WASHINGTON—George W. Bush's campaign said yesterday that a recount confirmed that he had won Florida's election and called on Al Gore to reconsider his decision to support court fights and further recounts in the state.
But the Gore campaign rejected the suggestion, insisting that "this election is not over." Florida's pivotal electoral votes remain up for grabs, with thousands of absentee votes still to be tallied.
Officials in several Florida counties have begun recounting thousands of ballots by hand, a process that could take days.
Bush's micron-thin lead statewide is down to 327 votes, according to the latest Associated Press count.
Street protests over the election, mostly by Gore supporters seeking revotes, continued in Florida and in the Texas capital. Anti-Bush demonstrators could be heard from inside the mansion where the governor and his transition advisers were meeting.
Yesterday, both sides continued to trade sharp retorts, though at a somewhat lower volume than they had Thursday.
The vice president's campaign muted its earlier threats about backing a court challenge, after some fellow Democrats reacted negatively to that idea. But Gore campaign chairman William M. Daley said his legal team is convinced that a disputed ballot in Palm Beach County was "unlawful" and is still looking at court options.
Bush officials warned that they would retaliate - and predicted a war without end in the courts. They added that they might ask for recounts in other states where Gore appears to have won narrowly, including Iowa, Wisconsin and Oregon.
"Let the country step back for a minute and pause and think about what's at stake here," said former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, who is heading the Bush team in Florida.
"This may be a last chance to do that. There is no reasonable end to this process if it slips away."
In a late-night conference call Friday, Bush gave Baker authority to seek a court injunction barring the manual recounts, according to several GOP officials involved in the discussions. The officials said it was very likely the injunction would be sought, but stressed that it was up to Baker to make the final decision.
A source close to Baker said the former secretary had not decided. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
Top Bush aides said the Gore forces were trying to win through unfair, extralegal means by asking for repeated recounts, which could lead to a time-consuming hand count of hundreds of thousands of Florida ballots.
Privately, Bush advisers expressed nervousness about the results of a hand count. In public, they suggested that it could lead to "tampering" with the election.
For the second day in a row, the campaigns projected contrasting images of their candidates to the nation, as they battled for the high ground of public opinion.
Each side said it was determined to put the interests of the country above those of its candidate, while raising questions about the motives of the opposition.
A businesslike Bush was shown going about the work of putting his administration together. He spoke briefly with reporters before meeting with top transition aides in Austin, Texas.
The governor's language was more restrained than it had been earlier in the week, when he voiced confidence about becoming the new president.