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Famous Texans Karl Rove

"I have no interest whatsoever in being in Washington DC. I'm happy right here." --Karl Rove, when asked if he will head for the White House if Phil Gramm, the candidate he handled in 1996, wins the presidency.

Best known for: George W. Bush's chief strategist. Consultant to U.S. Senators Phil Gramm, Kay Bailey Hutchison and many other right-wing politicians.

Born: December 25, 1950 in Denver, and grew up in Colorado, Utah and Nevada.

Family: His father was a geologist. At age nine, Rove became a faithful Republican when he backed Richard Nixon against John Kennedy.

Education: Attended nearly half a dozen colleges without getting a degree.

Profession: Teaches graduate students at the University of Texas.

Career: In the years of the Watergage scandal, Rove's career as a big-time political handler began with a motley crew of friends and associates. He was chairman of the College Republicans when George Herbert Walker Bush was chairman of the state Republican Party in 1973. He won the presidency of the College Republicans in a race against Terry Dolan. The late Lee Atwater, who later became famous as the political attack dog for the Reagan-Bush team, managed Rove's campaign. Dolan went on to become a Soft Money pioneer by helping form the National Conservative Political Action Committee, then died of AIDS in 1986 at age 36. Dolan's advisers in his loss to Rove were Charlie Black, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. Those three were later instrumental in the success of Ronald Reagan's 1984 campaign.

Atwater joined the consulting firm of Black, Manafort and Stone after the '84 election. The firm later worked for the 1988 Bush-Quayle campaign. Two of Nixon's dirty tricksters also worked for Bush-Quayle: Frederick Malek, Bush's Republican National Committee rep, who had compiled lists of Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of Nixon's investigation of a "Jewish Cabal;" and Dwight Chapin, who was jailed for lying to a grand jury about hiring Donald Sigretti to disrupt the 1972 Democratic primary campaign of Senator Edward Muskie. Chapin worked under Manafort in 1988. The firm's other clients included drug-connected Bahamian Prime Minister Oscar Pindling, Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and UNITA, the South African-supported Angolan rebel group led by CIA asset Jonas Savimbi. Lee Atwater lobbied for UNITA. All of which began when Atwater was introduced to George Bush in 1973, by his good friend Karl Rove.

In 1980, Bush hired Rove to help him run for president. He was the first person Bush hired for the campaign. Atwater became chairman of the Republican National Committee and one of Bush's closest political advisors. In 1981, when Bush became Reagan's vice president, Rove started his consulting business, Karl Rove & Co. His first direct mail client was Bill Clements, the first Republican in a century to become Texas governor.

Rove began working for Bill Clements in 1978. Four years later, he was working for Phil Gramm, who was in the U.S. House of Representatives as an old-style conservative Texas Democrat. In 1984, Rove helped Gramm, now a Republican, defeat Democrat Lloyd Doggett in the race for U.S. Senate. It was that same year, 1984, that Rove handled direct-mail for the Reagan-Bush campaign. In 1986, he helped Clements become governor a second time. In 1988, Rove helped Tom Phillips to victory, the first Republican elected to the Texas Supreme Court. Ten years later Republicans held all nine seats. Mark McKinnon, a former Democratic consultant who defected to the Bush campaign, called Rove the "Bobby Fischer of politics. He not only sees the board, he sees about 20 moves ahead."

Rove has been closely advising George W. Bush since he announced he was a candidate for Governor in November 1993. By January 1994, Bush had spent $613,930 on the race against incumbent Ann Richards. Over half of that, $340,579, went to Rove. In a state long dominated by Democrats, albeit right-wing ones, every statewide elected office was, by 1999, held by a Republican. Many of those politicians succeeded with the help of Rove. During the November election, the half-dozen candidates he advised were all winners.

Bush has called Rove a close friend and confidant, and a man with good judgment. Almost a quarter of all the money Bush's presidential exploratory committee spent from January to the end of March, 1999,  went to Rove's consulting firm ($220,228). Rove soon sold his consulting firm to devote himself to the Bush campaign. Long known locally as a political kingmaker, the possibility of a second Bush in the White House has made Rove more famous.

Sources: Robert Bryce, "The Man Behind the Candidate," The Austin Chronicle, March 18, 1994, pp. 23, 28-30, 32-33; Robert Bryce, "The fab four:Meet the people maneuvering behind the scenes to put George W. Bush in the White House," Salon magazine, June 16, 1999, (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/1999/06/16/advisors/index1.html); Paul Brancato, “Bush League” illustrated cards (Forestville, California: Eclipse Enterprises, 1989), pp. 5, 13, 18.