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Presidential Adviser Rove to Leave Post

Karl Rove, deputy chief of staff to President Bush and one of his closest advisers, announced Monday that he will resign at the end of August. A former presidential adviser and a political journalist discuss Rove's legacy.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And next, Karl Rove says the end is here. Kwame Holman begins our coverage.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: Karl Rove is moving on down the road.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    He's been the central figure in the political life of George W. Bush.

  • GEORGE W. BUSH:

    We've been friends for a long time, and we're still going to be friends. I would call Karl Rove a dear friend. We've known each other as youngsters interested in serving our state. We worked together so we could be in a position to serve this country. And so I thank my friend. I'll be on the road behind you here in a little bit.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    On the White House South Lawn this morning, the man considered the president's most influential adviser, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, explained why he is stepping down at the end of the month.

    KARL ROVE, Deputy White House Chief of Staff: Through all those years, I've asked a lot of my family, and they've given all I've asked and more. And now it seems the right time to start thinking about the next chapter in our family's life. It's not been an easy decision, as you know, from our discussions that started last summer. It always seemed there was a better time to leave somewhere out there in the future. But now is the time.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Rove's resignation comes amid a political firestorm over the firings last year of several federal prosecutors. His role in the dismissals is a focus of ongoing congressional investigations. White House claims of executive privilege have kept him from testifying to date.

    SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), Illinois: Where is Karl Rove? Why is he hiding?

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Rove also was named in the criminal investigation into who leaked the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame three years ago. He never was charged with any wrongdoing. The investigation led to the conviction of Vice President Cheney's aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

    Called the "architect" of his political victories by the president, Rove guided Mr. Bush's successful 1994 campaign for Texas governor, defeating popular Democratic incumbent Ann Richards. He then masterminded Bush presidential campaign victories in 2000 and 2004. Rove was credited with a unique understanding of the Republican base and with galvanizing it to help gain GOP congressional seats in 2002 and 2004.

    But the 2006 midterm elections brought an end to Republicans' and Rove's successes, as they lost control of both houses of Congress to the Democrats. Renowned for his optimism, Rove characterized that as a temporary setback for the GOP agenda.