George W. Bush's Attorney General
Birthplace: Chicago, Ill.
Arguably the most controversial and conservative of all Bush appointees, Ashcroft faced harsh questioning by Democrats at his confirmation hearings. He was widely criticized for blocking the nomination of Ronnie White to a judgeship on the federal district court. Ashcroft opposed White, who was the first black judge on the Missouri Supreme Court, saying he was “pro-criminal” and “anti-death penalty.” However, records indicate that White voted for the death penalty in 41 out of 59 cases. Democrats fear that Ashcroft will use his position to help to overturn Roe v. Wade. Republicans have praised him as a highly ethical and fair-minded politician. Ashcroft, a Republican senator from Missouri, lost his reelection bid in November to Gov. Mel Carnahan, who died in a plane crash in October, a few weeks before the election. Carnahan's widow, Jean, took her late husband's senate seat. Ashcroft was elected to the Senate in 1995 and served as Missouri's governor from 1984 to 1992.