Tim Russert is NBC News’ Washington bureau chief and host of Meet the Press.  He regularly offers MSNBC.com’s readers his insight and analysis into questions about politics past, present and future.

MSNBC:  Tim, with Senator John Kerry expected to concede in a 1 p.m. speech today and President George W. Bush set to speak about 3:00 p.m., where do we go from here?

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Tim Russert:  The president does not have to seek re-election anymore.  Will he use the opportunity of a second term to try to unite the country, to find common ground?

That was certainly the theme of Senator Kerry's phone call to him and it's also what many people who have known the First Family for some time, are urging the president to do.

The former senator from Wyoming, Alan Simpson, has been very strong in this -- that the system is really being tested and that, with several Supreme Court nominations coming up and no doubt there will be major changes in the Bush cabinet, there's going to have to be some attempt to reach some concilation between Democrats and Republicans if the president wants to have a successful term.

MSNBC:  What about the Kerry-Edwards demand that every vote be counted?  Senator John Edwards even reiterated it Tuesday night.

Russert:  I thought Sen. Edwards, Tuesday night, gave his troops the sense that they fought the good fight.  There’s a fine line between fighting the good fight and carrying on something that is futile and divisive.

MSNBC:  Did he still have a chance to win Ohio?

Russert:  It'd be pretty tough.  If you look at those votes, he has a deficit of 135,000 votes in Ohio.  He would have to have a royal flush.  Every provisional ballot would have to be for him.  Every overseas ballot would have to be for him.  It’d be pretty hard.  But, nothing’s impossible.

What they were saying last night was they thought more votes would come in from Cuyahoga county, raw votes, and the margin of victory would be around 50,000 – and they really wanted to contest that.

He wanted to wait and see how the other states went, because as long as it was possible for him to reach 270 votes – and it was.  If, as it looked, he won Wisconsin, Minnesota and New Hampshire, that would give him 252 and if he won Ohio, it would be 272.

MSNBC:  In the past elections, Democrats have been known for their ground campaign, but it appears the Republicans reversed course on them this time out.

Russert:  They certainly did.  In 2000 George W. Bush went into the final weekend with about a three-point lead.  They thought they lost some of it with the revelation of his DWI, but they also thought they were outgunned on the ground.

The fascinating thing about this election was we all talked about new registrants, young voters and get out the vote, suggesting it was a Democratic game. What the Republicans were able to do was match it voter for voter.

The rural voters – evangelical Christians – poured out to the polls.  When John Kerry said this is the most important election of our lifetime, not only the college kids, but the evangelicals said, “you’re right.  We’ll see you at the voting booths.”

MSNBC:  What happened to the anticipated big youth vote?  They came out in the same percentage – 17% - this election as they did in 2000?

Russert:  Right, but last time they voted for Al Gore over George W. Bush 48%-46%.  They were considerably much more in support of John Kerry this time – but with no overwhelming total number.

Video: What happened?

And they were outgunned by the rural voters and evangelical Christians and the so-called “security moms” or “moral moms”.  Every one of these states that had a resolution or amendment to ban gay marriage, it passed two and three to one.  People had an agenda.  They put their moral values ahead of some of their economic interests.

The Democrats thought they had a war, they thought they had a weak economy and they were – for the first time in my lifetime, dollar-for-dollar – able to match spending.

They couldn’t get it done.

MSNBC:  If we get a John Kerry concession speech and George W. Bush victory speech, where do we go from here?

Russert:  What you’d have then, with George W. Bush re-elected, is two open primaries.  You have the Republican primary and the Democratic primary.  You have Hillary Clinton, John Edwards & Howard Dean.  You have Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Bill Frist.  Think about it.  It starts now.


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