Karl Rove re­signs; long­time friend cred­ited for Bush rise

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jon Ward and Joseph Curl

Karl Rove, cred­ited with mas­ter­mind­ing the rise of Ge­orge W. Bush to the Texas gov­er­nor­ship and then to the White House, on Aug. 13 an­nounced that he will re­sign ef­fec­tive at the end of this month.

Mr. Rove, 56, who melded pol­i­tics and pol­icy in the White House dur­ing his 6 1/2 years as a se­nior ad­viser to Mr. Bush, an­nounced his de­par­ture stand­ing with Mr. Bush on the White House South Lawn.

“I’m about ready to be un­em­ployed,” Mr. Rove said, laugh­ing, dur­ing an in­ter­view with The Wash­ing­ton Times. He said he wants to spend more time with his wife, Darby, and their col­lege-age son, Andrew. But he said he has “no idea” what he’ll do be­sides that.

“I may do some of the speak­ing tour for a lit­tle while, but I re­ally need to sit down and fig­ure out what I’d like to do,” Mr. Rove said. “I’d like to teach, but in the mean­time, I’ve prob­a­bly got to fig­ure out some­thing I can make some money at.”

Mr. Rove said he would not play “any for­mal role in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion” of 2008, but in­di­cated that he would not dis­ap­pear ei­ther.

“I sus­pect I’ll be seen on the po- lit­i­cal scene help­ing out my friends and re­spond­ing to phone calls,” Mr. Rove told The Times.

At the South Lawn an­nounce­ment, Mr. Bush said that he and Mr. Rove, who have been friends for 34 years, “worked to­gether so we could be in a po­si­tion to serve this coun­try.”

“I would call Karl Rove a dear friend,” said Mr. Bush, who has seen many of his long­time ad­vis­ers leave in the past year. “I thank my friend. I’ll be on the road be­hind you here in a lit­tle bit.”

Mr. Rove said his years at the White House has been a “joy and an honor,” stead­ied his emo­tions when he spoke to re­porters for 20 min­utes aboard Air Force One, en route with the pres­i­dent to his ranch in Craw­ford, Texas.

Mr. Rove said the pres­i­dent is un­pop­u­lar be­cause “we’re in the midst of an un­pop­u­lar war, and he’s been ham­mered by the Democrats. But I would point out to you,” he con­tin­ued, “the Demo­crat Congress is less pop­u­lar than the pres­i­dent, and they got there a heck of a lot quicker.”

Mr. Rove held se­nior roles in both Mr. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 elec­tion bids, which led the pres­i­dent to dub him “the ar­chi­tect.”

“He will go down as one of the most pow­er­ful po­lit­i­cal aides in his- tory,” said Demo­cratic strate­gist Donna Brazile, who ran the los­ing 2000 cam­paign of Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore.

Repub­li­can lead­ers saluted Mr. Rove, with Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, Ken­tucky Repub­li­can, say­ing he “has made an enor­mous con­tri­bu­tion to our coun­try and our party.”

Sen. John Kerry, Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat, whom Mr. Rove helped de­feat in the 2004 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, sounded a dif­fer­ent note.

“It’s a tragedy that an ad­min­is­tra­tion that promised to unite Amer­i­cans has in­stead left us more di­vided than ever be­fore,” Mr. Kerry said. “With­out doubt, the ar­chi­tect of that po­lit­i­cal strat­egy was Karl Rove, who proved the pol­i­tics of di­vi­sion may win some elec­tions but can­not gov­ern Amer­ica.”

Mr. Rove said he first men­tioned re­sign­ing to the pres­i­dent a year ago, but stayed on af­ter Democrats took con­trol of Congress to help Mr. Bush with the Iraq war and im­mi­gra­tion de­bates. He blamed the Repub­li­can loss of the House and Se­nate on per­sonal scan­dals in­volv­ing Repub­li­can law­mak­ers.

Mr. Rove said that Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten told White House of­fi­cials that if they stayed past La­bor Day, they would be ex­pected to re­main for the rest of Mr. Bush’s term. No re­place­ment has been named, though cur­rent White House coun­selor Ed Gillespie’s name has fig­ured in spec­u­la­tion.

One for­mer Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said that Mr. Rove is leav­ing to fo­cus all his en­er­gies on shap­ing Mr. Bush’s legacy, partly through build­ing the pres­i­den­tial li­brary at South­ern Methodist Univer­sity in Dal­las.

“I think he’s got the legacy mis­sion now,” the for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said. “He wants to make sure that pres­i­dent’s place in his­tory is ap­pro­pri­ately shaped.”

Mr. Rove said he would con­tinue to be Mr. Bush’s “fierce and com­mit­ted ad­vo­cate on the out­side.” He plans to write a book, with Mr. Bush’s en­cour­age­ment, about his time in the White House.

Sev­eral Democrats said the de­par­ture was in­tended to frus­trate con­gres­sional probes of the U.S. at­tor­ney fir­ings. How­ever, Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Pa­trick J. Leahy, Ver­mont Demo­crat, said that his panel “will con­tinue its in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

“I’m re­al­is­tic enough to un­der­stand that the sub­poe­nas are go­ing to keep fly­ing my way,” Mr. Rove said aboard Air Force One. “I’m Moby Dick, and we’ve got three or four mem­bers of Congress who are try­ing to cast them­selves in the part of Cap­tain Ahab.”

Michael Con­nor / The Wash­ing­ton Times

Karl Rove and Pres­i­dent Bush demon­strated their mu­tual ad­mi­ra­tion on Aug. 13 as Mr. Rove an­nounced his end-of-the-month res­ig­na­tion from his job as the pres­i­dent’s se­nior ad­viser.

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