As he prepares to be sworn in as the nation's 43rd president, George W. Bush tells ABCNEWS' Barbara Walters he is confident John Ashcroft will be confirmed as attorney general, despite opposition from Senate Democrats.
Although Ashcroft has strong beliefs against abortion, Bush says he believes the former senator from Missouri will uphold federal laws — even if he personally disagrees with them.
"His job is going to be to enforce the laws and there is no question in my mind that he will," Bush said in an interview to be broadcast on 20/20 on Friday night, the eve of his inauguration.
Bush told Walters he was not surprised that Ashcroft was meeting heavy opposition, but argued that most of the objections were coming from special interest groups in Washington that were "paid to create noise and emotion."
Abortion rights supporters have spoken out against Ashcroft's nomination, as have African-American leaders and civil rights activists, who point to the nominee's opposition to affirmative action. They also cite Ashcroft's successful campaign to block a black judge's appointment to the federal bench.
Bush stressed that the controversial nomination would not irreparably divide the country. He acknowledge that Ashcroft was a "lightning rod" from controversy, but said, "that doesn't mean we can't unite the country once we put somebody in the place that can do the job as attorney general."
Bush added that Ashcroft is a "steady hand who will do a fine job."