This photo, snapped last May by the father of 15-year-old Ashley Faulkner, who lost her mother, Wendy, at the World Trade Towers on Sept. 11, 2001 and got a spontaneous hug by President Bush as he was campaigning near the Faulkners’ home town of Mason, Ohio, turned into last election’s most powerful pro-Bush ad. The moment, unstaged, unscripted, and captured only because Ashley’s dad, Lynn Faulkner, happened to have a camera with him, drew some 339 comments when our friend Charles Johnson posted it on his blogsite Little Green Footballs. Here is how the Cincinnati Enquirer captured the story:

“Lynn Faulkner, his daughter, Ashley, and their neighbor, Linda Prince, eagerly waited to shake the president’s hand Tuesday at the Golden Lamb Inn. He worked the line at a steady campaign pace, smiling, nodding and signing autographs until Prince spoke:

“‘This girl lost her mom in the World Trade Center on 9-11.’

“Bush stopped and turned back.

“‘He changed from being the leader of the free world to being a father, a husband and a man,’ Faulkner said. ‘He looked right at her and said, “How are you doing?” He reached out with his hand and pulled her into his chest.’

“Faulkner snapped one frame with his camera.

“‘I could hear her say, “I’m OK,” ‘ he said. ‘That’s more emotion than she has shown in 2 1/2 years. Then he said, “I can see you have a father who loves you very much.”‘”

Now, Ashley will be attending Bush’s inauguration tomorrow–and wouldn’t you know (as Little Green Footballs again reports)–her attendance is getting a cynical spin from USA Today’s Carl Weiser:

“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….

“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….

“The Progress for America Voter Fund spent $17 million to air the ad in nine battleground states, including Ohio. It was the single largest buy for a commercial in October.”

Ah, only in the mainstream media. But to Weiser’s credit, he does mention somewhere in his story that Ashley’s mom was a 9/11 victim.