Bush Abandons Scorched Earth Campaign

Drops Iowa Challenge

 WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 16—George W. Bush announced this afternoon he would not challenge Al Gore's narrow victory in Iowa. This is a key decision because it calls into question Bush's determination to challenge Gore victories in other battleground states.

Winning some of those swing states would be crucial for Bush, should he lose Florida. The states in question include New Mexico (5), Oregon (7), and Wisconsin (11).

If Florida opts for Gore, then Bush might have eked out 271 votes in the electoral college by overturning the vote in Iowa, Oregon, and Wisconsin. In a worst-case scenario, he could still end up in a 269-269 tie with the vice president by overturning the results in Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Oregon. That would throw the election into the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Today was important because the deadline for challenging results in Iowa comes at the close of the business day.

Here's a rundown on where things stand:

Iowa: Bush picked up 1000 additional votes in the official statewide canvass, but that still left him trailing Gore by 4047. Some 3.1 million votes were cast.

Oregon: Gore leads here by 4186 votes out of 1.5 million cast.

Wisconsin: Gore's ahead by 5816 out of 2.5 million. The state's doing an official canvass, due to be finished Friday. There are serious claims of vote fraud, with students at Marquette University saying they voted as many as four times. Republicans claim Democrats were handing out cigarettes to homeless people in Milwaukee to get them to vote for Gore.

New Mexico: In this seesaw race, Gore's ahead by 377 votes. The vote still has to be officially certified, and the deadline for filing for a recount is the end of the first week of December.

 
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