Karl Rove -- The Architect [home]
homemastermindrepublicansdiscussion

the mastermind

Who Is Karl Rove
What motivates and fascinates him? What's he like to be around? What is the Bush-Rove personal relationship like? What makes Rove such a unique political strategist? Commenting here are: Sam Gwynne, editor of Texas Monthly; Dan Balz, Mike Allen, Thomas Edsall and Dana Milbank of The Washington Post; and Ken Mehlman, chair of the Republican National Committee.

playing for history
How far do Karl Rove and George W. Bush want to take the Republican Party, and the country, in realigning the relationship between government and citizen? Here, discussing this question are: Washington Post reporters Thomas Edsall and Dan Balz, Republican activist Grover Norquist, former and current heads of the Republican National Committee, Ed Gillespie and Ken Mehlman, journalist Wayne Slater and former Environmental Protection Agency head and former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman.

Chronology: Karl Rove's Life and Political Career
An overview of key chapters -- from Rove's childhood in Utah and his fascination with politics in high school to his remarkable success as a political strategist in Texas during the 1980s to his team-up with George W. Bush in the run for the governorship and then the two victorious presidential campaigns.

How Rove Targeted the Republican Vote
He built an elaborate system centered on gathering extensive statistics on voters, refining and testing this data to predict the potential Republican votes, and then implementing a get-out-the-vote strategy while constantly measuring and testing it. This methodology, which the Bush campaign called "metrics," enabled Rove on Election Day 2004 to realize before anyone else did that Bush would win -- even though exit polls said otherwise. Discussing this and offering stories about how it works, are Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee and campaign manager of Bush-Cheney '04; Matthew Dowd, chief campaign strategist for Bush-Cheney '04; and Washington Post reporters Thomas Edsall and Dan Balz.

2004: The Base Strategy
In 2000, Bush ran as a "compassionate conservative," reaching out to moderates and seeking a large number of votes from the middle of the political spectrum. But in 2004, Rove and others switched to a fairly radical strategy of focusing on increasing turnout from the party's conservative base. What was behind the changed strategy and what might be the consequences for the Republican Party? Commenting here are Matthew Dowd, Bush-Cheney '04 chief campaign strategist; Mark McKinnon, Bush-Cheney '04 media adviser; Dana Milbank of The Washington Post; Christine Todd Whitman, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency and former governor of New Jersey; Ken Melhman, chairman of the Republican National Committee; Republican strategist Mary Matalin; and Republican anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.

RELATED LINKS

The Controller: Karl Rove Is Working to Get George Bush Reelected, But He Has Bigger Plans
Nicholas Lemann's in-depth 2003 New Yorker profile of Karl Rove: "Rove is both a fox and a hedgehog. He is the detail man of all detail men, but he also makes a point of doing more long-term strategic planning than other political consultants. … Rove's main goal over the next year and a half is making George W. Bush what his father wasn't, a reelected President -- when I asked if he had mapped out the campaign, he said, 'Don't expect me to answer this question' -- he is too ambitious to want only that. The real prize is creating a Republican majority that would be as solid as, say, the Democratic coalition that Franklin Roosevelt created -- a majority that would last for a generation and that, as it played itself out over time, would wind up profoundly changing the relationship between citizen and state in this country." (The New Yorker, May 12, 2003)

Rove Unleashed
Newsweek's post-election 2004 special report: "Given the story line -- the long journey from the train station to two-term presidency -- the most consequential questions in American public life may be these: What is Rove up to now? And will he succeed? For more than three decades, he had one mission: to get Bush elected and then (in a first for the Bush family) reelected. Now comes the reward: the surpassingly difficult task of governing for the sake of history, not mere victory." (Newsweek, Dec. 6, 2004)

Why Are These Men Laughing?
Ron Suskind's 2003 Esquire profile of Rove: "Maybe it's because the midterm elections went so very well. Maybe it's because at the White House, politics is the best policy. Maybe it's because it's the reign of Karl Rove. An inside look at how the most powerful presidential adviser in a century does what he does so well." (Esquire, January 2003)

Karl Rove: The Strategist
A 1999 Washington Post article on Rove and what his career in Texas seemed to foreshadow: "For 20 years, Rove has been at the center of a political realignment that has transformed the Lone Star State from one-party Democratic dominance to an era of Republican ascendance. He is smart, aggressive, shrewd and funny, and the rollout of the Bush campaign bears his imprint. His admirers speak of him as the Bush strategist most likely to emerge as a national player from this campaign. 'The rest of us are reasonably competent,' a Bush supporter says, 'but Karl's the real genius of the operation.'" (The Washington Post, July 23, 1999)

home · introduction · the mastermind · republican party · interviews
texas · join the discussion · producer's chat · teacher's guide
tapes & transcript · press reaction · credits · privacy policy
FRONTLINE home · wgbh · pbsi

posted april 12, 2005

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of wgbh educational foundation.
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

RECENT STORIES

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS