President Bush will probably issue his first veto if the Senate approves a bill to expand federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, White House aide Karl Rove told a newspaper's editorial board.

"The president is emphatic about this," Rove said in the meeting Monday, according to a story posted on the Denver Post's Web site.

The House has already passed the stem cell legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del.

Rove said he believes the legislation will pass the Senate with more than 60 votes sometime this month — "and as a result the president would, as he has previously said emphatically, veto the Castle bill."

The Bush administration has allowed federal funding only for existing lines of embryonic stem cells. Researchers and patients' groups say that policy hinders vital research.

"We were all an embryo at one point, and we ought to as a society be very careful about being callous about the wanton destruction of embryos, of life," Rove said. He said research shows "we have far more promise from adult stem cells than from embryonic stem cells."

Rove was in Colorado to speak Sunday at an Aspen Institute forum.

Rove rallied about 400 Republican volunteers at a fundraiser late Monday in suburban Parker, accusing Democrats of being weak on Iraq and the economy.

He also attended a fundraiser for major donors at the home of Larry Richardson in Denver, party chairman Bob Martinez said.

Rove, who helped the state party raise a total of $200,000, said the major issues in this fall's election would be the economy and Iraq. He criticized Democrats for wanting to pull troops out of Iraq, calling their strategy "cut and run".

He drew applause when he said the world was a better place without Saddam Hussein in power. He said anyone who doubts what the U.S. is fighting for should spend $13.95 to buy a collection of Usama bin Laden's writings.

"We're in a war with Islamic facists... They want to reestablish and caliphate, an Islamic empire," he said.