A few months before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Karl Rove held clinics for White House officials in which he laid out what amounted to his early game plan for reelecting President Bush in 2004: improving the party’s performance among blacks, Hispanics, Roman Catholics, union households and the “wired workers” of the technology world.
Bush had won about 8 percent of the African American vote in 2000, and Rove insisted that number needed to be pushed higher.
His Office of Strategic Initiatives, a creation that is known around the West Wing as “Strategery,” handed out colorful laminated cards so that aides could remember their goals.
Those PowerPoint presentations in the infancy of Bush’s presidency were an early indication that, although his 2000 campaign had many architects, Rove alone among staffers would bear ultimate credit or blame for the outcome of the 2004 election.
Back then, Rove did not strive simply to produce a convincing victory but to create a permanent Republican majority.
Now, two weeks before the election, the Bush-Cheney campaign would be happy to eke out the barest, skin-of-the-teeth majority, and aims to cobble it together by turning out every last evangelical Christian, gun owner, rancher and home schooler—reliable Republicans all. It looks like the opposite of Rove’s original dream.