Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle claims the White House misunderstood and/or misquoted him on January 24. As reported in the New York Times, Daschle visited Bush, but according to Daschle he did not reassure Bush that he would get the nominees he wants at Interior and Justice. Read the Daschle statement here.
EXCERPTS FROM SENATOR DASCHLE REGARDING THE NOMINATION OF JOHN ASHCROFT THURSDAY, JANUARY 25, 2001
Let me just say, there was also a report in the New York Times this morning that I want to address. I don't make it a habit of quoting presidents when I meet with them, and I would hope that the administration would not make a habit of quoting me. And if they do, I would hope that we would get it right. What I have said, publicly and privately, is that we will not filibuster any nomination. I'm not sure what context the comments were taken from yesterday, but that was the message that I thought I was delivering to the president, that it was not our intention to filibuster any of the president's nominations. And I will hold to that commitment. That, in no way, would imply that I have some personal knowledge about how each of my colleagues, Republican and Democrat, are going to vote. I don't. I don't know whether John Ashcroft is going to be approved or whether he's going to -- his nomination's going to be rejected. We can't know that. The information that has been requested of Mr. Ashcroft has not yet been released. In fact, as I'm sure most of you know, his nomination papers have not yet even been sent to the Judiciary Committee -- inexplicably, I might say. So we don't have his papers. We don't have the answers. And until we have the answers and the papers, it's going to be very hard for anybody, unless they're clairvoyant, to know just what the election -- or what the confirmation results will be. So I want to clarify, as emphatically as I can, I have no appreciation of how the vote will be on him or, frankly, on any of the other remaining nominees. But that was not my message to the president yesterday, and it is am important matter that I hope will be clarified as a result of this morning. Having said that, I'll open up to questions.
Q Senator, along those lines, Senator Kennedy has been intimating that he might engage in a filibuster. Have you discouraged him from that kind of talk?
SEN. DASCHLE: Well, I have had many conversations with Senator Kennedy. What I have said is that it's very important that we give every member adequate time to present their views and to express themselves with regard to all the nominees, but especially Senator Ashcroft. And we will ensure that that happens. I see a big difference, however, between ensuring that everybody has adequate time to express themselves and adequate time to debate the nomination, not just to -- a series of monologues on the Senate floor about what somebody might think of Senator Ashcroft, but a real good debate. And we will ensure that that happens.
Q Has Senator Kennedy given up on the idea of a filibuster?
SEN. DASCHLE: You'll have to talk to Senator Kennedy. I can't -- I'm not -- as I think has been demonstrated already with this week, I'm not in control of each senator in my caucus on this or any other matter, and that's as it should be. I -- you know, I -- all I can do is make my best case. And I can make my positions known, and our colleagues will make their decisions based upon that and a lot of other factors.
Q Senator Daschle, what did you mean, then, when you said that you assured him that you will not filibuster any of his nominations? What -- does that mean there won't be a Democratic filibuster, period?
SEN. DASCHLE: No, what it means is that I will discourage Democratic filibusters, but it doesn't mean that any one of my colleagues may not still make the effort. I -- it's not my expectation that there will be one. I have indicated I will oppose one if one were to occur. But again, I would reiterate, that's a matter left to each of my colleagues.
Q Did the White House misunderstand you yesterday?
SEN. DASCHLE: You'll have to ask them. I thought I made myself very clear. I mean, as I said, I've said this on many occasions; this wasn't news. But it was a reaffirmation of my desire to work with the administration. We have a bipartisan environment that I think has been very helpful, very conducive to both parties and to the administration, as well as the Congress. We want that to continue. But that doesn't mean we're going to roll over every time the administration makes a nomination or makes a proposal. We have to be true to our own philosophy and our responsibilities, and that's what we're going to be doing in this case as well.