White House strategist Karl Rove who successfully campaigned to bring Texas Gov. George W. Bush into white House, sees Hilary Clinton as a formidable opponent and is going after her even before she is nominated.
The decision to focus on the New York senator to the exclusion of other potentially formidable Democratic standard-bearers such as Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois offered a rare glimpse into a world where things are not always what they seem -- the world of modern-day electioneering.
In this case, Rove's weeklong broadside against Clinton -- which he is expected to repeat in multiple appearances on television talk shows today -- looks suspiciously like an exercise in reverse psychology that his team employed three years ago when it was preparing for President Bush's reelection bid.
In the run-up to the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when it was not yet clear who Bush's opponent would be that November, Rove and his aides had begun to fear that their most dangerous foe would be then-Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.
With his Southern base, charismatic style and populist message, Edwards, they believed, could be a real threat to Bush's reelection.
But instead of attacking Edwards, Rove's team opened fire at Kerry.
It seems the Democrats, in a knee-jerk reaction to GOP attacks, would rally around Kerry, whom Rove considered a comparatively weak opponent, and make him the party's nominee. Thus Bush would be spared from confronting Edwards, the candidate Republican strategists actually feared most.
Karl Rove has decided to quit by the end of this month, nearly one year after Republicans lost control of both houses of the U.S. Congress.
Polls also show President Bush with the lowest approval ratings of his administration and little optimism among Republicans as the party prepares to compete in next year's presidential and legislative contests.