Friday, December 01, 2000

Sick of the ballot battle? So are half your neighbors

By Howard Wilkinson and Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        If Pete Witte of Price Hill and Lester “Hank” Hankerson of Avondale were to meet, they might want to pass the time talking about something other than politics.

        Like the ups and downs of being a small-business owner, which they both are. Maybe the weather or how bad the Bengals are.

        Because on politics, and particularly on the subject of whether the tangled battle for the White House has gone on long enough, they wouldn't find much common ground.

[photo] Barber Otis Miller thinks Vice President Gore should keep fighting.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        “You really would be a loser if you quit before the game was over,” said Mr. Hankerson, who has clipped hair at the Stag Barber Shop on Avondale's Burnet Avenue for 32 years. “There is no reason for Al Gore to quit now.”

        He is a Gore supporter, as is his partner, barber Otis Miller.

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        Both say the Democratic presidential nominee should keep up his court battle to win Florida's 25 electoral votes and, thus, the White House, as long as the court system will let him and as long as he believes he was the winner.

        “If there's a legitimate question about it, he should battle on,” Mr. Miller said. “If you've got that fighting spirit, then fight.”

        But Mr. Witte, a 30-year-old Republican who runs an engraving company in Price Hill, says that even a fighter must know when the bout is over.

        Mr. Witte supported George W. Bush, but he said he could understand Mr. Gore continuing to battle after Election Night results gave Mr. Bush a razor-thin but decisive lead in Florida.

        But Mr. Witte could understand it only up to a point - the point that came Sunday when Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris certified Mr. Bush as the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes by a 537-vote margin.

        “He needed to do this for the millions of people around the country who voted for him,” Mr. Witte said. “But I'm inclined to say now that it has gone on long enough.”

   The following stations will broadcast tapes of today's Supreme Court hearings as soon as they are made available:
   WLW-AM (700) and WKRC-AM (550)
   WMUB-FM (88.5)
   WNKU-FM (89.7)
   WVXU-FM (97.1)
   WGUC-FM (90.9) will have the proceedings available by Web-cast only at
        The wide difference of opinion among Tristate residents is reflected in recent national polls, which show Americans split along party lines in the dispute.

        A CBS-New York Times poll released Wednesday said 52 percent of Americans have lost patience with the dispute, while 42 percent are willing to wait.

        The poll of 1,012 adults found that four in 10 say Mr. Gore should concede, while half say it is too early for a concession. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

        Some Tristate voters, such as retired chemical engineer Hank Greeb of Colerain Township, say that neither side has covered itself in glory since Election Day.

        “They've both been playing politics,” Mr. Greeb said.

        For the regulars who gather every morning for coffee and conversation at The Korner Market in Piner, Ky., a tiny burg in southern Kenton County, Mr. Gore's protracted legal fight is about as popular as a loss by the group's beloved Kentucky Wildcats basketball team.

        “He needs to end this and end this now,” said Richard Debell, 64, a retired minister from Kenton County. “He's hurting himself and he's hurting the country.

        “At first he said once the election results were certified he would get out,” Mr. Debell continued as others seated around a table nodded in agreement. “Well, the election has been certified and he's keeping this up. He's not even telling the truth.”

        Eugene Martin, 66, also of Kenton County, said he believes Mr. Gore is just trying to use the legal system to stall the process so he can be declared the winner without Florida's electoral votes.

        “I thought that from the start,” Mr. Martin said. “But it's not working for him. He needs to concede the race to Bush and just go on. Let him run again in 2004. But get out now.”

        But there was one Gore supporter at the Korner Market on Thursday, 85-year-old George Beighle of Kenton County.

        “I think he should keep it up because I think he is going to win,” Mr. Beighle said. “All the votes need to be counted. What's wrong with that?”

        At the Fiesta Hair & Tanning Salon in Taylor Mill, stylist Jeanenne Kincaid, 52, of Wilder, Ky., said she voted for Mr. Gore.

        “But this is just ridiculous,” Mrs. Kincaid said Thursday. “If I would have known this was going to happen I never would have voted for him. He's acting like a big baby.”


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