Rove: War Decision Wasn't Political

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Senior presidential adviser Karl Rove says President Bush's decision to go to war against Iraq is not about politics but about what's in the best interests of world peace and United States security.

"It is really the height of cynicism to suggest that a president would take the awesome decision of sending people into harm's way for politics," Rove said Thursday night in New Braunfels, where he was honored by the Chamber of Commerce as its "Texan of the Year."

"He did this because he believes fervently after 9-11 the world has changed," Rove told about 400 people.

"We no longer are protected by two vast oceans and by two great neighbors to the north and south. We live in a different world. And we better confront those regimes, those rogue regimes -- which are attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction -- now before they gain the capacity to distribute" and use them, he said.

Rove made no mention of a new book about him -- Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential.

Rove, senior adviser to Bush, has contended that journalists exaggerate his influence.

In an 11-minute speech before answering a few questions afterward, Rove recalled his arrival in Texas at age 26 and spoke of the younger of the Bush presidents who changed his life.

In January of last year, Rove told Republican National Committee leaders gathered in Austin that Republicans could win the 2002 elections by running on the party's ability to prosecute the war on terrorism.

"We can also go to the country on this issue because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America," Rove said then.

Republicans went on to regain control of the U.S. Senate and pick up a few seats in the U.S. House, which already was GOP-controlled.

Rove, 52, who grew up in Utah, became a Texan through his ties to President Bush's father, who recognized Rove as a talented Washington operative in the early 1970s.

Tom Phillips, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, introduced Rove on Thursday night, crediting him with "making our state into a genuine two-party state, or maybe now a one and a half party state," referring to GOP control of all 29 statewide elected offices in Texas and a "close to veto-proof" majority in both the Texas House and Senate.