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Statement of Representative J.C. Watts, Jr. (R.-Okla.)
Chairman, House Republican Conference
Testimony before Senate Judiciary Committee on Ashcroft nomination

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                Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Hatch, senators of the
Judiciary Committee, thank you for affording me the opportunity to address
the nomination of Senator John Ashcroft to be attorney general of the United

          Let me say here at the outset that any man or woman, Republican or
Democrat, liberal or conservative, that would sit through this process for
three days and have bombs thrown at him should be confirmed for whatever.

          Mr. Chairman, John Ashcroft is a man of the highest integrity. I
have worked with him in the renewal alliance, putting together legislation
targeting poor and underserved communities for homeownership, savings, job
creation and capital formation. (The president signed this legislation into
law about a month ago.)

          I have campaigned with him in Saint Louis and have known him for
six years. I have never known him to be a racist nor have I ever detected
anything but dignity and respect for one's skin color from John Ashcroft.

He is a man of principle.  He has been scrupulously put through an
inquisition of mammoth proportion and it is safe to say this committee has
looked into everything dealing with the career and character of John
Ashcroft. We all know that no one is going to please all of you all of the
time. But John Ashcroft takes defending and upholding the law seriously, and
that is what matters most.

The responsibility of the attorney general is to defend and uphold the law -
not to make the law. It is the responsibility of Congress to make law.

I have watched bits and pieces of these hearings during the last two,
two-and-a-half days. I haven't watched all of them - believe it or not,
Little League, soccer and junior varsity basketball games go on in spite of
these very important hearings.

There is not a lot I can say today that hasn't already been said during
these proceedings. However, I will say I am delighted that outside groups
aren't making the determination on Senator Ashcroft. I heard Senator Biden
say yesterday that he did not trust many of the interest groups. Senator
Biden, I agree with you. Neither do I. I have been blind-sided by them
before and so many of these groups totally disregard facts. Not only do they
want their own opinion, they want their own facts. So, Senator Biden, I can
relate to what you said yesterday.

I am delighted that people who know Senator Ashcroft best will make the call
on his confirmation, and in your deliberations I would ask you to consider
his qualities, his qualifications and his integrity.

Last Monday, after observing Doctor King's birthday, my eleven-year-old
daughter and I were watching the Disney movie, "The Fox and the Hound." I
watched the movie for about an hour - and then the movie watched me as I
went to sleep on it. However, I've seen it twenty-three times.  This is a
must-see movie.

The story is: Copper (Hound Puppy) and Tod (the orphaned Fox) became the
best of friends. 'Did everything together. They laughed and played together
to no end. Then one day Copper (Hound) and Tod (the Fox) were grown up. Tod
wanted to get together with old Copper and Copper's heart missed a beat in
having to tell Tod, "I can't play with you anymore, I'm a hunting dog now."

In other words, I can't be your friend anymore. Forget we were the best of
friends. Forget we laughed together and played together. Forget all those
great times together and all those other things.

Well, members of the committee, I'm not saying John Ashcroft has been best
friends with all of you, however, over the last six years you have seen his
heart. You know he is not a racist, as some would suggest.

Yes, you know that just like Senator Lieberman, John Ashcroft's faith is
important to him. They both never want their faith to be offensive to
anyone, yet they never apologize for it.

You have observed Senator Ashcroft to be a man of compassion, strength and

He is extremely qualified to be the next attorney general of the greatest
nation in the world.

Obviously, this decision will rest with the Senate, but I encourage your
support for John Ashcroft as the next attorney general to uphold the laws
and the Constitution of the United States, so help him God.

Thank you very much., 2001

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