Dan Rather: When the going gets weird, anchormen punt

For generations of Americans, CBS News' Dan Rather was the face of election night.
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Election Night 2004

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

"His lead is as thin as turnip soup."

"The presidential race is swinging like Count Basie."

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

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

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

"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 campaign adviser Joe Lockhart)

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

"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."

"We need Billy Crystal to 'Analyze This'."

"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?"

The election is "closer than Lassie and Timmy".

"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." (The Grand Old Party, or GOP, is the Republican Party.)

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

Senator John McCain, congratulated on Bush's victory: "Thanks Dan, I always believe you." Rather: "Now, ladies and gentleman, if you believe that, you'll believe rocks can grow."

Mid-term Election Night 2002

"Could be game, set and match Republicans."

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

"Tight as the pages in a book."

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

"It's beginning to get exciting. The Democrats' fingernails are starting to sweat."

Election Night 2000

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

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

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

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

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

"Votes talk, everything else walks."

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

"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."

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

"Smelling salts for all Democrats..."

"When the going gets weird, anchormen punt."

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

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

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

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

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

"The big burrito out there in California."

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

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