Up close with Karl Rove

The Washington Post carries fascinating profile of Karl Rove and his contribution to the president’s victory: “Four more years attributed to Rove’s strategy.” Key paragraphs:

Rove said that when he and Bush first talked about a reelection strategy in December 2002, the president, anticipating a race that resembled 2000 in its closeness, laid out a series of requests. He wanted a strategy designed to enlarge GOP majorities in the House and Senate, not what he called a “lonely victory.” He wanted more emphasis on grass-roots volunteers. And he told Rove he wanted a campaign about big things and big issues, not “mini ball,” and finally said he wanted to leave the Republican Party “stronger, broader and better.”
Democrats and others often described Bush’s strategy as one designed primarily to energize and mobilize the GOP’s conservative base, but Gillespie said, “You had to have energy in your base, but your base doesn’t get you to 51 percent.”
[Bush campaign manager Ken] Mehlman noted that Bush increased his support among various groups: women, Roman Catholics, Latinos (although some people question the accuracy of the exit polls showing Bush with 44 percent of the Hispanic vote). Even among black voters, Bush increased his support by two percentage points.
Bush’s advisers said one key to victory was the early decision to change the composition of the electorate by finding and registering more Republicans. “When I went to the RNC in July [2003], I asked Karl what was the most important thing I could do, and he said, ‘Close the gap between registered Republicans and registered Democrats,'” Gillespie said. “We registered 3.4 million voters.”

The article quotes Rove describing the possibility of “rolling realignment”:

Rove’s assessment is that the 2004 election pushed the country away from deadlock, where it had come to rest after the disputed election four years ago. “We now clearly are not the country that was 49-49,” he said. “We’re now at 51-48 and may be trending to 51-47. It is incremental but small, persistent change. We saw it in 2002, and we saw it again this year. . . . It tells me we may be seeing part of a rolling realignment.”

And this paragraph on the misunderestimated man in the Oval Office is of special interest:

No small part of the credit, of course, goes to the president, the point man on the campaign trail and, Rove says, the one who established the broad outlines of the reelection strategy during a meeting with his chief adviser in December 2002 at his Texas ranch. The president also continually prodded his team to keep the pressure on Kerry throughout the campaign.

(Courtesy of Lucianne.)


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