JEFFERSON CITY - Sen. John Ashcroft, campaigning at a soup kitchen here, urged Missourians to use this time of mourning for late governor Mel Carnahan to reach out and help others.
For Ashcroft, reaching out meant unpacking food in front of rolling TV cameras for less than thirteen minutes.
"I recognize that everyone is struggling with a way to accomodate this tragedy and my way of doing it has been to be involved in reaching out to needy individuals around the state," he said. "I recommend that people do that in general."
The volunteer executive director of Jefferson City's Great Samaritan, where Ashcroft lugged boxes, said she was surprised the senator didn't stay longer.
"He is a busy man, I guess," said the director, Marylyn DeFeo. "I hoped he would tour the center. That's what I had discussed with his aides."
Here's a timeline of Ashcroft's visit to the Great Samaritan:
*3:26 p.m. Ashcroft arrives. His aides rush him in the side door.
*3:39 p.m. The senator leaves the kitchen for a news conference in the facility's warehouse. In the interim, he unboxed food while TV cameras rolled.
*3:44 The news conference ends without the senator commenting on Gov. Roger Wilson's announcement. Wilson announced Tuesday that he plans to appoint Jean Carnahan to the U.S. Senate if Mel Carnahan gets more votes than Ashcroft. Aides rush Ashcroft out a side door and the senator is off to another food pantry in Kirksville.