Rove, the political guru who has guided Bush's career since he first ran for Texas governor in the mid-1990s, is giving up his policy portfolio to focus more on electoral politics as the fall midterm elections approach. Rove's replacement in the policy post will be Joel Kaplan, now the White House's deputy budget director.
Just more than a year ago, Rove was promoted to deputy chief of staff in charge of most White House policy coordination. That new portfolio came on top of his title as senior adviser and role of chief policy aide to Mr. Bush.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Rove was believed to have overreached by pressing for the partial privatiziation of Social Security at the beginning of Mr. Bush's second term. The proposal went nowhere. It was opposed by Democrats and many Republicans.
The job Rove held, deputy chief of staff for policy, is now being given to Joel Kaplan, the deputy budget director.
The move signals a broad effort to rearrange and reinvigorate the president's staff by new chief of staff Joshua Bolten. Bolten moved into his position last week; Kaplan was his No. 2 person at the Office of Management and Budget.
"Joel Kaplan is a man of great talent, intellect and experience who possesses a deep knowledge of policy and budget processes," the president said in a written statement.
CBS News chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod cautions against reading too much into the Rove move. Rove and Josh Bolten are very close, Axelrod says. From all reports, Rove now gets to concentrate more on his specialty – politics – with mid-term elections now a little more than a half-year away. And Bolten gets to put his own guy, Joel Kaplan, in to handle policy.
As one Republican insider put it, Axelrod reports, "doing both politics and policy, there were too many roads starting and ending with Karl. Josh felt that way. Karl felt that way."
At least for the time being, the promotion of Kaplan would leave Mr. Bush with three deputy chiefs of staff: Rove, Kaplan and Joe Hagin, who oversees administrative matters, intelligence and other national security issues.
McClellan, talking to reporters later aboard Air Force One, said that Kaplan's role will focus more on the day-to-day aspects of policy.
Asked whether the change in Rove's role was akin to what he used to do as political director, McClellan responded "I wouldn't look at it that way. ... Karl is someone who has always been intimately involved in the strategic planning and addressing these bigger strategic issues and this will free him up to do more of that."