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Special Event

Sen. Orrin Hatch Addresses Full Senate in Debate Over Ashcroft Nomination

Aired January 31, 2001 - 10:47 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We go to the nation's capital in Washington, D.C., another heated debate, this time not about a flag, this one about the next potential attorney general of the United States, John Ashcroft. Let's listen in now to Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: She was pro-abortion. She had said so. She was anti-death penalty. She had said so. On both of these issues, among others, she had a totally different ideological view than almost all of the Republican senators serving at the time. But she committed to uphold the laws of the land regardless of her personal views. And we, Republicans, accorded her the benefit of the doubt, which I believe that President Bush's nominee clearly deserves, and especially since we all know him. I ask that we evaluate this man based on his record, his testimony, and based, my fellow colleagues, on your personal experience with him.

We know that John Ashcroft is not an extremist. That is the image of him that has been painted through a vicious campaign by a well-organized group of left-wing special interest activists. They have a right to be active. They have a right to complain. They have a right to find fault. They have a right to, you know, to present their case. But they don't have a right to impugn or distort -- impugn a man of integrity or distort his record, which I think they've done.

Sometimes in life, though, the measure of a person is best seen during times of adversity. So it is with John Ashcroft, who, after a difficult battle for something that meant a great deal to him, reelection to the United States Senate, resisted calls to challenge the outcome of that election. His own words during this difficult time say it best, in my opinion. Quote, "Some things are more important than politics. I believe doing what's right is the most important thing we can do. I think as public officials we have the opportunity to model values for our culture, responsibility, dignity, decency integrity and respect. And if we can only model those when it's politically expedient to do so, we have never modeled the values, we have only modeled political expediency," unquote.

Now, contrary to what a few special interest groups with a narrow political agenda would have us believe, these are not the words of an extremists or a divisive ideologue, these are the words of a fine public servant who is a man of his word and of faith...

KAGAN: We've been listening to comments from Sen. Orrin Hatch, obviously a supporter of John Ashcroft as the next attorney general of the United States. There are those who are not in favor of Mr. Ashcroft, and we'll be bringing you those comments live as well later in the morning.

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