Elections are prone to excitement, eagerness, anxiety, and even mishap. The presidential election is a large undertaking that involves a lot of people and organization. Voters recognize it as an important, perhaps sacred, opportunity. There can be a surreal feeling (almost an "out of body" sensation) to participate in an event bigger than oneself.
This surreal feeling became particularly strong in the evening of November 7, 2000, when the networks erroneously declared that Gore was the winner of Florida. The announcement set the stage for what was to come. It fed citizens the false expectation that he was the true winner. As a result, people carried this belief into the days ahead as he sought manual recounts. It led Gore's followers to suspect a conspiracy, that somehow the election was undermined by evil Republicans. The media and Democrats were guilty of ushering in this feeling, fostering it in order to keep the Gore campaign alive.
People naturally wondered, "how could it be that Gore lost the election? After all, Tom Brokaw said he won!". (I further address the networks' role later in this article.)
On most election nights the losing candidate would address his/her supporters with a concession speech. On this night, however, after the results of the Florida election became clearer, Gore made the decision not to give a concession speech. Actually, it was his campaign chairman, William Daley, who prevented him from taking the stage. "Don't let him go out!", Daley shouted.
Instead of a Gore concession speech, Around 3:00am William Daley took to the stage and delivered a powerful message to the rain-drenched supporters. "Our campaign continues", he proclaimed.
The language of his speech foreshadowed the Gore mantra that followed in the days ahead.
After Daley's announcement, the Gore team held a meeting with their advisors and lawyers.
They reviewed Florida's election laws and decided the results were close enough
to proceed diligently with a recounting plan.
They were going to change the outcome of the election!