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Women’s groups support Ashcroft in Washington news conference

WASHINGTON (BP)–Representatives from nearly 20 renowned women’s organizations have rallied behind President-elect Bush’s choice of Sen. John Ashcroft for attorney general, calling the candidate one of the few ethical and honest men in Washington, CNSNews.com reported Jan. 11.

Characterizing Ashcroft as an individual of “real integrity” and “principle,” Family Research Council spokeswoman Janet Parshall criticized those who have objected to his nomination based on what she described as false accusations and unfair personal attacks that have been escalated in the press.

“The issue [with opponents to Ashcroft’s confirmation] is not his record, for that is impeccable,” Parshall said during a Jan. 11 news conference at the Concerned Women for America headquarters in Washington. “The issue is his ideas … [and] this is called the destruction of a man because of his beliefs.”

Those who have voiced dissent with Ashcroft’s nomination include the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the black empowerment group National Urban League, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, the American Civil Liberties Union and People for the American Way.

Kate Michelman of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League has promised to “spend whatever it takes” to ensure Ashcroft is not confirmed to the position, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D.-Calif., has questioned his ability to uphold civil rights laws.

Labeling him a hard-line conservative, opponents are critical of Ashcroft’s views on a variety of issues, ranging from abortion and religious freedom to pornography and gun control.

Fear, more than adherence to the truth, has driven those opposed to Ashcroft to publicly condemn his nomination, the women speakers agreed Jan. 11, while outlining his actions while attorney general, governor and senator of Missouri as proof of the falsity of the attacks.

“We’re about to go back to the rule of law … and for a lot of people, that is scary,” Parshall said, referring to the years with Attorney General Janet Reno as lacking in the unbiased enforcement of existing regulations.

Ashcroft, meanwhile, not only has consistently upheld the law during the tenures of his varied offices, said Rita Thompson, spokeswoman for the Coalition of People of Color for a Clear Choice, but has also demonstrated his commitment to elevating those with ability, regardless of ethnic background.

“He has appointed several black judges,” Thompson said, according to the CNSNews.com report, “[and] supported the historical Lincoln University that was founded by black soldiers. We do not think this is cause to call him racist.”

Ashcroft was also credited with signing into law Missouri’s first hate crimes bill, legislatively recognizing Martin Luther King’s birthday, cosponsoring a Violence Against Women Act and strengthening gun crime penalties.

“I can sum up Ashcroft in one word: honest,” said Anita Blair, president of the Independent Women’s Forum. “John Ashcroft tells the truth, not only to other people, but to himself … and that’s a rarity in Washington, D.C. When John Ashcroft is sworn in as attorney general … he will mean every word.”

Others speaking at the Jan. 11 news conference included Beverly LaHaye, founder and chairperson of the Concerned Women for America; Lori Cole, executive director of the Eagle Forum; Donna Rice Hughes, a spokesperson for Enough is Enough and an adviser during congressional meetings on Internet child pornography; and Patricia Coll, with the National Right to Life.

The National Organization for Women was also represented, though the group has voiced an opposition to Ashcroft for his stance on abortion.

Marie Jose-Ragab, president of “the dissident branch of NOW” members — formed in opposition to their organization’s support of President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky affair — expressed the belief that Ashcroft would uphold laws that were ignored by Reno.
Chumley is a staff writer with CNSNews.com. Used by permission.

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  • Cheryl K. Chumley