Rove’s successor keeps low profile

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President Bush is benefiting from a Karl Rove-free White House and the lower-profile approach of his successor, who high-ranking Republican Party activists and operatives say helped the administration to key victories at the end of last year.

Mr. Bush named Barry Jackson in September to replace Mr. Rove, the “architect” of Mr. Bush’s electoral successes, and his understated style is credited with rallying Capitol Hill Republicans to wins on Iraq, spending and national health insurance.

While friends and colleagues of Mr. Rove use words like “flamboyant,” “gregarious” and “flashy” to describe him, they portray his former deputy, Mr. Jackson, as “a man of few words” who is the right fit for a president now reliant on Republican legislators sticking with him.

“It’s no accident that the president has had the four best months of his presidency ever in dealing with the Congress,” said Terry Holt, a Republican consultant who worked with Mr. Jackson in Congress.

Mr. Rove himself has paid tribute to Mr. Jackson’s consensus-building skills, which he cultivated as chief of staff to House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, when the Ohio Republican was the third-ranking member of his party.

“He can draw people together and make everybody who’s part of something better able to get the job done,” said Mr. Rove, who is writing a regular column for Newsweek magazine and working on a book.

While Mr. Jackson’s behind-the-scenes sway has been right on time for the president, Mr. Rove’s in-your-face style and larger-than-life reputation often fit with Mr. Bush’s approach to governing in his first term and early in his second term.

The president’s scorn for “small ball” governing is well-known, as is his penchant for pursuing big ideas and big reforms.

Mr. Bush dubbed Mr. Rove “the architect” after he guided the incumbent to victory in 2004. In the White House, Mr. Rove and fellow Texan Dan Bartlett had significant influence over policy, politics and communications.

But entering 2007, the White House knew that for any of the president’s initiatives — particularly the war in Iraq — to succeed, he would have to maintain the support of Republicans in Congress.

Bush is in a time in his presidency where his success is in part related to his ability to persuade other people to work together,” said Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a veteran of both Bush campaigns.

Enter Mr. Jackson, and counselor to the president Ed Gillespie, another former Hill staffer. The two have helped frustrate Democrats’ attempts to splinter the Republican Party on the war, spending and children’s health insurance, said Paula Nowakowski, Mr. Boehner’s chief of staff, who has known and worked with Mr. Jackson since the early 1990s, and others.

“I think President Bush had a very good year and had a strong close to the year, with those guys in there,” said Charlie Black, a longtime Republican strategist who has advised Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as well as the current president.

“You’ve got a Democratic Congress and an unpopular war, and they still won a lot of battles,” Mr. Black said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at her year-end press conference, expressed surprise and frustration at the Republican Party’s discipline. The California Democrat said that foiled her party’s promises to end the war in Iraq this year.

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