Missouri Senator Shares His Vision

Article excerpt

Running for president isn't a last-minute kind of thing.

It requires planning and an early start, which explains why

U.S. Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo., was at a 7 a.m. prayer breakfast

in Jacksonville on Friday.

Ashcroft, a former two-term governor of Missouri, is testing

the waters for a run at the Republican presidential nomination

in 2000.

He expects to make a decision next year, after the 1998

congressional elections. Ashcroft's Senate term ends in 2000.

In the meantime, he plans to share his vision of America around

the country, saying, "to the extent that that's endorsed, it

will encourage" him to move forward with his presidential

aspirations.

Ashcroft's vision is of an America in which "the values of the

people are imposed on government, not that the values of

Washington are imposed on the people."

Too often, he said, the values of the people are displaced by

the values of the elite. He cited the president's veto of

legislation banning partial-birth abortions and the U.S. Supreme

Court decision that legalized abortion as examples of Americans'

values being displaced.

For Ashcroft, the values of the people are those expressed by

the Christian Coalition. The son of a preacher, Ashcroft was the

keynote speaker Friday at the Florida Christian Coalition's

Faith and Family Prayer Breakfast in Jacksonville's First

Baptist Church.

Ashcroft said Americans have been endowed with the right to

shape the tomorrow in which they live, and that's the definition

of freedom. The American experience, he said, is predicated on

the principle that the people would have the capacity to shape

the world in which they live.

Ashcroft is trying to shape a presidential campaign by building

support among conservative Christians on the political right.

It's the same territory former Vice President Dan Quayle has

staked out.

Ashcroft, 55, has spent the past 24 years in government, mostly

in his home state of Missouri. He served as state auditor,

attorney general and governor before being elected to the Senate

in 1994.

In the Senate, Ashcroft sponsored legislation that enables

charitable and faith-based organizations to compete for

contracts in cases in which states use the private sector to

deliver welfare services to the poor.

To highlight the success of that legislation, Ashcroft toured

the City Rescue Mission Friday after his breakfast speech. The

mission provides food, shelter, job training and spiritual

guidance to Jacksonville's homeless.

COALITION GAINS GROUND: The Christian Coalition has come a long

way in Florida politics. …