Ashcroft: A Battle to the Finish

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John Ashcroft still has the votes to be confirmed as attorney general — perhaps this week — but his Senate opponents are fighting to the end. Liberal groups used the weekend to gin up anti-Ashcroft ads in the states of undecided senators. Democratic staffers on the Judiciary Committee also are sending out memos citing instances when they say the former Missouri senator didn't tell the truth — or at least the whole truth — during his confirmation hearing. Ashcroft, for example, claimed he fought Ronnie White's judicial nomination because "a substantial number of law enforcement organizations" in his state opposed the black Missouri justice. But Democrats say only two police groups opposed White, and only after Ashcroft prodded them.

Conservative groups, meanwhile, have mounted an equally aggressive ad campaign on Ashcroft's behalf. His answers during two days of testimony and to more than 360 written questions the committee's Democrats threw at him "are thorough and forthright," insists Jeanne Lopatto, an aide to the panel's GOP chairman, Orrin Hatch.