Though as of 7:35 p.m. central time, the race is still too close to call, there appears to be panic in the camp of Texas Gov. George W. Bush. In a sudden turnabout, Bush abandons plans to watch the election returns from a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin and instead opts to run for the cover of the governor's mansion.
"He preferred to be at home," says his aide, Gordon Johndroe. "He found his house was more relaxing than the hotel where there was a lot of activity." As preparations are made to bus the small pool of reporters and cameramen assigned to cover the governor over to the mansion, news comes via cellphone that one of the networks is about to call Pennsylvania for Vice President Al Gore, filling the last third of the Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania trifecta that is essential to any Gore victory.
"He's in retreat, he's running home," a senior Democratic official says by phone.
Not so fast: Gore still needs to carry his projected states plus at least one or two of the second-tier swing states before he gets the prize. That task, however, now looks far more attainable than it has at any time in the past month.