His infamous search-and-destroy approach to political opponents turned his name into a verb -- to "rove" someone. And now Rovians have moved inside John McCain's campaign. Not that Karl himself is directing the Senator's political shop (though he has been giving pointers from the outside). Instead, it's Rove's political spawn who have taken over day-to-day operations.
Steve Schmidt, who's been described as a "political artillery shell," is now in charge of strategy and communications. Known as intense and hard-hitting, Schmidt has long been one of Karl's key henchmen. He has run Bush's campaign war room, served as counselor and spokesman for Dick Cheney, been Rove's point man on the battles to put Sam Alito and John Roberts on the Supreme Court, and was a member of Rove's exclusive "breakfast club" that plotted the Bush White House's political attacks.
Rove operative Nicolle Wallace, who was communications director in Bush's 2004 run, has been brought in to travel with McCain and keep him on message. Another Rovian, Greg Jenkins, was added last month to try to add some pizzazz to McCain's campaign events. He's a former Fox News producer and advance man for Bush.
Meanwhile, the Swift Boat slime crew that Rove orchestrated in '04 to trash John Kerry is back this year in the guise of a group calling itself Vets for Freedom. Pretending to be independent of the McCain campaign, the group is already running ads that "rove" Obama on Iraq. Far from independent, its founder is a member of a McCain leadership team and its line of attack directly mirrors that of the campaign. Welcome to another Rove election.