W.House rejects apology for Rove's Sept. 11 remarks
By Steve Holland1 hour, 38 minutes ago
Democrats demanded an apology from top White House adviser Karl Rove on Thursday for saying liberals responded weakly to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a request quickly rejected by the White House.
The complaints were the latest aftershocks in a bitter partisan battle in Washington over U.S. foreign and domestic policy and followed a Republican-led uproar over remarks made by Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin about U.S. treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Speaking to the Conservative Party of New York State on Wednesday night, Rove was quoted as saying: "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada issued a statement saying "it is time to stop using Sept. 11 as a political wedge issue."
"Karl Rove should immediately and fully apologize for his remarks or he should resign," Reid said. "The lesson of Sept. 11 is not different for conservatives, liberals or moderates."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan defended Rove's remarks and rebuffed suggestions that he apologize. "Of course not," McClellan said.
He said Rove was "talking about the different philosophies and different approaches when it comes to winning the war on terrorism."
"I would think that they would want to be able to defend their philosophy and their approach, and I know that the Democratic leadership at this point is offering no ideas and no vision for the American people," McClellan said.
Rove's remarks were reminiscent of some of President Bush's speeches from his re-election campaign last year but seemed to go further in saying liberals had offered therapy for the attackers.
Rove was the architect of Bush's 2004 campaign and is now a deputy White House chief of staff.
Congressional Democrats criticized Rove in press releases, at news conferences and in comments on the Senate floor. Some echoed Reed's comments that Rove should retract the comments or resign.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, a New York Democrat, said it was time for all to "just take a breath and calm down and eliminate the divisive rhetoric on all sides."
In New York, Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg, citing the families and survivors of those killed in the hijacked airliner attacks, said, "No one has ever raised issues of ideology or partisanship."
"We owe it to those we lost to keep partisan politics out of the discussion," Bloomberg said.
New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, a Democrat, also demanded an apology. "New Yorkers don't need a lecture by Karl Rove," he said.
Democrats' demands for an apology from Rove came two days after Durbin yielded to a drumbeat of largely Republican criticism and apologized for criticizing U.S. interrogation methods at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
That controversy erupted on June 14 when Durbin quoted from an FBI agent's report describing detainees at Guantanamo chained to the floor without food or water.
"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others - that had no concern for human beings," Durbin had said. The cross-fire between Republicans and Democrats reflected a deep partisan divide over the direction of U.S. foreign and domestic policy, from the Iraq war to Bush's proposals for overhauling Social Security. (Additional reporting by Thomas Ferraro)