Several of President-elect Bush's Cabinet picks prompted sharp criticism from liberal groups.  At the daily briefing on January 4, 2001 Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer deplored those who would use the nominations as "an excuse to raise money or warm up for the next battle."  Fleischer spoke of the "bipartisan tradition" of considering Cabinet appointments and recalled Bush's goal of changing the tone in Washington.  Below is a sampling of the initial interest group rhetoric:
John Ashcroft
Attorney General
"This nomination is an insult to every person who is committed to our nation's promise of equal justice for all."

Ralph Neas, president, People for the American Way -- statement Dec. 22, 2000

"It is outrageous for President-elect Bush to select someone who has consistently opposed civil rights and affirmative action to be responsible for enforcing the nation's laws.  Ashcroft has one of the Senate's most negative voting records on civil rights."

Kweisi Mfume, president and CEO, NAACP --
release Dec. 22, 2000

"John Ashcroft is a man of integrity, who has consistently demonstrated that he believes in limited government and a free market.  We applaud his appointment."

National Taxpayers Union -- release Dec. 22, 2000

"Nominating Ashcroft is a shrewd move to appeal to the Republican ultra-conservative wing by putting one of their own in a position to do the most harm to a woman's right to choose."

Reverend Carlton W. Veazey, president, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice -- statement Dec. 22, 2000

"Not since Ed Meese would the U.S. have an Attorney General as hostile to a woman's right to choose.  This appointment signals Bush's down payment on his IOU to the anti-choice hardliners."

Kate Michelman, president, NARAL -- statement Dec. 22, 2000

“Senator Ashcroft is a man of impeccable integrity and principle...  He has a keen understanding of the law and the constitution and has a profound respect for the rule of law." 

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel, American Center for Law and Justice -- release Dec. 22, 2000

"By nominating a Religious Right favorite for attorney general, the president-elect has shown his true colors.  This nomination may please television evangelists like Robertson and Jerry Falwell, but it's a disaster for anyone who cares about maintaining constitutional principles."

Barry W. Lynn, executive director, Americans United for Separation of Church and State -- release Dec. 22, 2000

"Ashcroft's nomination is a nightmare for civil libertarians and state-church separationists...  He was the architect of the 'charitable choice' provision for the 1996 welfare reform act, and he, Bush and the rest of this new administration seek to widen the scope of those unconstitutional policies."

Ellen Johnson, president, American Atheists, Inc.-- release Jan. 3, 2001

"Senator Ashcroft...has a long record of support for the restoration of the right to life to the unborn. His career has been a distinguished one and he is widely recognized as a Godly man whose integrity is beyond question." 

Republican National Coalition for Life -- FaxNotes Dec. 29, 2000

"John Ashcroft will place the health and welfare of the NRA and its gun industry  allies over that of the American public.  What this means is simple: more assault weapons, less vigorous enforcement of federal gun laws, and a rollback of the Brady law.  The Senate should not approve his nomination."

Kristen Rand, legislative director, Violence Policy Center -- release Jan. 4, 2001

Gale Norton
Secretary of the Interior
"The nomination of Gale Norton amounts to a declaration of war on the environment."

Dr. Brent Blackwelder, president, Friends of the Earth -- release, Jan. 2, 2001

"Since working for James Watt, the worst Interior Secretary we have ever had, Gale Norton has taken numerous positions that most conservationists disagree with."

Rebecca Wodder, president, American Rivers --
release Dec. 29, 2000

"We look forward to working with Interior Secretary-Designate Norton on fine-tuning the implementation of the Endangered Species Act so that it properly protects species without unnecessarily disrupting economic growth."

Robert Mitchell, president, National Association of Home Builders -- statement Dec. 29, 2000

"In Norton, Bush has nominated someone whose environmental ethic is a throwback to the James Watt era -- one of the darkest periods of natural resource exploitation."

Deb Callahan, president, League of Conservation Voters -- Jan. 2, 2001

Tommy Thompson
Secretary of HHS
"In selecting Governor Thompson to head HHS, President Bush [sic] has chosen one of this nation's staunchest opponents of a woman's right to choose to head the agency with the greatest impact on women's health."

Kate Michelman, president, NARAL -- statement Dec. 28, 2000

“We are optimistic as Gov. Thompson brings a wealth of experience and a track record of achievement in the pro-life arena to his new endeavor..."

Ken Conner, Family Research Council -- statement Dec. 29, 2000

Linda Chavez
Secretary of Labor
"It is an insult to American working men and women to put an avowed opponent of the most basic worker's rights in charge of enforcing the federal laws and regulations that protect workers' wages, employment and pension rights, equal employment opportunity and other programs for advancement."

John J. Sweeney, president, AFL-CIO -- statement Jan. 2, 2001

"Throughout her career, Linda Chavez has demonstrated a deep commitment to public service and a strong grasp of the issues that will serve her well as she seeks to address the needs of the 21st century workforce."

NAM President Jerry Jasinowski, president, National Association of Manufacturers -- release Jan. 2, 2001

Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
"President-Elect Bush's selection of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, whose revolving-door connections to the military-industrial complex and opposition to any meaningful disarmament efforts are weell documented, is a major disaster.  Rumsfeld, unless opposed, will help launch a new arms race by pursuing the National Missile Defense program.

Physicians for Social Responsibility -- release Jan. 2, 2001

Spencer Abraham
Secretary of Energy
"Faced with an energy crunch, Abraham fought for more gas-guzzling SUVs
and let oil companies drill public lands at fire-sale prices.  Americans' broad support for clean air and water makes the environment the perfect test of President-elect Bush's pledge to heal the nation's wounds.  If you're looking to unify the nation, Senator Abraham is absolutely the wrong choice to guide our energy policy."

Carl Pope, executive director, Sierra Club -- statement Jan. 2, 2001

"We are stunned by President-elect Bush's appointment of Abraham, a member of LCV's 2000 Dirty Dozen list, and our number one target for defeat last year...  He even co-sponsored a bill to abolish the very department he's been nominated to lead."

Deb Callahan, president, League of Conservation Voters -- release Jan. 2, 2001


"President-elect Bush's nomination of Senator Spencer Abraham to be Secretary of Energy is good news for America's consumers.  Secretary- designate Abraham’s strong pro-energy record in the Senate was based on understanding that our economic prosperity has been built on abundant supplies of inexpensive energy." 
Myron Ebell, Director of Global Warming & International Environmental Policy, Competitive Enterprise Institute -- statement Jan. 3, 2001
"Abraham's record is entirely composed of anti-environmental votes in the last congress, particularly in the area of energy...  Abraham voted to increase special subsidies to the oil industry, and took positions against renewable energy and fuel efficiency standards.  Consistently siding with the oil and coal industries, Abraham voted to open up the Arctic National Wildlife refuge to oil exploration and to continue blowing apart mountains for coal in violation of the Clean Water Act."

Friends of the Earth -- statement Jan. 2, 2001