Miss-Lou ready to move on from election crisis

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2000

Many Miss-Lou residents, buoyed by positive speeches from both Al Gore and George W. Bush, seemed ready Wednesday night to put the long presidential election crisis behind them.

Scarlett Rachal of Natchez, an apartment manager who voted for Bush, said she was &uot;very impressed&uot; by Gore’s concession speech and was surprised by its overwhelmingly positive tone.

Rachal said she expected Gore to speak to the recent decisions of the U.S. and Florida supreme courts and discounted ballots and was pleased that he chose to put &uot;country before parties.&uot;

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Eddie Freeman of Natchez, a retired Democrat, was also impressed by Gore’s words.

&uot;Even in his defeat, he is a great man,&uot; he said.

&uot;It took a speech like that to bring the two sides together. Right now the country is so divided,&uot; he said, adding that he had worried at times violence would break out like it has in other countries with political strife.

Natchez’s Dana Dent was unable to watch Gore’s speech, but she said she thinks Bush’s speech depicted how he would work to bring people together to create a focus for the country.

&uot;I though it was a very bipartisan speech,&uot; Dent said.

She also said she thinks Bush presented himself well while speaking.

&uot;He looked and seemed very presidential. He sounded presidential,&uot; Dent said. &uot;He sounded like he wanted to bring the country together. I thought it was a healing speech.&uot;

Richard Madison said he believes Bush’s past record of consensus building bodes well for the country as a whole.

&uot;People are ready to move on to the nation’s business,&uot; Madison said, adding he believes Americans are tired enough of the drawn-out voting counting process to want to move on.

At the same time, he believes the post-election problems will result in needed improvements in the election system in the future. &uot;Ultimately, it’s going to benefit all the states,&uot; he said.

Freeman said Gore’s call to Democrats to support Bush was &uot;something that had to be done.&uot;

&uot;It’s the first step toward healing what this contest – especially in Florida – has left as an open wound,&uot; he said.

Clarence Hymon of Ferriday, La., also said he thinks Gore’s words were healing.

&uot;I thought it was a very gracious speech,&uot; Hymon said. &uot;Vice President Gore put forth words that should heal our country.&uot;

When asked if he believes the country and Congress will be able to put the division of the last few weeks behind them, Hymon didn’t hesitate.

&uot;I believe they will,&uot; he said. &uot;I’m almost positive they will. As (Gore) said, now is the time for us to come together as a country. We’re at our best during adversity. And I’m looking forward to getting down to the business that faces this country.&uot;

But while the concession might have offered some sense of closure to the election, Freeman said he believes, regrettably, that there will still be those who refuse to acknowledge Bush as the winner.

&uot;I don’t think the idea will ever go away in some people’s minds Bush will still be a counterfeit president,&uot; he said.

&uot;We need to go ahead now and put it behind us for the sake of the country,&uot; he said.

&uot;Nothing stays the same, either it moves forward or backward and we’ve got to move forward.&uot;

Just as Gore’s speech was positive, Freeman said there will be some positive outcomes of the election, including an examination of the electoral college, which he believes is outdated.

As for what happens next, &uot;I really feel like he’ll be back,&uot; Rachal said. &uot;(My husband) was just saying that he was laying the groundwork to be back.&uot;

Freeman agreed. Even as the live broadcasts showed Gore supporters chanting &uot;Gore in four,&uot; Freeman said he is certain the vice president will &uot;keep his finger in politics.&uot;

Rachal also said she expected a much longer speech from Gore and enjoyed his positive words. Though she knows Gore claimed to have written the speech himself, Rachal has her own theory.

&uot;I wonder if Tipper wrote it,&uot; she said, laughing. &uot;Because it sounded like something a woman would say.&uot;