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

Ashcroft warns conservatives not to get too confident

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/19/art.ashcroft.file.gi.jpg caption="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. Tim from NC

    @jon..... perhaps you should read what he wrote before he died..... It read like an Obama speech.... Blame Bush and Business for everything....... Maybe this guy was a speech writer for Obama and the media is hiding it from everyone......

    February 19, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. Michael from Ventura

    Yeah, all you for sure want to listen to what this one says- look at his record: Lost to a dead man, then served with gwb to bring this country to the brink of abyss. Some credibility there!!

    February 19, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. Independent One

    Repubs keep counting your chickens before they hatch and you will be extremely disappointed........

    February 19, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. Ryan

    John Ashcroft is a prime example of a washed up politician refusing to leave the spotlight. Mel Carnahan was far greater a man than Ashcroft, and that's why Carnahan won that election. Ashcroft's arrogance was only part of the problem. And yes, Mel Carnahan's name was on the ballot. And it's pretty difficult to defend a war that was propagated entirely out of George Bush's imagination. The Republican Party has abandoned all ideas of genuine conservative values and morals, and now prays for President Obama's failure, so they can make political gain from it. This is disgusting; they don't deserve to call themselves conservatives.

    February 19, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  5. A different George W.

    Hold on mister!
    I seem to recall it was your president, Mr. Bush and his 8 years of 'leadership' and 'policies' that got us into this state of decline. We aren't interested in revisionist history, my friend. Our budget woes, our wars, our financial collapse – all at the hands of the Republican Party.

    February 19, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  6. BeverlyNC

    Republicans should be terrified. They are totally delusional if they think working Americans are going to vote for the Party who has worked against us and for the corporate world all year. They Party of NO is going to find out that the voters are great at using their NO votes too!

    February 19, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. Tony L.

    @mjm –

    You seem to be in the minority on many of your "opinions". But that's not surprising. Republicans and conservatives seem to be wrong on just about everything, that's why they are in the minority in congress and will be in the minority after 2010. Just as you are now. Enjoy your minority status. You'll be there for a long time.

    February 19, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. Tim from NC

    George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush, George W. Bush..................... That's the only arguement you lib's have got..... Your precious Democrats were in control of Congress since 2006, and had a SUPER majority the last year, yet the economy is worse now than it was when Bush left and the Almighty Great Saviour of the world was inaugurated..... When exactly does his magical powers start kicking in????? Or is his power the ability to triple the debt in 1 year........

    February 19, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    I am laughing at the Cons who insist that the domestic terrorist who slammed his plane into a Federal building was a Liberal! Did you READ his "manifesto"????

    Haven't we been hearing the Teabaggers and all the GOPers rant for over a year about TAXES????

    And WHY is this not a terrorist act?

    Ashcroft is right........ don't count your chickens GOP before they hatch!

    February 19, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. No More Incumbents

    Forget conservatives..........incumbents shouldn't get to comfortable. They should start packing. Challengers shouldn't get too comfortable either. They need to produce or they'll be one and done like our Cleb-in-Cheif.

    February 19, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. No More Incumbents

    Hey a different George W.

    Check your history.... it was Clinton that forced the banks to make all the bad loans and while the Dems controlled congress during the Bush Presidency. Bush was no prize, but I'd take him over the ego-in-chief. One and done.

    February 19, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Global warming?! Someone is talking about Global Warming being a hoax?

    So..... IF Global Warming is a hoax what are the statistical chances of the majority of governments, scientists and people in the world being wrong?

    Once upon a time, Galileo was imprisoned because he dared to say that the Earth revolved around the Sun, not the other way around!

    Once upon a time, people swore the Earth was flat!

    Global Warming is REAL. Do some reading & research.

    February 19, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. mjm

    Marc...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?

    What part of my post didn't you get? Bush didn't have to declare war in Afghanistan BECAUSE the Afghan government allowed us in to fight the Taliban. The Taliban was as big of a threat to their country as it is ours.

    Am I going to fast for you? And if your comparing WWII to 911, you really are lost. Maybe you should "re-did" so schooling.

    February 19, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. walleye

    Asscroft should be in prison along with Cheney for all the deceptive tricks they played on the American people and for trashing our Constitution. Anyone who listens to this guy probably has the same mentality as those who watch Family Guy and the Simpsons.

    February 19, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  15. harold

    Ashcroft was the attorney General who ignored the warnings from his acting director of the FBI who warned him about Terrorist..attack... So the Bush people let the USA down.. and our country was attacked... Mark one down for the Republcans and their so called defense of America.....

    February 19, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  16. Splat!~

    As a citizen of the state of Iowa, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for having Steven King of the Sioux City District as being one of our states Representatives.

    Forget term limits, this 'gentleman' is an argument for the necessity of an IQ test to be eligible to serve!~

    February 19, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  17. mjm

    Marc...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...

    Look up the actual case and see what they were charged with. The Unaboomber was a serial killer. McVeigh was never charged with acts of terrorism.

    It's not up for discussion. It's called facts of the case.

    February 19, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "You libs just don't get it."

    Actually, we do, which is why you mindless zombie LImbaugh parrots are so frightening and frustrating. McVeigh was a terrorist. Reid was a terrorist. The wierdo who crashed his plane the other day was a terrorist. The VA Tech kid was a terrorist. The Columbine kids were terrorists. They ALL fit the definition posted below. What so frightening and frustrating is the mental contortions in a rational vacuum in which you GOPers/conservatives are willing to engage in order to characterize everything in the manner most convenient to the position you wish to take.

    He doesn't consider this a "WAR"!!!!
    What, he sent 30,000 more troops?
    Oh, well, so what, he just keeps flapping his gums apologizing and gets nothing done!!!
    What's that? He launched and is winning largest offensive since the Afghanistan war started, tripled the drone attacks and has killed more Taliban/Al Qaeda since taking office than Bush did in 7 years?
    But he promised all you liberal socialists that he'd end all the wars and bring all the troops home!!!
    Huh? He didn't say that? He said Afghanistan was where we should've been focused all along and then followed through?
    Wait wait wait...ummmmm...he still sneaks a cigarrette after lunch on Tuesdays!!!!
    Can it GOPers...you sound like morons.

    February 19, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
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