By Carl Weiser, Gannett News Service
WASHINGTON — It's only fitting that Mason, Ohio, teenager Ashley Faulkner will get a chance to see President Bush's inauguration firsthand this week.
After all, her ad helped make it happen.
Ashley Faulkner was the focus of Ashley's Story, a pro-Bush campaign ad that aired nearly 30,000 times in the month before the election Nov. 2.
In the Faulkner family's own words, it told how Ashley had lost her mother, Wendy, in the Sept. 11 terror attacks. When President Bush learned of this at a Lebanon, Ohio, campaign rally, he gave her a spontaneous, emotional hug. Her father snapped a photo that became the centerpiece of the ad many observers deemed the most moving of the campaign.
"He's the most powerful man in the world," Ashley said in the ad, "and all he wants to do is make sure I'm safe, that I'm OK."
The trip by Ashley, now 16, her father, Lynn, and her adult sister Loren will be paid for by Progress for America, the conservative group that aired the ad. The family leaves today to attend the swearing-in, the parade and the Patriot Ball, which is for Ohio residents.