Election 2002: W. and the Boy Genius

KARL ROVE'S strategy for winning the midterm elections was risky and brash, like its author. Here is the inside story of how the President and his political strategist gambled it all and won

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But the President's role in their symbiotic relationship is as often about taking his adviser down a notch as it is taking direction from him--which in light of Tuesday's victory may be what saves Rove from himself. There are the now famous nicknames Bush has for Rove (Boy Genius on good days, Turd Blossom on others), and there is the evident pleasure the President seems to take in putting Rove in his place. "Thank you for that brilliant idea," Bush will say mockingly when Rove is rambling on. And Bush seems to know when not to listen to his political adviser. It was Rove who argued in the summer of 2000 against picking Dick Cheney as Bush's running mate, citing Cheney's multiple heart attacks and lack of electoral appeal. Bush disagreed, of course, and his decision has paid off so handsomely that just last week the President announced that Cheney would be his running mate again in the 2004 campaign. Which shows that Karl Rove isn't the only one planning for the next election. --With reporting by Matthew Cooper, Karen Tumulty, Douglas Waller and Michael Weisskopf/Washington

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