WASHINGTON – Karl Rove (search), President Bush's top political strategist, on Thursday pronounced conservatism the "dominant political creed in America" and coached fellow conservatives on how to support his boss.
"The next time one of your smartypants 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 re-elected with about 51 percent of the vote. In 1976, Jimmy Carter (search) received just over 50 percent and in the two times Bill Clinton was elected, he received under 50 percent of the vote; Independent Ross Perot (search) was on the ballot both times.
Bush is the first president since Franklin Roosevelt to be re-elected while his party gained seats in the House and Senate, Rove continued. But he also cautioned his conservative supporters that they must not become complacent with the 2004 victory.
"Republicans cannot grow tired or timid," he said.
Rove told a gathering at the Conservative Political Action Conference that Bush is 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 and International Trade Center.
"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, health care, 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."
Rove was introduced by Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association, who said Rove -- recently given the extra title of deputy chief of staff -- was a fan of a former President William McKinley's political guru. Rove said he wasn't a fan of his McKinley counterpart, but of McKinley himself because he was in charge.
"The president reminds me of that all the time," Rove joked.
Another member of the Bush administration, Vice President Cheney, dropped by Thursday evening to thank the conservatives for their political support and he promise the administration would continue to pursue consistent economic and foreign policies.
Members of Congress are debating whether Social Security taxes for the wealthiest Americans should be increased, but Cheney seemed to suggest that was not an option.
"We cannot tax our way out of this problem," Cheney said to cheers from some of the administration's core supporters at the CPAC meeting. "We must not increase payroll taxes on American workers. Higher taxes would only buy time and then future Congresses would need to come back and raise taxes again and again on our children and grandchildren."