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What Message Does the Ashcroft Vote Send to the President?Aired February 1, 2001 - 4:06 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: As we've said, it was a bit of a battle getting John Ashcroft confirmed, and some have suggested that it may have been a preview of what could happen if President Bush taps a conservative for the U.S. Supreme Court. Maybe it would even be John Ashcroft.
For more on the politics of all this, we're joined from Washington today by Amy Walter of "The Cook Political Report." Amy, thanks for being with us again.
AMY WALTER, "THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT": Thank you, Joie.
CHEN: You know, I'm trying to come up with something pithy, here. Would it be the Democratic Eight or something? I mean, they are the people that went out on a bit of a limb to say, OK, we're going to vote with John Ashcroft despite what our party elders feel on all this. Why did they do it? They're from all kinds of different political parts of the spectrum. Why did they do? What does it mean for them?
WALTER: I don't know if there really was that much of a message sent to Bush as much there was a message sent from Democrat to their constituency groups. Remember, who were the groups who stood most strongly behind Gore during the problems in Florida? Those in African-American community, certainly on abortion issues, those groups in support of abortion rights had stood firmly with the Democrats and with Gore.
So by doing this, by coming forward, I think that the Democrats who voted against the nomination were sending a message, certainly more toward their constituency groups then against Bush. As for the folks who voted for Ashcroft, I don't think there is much to read into it.
I mean, for the most part, these are folks who have somewhat of a moderate to conservative bent in their philosophy and I don't think that we can look at that and say, well, maybe they're trying to cut some sort of deal with Bush or do anything like that. It's not surprising.
CHEN: Yes, it includes Feingold and Breaux. I think that's a pretty good gamut here. All right, just a quick question here about what this does for Mr. Bush. Did he expend a lot of political capital in getting his man into the attorney general's seat? WALTER: Oh, I don't think that he is coming out of this bruised or battered at all, and quite frankly, I don't think that Ashcroft comes in -- certainly he comes in maybe a little bit chastened, but I don't think he comes in with two black eyes.
Look, I don't think it was a coincidence at all that you had President Bush sitting down, meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus yesterday. He is actually going out and sitting down with Democrats at their retreats this coming weekend.
And so, I think, look, when you look at what happened to Clinton in the beginning of his first administration, the amount of trouble that he went through to push his nominees through and the ones who had to back off consistently, this has been really a dream.
CHEN: It took him quite a long time.
WALTER: I think that he looks good.
CHEN: All right, Amy Walter, "The Cook Political Report." Thanks for a quick view from you from Washington today.
WALTER: Thank you.
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