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CNN Today

Ashcroft Senate Confirmation Vote Under Way

Aired February 1, 2001 - 1:51 p.m. ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PHIL GRAMM (R), TEXAS: I'm beginning to wonder if this was all an effort to smear and defeat John Ashcroft, or whether this was an effort to cow John Ashcroft, whether this is an effort of those who lost the election who hold views that are alien to the views of most Americans to try, through smearing John Ashcroft, to cow him in office, and in the process, prevent him from carrying out George Bush's mandate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: One of the senators from Mr. Bush's home state, Phil Gramm of the state of Texas, speaking earlier in his remarks during the confirmation -- the debate over the confirmation of John Ashcroft for attorney general of the United States.

CNN's Jonathan Karl is our man on Capitol Hill at this hour watching as the proceedings continue in the Senate -- Jon, how is the vote going now?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joie, we have had a couple of interesting votes just in the last few minutes.

First, we had another Democrat coming out and voting in favor of the Ashcroft nomination, bring the total to seven Democrats. That Democrat was Ben Nelson, a freshman senator from the state of Nebraska, another one of those states carried by an overwhelming majority by George W. Bush in the election -- so clearly Ben Nelson listening to his constituents in this case.

Then we have another interesting vote: Jean Carnahan, who of course is the widow of Mel Carnahan, the former governor of Missouri who became a senator because of Carnahan's death. Now, Jean Carnahan, a fellow Missourian -- a fellow Missourian like Ashcroft -- is voting no, voting against her home state, voting against somebody who is a long-time political rival of her husband. One other thing: Max Cleland of Georgia voting no -- back to you.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Jonathan Karl, thank you.

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