WASHINGTON – President Bush told evangelical Christians what they wanted to hear Thursday, ticking off highlights of his "compassionate conservative" (search) agenda, from halting late-term abortions to banning gay marriage (search).
Evangelical Christians represent a core constituency for the president. Self-described Christian conservatives preferred Bush over Al Gore 80 percent to 18 percent, according to exit polls in 2000.
Bush opened his address via satellite to the National Association of Evangelicals Convention (search) in Colorado by lavishing praise on the group: "You're doing God's work with conviction and kindness," Bush said.
Bush placed special emphasis on his efforts to curtail abortion -- a goal fervently pursued by conservative Christians.
"We're working to build a culture of life," he said, noting that he had taken "an important step" last November when he signed legislation outlawing certain late-term abortions.
Three federal judges immediately blocked the law, and Bush promised that, "We will vigorously defend this law against any attempt to overturn it in the courts."
However, Bush's Justice Department this week backed off its effort to subpoena abortion records from six Planned Parenthood (search) affiliates as part of the government's defense of the new law.
On another abortion issue, the president heralded the legislation he signed last year, which amends the legal definitions of "person," "human being," "child" and "individual" to include any fetus that survives an abortion procedure.
Bush reiterated that he opposed the use of federal funds for the "destruction of human embryos for stem-cell research," and said he would pursue legislation for a "comprehensive and effective ban on human cloning."
He reiterated his intention to get a constitutional ban on gay marriage, and said he would continue pressing to allow religious charities a greater hand in delivering social services.
The president pushed another hot-button issue for conservatives when he said would continue to nominate to the courts like minded-judges who "will interpret the law, and not legislate from the bench."