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Transition of Power: Attorney General Nominee John Ashcroft to Face Contentious Confirmation Hearing TomorrowAired January 15, 2001 - 1:27 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The trial-by-fire starts tomorrow for George W. Bush's intensely controversial nominee for attorney general. John Ashcroft goes before a Senate Judiciary Committee that's sure to have many hard questions -- the Democrats, anyway -- about guns, abortion rights and race.
CNN's Tony Clark joins us now from Austin with a preview -- Tony.
TONY CLARK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, it no doubt it will be a very contentious confirmation hearing. Patrick Leahy, who is the ranking Democrat on there, says that Ashcroft is not a racist, he's not a radical, he's not a religious bigot, but he is a divisive choice, and when you look down certain issues, you can see why he is opposed by a number of groups. Women's groups oppose him because of his stand on abortion. He opposes abortion except in the case of saving the life of the woman. And as a senator, he was favoring a constitutional ban on abortion.
Gun control: He opposes any kind of a ban on assault-type weapons or other federal steps to have tighter gun control. Sen. Ashcroft has opposed laws -- racial preference laws. He's opposed the nomination of Ronnie White, an African-American Supreme Court judge in Missouri, to become a federal judge. As a senator, he voted against some hate crimes legislation, although while he was in Missouri as governor, he did sign into law a piece of legislation that toughens some of the penalties in regard to hate crimes. Desegregation: While he was attorney general in Missouri, he battled public school desegregation court orders.
And so these are the kinds of issues that we're going to hear over the next couple of days as the confirmation hearings get under way. The bottom line, Natalie, is that he will most likely be confirmed by the Senate once George W. Bush becomes president and Dick Cheney the tie-breaking head of the Senate. Republicans will have a 51-vote majority there. So the expectation is that Ashcroft will be confirmed, but there will be a lot of argument going before that happens -- Natalie.
ALLEN: All right, Tony Clark in Austin. Thanks, Tony.
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