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
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
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
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
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 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. …