Hat Tip :By John D. McKinnnon, Wall Street Journal
Mr. Rove’s departure removes one of the White House’s most polarizing figures, and perhaps signals the effective end of the lame duck administration’s role in shaping major domestic policy decisions. Mr. Rove revealed his plans in an interview with Paul Gigot, editor of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. (See related commentary.)
Mr. Rove also said he expects the president’s approval rating to rise again, and that conditions in Iraq will improve as the U.S. military surge continues. He said he expects Democrats to be divided this fall in the battle over warrantless wiretapping, while the budget battle — and a series of presidential vetoes — should help Republicans gain an edge on spending restraint and taxes.
Mr. Rove established himself as the political genius behind the rise of George W. Bush and the brief period of united Republican rule. But he did it largely through highly divisive policies and campaign tactics, such as the attacks on Democratic rival John Kerry the 2004 campaign. That strategy appears to have backfired, as seen in the Republican loss of Congress in 2006, and Mr. Bush’s low poll numbers.
Mr. Rove has advised Mr. Bush for more than a decade, working with him closely since Mr. Bush first announced he was running for governor of Texas in 1993 and serving as chief strategist in his presidential campaign in 2000. Before joining the White House, he was president of Karl Rove & Co., the Austin, Texas-based public affairs firm he founded. Mr. Rove first became involved in Republican politics in the 1970s.
Mr. Bush was expected to make a statement Monday with his aide at the White House, before they fly to Texas to Mr. Bush’s Crawford ranch retreat.
“Obviously it’s a big loss to us,” White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said. “He’s a great colleague, a good friend, and a brilliant mind. He will be greatly missed, but we know he wouldn’t be going if he wasn’t sure this was the right time to be giving more to his family, his wife Darby and their son. He will continue to be one of the president’s greatest friends
Mr. Rove, who has held a senior post in the White House since President Bush took office in January 2001, told Mr. Gigot he first floated the idea of leaving a year ago. But he delayed his departure as, first, Democrats took Congress, and then as the White House tackled debates on immigration and Iraq, he said. He said he decided to leave after White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten told senior aides that if they stayed past Labor Day they would be obliged to remain through the end of the president’s term in January 2009.
“I just think it’s time,” Mr. Rove said in the interview. “There’s always something that can keep you here, and as much as I’d like to be here, I’ve got to do this for the sake of my family.” Mr. Rove and his wife have a home in Ingram, Texas, and a son who attends college in nearby San Antonio.
In the interview, Mr. Rove said he expects Democrats to give the 2008 presidential nomination to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom he described as “a tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate.” He also said Republicans have “a very good chance” to hold onto the White House in next year’s elections.