Harrowing presidential outcome awaits recount in Fla.

In a surprising turn of events that capped a dramatic night of ups and downs for the presidential campaigns of Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush and Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore, the national television networks this morning retracted their call of the race in favor of Bush, prompting Gore to retract a concession of defeat he had earlier offered his foe.

The fog of presidential campaign war centered on Florida, which the networks first called for Gore, then said was too close to call, then gave to Bush, and then gave to no one- as Bush's lead in the state early today shrank to just over 600 votes with 99.9 percent of the votes tallied, according to the Florida secretary of state's office.

Although Gore overtook Bush in nationwide popular vote totals and held a narrow lead early today, it appeared certain that the winner of Florida's 25 electoral votes would take the election. A recount in the state will likely begin today, Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth indicated this morning.

Until the Florida count is official, Gore will not conceed the race, according to Gore's campaign chairman, William Daley. "This race is simply to close to call," Daley told newly revived Gore supporters early this morning in Nashville. "Until the recount is concluded and the results in Florida become official, our campaign continues."

Soon afterward, the Bush campaign's national finance chairman, Don Evans, emerged before Bush partisans in Austin, Texas, to indirectly acknowledge that victory remained elusive. "We hope and believe we have elected the next president of the United States," Evans said. "I'm confident when it's all said and done we will prevail."

Butterworth did not say how long the recount would take, although he said it "should be done in a really short period of time."

Butterworth vowed that the job would be done fairly and that observers from both sides would be invited to oversee the effort. After the networks called Florida for Bush Tuesday evening, Gore telephoned the governor to concede. But after his advisers urged him to hold off, the vice president soon was on the phone again telling Bush that their contest was not yet done.