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Rove to Leave White House at End of August

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President Bush embraces White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove after Rove announced that he will be resigning his post at the end of the month on the South Lawn of the White House.
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President Bush embraces White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove after Rove announced that he will be resigning his post at the end of the month on the South Lawn of the White House.

Karl Rove said an emotional goodbye at a White House news conference on Monday, hours after the news broke that he will leave the White House at the end of the month.

"I will miss, deeply miss, my work here," said Rove, President Bush's close friend and chief political strategist. "Mr. President, I'm grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve our nation. I'm grateful to have been a witness to history."

Rove praised President Bush, saying Mr. Bush's integrity and character had inspired him. He also said Mr. Bush was "farsighted" and that the president has protected the U.S. from a "brutal enemy."

At the news conference, Rove said he would remain close to the president. "I look forward to continuing our friendship of 34 years," Rove said.

Indeed, President Bush said the two would continue their friendship, and noted that he, too, would soon be leaving the White House.

"We've been friends for a long time, and we're still going to be friends," Bush said, standing with Rove. "I would call Karl Rove a dear friend. I thank my friend," Bush said. "I'll be on the road behind you in a bit."

In an interview published in Monday's edition of The Wall Street Journal, Rove said he had first floated the idea of leaving a year ago, but he did not want to depart on a sour note after the Democrats took control of Congress in November.

"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," he told the Journal.

A longtime member of Bush's inner circle, Rove was nicknamed "the architect" by the president for designing the strategy that twice captured the White House.

"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."

Rove "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," Perino said.

A criminal investigation put Rove under scrutiny for months during the investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's name, but he was never charged with any crime. In a more recent controversy, Rove, citing executive privilege, has refused to testify before Congress about the firing of U.S. attorneys.

Rove also told the Journal that he believed Mr. Bush would bounce back from historically low public opinion polls, saying Bush would move up from about a 30 percent approval rating to 40 percent, and "higher than Congress."

He predicted Iraq would be "a better place" as the surge continues and that the Democrats would nominate Hillary Clinton for the presidency, a candidate he called "tough, tenacious, fatally flawed." He also said he believes Republicans have a very good chance of winning the White House again in 2008.

Looking back over his White House years, Rove told the Journal that at least two parts of the Bush Doctrine will be carried on by future administrations: The policy that those who harbor terrorists are as culpable as terrorists; and pre-emption.

Since Democrats won control of Congress, some top administration officials have announced their resignations.

Among those who have left are White House counselor Dan Bartlett, budget director Rob Portman, chief White House attorney Harriet Miers, political director Sara Taylor, deputy national security adviser J.D. Crouch and Meghan O'Sullivan, another deputy national security adviser who worked on Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was forced out immediately after the election as the unpopular war in Iraq dragged on.

Rove's decision to leave was not a hasty one, Perino said.

"He's been talking with the president for a long time - about a year - regarding when might be good to go," Perino said. "But there's always a big project to work on, and his strategic abilities - and our need for his support - kept him here. He said there's never a good time to leave, just the `right' time."

Rove became one of Washington's most influential figures during Bush's presidency. He is known as a ruthless political warrior who has an encyclopedic command of political minutiae and a wonkish love of policy.

Rove met Bush in the early 1970s, when both men were in their 20s. Once inside the White House, he grew into Bush's right-hand man.

Rove's resignation is effective Aug. 31. He said the president has encouraged him to write a book about the Bush years – a project he finds appealing.

Rove also said he is finished with political consulting and would eventually like to teach.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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