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Dan Ratherisms
The Wit and Wisdom of Dan Rather

Election Night 2004 | Election Night 2002 | Election Night 2000

Compiled by Daniel Kurtzman

Quotes from CBS Anchor Dan Rather on Election Night 2004

"Do you hear that knocking...President Bush's re-election is at the door."

"This race is hotter than a Times Square Rolex."

"His lead is as thin as turnip soup."

"This race is humming along like Ray Charles."

"The presidential race is swinging like Count Basie."

"This race is hotter than the Devil's anvil."

"Ohio becomes like a sauna for the two candidates. All they can do is wait and sweat."

"One's reminded of that old saying, 'Don't taunt the alligator until after you've crossed the creek.'"

"This situation in Ohio would give an aspirin a headache.''

"Bush is sweeping through the South like a big wheel through a cotton field."

"What Kerry needs at this point is the equivalent of Tom Brady coming off the bench to rescue him. But it's still too close to call."

"No question now that Kerry's rapidly reaching the point where he's got his back to the wall, his shirttails on fire and the bill collector's at the door."

"John Kerry needs something on the order of a 55 or 60-yard field goal to win this."

(To Joe Lockhart) "I know that you'd rather walk through a furnace in a gasoline suit than consider the possibility that John Kerry would lose Ohio."

(To Joe Lockhart) "What about Michigan? It's been out there for a long time. Is that making your fingernails sweat?"

"This presidential race has been crackling like a hickory fire for at least the last hour and a half."

"Let's see where it goes from here. Round and round it goes, where it stops nobody knows."

"We keep talking about Ohio if you've been tuning in and out or you put the baby to bed or you went to pop the cap on an adult, or otherwise, beverage..."

"We used to say if a frog had side pockets, he'd carry a handgun."

"No one is saying that George Bush is not going to win the election, and if you had to bet the double-wide, you'd have to bet that he'd win."

"In southern states they beat him like a rented mule."

"If you try to read the tea leaves before the cup is done you can get yourself burned."

"We need Billy Crystal to Analyze This"

"You know that old song, 'it's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely' for President Bush in most areas of the country."

"We had a slight hitch in our giddy up, but we corrected that."

"In some ways, George Bush's lead is as thin as November ice."

"Put on a cup of coffee, this race isn't going to be over for a while."

"You look at the map and say it's all a big Bush victory. But this is one time when your Mother is right, looks can be deceiving."

"John Kerry's moon has just moved behind a cloud, as far as Florida is concerned."

On Kerry's chances: "To use a metaphor, he's gotta draw to an inside straight. But hey, sometimes you get lucky and hit that straight."

"Is it like a swan, with every feather above the water settled, but under the water paddling like crazy?"

"What you have here is the football equivalent of a fourth quarter rally by Kerry."

The election is "closer than Lassie and Timmy"

"Keep in mind they are teetotally meetmortally convinced they have Ohio won."

"Vice President Dick Cheney would not have flown all the way out there (Hawaii) overnight and put that lei around his neck and sort of hula-danced, if you will, unless he thought there was a chance of carrying that out there."

"President Bush smiling there with his family. He's laid down aces so far."

"You can almost hear the GOP (deep breathing sound). We're getting within maybe smelling distance."

"We don't know what to do. We don't know whether to wind a watch or bark at the moon."

On how the results are affecting strategists: "It's one reason so many of them drink a lot."

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), on being congratulated on victory by Rather: "Thanks Dan, I always believe you." Rather: "Now, ladies and gentleman, if you believe that, you'll believe rocks can grow."

Quotes from Dan Rather on Election Night 2002

"Could be game set and match Republicans."

"They're about first and goal from 4 yards out." 

"Tight as the pages in a book." 

"President Bush is hoping to ace his first midterm." 

"Crackling like a hickory fire." 

"Two hands worth of white knuckle still hanging ten." 

"Reminds you of that old Will Rogers line, it takes a lot of money just to get beaten." 

"It's beginning to get exciting as the Democrats' fingernails are starting to sweat"

Quotes from Dan Rather on Election Night 2000 

"This race is shakier than cafeteria Jell-O."

"Turn the lights down, the party just got wilder."

"It's cardiac-arrest time in this presidential campaign."

"He swept through the South like a tornado through a trailer park."

"Don't bet the trailer money yet."

"It's too early to say he has the whip hand."

"Now Florida, that race, the heat from it is hot enough to peel house paint."

"It's a ding dong battle back and forth."

"If he doesn't carry Florida Slim will have left town."

"If a frog had side pockets, he'd carry a hand gun."

"They both have champagne on ice, but after the night is over, they might need a pick axe to open them."

"This race is tight like a too-small bathing suit on a too-long ride home from the beach."

"It's about as complicated as a wiring diagram to some dynamo."

"Only votes talk — everything else walks."

"This will show you how tight it is — it's spandex tight."

"We're going to go to some of those longnecks from a long time ago."

"He's going to find that people will hang on him like a coat rack."

"This election swings like one of those pendulum things."

"This race is as tight as the rusted lug nuts on a '55 Ford."

"What we know is that there will be no decision until some of those races are decided."

"Al Gore has his back to the wall, shirt tails on fire with this race in Florida."

"You talk about a ding-dong, knock-down, get-up race."

"When it comes to a race like this, I'm a long distance runner and an all-day hunter."

"It's the American way: if you don't vote, you don't get to whine."

"Smelling salts for all Democrats please."

"Maybe you can bring some perspective on this, we're plum out."

"When the going gets weird, anchor men punt."

"Tipper is probably telling her husband to hook a U, go back to the house to get a recount."

"It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat, Republican or a mug wamp, elected officials play it straight."

"Florida is the whole deal, the real deal, a big deal."

"The presidential race still hotter than a Laredo parking lot."

"These returns are running like a squirrel in a cage."

"It was as hot and squalid as a New York elevator in August."

"Bush has run through Dixie like a big wheel through a cotton field."

"This will have the people in Austin standing up like they got stuck with hat pins." 

"...in Austin, between the 10 gallon hats and the Willie Nelson head bands."

"The big burrito out there in California"

"They'll be doing back flips in Nashville."

"It would be Shakespearean for Al Gore to lose because of his home state."

"I think you would likelier see a hippopotamus run through this room than see George Bush appoint Ralph Nader to the Cabinet."

"None of this television mumbo jumbo, let's get in there and count the votes."   

"Frankly we don't know whether to wind the watch or to bark at the moon."

"We've lived by the crystal ball, we're eating so much broken glass. We're in critical condition."

~Compiled by Daniel Kurtzman

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