10 Things You Didn't Know About Karl Rove

Compiled by the U.S. News Library staff

1. Karl Christian Rove was born on Christmas Day 1950 in Denver. His family moved a lot until settling in Salt Lake City. Rove's parents divorced when his stepfather, whom he considered his father, came out as gay. Rove would meet his biological father 20 years later.

2. Rove's affinity for politics and the Republican Party started at age 9, when he became a vocal supporter of Richard Nixon. He was a skilled debater and was elected president of the student council in high school. He was also active in local Utah elections.

3. He has attended the University of Utah, the University of Texas-Austin, and George Mason University in Virginia but still has not completed his college degree. He claims that he has a few requirements left and has been provisionally accepted at UT's doctoral program in government.

4. Rove left the University of Utah to become the executive director of the College Republican National Committee. A few years later, Rove ran for the chairmanship of the College Republicans. In an election that was fraught with controversy, Rove and his opponent tied. The head of the Republican National Committee, George H.W. Bush, chose Rove as the chairman. Rove met George W. Bush at this time when Rove was given the errand to deliver the family's car keys to George H.W. Bush's son, who was coming to Washington from Harvard Business School. It would be the start of a more than 30-year friendship.

5. During Rove's tenure at the College Republicans, the organization was accused of encouraging "dirty tricks" in the 1972 campaign. Rove has acknowledged that in 1970 he used a false identity to get into the headquarters of a Democratic candidate running for state treasurer of Illinois. Rove swiped the campaign's letterhead and sent out 1,000 invitations to the campaign headquarters opening promising "free beer, free food, girls, and a good time."

6. Rove's first marriage--to a Houston socialite--ended in divorce a year after they were married. Rove remarried in 1986 to Darby Hickson, and they have one son, Andrew. Darby Rove is a breast cancer survivor.

7. In the early '80s, Rove started a direct mail and political list company, Rove and Co. The company was one of the first of its kind to use direct mail as a tool in a campaign, and Rove was considered a pioneer in this field. He sold the company in the late 1990s to devote full time to George W. Bush's presidential campaign.

8. When Bush was elected president in 2000, Rove became the new president's top adviser. He was given the office once occupied by Hillary Clinton. According to a book published in 2006, Rove invited three priests to perform an exorcism to drive away the spirits of Hillary Clinton. Rove denies it.

9. President Bush is known to give people nicknames. Among Karl Rove's nicknames are "Boy Genius" and "Turd Blossom," which is a flower that grows in cow dung. Critics of Rove have nicknamed him "Evil Genius" and "Bush's Brain."

10. Rove has been involved in the latest White House scandals--the leaking of CIA covert agent Valerie Plame's name to the press and the firing of seven U.S. attorneys. In the Plame case, Rove denied that he had revealed Plame's name to the grand jury investigating the case. When it was revealed that he did leak her name to Matthew Cooper of Time, he was allowed to return to the grand jury and amend his statement. Rove was not charged in the case.

In the U.S. attorneys firings story, E-mails have revealed that Rove has played a significant role in decisions about whom to dismiss. Rove also passed on complaints about U.S. attorneys' not prosecuting voter fraud cases and pushed the appointment of a former aide as U.S. attorney in Arkansas.

Sources: New York Daily News, New York Times, The New Yorker, npr.org, SourceWatch.org, Texas Monthly


By Angela Prikockis
  • CBSNews

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