By Mark Bliss ~ Southeast Missourian
The nation's top cop doesn't walk the streets of Washington any more. In America's war on terrorism, it has become too risky, says Janet Ashcroft, the wife of U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft.
Ashcroft, who heads up the Justice Department, used to walk the mile from his home to his office every morning with his wife rather than drive. Ashcroft said it was a welcome chance to talk to her husband without the interruptions of daily life.
Last year's terrorist attacks on the East Coast changed all that. "He doesn't walk to work any more," Janet Ashcroft said during a campaign rally Tuesday in Cape Girardeau for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jim Talent.
"Quite frankly, everyone is a direct target," she told reporters prior to speaking to Talent supporters.
Crowd of 200
A crowd of about 200 people turned out for the Women for Talent luncheon at Drury Lodge, which included speeches by Janet Ashcroft, Talent and U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson.
"The war America is engaged in is a struggle between good and evil," Janet Ashcroft told the partisan crowd.
She said her husband's busy days begin with FBI briefings on the status of the domestic war on terrorism.
"I get to watch him on television a lot," she said.
The war on terrorism has made John Ashcroft a bigger celebrity now than when he was governor of Missouri or a U.S. senator, his wife said.
"It really is hard to go out to dinner together," she told reporters as she waited to give her speech.
In her speech, Janet Ashcroft said the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate hasn't embraced President Bush's war on terrorism "We have a Senate that argues and fights," she said, suggesting that electing Talent could help secure a Republican majority in that legislative body that would back Bush.
Janet Ashcroft said she and her husband still relish relaxing at their southwest Missouri farm. She said its rural character is completely opposite of their home in urban Washington.
"When people come out to visit us, they think they are at the end of the world," she said. "We go from one extreme to another."
Following her speech, Janet Ashcroft said that her husband believes the federal government is seeing success in its war on terrorism as recent arrests of members of al-Qaida terrorist cells in the United States bear witness.
The Bush administration also has put an emphasis on establishing a homeland security department and restructuring federal law enforcement agencies. Janet Ashcroft said her husband has found the work of reorganizing difficult.
"It's a large bureaucracy," she said after her speech.
Janet Ashcroft, who has both taught and practiced law, said she doesn't plan to run for political office. One politician in the family is enough, she said.
Talent, who is seeking to unseat incumbent Democrat Jean Carnahan, told the enthusiastic crowd that it's important for Republicans in Southeast Missouri to get out the vote in the Nov. 5 election.
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