The prospect of the administration spending its last two years being grilled by angry Democrats under the heat of partisan spotlights has added urgency to the efforts by Karl Rove and Mr. Bush's political team to hang on to the Republican majorities in Congress.
Newly shorn of the daily policymaking duties he took on after the 2004 campaign and now refocused on his role as Mr. Bush's chief strategist, Mr. Rove is facing an increasingly difficult climate for Republicans, and an increasingly assertive Democratic Party.
The ambitious second-term agenda he helped develop has faltered even with a Republican Congress. His once-grand plans for creating a broadened and permanent Republican majority have given way to a goal of clinging to control of the House and Senate.
The prospect of Democrats capturing either, however, may be one of the best weapons Mr. Rove has as he turns to what he has traditionally done best: motivating his party's conservative base to turn out on Election Day.
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