February 19th, 2010
02:58 PM ET
5 years ago

Ashcroft warns conservatives not to get too confident

John Ashcroft returned to the spotlight Friday at CPAC.
John Ashcroft returned to the spotlight Friday at CPAC.

Washington (CNN) - Former Attorney General John Ashcroft warned conservatives against overconfidence Friday during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

"I think I overheard someone whispering the reason why Ashcroft was brought to the conference. You see, Ashcroft is the only person ever to lose his Senate seat to a deceased opponent. And he is here to keep the conservatives from getting overconfident too early for the 2010 elections." Ashcroft joked. "Let me say to you don't get overconfident too early."

In 2000, Ashcroft, then a senator from Missouri, lost his re-election race to deceased Gov. Mel Carnahan, who had passed away in a plane crash a month before Election Day.

During his speech to the friendly audience, the former attorney general also echoed a refrain that has become a CPAC rallying cry.

"Keep working hard too long and we will celebrate the victory – not just a victory for conservatives or not just a victory for Republicans, but a victory for the United States of America and for freedom at the end of this year," Ashcroft encouraged the crowd. "Keep the intensity up and keep the energy up."

Ashcroft also earned applause with a not-so-subtle dig at the Obama administration's counterterrorism policies.

"If you refuse to call a war a war, you are unlikely to be able to defend it successfully," said Ashcroft. "If the terrorist is making war on you, and you refuse to confess that you are at war with the terrorist, when you make a response, you might limit your response improperly."

Ashcroft has largely avoided the political circuit since stepping down as attorney general, but was at CPAC to receive the "Defender of the Constitution Award."


Filed under: CPAC • John Ashcroft
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. CBass

    CPAC speakers: a noun, a verb, & Barack Obama! These people are obsessed with Obama. Wow!

    How do you intend to fix the economy? Barack Obama uses a teleprompter.

    How are you going to fix health care? Barack Obama is Scolder n' Chief.

    What are you going to do about jobs? Barack Obama has big ears.

    Really people! Get a life!

    February 19, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. PREDICTA

    Yeah, but he got a better job a few months later as attorney general. I remember the campaign. Carnahan's wife ran in his place. To suggest he lost to a dead man is not being truthful CNN.

    February 19, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Anything involving John Ashcroft is certainly not "victory for conservatives" or a "victory for the United States of America and for freedom." Freedom? This from the champion of warrantless wiretaps and all the rest of the State-uber-alles repudiation of freedom implicit in the PATRIOT Act?

    Neo-cons are not Conservatives!

    February 19, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  4. Carmelle

    Yeah Mr...because you know when KSM gets death penalty in a civilian court....Dems would have put a knife thru all the repubs lies!

    Just like you said, they have a better chance to convict terrorists than military courts.

    February 19, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. Ben in Texas

    If you don't understand CPAC-ese, here's a translation of what Ashcroft said:

    Keep obstructing and lying and maybe the American people will forget which party got the country into this mess, which party is the Party of No, and which party shredded the Constitution. Don't be overconfident, because enough of them might remember and vote you bums out of office.

    February 19, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  6. Michael

    Doesn't he know his credibility is shot. Actually, I thought he had died.

    February 19, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. Maryland Democrat

    His comments on snow meaning there is no global warming irked me because of it's over simplicity.

    Meteorologists have pointed out that all this snow in the US was caused by an air current system of WARM air in the Pacific ocean. Global warming does not mean we stop getting snow, it means the world, as a whole, is getting warmer.
    Japan, for example, has had an exceptionally warm, dry winter – we got all of their precipitation

    If you are going to argue that global warming doesn't exist, at least know what you are talking about.

    February 19, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. Squigman

    Any self respecting person voting for a republican, should be tried for treason. And those who work for a living, and vote for a republican, should be studied under a microscope before being deported.

    February 19, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  9. Marc

    "If you refuse to call a war a war, you are unlikely to be able to defend it successfully," said Ashcroft. "If the terrorist is making war on you, and you refuse to confess that you are at war with the terrorist, when you make a response, you might limit your response improperly."
    Then make it a war, DECLARE it a war by the legal/constitutional way, not just say 'It's a war!' and avoid the proper rite, the one that was followed during WWII for instance...
    He conviniently forgots that and yet is called 'Defender of the Constitution'!

    February 19, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  10. Kathleen

    Ashcroft can't stop them. No Way. What Repub. is gonna listen to
    Ashcroft! There having a blast! And they ain't gonna stop until they win.

    Lot of Power there with Michael Steele leading the Rat Pack!

    February 19, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  11. Kathleen

    Republicans to win VICTORY for the U.S. of America, Ashcroft says,
    Well, is that so? Really?

    February 19, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  12. galen

    Ashcroft,
    You are a complete JOKE.
    YOU CROOK !!!

    February 19, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  13. Greg K., PA

    Defender of the Constitution – that's rich.

    February 19, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  14. Marc

    'War on Terror' is a war against an idea that even Americans embrace (Austin yesterday, Tim McVeigh in the 90's, the Unabomber...), and 'Wars' (in the way he criticized the current presidency) are against countries.
    See the difference?
    One is against a radical idea, the other is against a National State (usually because it's a rogue National State).
    The first might never end since the idea to impose a way of life through terror/mayhem/destruction/killings isn't like it is in its last days. The other ends, eventually.

    February 19, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  15. RTB

    It is hilarious that this bozo is given any credibility at all.

    Here we go again using the term "freedom" and "Defender of the Constitution Award".

    Then once in power we see anything but freedom and respect for the constitution from these clowns.

    February 19, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  16. BestProfitCompany = WAR

    LOL I remember him loosing to a dead guy. Actually, the only place I heard that was from Farenheit 9/11, the michael moore movie. So Bush hired him as Attorney General because he needed help. Trust me, you need all the help you can get if you loose to a dead guy LOL

    February 19, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  17. tarheel

    The Dems are finished. Just a matter of months now.

    February 19, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  18. Eunice Ervin

    Whatever, come on Republicians, we're ready for you. POTUS (Barak Obama) is going to be a two President. And let the polls show you. No sweat.

    February 19, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Ashcroft was on his death bed during his tenor with the Bush administration when then Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales ordered by Bush/Cheney and their lawyers to go to the hospital and have him sign the wire tappig law before he died. If you think a Republican cares about you, then you are dead wrong.

    February 19, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  20. Elizabeth

    What these so called conservatives fail to realize is that Americans
    don't have to listen to them. Just vote. They can spew lies at the
    CAPAC meeting until the cows come home. We will not be going
    back to the days of Dick Cheney. Funny that tricky Dick himself showed up.

    February 19, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  21. Jamie

    Predicta, obviously you are not a Missourian. Jean Carnahan's name never made it onto the ballet because there wasn't enough time to take Mel off and add her. So in all actuality he did lose to a dead man. CNN is telling the truth. If you are going to accuse them of not being truthful I would suggest you get your facts straight.

    February 19, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  22. Dan

    Hiding behind the word "conservatives" will not make the American
    People forget what the Republicans did to this country.

    February 19, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  23. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Yeah interesting that Rush Limbaugh is a recovering prescription pill drug addict and 100 lbs overweight and wants to make fun of Obama's ears? Now the Republicans keep guaranteeing that they will win back control of Congress. Good luck with that.

    February 19, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  24. notfooledbydistractions

    I'm surprised someone like ashcroft would appear at cpac. It appears that all the other speakers have the mental maturity of jr. high school students – not adults serious about leading and governing.

    And the gop actually thinks voters will give these clowns any chance at running the country? Thanks but no thanks.

    February 19, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  25. Lori in St Pete

    Careful what you say there Johnnyboy, or your prescription drug addicted de facto leader will have you drummed out of the Nazi – I mean rethuglican party!

    February 19, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
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