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White House defends Rove political presentation

Cover page
The cover page of Mehlman and Rove's power point presentation that has been circulating on Capitol Hill.  

From Kelly Wallace
CNN Washington

COLUMBUS, OHIO (CNN) -- With Democrats crying foul after learning about a detailed computer presentation on the outlook for the GOP in 2002 by the White House, President Bush's spokesman shot back, with sarcasm, saying it is a "shocking development" to learn the administration's political office would put such a presentation together.

"I am shocked," Fleischer told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Columbus, Ohio, Friday where Bush gave a commencement address to Ohio State University graduates. "Shocked that the director of the White House Office of Political Affairs would be concerned in any way with political affairs. This is a shocking development."

Read the Mehlman, Rove power point report 

Democrats argued that the detailed Powerpoint presentation was prepared using taxpayer dollars, arguing this is an inappropriate use of funds to benefit the GOP. A computer disk, containing the presentation, was apparently found in Lafayette Park and has been circulating on Capitol Hill. Ken Mehlman, White House political director, and Karl Rove, Bush's chief political adviser, used the Powerpoint presentation in a talk to California Republicans about the outlook for the GOP in House and Senate races in November.

Fleischer also defended Rove's use of the word "war" when talking about the fight to win congressional approval for a permanent repeal of the estate tax.

A bill to make the tax cut permanent failed in the Senate Wednesday.

Rove, during a speech to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, told business leaders, "This is a war and we need to make an ongoing commitment to winning the effort to repeal the death tax."

Asked if Rove was inappropriately connecting the estate tax debate with support for the war on terror, Fleischer said, "That's silly. I think everybody has heard the use of that word in many contexts to explain why something is important."




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