Person of the Week: Karl Rove

Among the many people President Bush thanked in his re-election victory speech was his senior adviser and chief political strategist, Karl Rove.

"Karl Rove, the architect," Bush said to huge applause.

Rove, 53, is an architect, indeed, who is both powerful and polarizing.

"Karl Rove is the single most influential person with the staff inside this White House. He's a guy who 14 or 15 years ago put together a blueprint to make George Bush the president of the United States and succeeded," said Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater.

It was Rove who designed the president's re-election campaign.

"Without Karl Rove, George Bush would never have been governor of Texas, would never have been elected president the first time and clearly would never have been re-elected in 2004," Slater said.

Rove and Bush have known each other for more than 30 years. Rove advises him on every issue that involves political and public opinion, which is virtually every issue.

"You're going to see Karl's influence on everything from decisions on who's going to be in the Supreme Court, environmental issues, on tax issues, but most importantly on the value issues," Slater said.

Rove's influence with the president is the subject of endless speculation and universal fascination. His critics often refer to him as a puppeteer.

They were the ones who saw an apparent bulge in the back of the president's suit jacket in the first 2004 presidential debate and claimed it was a device allowing Rove to whisper guidance in the president's ear.

"It's almost as if whatever happens, whatever goes on, its expected Karl Rove is behind it," Slater said.

Rove's accomplishments in this year's election are many. He is the man who put together the coalition of voters, including an impressive faith-based coalition, which the Democrats -- for all of their voter organization -- could not match.

Rove did not widen the president's appeal very much beyond the Republican base. But the base was solid and motivated.

"This campaign in 2004 was about getting your constituencies out, the messages and the machine that would do that, and that's exactly what he did," said Slater.

Political Beginnings

Rove was born in Colorado. His father was a geologist; his mother managed a gift shop. His father abandoned the family when Rove was 19. Years later, his mother would commit suicide.

Rove and Bush have risen through the political ranks together. He was instrumental in Bush's Texas gubernatorial campaign in the 1990s and in his bid for the White House in 2000.

"Karl has got a fantastic mind. He is one of the reasons why I was elected governor and one of the reasons why I was elected to president," Bush said when appointing Rove as adviser.

Rove is said by many who have run against him to be a savage competitor; he knows politics down to the county level. He has a reputation of campaigning negatively, early and often.

"If you have ever come up against him, you understand that you probably lost and you never want to face him again," said Slater.

Rove is a serious student of American history and a voracious reader of it. He even named his son after the fourth president, James Madison.

Bush, who is limited to two terms, has campaigned for the last time. It is impossible, however, to imagine that about Rove.

Peter Jennings filed this report for World News Tonight.