In the closest election run in decades, one figure has been noticeably absent from Republican political events, Attorney General John Ashcroft.
With Ashcroft’s favor ability rating down to 42 percent, the only place John Ashcroft can be found is in the speeches of Democratic candidates. The Democrats have been highlighting his involvement with the controversial Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act, passed in the aftermath of the September 11th attack, is a lightning rod of controversy. Many people believe that the act overrides basic civil protects for citizens and gives the government too much power without adequate checks and balances. Principle among the complaints is Section 215 of the act. This section allows the FBI to get warrants for a person’s records in terrorism-related cases without showing probable cause that the person is involved in a crime. As Attorney General, Ashcroft has become the focus of these concerns, and thus political poison for the Republican Party. As Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg Public Policy Center put it:
“Ashcroft isn’t popular. Ashcroft scares moderate Republican women. Bush makes them feel secure, and Republicans don’t want to remind them of the argument that he’s made them feel secure at the cost of civil liberties.”