Tue, Nov 09, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Bush re-election `architect' touts achievements

SPIN The president's lead strategist said Bush's victory came from a focus on stopping gay marriages and an attack on Kerry's `flip-flopping' on the issues


Karl Rove, the so-called architect of US President George W. Bush's re-election, took a victory lap around US talk shows Sunday, relishing the victory he had stage-managed from the shadows, and saying Bush will seek a ban on gay marriage in his second term.

Rove told "Fox News Sunday" that the president would continue to push for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

"Without the protection of that amendment, we are at the mercy of activist federal judges or activist state judges who could, without the involvement of the people, determine ... that marriage no longer consists of a union between a man and a woman," Rove said.

"Marriage is a very important part of our culture and our society. If we want to have a hopeful and decent society, we ought to aim for the ideal. And the ideal is that marriage ought to be and should be a union of a man and a woman," he said. Rove said the president does support civil unions, which give limited legal rights to gay couples.

Opposition to gay marriage -- along with a hard line on embryonic stem cell research and certain abortion procedures -- were key conservative planks of the Republican platform that was credited with drawing conservative Christians to vote for president.

The strategy devised by Rove recruited millions of new conservative voters to cast ballots for Bush.

Opposition Democrats vilify Rove as the master strategist "attack dog" of many political hatchet jobs, although his fingerprints are rarely found.

Rove is sometimes called "Bush's brain." Bush himself dubbed Rove the "architect" of Tuesday's win. And he engineered Bush's 2000 squeaker, after which Bush called him "Boy Genius."

"This country was a narrowly divided country in 2000," Rove said of the election in which Bush lost the popular vote, but won in the Electoral College.

"The country has slid to a 51-48 percent Republican majority. We gained seats in the US Senate, now have 55. We gained seats in the US House. This is the first president since Franklin Roosevelt to win re-election while adding to his party's numbers in the House and Senate.

"The country is still close, but it has moved in a Republican direction. This election confirmed that," Rove said.

Rove pointed to several key events in the campaign. One of those came as the Bush campaign pressured Senator John Kerry to explain why he had voted for a congressional resolution authorizing war in Iraq but then criticized the invasion.

Kerry was also lampooned by the Bush campaign over his comment early in the campaign on a Senate vote on funding for Iraq.

"I actually did vote for the US$87 billion ... before I voted against it," Kerry had said.

The phrase helped Rove build his case that Kerry was a "flip-flopper" who changed position on key issues. The phrase was repeatedly replayed on Republican attack advertisements.

"It's the gift that kept on giving," Rove told Fox.

Rove, who has known Bush since the 1970s, when both first got involved in politics, said he is not taking Republican dominance for granted.

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