Beliefnet
Washington, Dec. 13--(RNS) Saying a decline in support from Christian conservatives is "bad for Republicans but also bad for the country," President Bush's top political adviser said the White House will do more to keep the powerful religious right in the Bush camp.

Speaking on Tuesday to the American Enterprise Institute, Karl Rove said Bush was concerned by a drop in support by white evangelicals in last year's election. Rove promised to change that. "It's something that we have to spend a lot of time and energy on," Rove said, according to The New York Times.

Data show that 15 million Christian conservatives voted for Bush, short of the 19 million the Bush campaign was counting on. "We probably failed to marshal support of the base as we should have," Rove said.

In addition, exit polls showed that 14 percent of Bush supporters identified themselves as religious conservatives, even though in 1996 Republican nominee Bob Dole pulled 17 percent of those same voters. Among religious voters, Bush polled better among more observant evangelicals and Roman Catholics, although Al Gore did better with Jews, less observant Catholics, Hispanics and black Protestants.

Rove said the president needs to return to "values-related issues" and do more outreach to Hispanic voters and young people. He suggested that the country may be "returning to the point in America where fundamentalists and evangelicals remain true to their beliefs and think politics is corrupt and therefore shouldn't participate."

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