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Rove made an art form out of stirring up his client's opponents with whispers, innuendos and lies, while his candidates stood high above the dust and dirt. "A lot of times it wasn't enough for Karl to just win. He had to crush you in the process," according to "an adversary" quoted in Moore and Slater's book on page 28. On page 175-176, the details of Guerrero's demise are written out fully; Rove produced a "mass mailing" in 1992, as Guerrero was running for re-election as State Railroad Commissioner; it suggested she was "soft on crime, pro-gay rights, antigun, and an enemy of traditional family values." Soon thereafter, came the Rove-driven word that Guerrero was not a graduate as she claimed, and she fell like a big oak tree.
The methodical way in which Rove plowed acting Governor Ann Richards into the dust for his candidate, George W. Bush, is a perfect example of the kinds of skullduggery and outright vicious tactics that Rove is known for, Moore and Slater assert. Rove began picking away at Richards' credibility at the outset of Richards' re-election campaign by going after people around her. Guerrero was the first to be gunned down, after Rove passed information along to media about her slip-up in her resume. Next came Jane Hickie and Cathy Bonner, both well-known political colleagues and supporters of Richards. Hickie was head of the Office of State-Federal Relations in Washington, and Rove circulated rumors in the media that Hickie had been doing political work on government time, and soon Hickie was gone. Then Rove persuaded reporters to investigate Bonner's business dealings, and she too was discredited, casting a negative light on Richards. For this book, Bonner gave this quote to Moore and Slater on page 182: "The fact that he comes after you and tries to ruin you professionally is kind of bizarre."
Another connection to Richards was beaten by Rove's big stick when George Shipley - a Democratic consultant who had represented Richards in her campaigns - was removed from the board of directors of the Texas Medical Association (TMA), which was a key client for Shipley; Rove's phone calls to key people had caused Shipley to lose face, and power, with the TMA. "It was in Karl's nature to engulf and devour and control and to rule," said Kim Ross on page 182; Ross was a lobbyist with the medical association.
Rove simply worked harder than anyone else," Moore and Slater explain (184); Rove worked "harder and longer, driven by some internal need to tackle 100 things at once in pursuit of the single goal: making George W. Bush the most powerful political figure on earth, and lifting himself up in the process." Next, was Richards herself; Rove carefully, skillfully began a plot of planting rumors that Ann Richards had surrounded herself with gay staff members. "It was virtually impossible in the summer of 1994," Moore and Slater wrote on page 208, to get a haircut in East Texas or visit a coffee shop or go to a church Wednesday nights without hearing about an Richards and the lesbians."
It was a viciously untrue whisper campaign launched by Rove; it was true that Richards had "opened the process to record numbers of women, Blacks, and Hispanics," and within that fact was the reality of naming so many women to posts; and with Richards' liberal politics out in front, Rove only needed to learn that one or more of her high-profile appointments were indeed gay, and his gun was fully loaded. Remember, all these attacks Rove launched against Richards and her appointees early in the campaign were designed to be backroom, under the table, but to spread nasty rumors like a Texas brushfire.
So up until about a year before the election, Bush was not seen as having made anything other than a very straightforward upstanding campaign. But then, after Rove had planted the evil seeds of doubt and innuendo with business groups and conservative religious groups in Texas, Bush stepped in with the statement that follows: His opponents appointments "...have been people who have had agendas that may have been personal in nature," Bush stated. "The code word was 'personal,'" Moore and Slater noted; no one mentioned "sexual orientation" because they didn't need to.
There is no secret that Texas is a conservative state where gay rights are not among the concerns; but what is on the minds of Texans is crime and personal safety, so Rove put out a campaign brochure attacking Richards for vetoing a bill to "allow people to carry concealed handguns." Meantime, the whisper campaign "had metastasized into lurid gossip," and the dye was cast, when state Senator Bill Ratliff (Bush's east Texas campaign chairman) told the Houston Post that "Richards' appointment of homosexuals could cost her support in the region"; now the rumors and whispers were front-page headlines. Now, Bush was Texas governor, and was to be reelected four years later, and during both of Bush's terms, Rove would be laying the groundwork for Bush to be president.
But to get to the White House, Rove had to make sure his candidate worked his way successfully through the minefields and booby traps of the Republican Primary campaigns in 2000. After candidate and U.S. Senator John McCain won the first primary in New Hampshire, Rove's dirty deeds began to be implemented, in an effort to discredit McCain. This is Rove's playing field - a wide open, no holds-barred kind of brainstormed strategies designed to put doubts in enough people's minds to harm the opponent.
In the case of New Hampshire, Rove was livid that his man had lost, and that McCain had grabbed the early lead in the brutal game of primaries. So, "what followed," Moore and Slater wrote on page 256, "were two weeks of slaughterhouse politics in Dixie." Rove sent direct mail to South Carolina voters warning that McCain "wanted to remove the pro-life plank from the GOP, which wasn't true but stirred the attention of the state's sizable antiabortion voters." To help with this underhanded, unethical strategy, Rove recruited Ralph Reed, former lead person for the Christian Coalition, to energize the conservative Christian movement. Others paid by Rove claimed that McCain, a past prisoner of war in Vietnam, of "abandoning" veterans (257). Still others in the Rove conspiratorial caper sent out emails claiming McCain "had fathered illegitimate children"; several hundred "push-poll" calls were made to South Carolina voters "asking harsh questions" and making "darker warnings" that Cindy McCain had drug problems and that the McCain's "had a black child."
When those kind of whispers are made in a Southern state, they have a life of their own, even if they seem preposterous on the surface, they do serious damage in the "word of mouth" genre. The tactics were exactly the same as Rove had taught at the University of Texas in the 1970s; a former teacher assistant to Rove, Bill Israel, recalled (p. 258) that Rove told students "Radio is really good for a negative attack" because it is "tough to figure what the opposition is doing." And Rove also taught the students how to "narrowcast" - the technique of "passing powerful messages to small groups without stirring the larger public" - along with using direct mail as a weapon. "The only thing worse to face is mail," Israel recounted Rove as instructing; after all, direct mail "is immune from press coverage." The dirt worked, the whispers were effective, and Bush not only won South Carolina (by poisoning voters against McCain along with building up Bush as an "outsider" who is a "reformer," he won the nomination and now Rove could put Al Gore (the Democratic nominee) into his cross hairs.
As president, Bush of course was obliged to respond to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, and Rove had plans to not only respond to those attacks, but to use them as justification for Bush to launch an invasion on Iraq. How to do this was a problem Bush didn't have to worry about, because master manipulator Karl Rove was on Bush's team, leading it like a commander charging up a hill at Iwo Jima in WWII. Rove, after all, is "disciplined and methodical"; the "protocols and tools of modern political influence are not just known and mastered by him," they have been "refined" by him, Moore and Slater assert. Rove is "constantly polling and analyzing data," and he "generally knows the course a political river will flow long before the first trickle of change begins to flow" (293).
Not too long after September 11, 2001, when Osama bin Laden was not captured or killed as Bush promised he would be, Rove went to work; "He figured out real soon that Osama was going to be a hard guy to go and get," Moore and Slater quote Jason Stanford (a national Democratic consultant) as saying. "He can hide in a cave, right?…[continue]
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