CRAWFORD — The departure of longtime friend and political strategist Karl Rove leaves President Bush without a crucial bridge to conservative forces as he confronts his final 16 months in office with a restive Congress and his place in history still to be written.
Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to the president, surprised many in Washington on Monday with the announcement that he will leave the White House at the end of August.
One of Rove's many key backstage roles has been the courting, nursing and mollifying of conservative voter blocs and right-wing leaders on social issues such as stem cell research and gay marriage — as well as defining White House actions such as U.S. Supreme Court nominations.
Bush is not expected to fill Rove's position. Instead, his duties are likely to be shifted to two other deputy chiefs of staff, Joel Kaplan and Joe Hagin, along with Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and counselor Ed Gillespie.