Adding to the rancor, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested that Republican charges that Democrats were undermining the war on terror with their criticism of administration policies amounted to an act of desperation.
"The president wanted to go to Iraq in the worst possible way and he did," Pelosi said. "The president is on the ropes."
President Bush's chief political adviser, Rove said in a speech Wednesday that "liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Conservatives, he told the New York state Conservative Party just a few miles north of Ground Zero, "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war."
Rove said the Democratic Party made the mistake of calling for "moderation and restraint" after the terrorist attacks.
Democrats were quick to respond — and in growing numbers.
"Karl Rove should immediately and fully apologize for his remarks or he should resign," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement. "I hope the president will join me in repudiating these remarks."
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean called on Mr. Bush to "show some leadership and unequivocally repudiate Rove's divisive and damaging political rhetoric."
The White House defended Rove's remarks and accused Democrats of engaging in partisan attacks. Rove, said spokesman Scott McClellan, "was talking about the different philosophies and our different approaches when it comes to winning the war on terrorism."
During ain which Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other military leaders testified, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., read Rove's statement and urged them to reject the remarks.
"I would hope that you and other members of the administration would immediately repudiate such an insulting comment from a high-ranking official in the president's inner circle," Clinton said.