February 19th, 2010
02:58 PM ET
4 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. Center left-out

    The Republicans will not have a big victory in November. They have no soultions to fix America. Tax cuts and less spending is not the answer.

    February 19, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  2. Lori in St Pete

    Trying to spin it WON'T change the fact that Johnnyboy lost to a dead guy, PREDICTA. That "better job" a few months later was given to him by the guy who lost the election but was installed by a corrupt group of activist judges aka the supreme court. It was a consolation prize for having lost to the dead guy.

    February 19, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  3. Anthony

    "but a victory for the United States of America"
    No.. all these guys do is know how to get us into situations WITHOUT VICTORIES.. and if you want to really call this quagmire a "WAR" then do it.. meaning you're also gonna be responsible for defining what "Victory" and "Loss" is, something I do not believe he is prepared to do.

    Aschroft and all of these CPAC followers are traitors to America if you ask me...

    Conservatives? Sure.. but lets not forgot where their way of thinking has gotten us during the Bush years.
    Lie, Lie, Lie, twist the truth, slander, take shots and disrespect current President, and HOP HOP HOPE the American people FORGET what they did when THEY were in charge...

    February 19, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  4. Enough is Enough

    The American people are starting to understand that Obama and his socialist leaning agenda will drive this country to financial ruin. The American people want a government that is more fiscally conservative. The republicans need to learn that because people want less government and a fiscally responsible government this does not mean they want the republicians conservative social agenda.

    February 19, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. Elle in WA

    Pump yourselves up. Go ahead. It'll only make your defeat sweeter.

    We haven't forgotten what Bush and the Republicans did to our country. Most of us are still living it. If you think we're going to put you back in charge, you're sorely mistaken.

    The party of "NO" will get a very loud "NO" from voters this year.

    February 19, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  6. Lisa

    why do they keep on lying, that Obama said we are not at war? It stated that in a speech, but of course they keep right on lying about everything this president has to say or do.

    February 19, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  7. Gamechanger

    Wow – so the Tea Baggers and the GOP have amped up their hateful rhetoric to the point where their followers are flying planes into buidling for the sole purpose of killing innocent Americans.

    Sound familiar?

    It seems as if the CPAC crowd has finally gotten their wish of declaring jihad on America. Hopefully, like their Al Quaeda bretheren they fill find a dark cave to crawl into...

    February 19, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. mjm

    Marc February 19th, 2010 3:23 pm ET

    'War on Terror' is a war against an idea that even Americans embrace (Austin yesterday, Tim McVeigh in the 90's, the Unabomber...),
    _______________________________

    Completely wrong and ignorant....like most liberals. None of the above were linked to terrorism. These were classified as crimes. For example, the Unabomber was convicted of killing three people, and 10 counts of illegally transporting, mailing, and using bombs. McVeigh was found guilty on eleven counts of murder and conspiracy.

    Compare that to Richard Reid, who was convicted eight criminal counts related to his acts of terrorism.

    You libs just don't get it.

    February 19, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  9. haren

    Because we had three snow storm in last month republican and stupid Fox channel, hannity, demint and other republican think that we don't have global warming.
    Now who will educate them that because of warm water temperature of pacific ocean we have these winter storms.

    February 19, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. sandy

    but a victory for the United States of America

    I don't consider a "conservative victory" a victory for America. Actually, it kinda scares me!

    February 19, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  11. Hammerer

    Ashcroft is correct. The Repubs are rated just a notch higher than Obama.
    Nothing to get giddy about.

    February 19, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  12. mjm

    Marc....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'!
    _________________

    Wrong again. If we needed to declare war, we would. But countries like Afghanistan are more than willing to allow us into their country to fight terrorist like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Considering there is no country to declare war on, it would make a war declaration kind of difficult now wouldn't it?

    February 19, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. Matt

    I think it's interesting Republicans believe that Obama doesn't think the fight against terrorism is a war. If that's the case, why did he send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan? Also, why has the Administration been able to triple the number of drone strikes on terrorists in Afghanistan/Pakistan? Not to mention that Obama used the word "war" no less than 15 times in his State of the Union address. But, as always, the Republicans deal in lies and platitudes rather than in facts and policy suggestions. Let's not forget either what total hypocrites the Republicans, most especially Dick Cheney, are on the issue of how to handle terrorists caught in the U.S–it was OK for the Bush Admin. to try 300 terrorists in Courts–including Richard Reid (the shoe bomber), but if the Obama Admin. does the same, all of a sudden it's the worst thing ever! Ha! The Republicans are an absolute joke.

    February 19, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  14. Hi I'm TriG, and my mommy scares me :-(

    "If you refuse to call a war a war, you are unlikely to be able to defend it successfully,"

    Isn't it Congress job to declare war?

    Oops, I guess he forgot his job.

    Over 4,000 troops dead.

    No WMDs

    No bin Laden

    Terrorism is stronger than ever

    Yup, I trust Republicans

    February 19, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  15. Lori in St Pete

    mjm February 19th, 2010 4:02 pm ET, aside from the fact that those labeled "terrorists" were muslims, what other differences are there between what Richard Reid did and what McVey, the unibomber and the guy yesterday did? You're great at ad hominem attacks, but you're sorely lacking when it comes to explaining your position.

    February 19, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  16. mjm

    Gamechanger February 19th, 2010 4:01 pm ET

    Wow – so the Tea Baggers and the GOP have amped up their hateful rhetoric to the point where their followers are flying planes into buidling for the sole purpose of killing innocent Americans.
    ______________________

    Stack was a liberal that hated Bush and Republicans. He was not a Tea Bagger. He voted for Obama.

    If you are not a Tea Bagger, doesn't that make you the Tea Baggie?

    February 19, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  17. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    By the way, I met this chic, you know what she told me? "You're cute, too fine!" Then I was like, "Do you know who I am?" LOL!!! :)

    Then I had to put some moves but then I thought about some things so is all good!

    February 19, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  18. Tim from NC

    You lib's are idiots....... The idiot that flew his plane into the IRS building was a...... LIBERAL...... He hated corporations, insurance companies, George W Bush, the Founding Fathers and also had Communist Tendencies...... Just like you lib's..... Another thing, why is it that simply because someone has an opinion different than a liberal's, they should be deported???? Where is your love for Free Speech??? Or have you changed the constituion to Free Liberal Speech only......

    February 19, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. Marc

    mjm – February 19th, 2010 4:02 pm ET
    YOU are the one that 'don't get it'.

    'Terrorism – n. The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.'
    The American Heritage – Dictionary of English Language, 2009

    Timothy McVeigh did it. Call his acts simply a murder is wrong and ignorant.
    The Unabomber did it. He was in a personal fight against technology! If you have any time to lose read his manifesto! And call him 'just' a murder afterwards...
    That guy in Austin yesterday did it. He had a grudge against IRS and solved it by killing himself and other people in the process in order to make a point, any similarity showing in your mind?
    Richard Reid did it, too. There's no other way to call what he did and planned to do.

    NOW you got it?

    February 19, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. katiec

    This man is the perfect example of an incompetent, irresponsible politician who could not even get elected against a dead man.
    Than Bush gives him a position of power. Go figure.
    Why, CNN, is he even getting the headlines? Whoops, almost forgot. The only requirement is to be a republican, regardless of creditibility.

    February 19, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  21. mjm

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

    Great, let's talk about how it was much warmer 500 years ago. Let's talk about how the sun burns brighter during some cycles. Let's talk about no warming since 1995. Let's talk hockey stick graphs and altered data.

    Let's talk about how global warming is man made UP.

    February 19, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  22. jon

    @ Tim from NC

    An Anti-tax, anti-government lunatic is the definition of right wing. Good luck trying to sell him as a liberal. This guy fits the profile of half the teabagger patriots.

    February 19, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. Marc

    mjm – February 19th, 2010 4:12 pm ET
    Then why didn't Bush made one when he had the chances?
    And that's what I was talking about in my post, he sent the USA to a war WITHOUT the proper legal and Constitutional rites.
    The whole country (and the world) was backing him up after 9/11, so why didn't he did like FDR after pearl Harbor?

    February 19, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  24. donttreadonme

    Who cares if the Repubs are over confident, the dems are going to get brutalized this cycle. Only the ignorant or extreme libs can’t see that the housing market collapse and subprime loans that caused our economy to tank where championed by Dems. And Bush’s attempts to regulate Fannie and Freddie were blocked by dems. Tax cuts did not wreck this economy.

    February 19, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. Peace Out!!

    @Tim from NC February 19th, 2010 4:19 pm ET

    You lib's are idiots....... The idiot that flew his plane into the IRS building was a...... LIBERAL......**** and He was WHITE!!!!!!

    February 19, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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