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Top Bush Political Operative Upbeat on Republican Party's Future


Despite U.S. public opinion surveys showing broad dissatisfaction with President Bush and the Republican Party in general, the man who has served as Mr. Bush's top political operative is upbeat on his party's prospects in next year's elections. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who is resigning at the end of the month, appeared on U.S. television.

Nearly one year after Republicans lost control of both houses of the U.S. Congress, polls show President Bush with the lowest approval ratings of his administration and little optimism among Republicans as the party prepares to compete in next year's presidential and legislative contests. Major Democratic presidential contenders are outpacing their Republicans counterparts in campaign contributions, and a recent poll showed that, if the election were held today, the Democratic frontrunner, Senator Hillary Clinton, would narrowly defeat any of the major Republican contenders.

Time for Republicans to panic? Not according to Karl Rove, who has commonly been referred to as the "architect" of President Bush's successful campaigns for the White House in 2000 and 2004. Days after submitting his resignation as Deputy White House Chief of Staff, effective at the end of the month, Rove appeared on Fox News Sunday with an upbeat assessment of Republican prospects in next year's elections.

"I do think the Republican Party is more in keeping with the attitudes, values and views of the American people, and with the strong candidates we have got - [Arizona Senator John] McCain, [former Tennessee Senator Fred] Thompson, [former Massachusetts Governor Mitt] Romney, [former New York Mayor Rudy] Giuliani - we will have an excellent chance to keep the White House," said Karl Rove.

As to which party will control the legislature, Rove pointed out that the same polls that show low approval ratings for President Bush also show even lower ratings for Congress, where Democrats won majorities in both houses last year.

"Take a look at the very sharp decline in the Democratic Congress, which was at very high [approval] levels seven months ago and has plummeted way below where the president has," he said.

Rove was asked about recent controversies surrounding the White House including the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, but he refused to comment.

In the days before last year's midterm legislative elections, Rove famously predicted Republicans would retain majorities in both houses of Congress, a prediction that proved wrong. But on Fox News Sunday, Rove said it is normal for the governing party to lose seats in the legislature in the middle of a president's second term in office, and that the margin of defeat for Republicans in dozens of critical contests last year was thin.

As a rule, political operatives always stress the positive when it comes to their party's prospects in any election. Democratic Party strategists are also expressing optimism about next year's elections. The first presidential primary contest for registered voters of both parties will not occur until January, and the general election is more than a year away.

Appearing alongside President Bush after submitting his resignation, Rove said the time had come to spend more time with his family.

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