WASHINGTON — Karl Rove, President Bush's top political strategist, pronounced conservatism the "dominant political creed in America" on Thursday and coached fellow conservatives on how to support his boss.
"The next time one of your smarty-pants liberal friends says to you, 'Well, he didn't have a mandate,' you tell him of this delicious fact: This president got a higher percentage of the vote than any Democratic candidate for president since 1964," Rove said.
In 2004, Bush was reelected with about 51% of the vote. In 1976, Jimmy Carter received just more than 50%, and in the two times Bill Clinton was elected, he received less than 50% of the vote. Independent Ross Perot was on the ballot both times.
Bush is the first president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to be reelected while his party gained seats in the House and Senate, Rove said.
But he also cautioned his conservative supporters that they must not become complacent with the 2004 victory.
Rove, appointed White House deputy chief of staff last week, told a gathering at the Conservative Political Action Conference that Bush was committed to the members' ideas of fostering morality and values, including protecting the culture of life for every human person -- a goal that generated applause from the crowd at the Ronald Reagan Building.
"Conservatism is the dominant political creed in America," Rove said, adding that more needed to be done.
He also said the administration was committed to spreading democracy across the Middle East and reforming and modernizing Social Security, healthcare, public education and the tax code.
"Those who oppose this agenda are in a difficult position," Rove said. "They're attempting to block reforms to systems that almost every serious-minded person concedes need reform.... That's not a good place to be in American politics."
Vice President Dick Cheney dropped by later to thank the conservatives for their political support, and he promised that the administration would continue to pursue consistent economic and foreign policies.