The Nerd Behind the Throne

Karl Rove has masterminded all of Bush's political victories. Now he faces his toughest challenge: convincing you that the presidential front-runner owns his own soul

On the governor's order, Rove recently sold Rove & Co. to Ted Delisi and Todd Olsen, two young political operatives who have worked on campaigns of some other Rove candidates. Rove helped finance the sale.

Reba Hammond says her family was surprised that Bush made Rove give up the company he founded. "We all kind of thought it was odd," she says. "Why didn't he just take a sabbatical? And he told us he didn't sell it for quite the price he wanted."

A few weeks before Rove moved to the exploratory-committee offices, former Secretary of State George Schultz dropped by the consultant's cramped quarters. He'd just come from a bull session with Bush.

With Schultz peeking in his office door, Rove, for a moment, seemed uncharacteristically flustered--maybe a little like the kid who ran after the Minnesota governor's autograph so many years ago.

"I'm going to need to get your signature," he told the onetime Reagan Administration official. Rove had hanging in his office a collection of different historical documents signed by other secretaries of state, including James Madison and Elihu Root. He showed them to Schultz.

"These are valuable," Schultz said, inspecting the glass-framed records.
"Not that valuable," Rove replied.
Schultz examined the documents a while longer, then walked down the hall with Rove. "You know," he said, as if talking to a peer, "the governor is a bright guy."

Rove was beaming.

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