September 14th, 2008
03:54 PM ET
4 years ago

Rove: Some McCain ads don't pass '100 percent truth' test

Karl Rove had some rare criticism for McCain Sunday.
Karl Rove had some rare criticism for McCain Sunday.

(CNN) – Former Bush adviser Karl Rove suggested Sunday that John McCain had gone “one step too far” in some of his recent ads attacking Barack Obama.

Rove has leveled similar criticism against Obama. “McCain has gone in some of his ads - similarly gone one step too far,” he told Fox News, “and sort of attributing to Obama things that are, you know, beyond the ‘100 percent truth’ test.”

Watch: The campaign ad wars heat up

The Obama campaign immediately leaped on the quote. "In case anyone was still wondering whether John McCain is running the sleaziest, most dishonest campaign in history, today Karl Rove - the man who held the previous record - said McCain's ads have gone too far," said campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor, in a statement sent to reporters minutes after Rove’s on-air comments.

Listen: the Obama camp slams McCain in Sunday conference call

Rove masterminded both of President Bush’s successful White House bids, including a tough primary season battle with John McCain in 2000.

UPDATE: Rove said Sunday Democrats e-mailing around his quote without noting that he levels similar criticism against Obama were distorting his meaning. “Of course, they fail to say anything about the fact I said they were even more misleading,” he told Politico.


Filed under: John McCain • Karl Rove
soundoff (720 Responses)
  1. La Chatte, Portland, OR

    How much do you think it would cost to get Karl to switch from the Dark Side to the merely Murky Side?

    September 14, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  2. Loretta

    No kidding. I just heard that the Swift Boat attack ads will be coming out soon, and with a vengeance. Let's not be fooled this time Dems.

    September 14, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  3. Baron, Virginia

    Common' people wake up! Do you want to be lied to for another 4 years? The fact of the matter is McCain has lied about many things pertaining to Obama and it makes me sick. I'm not one to judge based on hear-say, instead I look at the charater of a man or woman. I base my judgements on facts...truthful facts and not half-truthes that many people tend to appreciate. The republican party has based the last 8 years on such lies, and people have been eating it up with grace. The time is now to elect someone who has build thier campaign on truth...and that man is OBAMA.

    Can the McCain camp get through the next 52 days without a lie or scewed truth about Obama to boost thier numbers?

    September 14, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. dyellon m.d.

    Dear Jim from Chicago- In the real world lies do matter. In the real world we are faced with difficult problems and difficult choices to make for this election. In the real world winning means that the American People make their choice based on the facts, not on made up issues, insults, derogatory comments meant to avoid dealing with the real issues of our economy, energy needs. health care, foreign policy. If John McCain has a solution for these problems, then tell us what they are!! Don't make up lies about sex education when the actual legislation in Illinois was enacted to PROTECT CHILDREN AGAINST PREDATORS!! Don't say you were against the bridge to nowhere when you actually supported if first. Don't say you will save tax payers money when you charge your state money to stay at home 600 miles from the Capital. Don't say you support stem cell research when you actually oppose it. How can the American People vote intelligently if you distort your position on everything just to "win" We the People want to win this time. Thats more important than victory for the Bush-Cheney -McCain-Palin liar club. If they win, they might get praise from their supporters and more money and influence, but if the people win we get a better future for us and our children!!

    September 14, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. Rob Nelson

    It amazing that liar and that lying woman can't take the truth. Debate this issues not lipstick . I hope some from the McCain camp read this post. JOHN MCCAIN YOU ARE A STINKING LIAR SARAH PALIN YOU ARE A LIAR. TELL THE TRUTH AND BE SET FREE.

    September 14, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. Mark in AZ

    If it's coming out of Rove's mouth...

    I wish McCain really was still that maverick. Doesn't support the troops whe it really counts, a Senate vote. Lies in his TV ads (about his opponent sponsoring a law to teach sex-ed to 5-year-olds) and didn't come out dead-set-against torture when he, of all people, should appoint himself as the poster-boy for anti-torture. Sad.

    I'm an Arizona native, served my country. voted for Reagan, and supported the first President Bush.

    But I love my country too much and it's time for a real change.

    September 14, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  7. Chris

    HaHa Jimbo,

    McCain is already back down a point and my hunch is he will continue down that slope for a while. Also, things are still not shaping up well for you people in the electoral college. Last, and probably most important, if you are trying to predict a winner is the gender gap. These national polls do not take the gender gap into consideration. So unless there is a big change from the last 16 years in terms of the male vs female voter turnout then McCain really needs to be polling about 10 points ahead to have a real shot...

    I personally am feeling pretty confident right now that Obama will be our next president. And I beleive he will be going in with a real Mandate. This one will not be going anywhere near the Supreme Court.

    September 14, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. BrianR

    The lying ads combined with convention bounce resulted in McCain pulling up even w/ Obama ... but, American voters, especially independents, won't put up with such blatant lying. If they continue to lie to our faces day in and day out ... giving time for the mainstream press to finally report on it ... they are doomed.

    Jim from Chicago (first comment above) will have to resort to something much worse since he doesn't care. I wonder if people like Jim would cheer if something were to happen to Obama.

    September 14, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. Daniel

    Dont tell us what is lies or what is not. Its like an active dopehead trying to preach to dopeheads to stay away from dope.......you are a FRAUD. You and your pro-lies group!

    September 14, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  10. Brian

    One should take notice when a pig says your dirty.

    September 14, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  11. Independent

    Not only was McCain to be ridiculed for the fact his war injuries left him unable to use a computer, but he was blamed over and over again as having voted with President Bush 90 % of the time!
    That's new, right? Well, only if you call "a factoid Obama has only made 7,000 times before" a new message.

    Not being able to use the computer is an insult to all disabled veterans who fought for this country

    September 14, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  12. Michael Ray

    Wow, what a turn-coat! I thought Karl Rove was the Republican of all Republicans. How can he criticize the nominee at this point?

    September 14, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  13. Matt MC

    Comment for Jim in Chicago,

    Your comments proves what is wrong with this country...no one is interested in facts, issues, or truth anymore, so long as your candidate wins, anything goes. Just so you know, when you put people like that in power that is how they will treat you...anything goes, ts if you lost your job, ts if you're not making more than $250k per year, ts if a hurricane topples your house...make no mistake, this kind of ignorance will not go unpunished (perhaps it already is?), unfortunately, we will all have to suffer along with you!

    September 14, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  14. No to McCan't / Painful

    Who cares? Most of America does, Jim! You are an idiot! McCan't and Painful will be worse than the current administration. It's absolutely amazing that people are falling for the McCan't theme of "Change". IT is quite obvious that there is still A LOT of racism in this country. There is no way that our country is ready for a black president. We will be the laughing stock of the world if McCan't is elected.

    With two months to go, I am hopeful that the American voter isn't swayed by the dishonest political ads by the McCan't camp. We can not let him in the white house.

    September 14, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. susie

    McCain needs to do an ad on how Obama vowed to filibuster FISA-and then voted for it.

    September 14, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  16. Ron from Baltimore

    Karl Rove was a student of Lee Atwater, the official originator of these sleazy tactics. He worked for Bush 41, W's dad, before working for W himself. Atwater was responsible for the "Willy Horton" ads that devasted the losing Dukakis campaign.

    Atwater died in 1991, still young. Most people still around recognize the Atwater Doctrine in the later-coming Rove, and Rove learned from his master's mistakes. You have to hand it to these guys-do whatever it takes to win, deny it even if they have pictures and video, and then do what you want once in office. Use the same tactics (a la Iraq misrepresentation), ruin whatever reputations (e.g., Colin Powell), pay whatever price you have to (Iraq, our first trillion-dollar war) to get your own way, and never apologize.

    Congratulations, Karl, for speaking up sooner than Atwater did. He didn't "confess" his own sins until he was literally on his deathbed. Many experts say that was only a sham confession anyway, meant to take whatever heat had risen over the brutal tactics, deflecting attention away from the White House and Republican Party.

    Karl, I hope your family is proud of you and that you are proud of your friends.

    September 14, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. carolflowery

    the democrats have lied too in ads, so has cnn, or at least cnn has allowed rumors about Palin to thrive, Obama is not the person to lead this country, period, he's too liberal, he's too stuck on his own agenda, and if you think have Hamas and Iranian President hoping he will win, you better ask yourselves one simple question.
    WHY?

    is he gonna talk them out of bombing and killing innocent civilians, i think not, is he gonna talk them into giving their women equal rights, i think not

    September 14, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  18. Charlie in Maine

    I have long been of the beleif that John MCaine was at least 10% better than George W Bush. On the issues maybe but as far as lying in the campaign goes alas he is not. They have offended the sensiblities of Karl Rove. Wow I did not think that the was a bottom to that pit but I like to admit when I am wrong and I was. Being called too far negative is a little like having Richard Nixon question your honesty..

    September 14, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  19. Carl Justus

    McCain is worse than Bush when it comes to be a hot headed sleazeball.
    McCain will not be able to have good relations with our allies, he is tied to this administration to hilt and the our allies knows this and will not trust him to be fair and honest with them.

    September 14, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  20. A Fed Up Man For Obama

    Wow: the irony. The devil crying truth.

    September 14, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  21. Chad

    SOMEONE NEEDS TO CALL JOHN MCCAIN OUT ON THIS EXCUSE FOR NOT USING A COMPUTER!

    THE EXCUSE THAT HE CAN'T LIFT HIS SHOULDERS IS RIDICULOUS! DO YOU USE YOUR SHOULDERS TO TYPE? NO! IF YOU HAVE AN ISSUE YOU CAN HAVE A TRAY THAT COMES OUT OVER YOUR LAP WITH KEYBOARD AND MOUSE ON IT! YOU CAN EVEN PUT A LAPTOP ON YOUR LAP.

    YOU USE YOUR WRISTS AND FINGERS TO TYPE AND USE THE MOUSE!

    I KNOW PEOPLE THAT ARE PARALYZED FROM THE NECK DOWN THAT CAN'T USE/MOVE THEIR ARMS, AND HAVE NO PROBLEM USING A COMPUTER DAILY! THERE IS ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT IF THERE REALLY IS AN ISSUE!

    STOP USING BEING A P.O.W. AS AN EXCUSE FOR EVERYTHING! IT'S GETTING OLD!

    USING A COMPUTER REQUIRES, FINGERS, WRISTS AND ELBOW.

    WHEN I SEE PEOPLE WHO ARE PARALYZED AND CANNOT WALK OR USE THEIR FINGERS/ARMS USING A COMPUTER JUST FINE WITHOUT ANY EXCUSES OR COMPLANING, AND THEN SEE THIS OLD MAN MILKING HIS P.O.W.NESS FOR EVERY EXCUSE IN THE BOOK, IT BOILS MY BLOOD!

    I'VE LOST ALL RESPECT!

    ABSURD!

    YES, I KNOW CAPS = YELLING CAUSE I'M PISSED!

    BTW, I'M A C5-6 QUADRIPLEGIC THAT HAS NO FINGER MOVEMENT AND I TYPED ALL THIS JUST FINE!! THERE IS ALWAYS WAYS TO DO STUFF!

    September 14, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  22. GARY CROSBY

    MR. KARL ROVE, WOW, TRULLY UNTHINKABLE....

    THIS TIME HE'S RIGHT, MCCAIN HAS INDEED LOST HIS STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS RIGHT OFF THE ROAD.

    MAN THE MCCAIN CAMP HAS A LOT TO ADDRESS THIS WEEK. AND THE POSSIBILITY OF THE GOV. PALIN ADMIN. BEING INDITED IS VERY POSSIBLE....

    September 14, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  23. David from Atlanta

    its simply sad that McCain has lowered himself to this level
    Rove may have torn Kerry and Gore apart, but those issues were true, and quite embarressing

    but now McCain has just been lying about Obama in his ads, and it will catch up to him, I garuntee give it till the end of the month and Obama will be leading in the polls, McCain has not capitalized on his bounce, more and more is being revealed about Palin andits a Palin-McCain ticket, not a McCain-Palin ticket

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 14, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  24. Constance Carruthers

    It is not just in misrepresentation that they have gone too far.
    I'm seeing–but not believing–ads that seem to come from the McCain camp that appear to me to be covertly racist. One in particular shows a picture of Obama (a black man) with the voice-over or text suggesting that he has some kind of a weird obsession with Sarah Palin (in his head) and wants to destroy her. Given the obscene and terrifying history of injustice towards African American men, where fear and hatred were whipped up because "they" harbored evil intentions towards white women, this is dangerous and disgusting. Surely John McCain does not want his record tarnished with these tactics.

    September 14, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  25. james in mi.

    its a sad time in the u.s.a when people can't see the real obama everyone is looking for change because the country is in the worse shape it has ever been in but if you are looking for change with obama you are looking in the wrong place

    September 14, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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