Karl Rove

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.


Republican political strategist Karl Christian Rove, best known as President George W. Bush's top advisor, earned him the nickname "Bush's Brain."

Rove, appointed as Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the President by Bush during his first term, announced on August 13, 2007, that he will be resigning on August 31, 2007, allegedly to give more time to his family.[1] He was replaced September 4, 2007, by his long-time deputy, Barry Jackson.

Rove is "joining a lengthening line of senior officials heading for the exits in the final 1 1/2 years of the administration. ... Among those who have left are White House counselor Dan Bartlett, budget director Rob Portman, chief White House attorney Harriet Miers, political director Sara Taylor, deputy national security adviser J.D. Crouch and Meghan O'Sullivan, another deputy national security adviser who worked on Iraq. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was forced out immediately after the election as the unpopular war in Iraq dragged on."[2]

On April 19, 2006, Rove "gave up his responsibilities as chief policy coordinator, a position he assumed" in February 2005[3] "that strengthened his influence over matters ranging from homeland security and domestic policy to the economy and national security," Terence Hunt reported for the Associated Press.

Rove's responsibilites "shift[ed] to" Joel Kaplan, "who was promoted to deputy chief of staff from the No. 2 job in the White House budget office where he had served" under Joshua B. Bolten, who took over April 14, 2006, as Bush's Chief of Staff "with authority to do whatever he deemed necessary to stabilize Bush's presidency, and he has moved quickly with changes," Hunt wrote.


Early Years

Rove was born December 25, 1950, in Denver, Colorado. Although he attended the University of Utah, the University of Texas at Austin and George Mason University, he does not hold a degree.[1] Rove reportedly dropped out of the University of Utah to become the executive director of the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) from 1970-1972." [2] In 1973, Rove ran for chair of the College Republicans and, in doing so, threw the national convention into disarray by challenging the front-runner’s delegates. Both Rove and his opponent, Robert Edgeworth, claimed victory. The dispute was resolved when Rove was selected through the direct order of the chairman of the Republican National Committee, who at the time was George H W Bush.[5]

Robert Bryce wrote in the Austin Chronicle in March 2000, that Rove, "an avid student of history, ... probably knows more about the American political process than many college professors. Despite that fact, Rove has never had time to finish his college degree. Over the past three decades, he has attended nearly half a dozen colleges, and he's currently within spitting distance of getting his degree in political science at UT. He has been provisionally accepted into the school's doctoral program in government." [3]

Texas Work

Slowly working his way up the political ladder doing campaign work for a number of Texas Republicans, Rove earned a reputation of being a shrewd political strategist.[4] In 1980, he ran George Herbert Walker Bush's unsuccessful primary campaign for president against Ronald Reagan. He also worked for Senator Phil Gramm.

He founded a political consulting firm, Karl Rove & Company, in Austin, Texas in 1981. Rove helped George W. Bush win the Texas gubernatorial election in 1994. Then served as chief strategists for Bush's presidential campaign in 2000.

During Roves years in Texas, he earn a reputation for being a savage political strategist, willing to engage in dirty tricks. Some of the tricks associated with Rove have been detailed by journalists James Moore and Wayne Slater in their book Bush's Brain.

Austin Chronicle's Robert Bryce wrote in 2000 that "Rove has the same killer quality that [Republican strategist] Lee Atwater had. He's super-confident, and a bit of a show-off. He loves to recount facts and figures regarding delegates, historical vote counts, and presidential election strategies from the past 100 years. That pedantic style, combined with lots of winning campaigns, has made him, without doubt, the most powerful political consultant in Texas. And although many politicos look to him for guidance, he denies that consultants create an image for a candidate. 'That assumes you can fool everybody,' he told [Bryce] during an interview several years ago, 'that the masses are asses. People are pretty damn smart. What you've got to do is present your case in the best light possible, with credibility and integrity.'" [5]

According to one online biography, "He previously served as a member of the Board of International Broadcasting, which oversees operations of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and served on the board of the McDonald Observatory. Rove also taught at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and in the Journalism Department at the University of Texas at Austin."[6] Another biography credits Rove with have a broad range of clients, including, "over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden." [7]

Involvement with the Tobacco Industry

Karl Rove was a paid consultant to Philip Morris from 1991 to 1996, earning $3,000 a month from the relationship. His contact for payment at Philip Morris was Hartina Fluornoy. Rove continued his relationship with Philip Morris while he was an advisor to then Texas Governor George W. Bush. [8][9] at Page 5[10]

A February 15, 2000 article from the New York Times revealed that Rove, helped draft a 1996 push poll against then-Texas Attorney General Dan Morales in an attempt to pressure Morales out of filing a lawsuit against the major American Tobacco companies. The push poll was financed by tobacco companies. According to the article, George W. Bush, then Governor of Texas, threatened to fire any campaign staffer found to be involved with push polls. Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleisher, denied that Mr. Rove was involved in drafting the poll questions, saying Rove only reviewed a fifth draft of the survey. But in a deposition given in 1997, Rove admitted he had offered suggestions about the poll's questions.[11]

Despite this, Karl Rove was never fired.

Rove has knowledge of tobacco industry lobbbying tactics employed in the state of Texas.

White House Years

Karl Rove accompanied his candidate George Walker Bush to Washington in 2001. Rove became Bush's number one advisor, being given a newly created position Special Advisor to the President. During Bush's first term, Rove was credited with influencing and shaping White House policy to best support the President's reelection bid. At the time, he managed "the Office of Political Affairs, the Office of Public Liaison and the Office of Strategic Initiatives at the White House." [12]

Although he was never directly implicated, fingers in Washington pointed on several occasions at Rove as the source of underhanded stunts to discredit and undermine critics of Bush. In particular, the American Prospect's Murray Waas ties Rove to the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame in retaliation for her husband Joseph Wilson's exposure of White House exaggerations concerning the nuclear threat posed by Iraq. [13]

In February 2005, Rove was appointed deputy White House chief of staff.[14] In his new role, Rove's responsibilities include coordinating policy between the White House Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, National Security Council and Homeland Security Council.[15]

Capitol Hill Blue attributes a White House aid as asserting that “Karl (Rove) operates under the rule that if you fuck with us, we’ll fuck you over.” [16], [17]

Social Security

One of Rove's new jobs was orchestrating the campaign to sell Bush's top domestic policy issue: Social Security privatization. The Hill reported in March 2005 that Rove had met with business lobbyists friendly with the administration to coordinate the push for personal retirement accounts.[18]

"I don't think there is any question that Karl Rove is masterminding the whole Social Security strategy," Stephen Moore, president of the Washington-based Free Enterprise Fund, which backs private savings accounts, told Bloomberg News. "The White House feels it can't afford to lose on this." [19]

Democratic Response to 9/11

In a June 22, 2005 speech to the New York Conservative Party Rove argued that the starkest illustration of the differences between conservative and liberal values was in the response to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and 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," he said.

"In the wake of 9/11, conservatives believed it was time to unleash the might and power of the United States military against the Taliban; in the wake of 9/11, liberals believed it was time to… submit a petition. I am not joking. Submitting a petition is precisely what Moveon.org did. It was a petition imploring the powers that be to 'use moderation and restraint in responding to the… terrorist attacks against the United States'," he said. [20]

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. "Rove resigning from Bush administration," Associated Press (The Politico), August 13, 2007.
  2. "Rove resigning from Bush administration," Associated Press (The Politico), August 13, 2007.
  3. Personnel Announcement, Office of the White House Press Secretary, February 8, 2005.
  4. Advisory Board, George W. Bush Institute, accessed April 20, 2010.
  5. Goodman, Amy (2007-08-14). "Rove’s Science of Dirty Tricks", Truthdig. Retrieved on 2008-09-03. Archived from the original on 2007-10-17. 

External articles






External resources

Books and films

  • James Moore and Wayne Slater, Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential, John Wiley & Sons, February 2003. (ISBN 0471423270)
  • Lou Dubose, Jan Reid and Carl M. Cannon, Boy Genius: Karl Rove, the Brains Behind the Remarkable Political Triumph of George W. Bush, January 21, 2003. (ISBN 1586481924)
  • Michael Lind, Made In Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics December 17, 2002 (ISBN 0465041213)
  • Bush's Brain (2004) by filmmakers Michael Paradies Shoob and Joseph Mealey

Profiles and websites

This article was created March 13, 2003.

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