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Breaking News

Sen. Ashcroft Holds News Briefing

Aired November 8, 2000 - 1:38 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you now live to Missouri, where Senator John Ashcroft, who was beaten by the Missouri governor who died last month, is now speaking.

SEN. JOHN ASHCROFT (R), MISSOURI: Let me take this moment to thank each of you for being here. And I want to thank the people of Missouri for their kindness to me and to Janet and my family.

I have had the privilege of servant the people, starting in 1967, and for the first five and a half years I taught at Southwest Missouri State University and my wife Janet taught with me there. It was a pleasure to be making investments in the future of this state at that time and I'm grateful for that opportunity.

After leaving the teaching profession at SMS -- it was SMS College then, it's SMSU now -- I had the privilege of serving as the state auditor at the invitation of the then Governor Kit Bond. I served for two years as state auditor and then I had the chance to be an assistant attorney general under the tutelage of Senator Jack Danforth, then the attorney general of the state of Missouri. Both Kit Bond and Jack Danforth are two of the finest public servants that this nation has ever known.

After serving as assistant attorney general, I had the privilege of being attorney general myself and spent eight years in the attorney general's office exercising the skills that I had developed as an attorney in behalf of the people of this state as their lawyer.

Following that, the people graciously extended to me the privilege and the honor of serving as governor of the state, and I had the happy privilege of doing that from January of 1985 to January of 1993.

My opportunity to serve in the United States Senate began in January of 1995 and it will conclude in January of the year 2001. It has been a happy privilege of mine. It is both a privilege and an honor to serve the people of this state, and I'm grateful for it.

Between now and the conclusion of my term, though, I'll be returning to Washington to complete my responsibilities. I in some respects wish we had been able to complete those responsibilities earlier, but the Senate has not yet recessed, and this afternoon I will leave to go back to Washington in order to complete my responsibilities there. It would be inappropriate for me to fail to commend my staff, both the campaign staff and the staff at the office of the United States Senate for the state of Missouri. In particular, I want to commend David Ayres, who worked as my chief of staff in Washington, D.C., and as my campaign manager separately, when he left the chief of staff's position in Washington, here in Missouri. He brought his family to the state again; he's a native of Missouri, of course.

The staff did a wonderful job for me in this election. We were leading in this election prior to the great tragedy which struck this campaign and this election and struck the state of Missouri, and they were a wonderful staff whose competence and dedication is unsurpassed in my experience.

Missouri is a compassionate state, and I think in a very special way they have demonstrated the compassion which they have. And I hope that the outcome of this election is a matter of comfort to Mrs. Carnahan. And I hope that we can all accord her the opportunity to have the kind of necessary recovery time after such a great personal loss. I have called to speak with Mrs. Carnahan, I haven't yet spoken to her, but I spoke to members of the Carnahan family and expressed to them the sentiments that I'm expressing to you in this moment here today. In commending the staff, I want to say that I really appreciate the way in which they have helped me do things that I believe to have been right. And I'm very pleased that in our development of the campaign and in our completion of the campaign I don't have regrets about the way we handled things. The tragedy obviously raised issues for us, but some things are more important than politics, and I believe doing what's right is the most important thing we can do.

I think as public officials we have the opportunity to model values for our culture -- responsibility, dignity, decency, integrity and respect. And if we can only model those when it's politically expedient to do so, we've never modeled the values, we've only modeled political expediency.

I'm grateful that we've had the kind of opportunities that we've had. And I commend this staff for so nobly helping me do things which I believe to have been right.

I started out by thanking the people of Missouri for the great opportunity that I've had over the last, I guess it's a little over 33 years now, to serve them. A servant understands sovereignty. I know what it is to give orders; I know what it is to take orders. You can't have been auditor, attorney general, governor and United States senator without giving a few orders. But you also have to know what it is, when people speak with clarity, how to take orders.

Now, I know that there are some serious constitutional issues that surround the procedures of this election. And I know that there are very serious allegations of fraud and corruption as it related to the conduct of the election in the city of St. Louis. But I reject any legal challenge to this election in terms of the election for the United States Senate. I will discourage others from challenging the will of the people in the election of their United States senator. I will not initiate any legal challenge, and I will not participate in any legal challenge.

I believe that the will of the people has been expressed with compassion and that the people's voice should be respected and heard.

Now, in that respect, I have an opportunity now to respect some individuals who from time to time have deserved more respect than I've given them.

Through the last three-plus decades, my family has yielded over and over again to the public interest when it came into conflict with our private times together. And I look forward to spending time with my wife Janet, who has always been willing to take whatever steps were necessary for us to work in the public interest, even when it dislocated the private interests and concerns of our family.

And, of course, I want to spend time with my children. My daughter Martha is here with me today, my son-in-law, Jim...

CHILD: That's my mommy.

(LAUGHTER)

ASHCROFT: Yes. That's little Jimmy's mommy. And I look forward to spending a lot more time with Jimmy, as well, on the farm just north of Springfield.

Let me add one other note. I want to thank each of you for the kindnesses that you have shown me during this opportunity that I've had to serve as a public official and as a candidate.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: John Aashcroft in Missouri.

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