Transcript: Karl Rove Interview

One of the most influential people at the Republican National Convention is Karl Rove, the man in charge of President Bush's political strategy.

As Rove was laying out the campaign's strategy over a year ago, he told ABC News in an interview that the 2004 presidential election would, in part, be a referendum on Bush's vision.

"Somebody gets to be smart and somebody gets to be dumb," he said. "If we win, it'll be because of the president. And if we lose, it'll be because of me."

Peter Jennings interviewed Rove about his influence in the Bush adminstration, the president's thoughts on the "war on terror," and Republican attacks against Sen. John Kerry. The following is an excerpt of that interview:

PETER JENNINGS: So we come to this convention, and we listen to people and they all end up, many of them anyway, saying the same thing: "The world has changed since 9/11." I say, "How come you all say the same thing?" And they say, "Karl told us to say this." Karl, the presence of Rove. It's like you're God.

KARL ROVE: Whoever you were talking to, who told you that, must have been funnin' you, because it's not true.

JENNINGS: Give, in all fairness, an accurate impression of how much power you have.

ROVE: [makes a zero with his fingers] Look, I'm an aide to the president. I serve at his sufferance. He's been a friend of mine for a great many years. I'm supposed to look out after certain activities within the White House, the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of Public Liaison, the Office of Strategic Initiatives, the Office of Political Affairs. But I'm one of the great many people who serve as a senior aide.

JENNINGS: Why does no one in the world believe that?

ROVE: Washington operates on this. If you don't think President Bush is smart and capable and able, you've got to find some way to explain his success, and so what they do is they put his brain in somebody else's body.

JENNINGS: I actually didn't say that at all. I think we're just trying to assess your power overall. A myth, huh?

ROVE: A myth.

JENNINGS: Okay. I know you like the president. Is it too strong a phrase to say that you love him?

ROVE: No, I love him. I mean, he is one of the most remarkable people I've ever met, and that's not too strong a word.

JENNINGS: What is his involvement? Every president wants to be seen as staying somewhat above the fray in the middle of a political campaign.

ROVE: Uh-huh.

JENNINGS: But he was a political operative for a good period of time when his dad was running. How good is he?

ROVE: You know, I'm not sure I would agree with that description of him, but he has great political instincts. And he's first and foremost a president, and during the time of war, that consumes virtually all of his energy and effort. He was very clear about certain goals of the campaign, certain priorities that he wanted said, but he has been great to work with both in government and in campaigns because he doesn't micromanage and he realizes that it's not his job to worry about the absentee ballot mailer in Ohio or the recruitment of precinct chairmen in Michigan. He's supposed to be the president and set the tone, set the agenda, make clear the goal, establish the principles by which actions will take place ....

JENNINGS: How often do you talk to him?

ROVE: A number of times a day.

JENNINGS: Ten, 15 times a day?

ROVE: Oh, no, no.

JENNINGS: Are you the first person he talks to in the morning?

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