November 6, 2004


Campaign Strategist Is in Position to Consolidate Republican Majority (TODD S. PURDUM and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, 11/05/04, NY Times)

Victory may have a thousand fathers, but if President Bush's triumph this week had a Big Daddy it was indisputably Karl Rove - the seer, strategist and serious student of politics and the presidency that a grateful Mr. Bush himself referred to as the architect of his winning campaign.

And with Mr. Bush's re-election, Mr. Rove has not only cemented his reputation as one of the canniest campaign gurus in a generation but has also put himself in position to shape second-term policies that could help realize his longtime goal of consolidating a broad Republican electoral majority for a generation to come.

"He is the master of the game," said a respectful Democratic rival, Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore's campaign in 2000. [...]

Bill McInturff, a veteran Republican pollster, noted that when he began work in party politics in 1980, "we were 14 points down from the Democrats on party identification among voters, a minority of minorities."

Now, Mr. McInturff said: "We have stable majorities in the House and Senate, a majority of governors and the American presidency for a second term. Is it time to declare victory and go home? No, but this is a transformation in a generation that was way beyond imagining when Ronald Reagan was first elected."

Unlike James Carville, who helped elect Bill Clinton, or Lee Atwater, who was the first President Bush's political lieutenant, Mr. Rove works in the White House itself, and is the de facto domestic policy chief. His influence is presumed to extend to major and minor policy decisions, whether tax cuts or steel tariffs, stem-cell research or private investment accounts for Social Security.

He is the mastermind behind a campaigning and governing philosophy that puts a set of core policies in the service of politics to an unusually direct degree. Some elements of this approach are tonal and symbolic, while others - like a tax cut on dividends or a prescription drug benefit for Medicare - are more concrete.

"We have to pile up practical, real solutions in your life," said former Speaker Newt Gingrich, himself no slouch at consolidating Republican power. "So that you believe we are the right governing majority because we are delivering what you want." [...]

Mr. Rove's role model is Mark Hanna, the Ohio power-broker who helped William McKinley win the White House in 1896 - and Republican domination of Washington until the New Deal - by moving beyond the party's natural big-business base to appeal to Northeastern and Midwestern immigrants and city dwellers who were afraid of labor unrest and alienated by that era's fire and brimstone agrarian Democrats.

One of McKinley's biographers, Margaret Leech, wrote that Hanna, "cynical in his acceptance of contemporary political practices," was "drawn to McKinley's idealistic standards like a hardened man of the world who becomes infatuated with virgin innocence." Mr. Rove has known the president for more than 30 years, and associates detect a similar dynamic at work.

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, first met Mr. Rove in the late 1970's when both were seeking to revive the Texas Republican Party, Dr. Land as an opponent of abortion and Mr. Rove as a political consultant and direct-mail expert. Mr. Rove did not drink noticeably or use profanity, Dr. Land said, but neither did he appear to be particularly attuned to religion.

"I actually think the president has impacted Karl Rove more than Karl Rove has influenced the president," Dr. Land said. "Karl is much more serious about things of faith than he was when I first knew him, and I think that is the result of George W. Bush." [...]

Soon enough, the midterm elections will limit Mr. Bush's political options and the jockeying among Republican contenders for the White House in 2008 will begin.

Such contenders include Mr. Rove's friend Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 6, 2004 2:26 PM

I have three criteria for the '08 nominee. Pro-life, executive experience and foreign policy experience/understanding. Currently, that leaves my top choices as Condi Rice and Tommy Franks. Both of those seem somewhat unlikely at this point, so I'm hoping that someone like Frist gets a top cabinet post to prep them for the run. Or, perferably, Condi becomes VP.

Posted by: Timothy at November 6, 2004 2:48 PM

Its good to see a celebration of evil. Karl Rove's entire history is filled with it. It truly shows what republicans stand for. The charade of being "believers" is disgusting.

To the sad individual who is talking about Condi Rice and Bill Frist, do you know anything about them? Rice has gotten caught lying at least a dozen times and all she has done is fail in her job. She has admitted to not even doing the basics and reading briefs.

Frist is a criminal. He and his brother literally butchered people by operating on them when they didn't need it so they could suck up some of that welfare from medicare.

I want to encourage both of you. Gloat at evil deeds. Glorify evil people. Slurp up as much money as you can, because that and power are your Gods.

Posted by: just pete at November 6, 2004 3:44 PM

just pete:

Don't fret, these cycles generally only last 72 years. Democrats could be back in the saddle by the turn of the century.

Posted by: oj at November 6, 2004 3:53 PM

Fortunately, pete sounds about 16, so he may well be around for it.

Posted by: Timothy at November 6, 2004 4:32 PM

You're on to us, pete. We're evil. EEEEEEEeeevillll!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA....Run along now, or we'll track you down from your IP address, kidnap you in the dead of night, and sell you to Bill Frist.

Posted by: joe shropshire at November 6, 2004 5:50 PM

It's McCain's to lose. Giuliani's marital history, cultural liberalism and last name will sadly torpedo his candidacy in the South. Jeb Bush starts out 10 points down due to nepotism fears and has failed to broaden his base sufficiently to appeal to a general electorate. His failure to bounce the Jew-hating Charlie Ward from his symbolic state position speaks volumes as to his tone-deafness. Bill Owens hasn't been able to strengthen the party in Colorado. Pataki is too far left.

Posted by: Bart at November 6, 2004 6:12 PM

I'm ginning up the organization & buzz for Mark Sanford.

McCain won't win. The right distrusts him, and his media whore buddies will abandon him the moment he wins the nomination (should he do so)

Rudy can only win if he starts to "morph" into a pro-life candidate - this could work.

Sanford should start visiting world leaders.

Sanford or Owens.

No Frist, No McCain, no pro-choice.

BTW - Rove isn't 10 feet tall. The Toomey debacle is proof that neither Bush nor Rove are beyond making stupid decisions out of spite.

Both Toomey and Peter Fitzgerald would be senators if Bush didn't have a childish "loyalty" side to his otherwise decent personality.

Posted by: BB at November 6, 2004 7:16 PM


Not only did Specter win but W nearly carried PA.

Posted by: oj at November 6, 2004 7:26 PM

Frist's term is up in '06. He has promised that he will not run again. Cheney will retire due to his Health Problems. Frist will get his executive experience and Rove's machine.

BTW. McCain will be 72, way too old for a guy that tightly wound. Guliani has way too much personal bagage. Donna Hanover was his 2nd wife and the divorce was a soap opera in NYC.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 6, 2004 7:28 PM

If Frist takes the VP slot--which, now that I think about it, seems pretty likely--sign me up.

On that note...
What's your beef with Frist? And second, how old is Sanford? It seems to me that he's in a similar category as Tim Pawlenty--young & popular, with no reason to burn up political capital in a hard fought primary yet. Let's keep guys like them on tap for later.

Posted by: Timothy at November 6, 2004 8:29 PM

"Jeb Bush starts out 10 points down due to nepotism fears and has failed to broaden his base sufficiently to appeal to a general electorate."

One could have said the same about Dubya in 1996.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at November 6, 2004 8:50 PM

Jeb\Romney 2008.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at November 6, 2004 8:51 PM

Sanford is a very interesting possibility but I was under the impression that he had alienated a lot of regulars in South Carolina.

Posted by: Bart at November 6, 2004 10:21 PM

Timothy and joe shropshire:

Can't remember where I read it, but I think the rule is that only oj can feed the trolls.


You may be right about Sen. Frist, but I gotta feelin' that President Bush won't nominate anyone (in the event that Dick Cheney steps down, which I think unlikely) who is a contender to replace him.


Agree about Rudy. Notwithstanding that sitting Senators rarely get elected, I'm thinking that Sen. McCain has a great shot at the nomination (written as someone who is not a fan of the Senator).

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at November 7, 2004 12:02 AM


My guess is that Toomey would have empowered Bush more than Spectre, who openly ran against Bush re: appointments, reminding PA conservatives of Bush's strange allegience

When does one cross the line re: principles? Spectre is an ass.


Re: Frist....?

1 He looks like Trent (the rug) Lott's little brother.

2. He's been pretty ineffective in the Senate, getting his hair handed to him regularly by Daschle.

3. He's a Senator, which OJ correctly points out, is a curse. Hillary Crushes him, for no other reason that he is "light blue" on the inside, and fundementaly unable to stand up to heat.

Posted by: BB at November 7, 2004 3:05 AM

And Jeb carried FL, a battleground state, by 12 points. He'd carry evangelicals even easier than W did and stand a great chance to get a majority of Latinos. He's also taller and cuter.

Posted by: oj at November 7, 2004 8:18 AM

Fred: A troll is just a conservative who hasn't spent enough time here. Just respectfully show him the error of his ways.

Posted by: David Cohen at November 7, 2004 9:00 AM

Bart is right -- the nomination is McCain's if he wants it. Giuliani could beat someone like Hillary, but not a middle-American like Evan Bayh or Bill Richardson. Pataki who? Frist does have some skeletons in his closet. Bill Owens needs to shore up his own state.

Mitt Romney? Hmmm... A popular Republican governor from the Northeast, and a Mormon so you know he's not wobbly on abortion etc. Yes, he (or someone very much like him) could carry 40 states.

I like Condi Rice very much, but if she wanted elective office she should have run for Senate against Boxer this year. Unfortunately she had an important job to do -- Bush could do without Mel Martinez or Mitch Daniels, but Rice is the indispensible man, er, woman.

Posted by: J Baustian at November 7, 2004 2:15 PM

McCain showed real loyalty this year. That will count for something. He'll have to tone down his mouth, though.

Posted by: John Thacker at November 7, 2004 2:55 PM