount are set to be finished, but not all of them are going to be finished. Friday, overseas and military ballots, traditionally trending Republican, will be counted. They have to be postmarked or signed no later than Election Day. Sunday all counties have a 12:00 p.m. deadline to complete the manual recounts, if needed, and to report the official returns. And then Tuesday, November 20th, official results from the county is certified by the state. Everybody have that, got it?

Here we go. Let's bring in our panel: Chris Stirewalt, politics editor here at Fox News; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for National Public Radio, and Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist. OK, Chris, traditionally recounts do not net that many changed votes, at least machine recounts. Only about a couple, maybe 300 on average.

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS: In history, in modern political history there have only been two races the outcome of which was changed by a recount. Two major races. I'm sure dogcatcher of Kankakee or whatever. But two major races where the outcomes have been changed. We all remember the Al Franken recount in Minnesota. And then there was Dino Rossi in Washington state in 2004.

BAIER: But the spread?

STIREWALT: It's 300 votes or less. That's the range where a recount could be determinative. If we are at 12,602 for Scott, that ain't going to get recounted away. And the eliminationist, crazy rhetoric that's going on down there about all of the stuff about a recount that is highly, highly unlikely to change any outcome.

BAIER: What about that, Mara? The president is tweeting the presidential election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis and that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. And honest vote count is no longer possible. Ballots massively infected. Must go with election night.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: First of all, he's wrong. And that piece, it sounds like he doesn't want any of those military ballots counted, and this is Veterans Day. I think that's really just wrong, because Florida is doing what it's supposed to do. It's counting the votes, it's going to have a machine recount. You just went through all of these steps. And probably Rick Scott is going to be the senator and probably Ron DeSantis is going to be the governor. And when they challenge their opponents as sore losers, that's fine. That's within normal give-and-take of elections. To undermine America's faith in the most basic democratic institution, the ballot box, I think is wrong.

BAIER: OK, but let's just say the election supervisor in Broward County does not have a great track record --

LIASSON: No, but they have not found any evidence of what the president is talking about, nor has he presented any.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: I feel like people are having sudden losses of memory. We are not talking about Florida in general but a couple of counties in particular that have a history of having problems with Election Day vote tallying. We have multiple judges down there in Florida who have already said that the election supervisors in Broward County and Palm Beach County have violated the constitution and state law. They have requirements about how you have to report how many ballots you by certain deadlines. They failed to do that. They refused to do that. You have all sorts of problems, including Brenda Snipes who had previously been found by a court of law to have messed up an election earlier this year, and she says she comingled at least 22 ballots with other ballots, 22 ballots that should not have been counted. So this idea that there's nothing beyond reproach --

LIASSON: I didn't say there is nothing beyond reproach. I said there is no evidence of fraud.

HEMINGWAY: There is no evidence of wrongdoing. And this keeps on being a talking point, there is no evidence of wrongdoing. There is plenty of evidence of problems down there, including multiple judges saying that they have violated state law and the constitution.

BAIER: Right, sloppiness as opposed to what we don't know of fraud yet as an investigation that has gone forward. Brenda Snipes, by the way, has been coming under a lot of fire. Here is Andrew Gillum and an anchor on another channel talking about Brenda Snipes.


GILLUM: I don't know Ms. Snipes, but I do know she was appointed originally by Governor Jeb Bush, a Republican.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We should also point out that Brenda Snipes in Broward County is a Republican appointed by a former governor, then governor Jeb Bush. So she was put in by a Republican governor after the mess that we all remember from 2000. And she's hardly a Democratic official, or someone doing the bidding of the Democratic candidates there.


BAIER: Well, she is a Democrat, listed as Democrat. She's always been a Democrat. Jeb Bush tweeted today, "there is no question that Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes failed to comply with Florida law on multiple counts, undermining Floridians confidence in our electoral process. Supervisor Snipes should be removed from her office following the recounts." But the whole thing to paint her as a Republican seems --

STIREWALT: I will give that anchor the benefit of the doubt that she was speaking from ignorance or may be twigging off of Democratic talking points. Jeb Bush put her in position there after the catastrophes of 2000 and 2002 had basically forced his hand, had to get rid of her. He did not replace her with some Republican operative. He replaced here with -- I believe she had been a school principal or a superintendent in that county. She is obviously a Democratic official. That's who she is. And she has to go after this. There is no way you can have this many screw ups in this many elections this often in a county that's so populous and so important. There's no evidence of fraud, but there is gross evidence of incompetence in this office.

BAIER: At least in those two counties. You look at Arizona.

LIASSON: I don't argue with that.

BAIER: Arizona is counting.

LIASSON: The president also said there is fraud there. This throwing around "fraud" I think is bad. I think that you should wait for evidence, especially when you're going to try to undermine Americans' confidence in the ballot box. In Arizona, they are still counting and they're going to have a winner at some point.

HEMINGWAY: If only the media could have had that same philosophy for the last two years when they were undermining the 2016 election with wild claims of Russian collusion.

LIASSON: Yes, OK, that's fair.

BAIER: You saw the calendar. We'll keep on it.

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