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2000 US Presidential Election (An Independent in 2000)

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‹ 1996 Flag of the United States 2004
2000 American Presidential Elections
November 7, 2000
Charles Malcolm Edwards GeorgeWBush Al Gore, Vice President of the United States, official portrait 1994
Nominee Charles Malcolm Edwards George W. Bush Al Gore
Party Independent Republican Democratic
Home state Washington Texas Tennessee
Running mate John McCain Dick Cheney Joe Lieberman
Electoral vote 237+DC 167 133
States carried 20 18 12
Popular vote 25,429,598 22,341,275 21 489 156
Percentage 36.2% 32.2% 31%
US Electoral 2000
Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Bush/Cheney (18), Blue denotes those won by Gore/Lieberman (12), Green denotes those won by Edwards/McCain (20+D.C.).
President before election
Bill Clinton
Elected President
Charles Malcolm Edwards

The United States presidential election of 2000 was held on Tuesday, November 7, 2000, to elect the President of the United States. It was the 54th consecutive quadrennial election for President and Vice President. Independent candidate Charles Malcolm Edwards, two term mayor of Seattle, Washington, defeated Democratic Party candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President, and Republican Governor of Texas, George W. Bush. Bill Clinton, the incumbent President, was vacating the position after serving the maximum two terms allowed by the Twenty-second Amendment.

Edwards narrowly won the November 7 election, with 238 electoral votes to Gore's 133 and Bush's 167, and was declared the winner and 43rd President of the United States at 9:38 p.m. ET. Edwards won by a fair margin, but never achieved the 270 electoral vote majority. Thusly for the first time since the election of 1860 did the 12th Amendment had to be enacted for a President to be officially elected. After a month long hearing by the Senate, President-elect Edwards's original VP pick, Arizona Senator John McCain, was confirmed as the Vice President-elect of the United States.

Democratic Nomination

Democratic Party candidates

Democratic Party primaries

Serious early speculation surrounded Bill Bradley, a U.S. Senator and former basketball player for the New York Knicks, who had long been considered a potential Democratic contender for the presidency. In December 1998, Bradley formed a presidential exploratory committee and began organizing a campaign. Gore, however, had been considered the favorite for the Democratic nomination as early as 1997, with the commencement of President Bill Clinton’s second term. Though numerous candidates for the Democratic nomination tested the waters, including Senator John Kerry, Governor Howard Dean, Representative Richard Gephardt, and Reverend Jesse Jackson, only Gore and Bradley ultimately entered the contest.

Bill Bradley campaigned as the liberal alternative to Gore, taking positions to the left of Gore on a number of issues, including universal health care, gun control, and campaign finance reform. On the issue of taxes, Bradley trumpeted his sponsorship of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which had significantly cut tax rates while abolishing dozens of loopholes. He voiced his belief that the best possible tax code would be one with low rates and no loopholes, but he refused to rule out the idea of raising taxes to pay for his health care program.

Although both Gore and Bradley showed comparable success in terms of fund-raising, Bradley lagged behind Gore in many polls from the start and never gained a competitive position. Despite the late endorsement of the Des Moines Register. With the endorsement of President Clinton, Gore easily defeated Bradley in the Iowa Caucus; Gore garnered 64% of the votes, while Bradley received only 35%. Gore won the primary competition in New Hampshire as well, though by a significantly smaller margin, receiving 52% to Bradley’s 47%. After a resounding defeat on Super Tuesday, with Bradley failing to carry the majority of delegates in a single state, he withdrew from the race on March 9. None of Bradley's delegates were allowed to vote for him, so Gore won the nomination unanimously at the Democratic National Convention. Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman was nominated for Vice President by voice vote. Lieberman became the first Jewish American ever to be chosen for this position by a major party. Lieberman was chosen by Gore over five other finalists on his shortlist.

Republican Party nomination

Republican Party candidates

Several Republican candidates appeared on the national scene to challenge the nominee of the incumbent party-Al Gore-in the belief that Mayor Edwards would act as a spoiler against the Democratic ticket.

Republican candidates gallery

Republican Party primaries

George W. Bush became the early front runner, acquiring unprecedented funding and a broad base of leadership support based on his governorship of Texas and the name recognition and connections of the Bush family, particularly his father former president George H.W. Bush. Several GOP hopefuls withdrew before the Iowa Caucus due to their inability to secure funding and endorsements to remain competitive with Bush, leaving John McCain, Alan Keyes, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, and Orrin Hatch as the only candidates willing to challenge Bush. On January 24th Bush won the Iowa caucus with 41% of the vote. Forbes came in second with 30% of the vote. Keyes received 14%, Bauer 9%, McCain 5%, and Hatch 1%. Hatch dropped out. Bush easily became the favored candidate of the Christian right, and was portrayed in the media as the establishment candidate, while McCain, with the support of many moderate Republicans, portrayed himself as an insurgent who focused on campaign reform. On February 1st McCain won a 49%-30% victory over Bush in the New Hampshire primary, but was soundly defeated by Bush in the South Carolina primary. Some McCain supporters blamed the South Carolina loss on the Bush campaign, accusing them of mudslinging and dirty tricks, such as push polling that implied that McCain's adopted Bangladeshi-born daughter was an African-American child he fathered out of wedlock. McCain's campaign was largely crippled by the South Carolina, but continued to run an insurgent campaign. McCain tried to take the moral high ground with moderates by focusing on Bush's failure to denounce the Bob Jones University policy banning inter-racial dating, and his support of Rev. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, whom McCain referred to as agents of intolerance. By Super Tuesday Bush took the majority of the contests and won the Republican nomination on March 14, winning his home state of Texas and his brother JEB's home state of Florida. At the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia George W. Bush accepted the Nomination of the Republican party.

Independent Candidates

General Election

Although the campaign was focused mainly on domestic issues, mostly on how to utilize the projected budget surplus, competing reforms to health care, tax cuts, and education, foreign policy was often buried as an issue. On January 1st, 2000 Mayor Edwards officially announced his candidacy for president, and quickly became the focus of public attention.

Edwards secured a steady lead on the West Coast as early as February, gaining endorsements from Governors and Congressmen from California, Oregon, Washington, and the Mayors of Las Vegas and Reno. On February 24th, Gallup reported Edwards to have gained a 5 point lead in both Virginia and Illinois, and beginning to close the gap in other Rust Belt States. By this point the Gore and Bush campaigns were making serious plans on how to counter the Edwards insurgency.

On April 17, 2000, with the general election campaign heating up, Edwards surprised some observers by announcing that Arizona Senator John McCain would be his running mate. Reason for doing this was that McCain was popular among moderate Republicans, who had the potential of upsetting a Republican victory. McCain also bolstered Edwards image as an insurgent against the established order. In response to Mayor Edward's vice presidential choice, Gore chooses Joe Lieberman as his running mate on April 23, and Bush chose former secretary of defense Dick Cheney to be his VP.

Edwards continued his campaign across the country, with McCain hitting Red states with the Straight Talk Express. McCain's record as Senator, sponsorship of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, and military service with experience as a POW boosted Edwards significantly in the polls. On April 2nd the Edwards-McCain ticket was ahead in Nevada, Indiana, Colorado, and Arizona. During a rally in Des Moines, Iowa; Edwards laid out a plan to end US dependency of foreign oil, while bolstering support for American Auto Manufacturers and accused his opponents plans as either, "half-hearted, or more destructive than constructive." Gore was slow to respond, and Bush came off as disingenuous, and thus both suffered a slide in the polls. On April 13th, Edwards received his two greatest endorsements, one from the AFLCIO, and the other from the ACLU, the Edwards-McCain ticket rose ahead in Michigan, Maryland, and New Jersey.

The Edwards campaign rarely launched any attack ads without first being attacked themselves, and following a joint attack by the Gore and Bush campaigns on Edwards's love life, the Edwards campaign hit back with their most scathing attack yet. The ad outlined Gore's failure to denounce Bill Clinton's dishonesty to the American people, and George Bush's various drug and alcohol abuses. Republicans, who typically have an advantage with voters on moral issues, found themselves on the receiving end of a very thorough examination of their candidate's character, and could not claim the moral high-ground against Gore, as Edwards had already strongly denounced President Clinton's deceit in 1999 on the tonight show. Edwards cemented his claim to integrity by promising in an ad that he would, "Never lie to the American people, they can rest assured that they will have a hopeless romantic in the white house." The christian right continued to attack Edwards's deviant sex life, but Edwards attained national fan fair over how unapologetic he was about his love life.

At the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between July 31 - August 3, Bush was nominated as the Presidential Nominee while Cheney was nominated as the Vice Presidential Nominee. At the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, California between August 14 - August 17, Gore was nominated as the Presidential Nominee while Lieberman was nominated as the Vice Presidential Nominee. Attention was largely distracted from the convention speeches when Mayor Edwards appeared on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, where he gained the endorsement of famed comedian George Carlin after Edwards gave an oratory on how under his administration, censorship programs would be one of the first things to be cut for funds towards education reform. Maher was more interested on Edwards's childhood, and how he grew up as the adopted child of two black parents in the early 60s. Edwards came off as much more in touch with the struggles of the lower class than his opponents, and after the show his national public approval ratings rose by 5 points.

In the first Presidential debate at the University of Massachusetts on October 3rd, Edwards focused on bringing a level of intelligence and integrity to the presidency, citing how effective his policies have been in Seattle, and how they have been adapted by cities and states across the country. Bush tried to rebut Edwards's health care plan as socialist, where Edwards famously responded, "We have 40 million people in this country who cannot afford health care insurance, and I know from personal experience that the private sector is not the answer to the health care crisis. In 1978 my mother spent her last days in a hospital bed while I was at college, arguing with her insurers about treatment she was denied for ovarian cancer. She was 47, I was 16. That is just one example of the millions of cases in this country where corporate greed, and Washington selfishness have left a person to die, and I will not ever let that happen to another soul when I am President!" Edwards came off as a champion for the common good, but the Bush campaign stuck with its socialist smear campaign against Edwards.

In the first vice presidential debate at the Centre College in Danville, Kentucky on October 5th McCain continued to criticized the Clinton administration's handling of foreign policy targeting the failure of the administration in Somalia in 1993 and the administrations failure to do anything about the Rwandan genocide. McCain finished strongly against Cheney, who came off as untrustworthy, and Lieberman who came off as somewhat pompous.

Fourth party candidates

Ralph Nader was the most successful of fourth-party candidates, drawing 2.74% of the popular support in the final weeks. Edwards immediately recognized Nader's potential threat, and knew that he could act as a spoiler in future races. To stop Nader supporters from switching to Gore in the last days of the race, Edwards announced that he would nominate Ralph Nader as Commerce Secretary, and appoint him as chairman of a new Consumer Protection Committee. Nader accepted the job and his supporters quickly flocked to Edwards.

The election

On election day, November 7, 2000, Mayor Edwards and Senator McCain held a joint rally in Charlotte, North Carolina. With the exception of Pennsylvania and Ohio, Edwards carried the Rust Belt states by comfortable margins and also secured a victory on the West Coast. Carrying wins in Maryland, New Jersey, Virgina and North Carolina, some of the rural Midwestern farming states, Colorado, and New Hampshire. Gore was only able to sweep the Northeastern United States (with the sole exception of New Hampshire, which Edwards won with a good margin), Minnesota, Ohio, and New Mexico. The Bush Campaign carried the South and the rest of the Midwest with little effort. As the election returns came in on November 7, Edwards had by 9:30 PM EST won twenty states.

As the night wore on, the returns in a handful of small-to-medium sized states, including Wisconsin and Iowa, were extremely close. As the final national results were tallied the following morning, Edwards had clearly won a total of 238 electoral votes, with Gore had won 133, and Bush with 167 votes. 270 votes were needed to win. Edwards was declared the winner, but for the first time since the civil war the twelfth amendment had to be enacted to give Edwards the win, and McCain now had to be confirmed by the Senate. Regardless, Charles Malcolm Edwards became the first Independent candidate to be elected President of the United States at 9:38 pm EST.

Grand total

Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
Running mate Running mate's
home state
Count Pct
Charles Malcolm Edwards Independent Washington 45,429,598 43.1% 238 John McCain Arizona
Al Gore Democratic Tennessee 11 489 156 10.9% 133 Joseph Lieberman Conneticut
George W. Bush Republican Texas 26,341,275 25% 167 Dick Cheney Oklahoma
Pat Buchanan Reform Virginia 448,895 0.4% 0 Ezola B. Foster California
Harry Browne Libertarian Tennessee 384,431 0.4% 0 Art Olivier California
Howard Phillips Constitution Virginia 98,020 0.1% 0 Curtis Frazier Missouri
John Hagelin Natural Law / Reform Iowa 83,714 0.1% 0 Nat Goldhaber California
Total 105,405,100 100% 538  
Needed to win 270  

Results by state

Bush 2000 sticker
President McCain Gore-Lieberman Ticket
# State Winner Delegates
1 Washington Edwards/McCain 11
2 Oregon Edwards/McCain 7
3 California Edwards/McCain 55
4 Arizona Edwards/McCain 8
5 Nevada Edwards/McCain 4
6 New Mexico Gore/Lieberman 5
7 Colorado Edwards/McCain 8
8 Utah Bush/Cheney 5
9 Idaho Bush/Cheney 4
10 Montana Bush/Cheney 3
11 Wyoming Bush/Cheney 3
12 North Dakota Edwards/McCain 3
13 South Dakota Bush/Cheney 3
14 Nebraska Edwards/McCain 5
15 Kansas Edwards/McCain 6
16 Oklahoma Bush/Cheney 8
17 Texas Bush/Cheney 32
18 Louisiana Bush/Cheney 9
19 Arkansas Gore/Lieberman 6
20 Mississippi Bush/Cheney 7
21 Alabama Bush/Cheney 9
22 Georgia Bush/Cheney 13
23 Florida Bush/Cheney 25
24 South Carolina Bush/Cheney 8
25 North Carolina Edwards/McCain 14
26 Virginia Edwards/McCain 13
27 Tennessee Bush/Cheney 11
28 Kentucky Bush/Cheney 8
29 West Virginia Bush/Cheney 5
30 Ohio Gore/Lieberman 21
31 Indiana Edwards/McCain 12
32 Illinois Edwards/McCain 22
33 Michigan Edwards/McCain 18
34 Wisconsin Edwards/McCain 11
35 Minnesota Gore/Lieberman 10
36 Iowa Edwards/McCain
37 Maine Gore/Lieberman 5
38 Vermont Gore/Lieberman 3
39 New Hampshire Edwards/McCain 4
40 Massachusetts Gore/Lieberman 12
41 Rhode Island Gore/Lieberman 4
42 Connecticut Gore/Lieberman 8
43 New York Gore/Lieberman 33
44 Pennsylvania Gore/Lieberman 23
45 New Jersey Edwards/McCain 15
46 Delaware Edwards/McCain 3
47 Maryland Edwards/McCain 10
48 Missouri Bush/Cheney 11
49 Alaska Bush/Cheney 3
50 Hawaii Gore/Lieberman 4
51 Washington DC Edwards/McCain 3


It wasn't until September that the Gore and Bush campaigns began to aggressively question Edwards's right to run for President, as the location of his birth is unknown. Edwards defended this consistently, stating that he was an infant when his adopted family discovered him in Washington, and has no traces of where ever he came from. Genetic testing confirmed that Edwards was of Scotch-Irish descent, and was also a quarter Navajo. While this bolstered the argument that Edwards must have been born an American, the question was ultimately brought to court by the Bush campaign shortly following the results of the election. The Edwards campaign argued consistently that Edwards was raised an American from infancy, and has followed every other aspect of the Constitutional qualifications for president to the letter. The legal team also noted that it is discriminatory to adopted children to deem them less than American, simply for not being able to tell where they were born. The case found itself at the Supreme Court in December, where Edwards testified that he believed that as an adopted child, he was philosophically born as an American. After two weeks of deliberation and argument, the court ruled in a 5-4 decision that if someone is adopted in infancy in America, they are effectively naturalized American citizens. As such, Charles Malcolm Edwards was legally the President-elect of the United States.

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