Karl Rove Biography

Karl Rove, a master strategist and political consultant for the American Republican Party, is known for his aggressive campaign tactics and shrewdness. With a background in high school debating, he quickly rose through the ranks of the College Republican, catching the attention of George H. W. Bush. This introduction will explore Rove’s influential role in George W. Bush’s political career, his appointment as Senior Adviser in the Bush Administration, and the controversies that ultimately led to his resignation.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Karl Christian Rove
  • Age: 72 Years, 72 Year Old Males
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Karen Johnson (m. 2012), Darby Tara Hickson (m. 1986–2009), Valerie Mather Wainwright (m. 1976–1980)
    • Mother: Reba Louise (née Wood)
    • Siblings: Eric
    • Children: Andrew Madison Rove
  • Born Country: United States
  • College Dropouts
  • American Men
  • Height: 1.7 m
  • Political ideology: Republican
  • U.S. State: Colorado
  • City: Denver, Colorado
  • Founder/Co-Founder: Karl Rove & Co.
  • More Facts
  • Education: University of Texas at Austin, University of Utah, Olympus High School, George Mason University, University of Maryland, College Park

Childhood & Early Life

Karl Rove was born on December 25, 1950 to Reba Louise, a gift shop employee. After his biological father abandoned the family, Reba married Louis Claude Rove, a geologist, who adopted Karl.

In 1965, his family transferred to Salt Lake City. Recognized as a skillful debater at Olympus High School, he was elected president of the student council and chaired the Utah Federation of Teenage Republicans.

In 1969, his adoptive father divorced his mother. Karl, nevertheless, admired him for showering his selfless love on him and his brother.

In 1969, he got enrolled at the University of Utah. He took up political science as his major and became a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.

In 1981, Rove’s mother committed suicide in Reno, Nevada.


In 1968, his initiation into politics happened at high school, with his involvement in the reelection of Senator Wallace F. Bennet. The losing candidate J.D. Williams became his mentor.

In 1969, he had become an intern with Utah Republican Party. The following year, he worked in Ralph Smith’s failed attempt for the Senate against Democrat Adlai Stevenson.

As an overenthusiastic 19-year-old in 1970, he broke into Alan J. Dixon, the Democrat candidate for Treasurer of Illinois, and stole letterheads and used them to print fake advertisements and distributed them.

He left college in 1971, and accepted the salaried post of Executive Director of the College Republican National Committee; he resigned two years later to make a bid for the post of National Chairman.

The College Republican Convention held in Missouri in 1973 was controversial. Both Rove, and his challenger for National Chairman, Robert Edgeworth, claimed victory in the elections.

Republican National Committee Chairman George H. W. Bush resolved the deadlock in favor of Rove. The young man was introduced to George W. Bush who was studying at Harvard during this period.

He worked briefly as a Special Assistant in the Republican National Committee (RNC). In 1974, he became Executive Assistant to Richard D. Obenshain, co-Chairman of the RNC.

In 1977, he shifted to Texas and was an unofficial adviser to George W. Bush during his first bid for the Congress. But Texas being a Democrat stronghold, Bush lost.

He helped Bill Clements beat the incumbent Democrat Dolph Briscoe, to become the first Republican Governor in 104 years in 1978. Clements appointed him his Deputy Chief of Staff.

In 1981, he established an Austin based consulting firm, Karl Rove & Co., and helped raise fund through direct mail in many elections. His clients included politicians Bill Clements and Phil Gramm.

When George W. Bush announced his candidacy for president, on his insistence, Rove sold his consulting firm and became his chief strategist in 1999. Together they raised $36.3 million setting a new record.

Bush’s challenger was the Vietnam War hero Sen. John McCain. After Bush lost in New Hampshire, rumors abounded about McCain showing his personal life in bad light. Rove denied any hand in these rumors.

In 2003, he was accused of leaking White House mails that exposed Valerie Plame as a CIA secret agent. He testified before a Grand Jury, and no charges were brought against him.

In 2007, he resigned, ignoring a Senate Committee subpoena regarding the dismissal of seven attorneys. Later, he testified on the matter and was found to have played a crucial part in their removal.

After resigning from the White House, he worked as political analyst for the Newsweek, Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. He published his memoir, ‘Courage and Consequence’.

Since 2010, he has been associated with American Crossroads as an advisor. The group works to influence the election of candidates to public office at various levels.

He worked with group American Crossroads to launch The Conservative Victory Project in 2013. This political initiative to back “electable” conservative political candidate for political office was criticized by other conservative activists.

In February 2014, he said that Republicans could win five of seven key U.S. Senate seats in the elections scheduled for November this year, because of the failure of the Obamacare policy.

Major Works

Appointed Senior Advisor in 2001 in Bush’s first presidency, a nationwide network kept him abreast of the prevailing political opinions. Weekly meetings with the chiefs of staff ensured they followed the President’s policies.

In his inaugural speech in 2004, Bush acknowledged him as “the architect” of his victory over John Kerry in the presidential election. He was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff to the President.

Personal Life & Legacy

Karl Rove has married thrice. His first marriage was to socialite, Valerie Mather Wainwright in 1976. Ten years later, he married Darby Tara Hickson, his consulting company employee, and fathered a son Andrew Madison Rove.

Presently, he is married to Karen Johnson, a lobbyist. The couple lives in Washington D.C. Their wedding in 2012 was attended by former President George W. Bush.


This Republican political consultant gave George W. Bush the book, ‘The Dream and the Nightmare’ by Myron Magnet, which inspired his philosophy of ‘compassionate conservatism’ during his presidency.

As a senior advisor, he was the first person to inform President Bush about the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York.

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