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Karl Rove Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here’s a look at the life of Karl Rove, architect of George W. Bush’s gubernatorial and presidential campaigns.


Birth date: December 25, 1950

Birth place: Denver, Colorado

Birth name: Karl Christian Rove

Father: Louis Rove, a geologist

Mother: Reba (Wood) Rove

Marriages: Karen Johnson (June 2012-present); Darby Hickson (January 25, 1986-December 2009, divorced); Valerie Wainwright (July 1976-January 1980, divorced)

Children: with Darby Hickson: Andrew

Education: Attended – University of Utah, 1969-1971; University of Maryland, 1972; George Mason University, 1973-1975; University of Texas at Austin, 1977

Other Facts

Other Rove clients have included: Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Ashcroft, and former Congressman and Senator Phil Gramm.

President George W. Bush gave Rove several nicknames, including “Boy Genius” and “Turd Blossom.”

Rove was adopted by Louis Rove, his stepfather.

Rove never completed college.

Careers upon leaving the White House include paid speaker, columnist for Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal and political analyst for Fox News.


November 1973 – Rove first meets George W. Bush.

1974 George H.W. Bush hires Rove as an assistant.

1977 – Rove works on the gubernatorial campaign of Bill Clements, who in 1978 becomes Texas’s first Republican governor in a century.

1980 Bush invites Rove to join his presidential campaign team.

1981-1999 – President of Karl Rove & Company in Austin, Texas.

1993-2007 – Adviser to George W. Bush and serves as senior adviser from 2000 to 2007.

1994 – Manages Bush’s run for governor of Texas and reelection in 1998.

2000 – Manages Bush’s run for president.

July 2003 – Various news articles name Valerie Plame, as a CIA secret operative involved in the search for weapons of mass destruction in Africa. An anonymous, senior White House official is the source.

August 2003 – Plame’s husband, US Ambassador Joseph Wilson, states that it was Rove who leaked her identity.

2004 – Engineers Bush’s reelection campaign.

2004-2007 – Deputy chief of staff to George W. Bush.

October 15, 2004 – Testifies before a grand jury pertaining to the CIA leak of Plame’s identity.

February 8, 2005 – Is promoted to deputy White House chief of staff in charge of policy, national security and homeland security.

June 12, 2006 – Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald faxes a letter to Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, informing him that Rove will not be charged in the CIA leak case.

July 13, 2006 – Rove is named in a federal civil lawsuit, along with Vice President Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, and a number of unnamed defendants, by Plame and Wilson. The suit contends Plame was the victim of intentional and malicious exposure and that both she and Wilson “suffered a violation of rights guaranteed them under the United States Constitution and the laws of the District of Columbia.” The lawsuit is later dismissed.

August 13, 2007 – Resigns as deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to Bush, effective August 31.

December 13, 2007 – A Senate panel finds Rove in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify and release documents in the investigation into the 2006 firings of nine US attorneys.

May 22, 2008 – The House Judiciary Committee subpoenas Rove, ordering him to testify regarding allegations he was a key player in pressing the Department of Justice to dismiss some US attorneys and to prosecute Democrats. He does not appear at the July 10 hearing.

May 2009 – Rove is questioned by special prosecutor Nora Dannehy about his role in the firings of US attorneys.

July 2009 – Rove testifies for two days in a closed session before the House Judiciary Committee about the firings of US attorneys.

March 9, 2010 – Rove’s book, “Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight,” is published.

2010 – Helps launch super PAC American Crossroads and an affiliated group, Crossroads GPS.

2013 – Forms another super PAC called the Conservative Victory Project.

November 2015 – A biography written by Rove, “The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters,” is published.

2019 – Rove becomes treasurer of a PAC called Leading Texas Forward, a group that will raise money for Texas Republicans ahead of the 2020 election.

November 16, 2020 – Senate Republicans pick Karl Rove to serve as the national finance chairman for the Georgia Battleground Fund, a joint fundraising account formed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee to support Georgia Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler ahead of their January 2021 runoff races to keep both seats and save their Senate majority.

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