Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ashcroft Appointment Not a Done Deal, Democrats Say

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ashcroft Appointment Not a Done Deal, Democrats Say

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Several influential Democrats said yesterday that they are distressed by President-elect Bush's Cabinet choices to date, mentioning attorney general-designate John Ashcroft as a particular problem because of his opposition to abortion and gun control measures.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called Ashcroft's prospects at Senate confirmation for attorney general "hardly a done deal" and said he is "truly worried" that Ashcroft would not enforce federal laws banning violence against abortion clinics or laws that restrict gun ownership. In fact, Schumer commented that Ashcroft would work to repeal those laws.

"He is far and away the most troubling choice," Schumer said on ABC's "This Week." "The question is will Senator Ashcroft enforce the law of the land on things that he's morally opposed to."

However, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, appearing on the same program, said he would be surprised if the Senate does not confirm Ashcroft, the defeated senator from Missouri who has served as that state's attorney general and governor.

"He is a man of integrity. He is a man of great experience," Hatch said. "I have no doubt, as a former attorney general and hopefully as this attorney general, he will enforce the law, regardless of whether he agrees with it or not."

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., also expressed concerns about Ashcroft, saying that he and other Democrats intend to ask him tough questions during his confirmation hearings, specifically whether he intends to enforce civil rights laws that protect minorities and statutes protecting equal rights for women.

"He has to convince a lot of his colleagues and a lot of those who are concerned ... that he can do that," Daschle told NBC's "Meet the Press."

Senate Republican Whip Don Nickles of Oklahoma said he doesn't understand why Ashcroft's critics are "taking these unfair cracks at him. …

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