Karl Rove: Bush didn't reach enough evangelicals
"We probably failed to marshal support of the base as well as we should have," President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, said yesterday. And by "the base" he means evangelicals.

There should have been 19 million of them, and instead there were 15 million of them. So four million of them did not turn out to vote. … But we also may be returning to the point in America where fundamentalists and evangelicals remain true to their beliefs and think politics is corrupt and therefore they shouldn't participate. … If this process of withdrawal continues, it's bad for conservatives, bad for Republicans, but also bad for the country. … It's something we have to spend a lot of time and energy on.

Rove spoke at an American Enterprise Institute forum on the Bush presidency. The organization's schedule doesn't list Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, as one of the respondents, but since both the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times quote him, he apparently attended. He's puzzled by the comments. "Maybe it's a strategy to rally the right or something," he told The New York Times "But there's nothing stunning that says this was Bush's problem." He points out to the Tribune that Rove's concern is only over a 3 percent shift between 2000 and 1996 among Republican voters who identified themselves as white, evangelical, and members of the Religious Right. (Reuters, The Washington Post, and other news outlets covered the speech too but didn't emphasize the Religious Right aspect.)

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