| ROVE: KERRY HAS TASTE OF BUSH CAMPAIGN|
"...Kerry's vote authorizing force in Iraq (news - web sites), and on an array of military issues, put him "in a box" on the Iraq war, minimizing his ability to criticize Bush, Rove told the conservatives in the private meeting. In Rove's judgment, Kerry hurt himself by calling on one-time Democratic rival Howard Dean (news - web sites) to voice support for him. Dean was a fierce critic of the Iraq war, but most Americans outside the Beltway back Bush on national security issues, Rove said.
Rove complained that Democrats were criticizing Bush for failing to stem joblessness, when the unemployment rate is roughly the same as it was during President Clinton (news - web sites)'s 1996 run. Unemployment in February of this year was 5.6 percent; in February 1996, it was 5.5 percent.
He also said the gay marriage issue is beginning to help Bush, because polls are starting to shift in Bush's direction, with more people opposed to same-sex unions. But Rove implored the activists to add their voices to Bush's call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to ensure that Bush is not perceived as standing alone on the issue.
And he expressed irritation that some disgruntled Republicans in Congress and elsewhere have increasingly chosen to go to the news media to air their complaints, rather than bringing them directly to the White House...."