* Candidates backed by Rove group did poorly in Senate races
* Bush veteran resisted calling presidential election for
* In many ways, Romney's campaign "won," former Bush aide
By Samuel P. Jacobs
WASHINGTON, Nov 7 As television networks began
declaring that President Barack Obama had won re-election, the
most captivating televised drama Tuesday evening played out on
Fox News, where Republican strategist Karl Rove refused to
believe the race between Obama and Mitt Romney was over.
"I think this is premature," said Rove, a former senior
adviser to George W. Bush and architect of Bush's two successful
runs for the White House.
"We know that Karl has a rooting interest," Fox host Chris
More than a rooting interest: Rove was the most prolific
fundraiser for Republican causes during the 2012 election cycle.
With the assistance of a few powerful Republican friends,
Rove helped to secure an estimated $300 million for Republican
candidates, hoping to help turn the White House over to Romney
and control of the U.S. Senate to Republicans.
In a $6 billion campaign, Rove's ability to part wealthy
Republicans from their money made the political operative - who
co-founded the American Crossroads "Super PAC" - a force in the
party's effort to take down Obama.
Democratic groups raised millions of dollars based on
appeals that focused on the threat Rove and the Crossroads
groups posed to Democrats.
As it turned out, Obama held the White House and in nine of
the 10 Senate races where Rove's groups spent the most money,
the Democratic candidate won.
On Wednesday, Republicans' discontent was evident.
Conservative activist Richard Viguerie said in a statement
Wednesday that "in any logical universe," Rove "would never be
hired to run or consult on a national campaign again and no one
would give a dime to their ineffective Super PACs, such as
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Rove's
group spent more than $1 million in 10 different Senate races.
At the top of that group, Crossroads spent $11.2 million
opposing Senate candidate Tim Kaine in Virginia, $7 million
opposing Representative Shelley Berkley in Nevada, and $6
million in both Ohio and Wisconsin, opposing Senator Sherrod
Brown and Tammy Baldwin, a member of the House of
Representatives who was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Only Berkley lost on Tuesday.
For months, Rove's commercials told Montanans that their
U.S. senator, Jon Tester, was "a top recipient of campaign cash
from lobbyists and big banks."
Missourians were instructed to tell their Democratic
senator, Claire McCaskill, "to stop spending and cut the debt."
In those races, as in Florida and Indiana, Rove's candidate
lost. Only in Nevada, where Senator Dean Heller was challenged
by Berkley, did Rove assist with a victory in race where he
invested more than $1 million.
According to calculations made by the Sunlight Foundation, a
nonpartisan group that seeks more transparency in campaign
finance, Rove's outfits provided dismal returns to investors.
By the group's measure, 1 percent of the more than $100
million spent by American Crossroads achieved its desired
results. Thirteen percent of the more than $70 million spent by
Crossroads GPS did the same, the Sunlight Foundation said.
With Obama retaining the White House and the Democrats
winning many tight Senate races, other conservative spending
groups faltered, just as Rove's did.
Only 5 percent of the money spent by the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce resulted in its desired effect, as measured by the
'THIS THING WAS WON'
In an interview with Reuters earlier this year, Rove said he
wanted Crossroads to be a "permanent presence" in U.S. politics,
an organization that would work alongside the Republican Party
and employ the party's top strategists while remaining an
attractive home for the party's most influential donors.
In 2007, Rove resigned as Bush's deputy chief of staff amid
questions about his role in the firing of a federal prosecutor.
With Bush's legacy bruised even among his own party, the 2012
campaign provided Rove a shot at redemption.
Appearing on Fox News on Wednesday morning, Rove sifted for
a few gems in the election's rubble.
He said Obama's margin of victory among young voters
decreased in his second election. He said Obama is the first
president to be re-elected with a smaller share of the vote than
in his first election.
Saying that Romney had convinced voters he was a better
leader and had a better vision than Obama, Rove offered a
different spin on Romney's losing campaign.
"This thing," Rove said, "was won."