Karl Rove came to the heart of Manhattan last night to rhapsodize about the decline of liberalism in politics, saying Democrats responded weakly to Sept. 11 and had placed American troops in greater danger by criticizing their actions.
"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," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State.
Citing calls by progressive groups to respond carefully to the attacks, Mr. Rove said to the applause of several hundred audience members, "I don't know about you, but moderation and restraint is not what I felt when I watched the twin towers crumble to the ground, a side of the Pentagon destroyed, and almost 3,000 of our fellow citizens perish in flames and rubble."
Told of Mr. Rove's remarks, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, replied: "In New York, where everyone unified after 9/11, the last thing we need is somebody who seeks to divide us for political purposes."
Mr. Rove also said American armed forces overseas were in more jeopardy as a result of remarks last week by Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who compared American mistreatment of detainees to the acts of "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others."
"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?" Mr. Rove asked. "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."
Gov. George E. Pataki of New York, speaking after Mr. Rove, also touched on the Sept. 11 attacks. He promised that the proposed Freedom Tower, the new building at ground zero, would retain patriotic touches in its architecture, like a height of 1,776 feet, despite the concerns of some observers who fear that it would become a target for terrorists.
"We're going to have a Freedom Tower that soars 1,776 feet high, symbolizing our independence," Mr. Pataki said. As for the memorial, he said: "No one is going to turn it into something that is a negative statement about America and our belief in freedom, so long as I am governor of this state."
Speaking to reporters afterward, Mr. Pataki disclosed that he did not plan to reveal in the coming days if he will seek a fourth term, contrary to previous statements that he would make an announcement after the State Legislature adjourned today.
"I'm going to evaluate the bills that the Legislature has passed at the end of the session and then make a decision at the appropriate time, but not in the next couple of weeks," Mr. Pataki said.