GOP leaders told The Washington Post Rove wants the November congressional election to be a choice between two political philosophies, not a referendum on President George W. Bush. He has his work cut out for him, the newspaper said, since many Republicans disagree with the president on immigration and federal spending.
"The results of the 2006 election will be the final verdict of (Rove's) standing with the president and his party," said Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist who worked on the Gore and Kerry campaigns.
Republicans are dubious about Rove's value as a policy maker, since he was the principal architect of Bush's effort to reform Social Security.
A former White House official called the Social Security proposal "a big tactical mistake."
"The problem was the opportunity cost," said the unnamed official. "When Bush was busy selling Social Security ineffectively, the numbers on Iraq were dropping precipitously."