- The Washington Times - Monday, August 13, 2007

Presidential adviser Karl Rove today announced that he will resign at the end of this month.

Mr. Rove, 56, who melded politics and policy in the White House at an unprecedented level during his 6 ½ years as a senior adviser to Mr. Bush, announced his departure this morning with Mr. Bush on the White House South Lawn.

“It always seemed there was a better time to leave somewhere out there in the future, but now is the time,” Mr. Rove said.

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 helped elect Mr. Bush in 2000 and then orchestrated Mr. Bush’s 2004 re-election, along with Republican gains in Congress in the 2002 and 2004 elections.

“There is no replacing Karl Rove. No one has the combination of closeness to Bush and political smarts,” said conservative activist Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform.

Mr. Rove began his White House career as a senior presidential adviser in 2001, then became deputy chief of staff in early 2005.

However, he gave up many of his policy-making responsibilities last year to focus on strategy and politics during a shake-up by Joshua B. Bolten, incoming White House chief of staff.

Mr. Rove also has been blamed by some for crafting a political strategy that they said was divisive and contributed to the Republicans’ loss of the House and the Senate last fall. Mr. Rove has blamed the losses on personal scandals involving Republican lawmakers.

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 debates about the Iraq war and immigration.

Mr. Rove said Mr. Bolten told White House officials that they would be expected to remain for the rest of Mr. Bush’s term if they remained in the administration past Labor Day.

One former administration official said Mr. Rove is leaving to focus all his energies on shaping Mr. Bush’s legacy, partly through building the presidential library, which will be based at first lady Laura Bush’s alma mater, Southern Methodist University.

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

“I don’t think Karl will have anything to do with the 2008 election. I think he’ll be consumed with the library and shaping the president’s legacy,” the official said.

A personal friend of Mr. Rove‘s, who talks to him frequently, agreed that he will stay away from the presidential election.

“I don’t think he wants to be involved with that,” Mr. Rove’s friend said. “I don’t think he has necessarily decided what he will do.”

Mr. Rove’s resignation is the latest in a string of White House departures since Democrats took control of Congress last fall. Dan Bartlett, a counselor to the president who worked 14 years for Mr. Bush, left last month.

Some Democrats said Mr. Rove’s departure was intended to help him evade congressional probes into firings of U.S. attorneys.

Democrats are seeking testimony from Mr. Rove and thousands of his e-mails about the firings. Mr. Bush has claimed executive privilege in the face of congressional subpoenas for Mr. Rove and for former White House Counsel Harriet Miers.

“Seems to me he would be in the same position as Miers. He would likely obey Bush’s decision on executive privilege, though it’s never been clear whether the president could compel a private citizen not to testify,” said John Yoo, former deputy assistant attorney general in the Bush administration.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said his panel “will continue its investigation into this serious issue.”

Mr. Rove’s apparent attempts to manipulate elections and push out prosecutors, citing bogus claims of voter fraud, shows corruption of federal law enforcement for partisan political purposes,” Mr. Leahy said.

Mr. Rove already has weathered one set of inquiries by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who called Mr. Rove to testify before a grand jury five times but never charged him.

Mr. Rove has accumulated a pile of nicknames over the past 6 ½ years, many of them given to him by his political opponents: Bush’s brain. Evil genius. The architect.

“I’m a myth,” Mr. Rove told the Wall Street Journal. “I read about some of the things I’m supposed to have done, and I have to try not to laugh.”

Nevertheless, the list of Mr. Rove’s accomplishments is long, and he was saluted by Republican leaders.

Karl Rove has made an enormous contribution to our country and our party. Now, as he leaves the White House and turns to new challenges, I wish him and his family well as they begin this new chapter in their lives,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Mr. Rove is “a good man who worked very hard to serve a president he believed in, and as a result, America is a safer and a better place.”

“He managed two presidential elections that could easily have been lost,” Mr. Norquist said. “Rove managed to defeat [Sen. John] McCain — a war hero backed by the three networks — and then [Al] Gore and [Sen. John] Kerry, both of whom prepared for such a presidential race their entire adult lives.”

Mr. Kerry 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,” the Massachusetts Democrat 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.”

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