|79th Attorney General of the United States|
From: February 2, 2001 – February 3, 2005
|President||George W. Bush|
|Former U.S. Senator from Missouri|
From: January 4, 1995 – January 3, 2001
|Predecessor||John C. Danforth|
|50th Governor of Missouri|
From: January 14, 1985 – January 11, 1993
|38th Attorney General of Missouri|
|Governor||Joseph P. Teasdale|
|Former Deputy Attorney General of Missouri|
|Governor||Joseph P. Teasdale|
|Religion||Assemblies of God|
Born in Chicago on May 9, 1942, Ashcroft grew up in Springfield, Missouri. A standout in sports during his public school years, he graduated with honors from Yale University in 1964 and received a law degree from the University of Chicago three years later.
In 1972, at the age of 30, Ashcroft ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives but lost in the Republican Party primary; the following year, he was appointed state auditor, filling the slot vacated by the newly elected governor, Kit Bond. After failing to win reelection in 1974, he served two years as an assistant state attorney general under another rising star in Republican politics, John Danforth. When Danforth captured a United States Senate seat in 1976, Ashcroft followed him as Missouri attorney general, winning his first statewide election. He served two 4-year terms in that office before succeeding Bond in 1985 as governor of Missouri.
Barred by the Missouri constitution from seeking reelection in 1992 to a third 4-year term as state governor, Ashcroft mounted a successful campaign in 1994 for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retiring Danforth.
On January 5, 1999, he announced that he would defend his Senate seat in his 2000 reelection. In his bid for reelection to the Senate, Ashcroft faced a challenge from then-Governor Mel Carnahan. Carnahan died in an airplane crash two weeks prior to the November general election. Carnahan received a majority of votes, in hopes the incumbent Democratic Governor would fill the vacancy with his spouse. While the question of whether a dead person could be elected to the Senate appeared headed to the Courts, Ashcroft was asked by President-elect George W. Bush to serve as U.S. Attorney General, and accepted.
In 2002, the American government spent $8000 of taxpayer's money on curtains so that Ashcroft would not have to be photographed in front of a statue of a bare-breasted figure of Justice during his press conferences.
Ashcroft is a fervent lifelong member of the Assemblies of God church. Other members of this church include Elvis Presley, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and former Reagan administration Interior Secretary James Watt.
In the 1970s, Ashcroft recorded a gospel record entitled TRUTH: Volume One, Edition One with Missouri legislator Max Bacon. He is also known for writing the book Lessons from my Father, released in 1997, when it was rumored Ashcroft was considering a run for the Republican Presidential nomination.
In February 2002, Ashcroft told the Los Angeles Times that in his opinion "Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you".
Ashcroft composed a song called "Let the Eagle Soar" which he sang at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in February 2002.
In March 2004, Ashcroft entered the George Washington Medical Center with gallstone pancreatitis. During this time, he seriously considered resigning over the National Security Agency eavesdropping program targeting Americans for whom some evidence not amounting to probable cause exists that they are somehow involved with terrorism, particularly after White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew Card were sent to his bedside to get his signature to renew the program, which was on the point of expiring. It swiftly became clear that Ashcroft's deputy James Comey and Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller were also prepared to resign, so President Bush approved the first of two rounds of changes to the program to bring it into compliance with existing law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The continuing need for the program was demonstrated by the 2004 Madrid bombing, which helped persuade Ashcroft and other officials that they should not resign over it.
On November 9, 2004, Ashcroft announced his resignation from his post as Attorney General. As is often the case for Cabinet members, he has gone on to a much more lucrative lobbying position.
Ashcroft was an enthusiastic advocate of the War on Drugs.