Telling "Ashley's Story"

A few months ago, an email arrived with a photo of President Bush consoling a young girl who had lost her mother in the South Tower of the World Trade Centers. The photo was an impromptu snapshot taken by her father at a rally in Ohio in May, 2004. The story, as told in The Washington Dispatch, is a true glimpse at the heart of the president:

“As the president passed the group, Mr. Faulkner got an autograph, and the president continued on until [Faulkner’s friend] Linda Prince spoke up, “This girl lost her mother on 9/11,” Prince told the president. 

Then everything changed.

“The president’s entire expression transformed,” Mr. Faulkner told me on Sunday.  “He turned and came back against the flow and his eyes locked on Ashley’s.  His face showed a man who was no longer the president, he was a father and a husband.”  President Bush made his way back to Ashley and he embraced the 15-yeal old young woman.  “She snuggled in with the president just like she did when she was a little girl with her dad,” Mr. Faulkner said.  “I know it’s hard,” Mr. Faulkner heard the president tell his daughter.  “I’m okay,” Ashley told the president.  The embrace continued.” (Read the complete story.)

Now this moment, which was reluctantly captured by her father, has become the basis for a unique campaign ad to run in at least nine states for the next few weeks. The Progress for America Voter Fund, the 527 that created the ad, has announced they will spend more than $14 million airing it. Taking a turn away from negative attack ads, this tells the tragic story about a young girls loss and the compassion of the President, says the group’s president, Brian McCabe. “Most political messages in October are harsh and negative,” McCabe said. “We’re going in the opposite direction to … highlight what everyone knows and likes about President Bush.”

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