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Some in GOP Warn of Peril in Bush Suit


The decision by the George W. Bush campaign to seek an injunction to end the Florida vote recount was met Saturday with skepticism by some Republicans who warned it could cost him public support even if it secures him the Oval Office.

By throwing the presidential election into court, the Bush campaign is heading down a path "that they previously indicated they were not going to pursue," said Marshall Wittmann, a political analyst and advisor to Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Bush's rival in the Republican primaries. "It'll be mutually assured destruction."

Bush's lawyers are requesting a hearing Monday on their request for a court order blocking the manual recount underway in some Florida counties. But public polls are showing most Americans believe Democrat Al Gore has acted responsibly so far in seeking recounts, and a large majority is more concerned with a fair and accurate count than a quick resolution.

Republicans also said the legal action showed that Bush--in contrast to his outwardly confident posture and public planning for a transition--is worried the recount could hand the White House to his opponent.

Bush and his aides "are concerned that this thing is getting away from them," said GOP consultant Scott Reed, who was former Sen. Bob Dole's presidential campaign manager in 1996. But he said the legal action was 'the right, logical' step because "Republicans cannot just stand by and let this thing get stolen in Florida."

The two campaigns held dueling news conferences Saturday, again turning up the heat even as both sides agree the official election results must include Florida's absentee ballots, which aren't due until Friday.

Democrats also warned against the rising tensions of what is becoming a postelection political campaign, saying the supporters of the vice president and Bush should keep from attacking each other while the recount continues.

"There should be much less said by the partisans on both sides of this issue," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. Until the absentee ballots are counted in Florida, she said, "everybody should just keep their powder dry."

Feinstein called Bush's legal motion "a terrible mistake . . . it's very important that we be sure about the results of this election."

Bill Carrick, a Democratic political consultant not affiliated with the Gore campaign, said the vice president last week ran the risk of being labeled a sore loser if he went to court first.

"I think the minute [Bush] filed a motion in federal court, they seized the moral low ground here," he said. "The burden now on them . . . is to get out of the way of the process."

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