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A veteran Republican consultant has told an Israeli newspaper that President Bush's re-election victory demonstrates the power of evangelical Christians and spells trouble for GOP moderates.

"The political center has disappeared, and the Republican Party has become the party of the Christian right more so than in any other period in modern history," Arthur Finkelstein told the Hebrew-language Ma'ariv, according to a report in Thursday's New York Times.

"Bush's victory not only establishes the power of the American Christian right in this candidacy, but in fact established its power to elect the next Republican president," he told the Israeli daily, according to a translation done for Wednesday's New York Post.

Finkelstein has been a presence in American politics for several decades as a top adviser to former Sens. Alfonse D'Amato of New York and Jesse Helms of North Carolina and to New York Gov. George E. Pataki. Pataki is considered a potential contender for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination.

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