September 14th, 2008
03:54 PM ET
3 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. Christian for OBAMA

    My Ten Commandments evaluation on the two candidates:
    You shall have no other gods before me (TIE, probably)
    You shall not make for yourself an idol (TIE, probably)
    You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God (TIE)
    Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy (TIE)
    Honor your father and mother (TIE)
    You shall not murder (Obama, he never bombed in a war)
    You shall not commit adultery (Obama – By FAR and AWAY)
    You shall not steal (hummmmmm....tie, probably)
    You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Obama – McSame has lied so much lately he has shown he will say ANYTHING to get elected, including, "Sarah sold that plane on eBay." NO SHE DIDN"T. If Sarah can fool you, John, you don't deserve to represent the entire country)
    You shall not covet your neighbor's house (Obama – by EIGHT Houses)
    You shall not covet your neighbor's wife (DUUUUUHHHHHH! Obama)

    September 14, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. Joneswq

    If the McCain camp will lie to the American people during the campaign, what do you think he will do when he is in office? It would seem to me that America learned her lesson with the current administration; did not they speak of changing Washington, doing the will of the American people, honesty and character? Furthermore, the way in which you campaign is the way in which he will run the government. Where is the honor or the good Christian value McCain talks so often about, the way in which he is running his campaign has nothing to do with Country First, it is all about McCain first, forget the American people and their right to know the truth. The man is a dishonorable liar, and if elected he will still be one, and America would be a fool to put him in office. The way, in which you practice is the way you play, if he will lie now, he has and will lie in office. McCain behavior in running his campaign gives us insight into the character of his administration, and it portrays a sad future for America under a McCain administration.

    September 14, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. bobbyfoxblog

    "Former Republican"...you are a true American!

    September 14, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  4. Mike

    How ironic that Karl Rove would criticize both campaigns for the very type of tactics of which he is the master. The cynicism embodied by attempting to coopt the mantle of change and in the choice of Palin is startling. People like Jim appear to dismiss such political tactics as acceptable because they are effective, rather than deplore them as misleading at best and lying at worse. Rove and others take advantage of the willingness of the electorate to be shaped by imagemakers, rather than become informed. Anticipating that the press would be appropriately critical of Palin, a preemptive strike was called for such that the media's investigation would be called sexist, a witchhunt, and elite. Similarly, by divisively polarizing the election by making it about "values, character, God, and country" they resourcefully divert attention form the real issues of judgment and the economy, the issues that so favor the Democrats. Such cynicism has worked before, so they do it again.

    September 14, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. Lisa

    Jim, chicago, so I guess it is ok with you if Palin/McCain lie to get elected, more of the same right Jim. You people just don't get it, do you!!!Silly,Silly Jim!!!

    September 14, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  6. scoot

    I have a new names for Pailin & McCain

    Caribou Barbie and her running mate Ken mcSame

    September 14, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  7. james

    This is a sad day. If McCain really wants to unite the country why not reject the racist Americans that are voting for him simply because Obama is black. Obama has spoke against Americans voting for him because of his race. By the way, Obama's mother is white.

    Why is the race close. Lets get real.

    I am in Utah, spoke to my brother in Tennessee. He is a union member and said his fellow members were not voting for Obama even though the Republicans have done everything to break unions, and stated it was because Obama is black.

    We have a long way to go, excuse me, a while yet to wait for the racist purveyers of the politics of the past to die off.

    September 14, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. Jilly Billy

    Adolph Hitler as a community organizer. Franklin Roosevelt was a governor.

    September 14, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  9. Rob

    Country first - Bush screwed us and McCain will do the same .The GOP doesn't care for anybody but the wealthy and they aren't hurting any..their not losing jobs or money

    September 14, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. Rebecca - Michigan

    This just proves how many ignorant and naive Americans live in this great country. They are so willing to just except McCain and Palin's lies as fact without really checking. And then they actually are falling for the McCON camps accusations of sexism and now ageism. The media has been very tough on Obama for over a year and now that they are finally digging up some new info on McCain and Palin they cry foul. What HYPOCRITES.

    September 14, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Country First

    Who cares!!!!!. McBush asked Obama to series of townhall debates and he refused. So, the lies must continue until he accepts the challenge.

    September 14, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. Jilly Billy

    Adolph Hitler was a community organizer. Franklin Roosevelt was a governor

    September 14, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  13. Rebecca - Michigan

    For those of you Evanagelicals who are voting for McCain just because of Palin I can tell you right now Jesus would be outraged with the type of sleaze and lie campaign they are running and would suggest otherwise.

    September 14, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  14. Susan

    So it seems even Karl Rove has a hint of integrity left – at least more so than we have recently seen from McCain/Palin who have become, hard-core liars stubbornly repeating lies that have been declared as such by national news organizations after careful examination (bridge to nowhere, earmarks to name but a few). It frightens me to see this level of lies during the campaign because somebody who shows this behavior now is going to carry it straight into their administration – if elected!!!
    It horrifies me that words have become meaningless but I really hope that some standards can be restored with the help of news agencies such as CNN. As a regular viewer of CNN, I appreciated last weeks comments by J. Toobin who said that journalists' work is bring out facts – regardless of whose side you are on!! I am getting increasingly worried though how this is going to be done in a world where facts seem to matter much less than lies – Please help restore Democracy and the fact that words DO mean something!

    September 14, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  15. ROB--Scranton, PA

    Because the media usually does not report positive commendable issues, then I would just like to tell everyone who does care about their country some very commendable points from Sen. Obama, not the disgraceful citizen who is proving that he is more of the same corrupt Wash. that will keep the cronies of the GOP rich and the rest of us poor, yeah McCain/Palin, the disrespectful ticket.
    Obama has:
    -Cancelled his SNL appearance in respect for the Gulf victims of Ike
    -Has been very respectful of Ms. Palin by not attacking her, saying her daughter is off-limits & Obama supporters should not speak of the personal issue.
    -Has not attacked McCain on any of his personal issues such as POW, his womanizing of Cindy & previous wife, or health or age.
    -Has always stuck to the issues of the country, not any "shiny metal" objects. He consistently speaks of issues that effect us, the people, economy, gas prices, education, mortgage crisis, etc.
    So please citizens of this great country, you only will hear negative politics reported, not the positives, b/c negative creates ratings. When has McCain or Palin last spoke on any of our issues and how they will help us solve them? I don't know that answer, do you? They are running very negative & untruthful campaign ever. Not once pointing out who they are & what theyll do, but instead making false claims about Obama. Please see the positives, not the negatives. Also, have you noticed that Bush is all of a sudden doing everything Sen. Obama has been saying he is going to do? Pulling out of Iraq, surging Afghanistan, going after Bin Laden, & trying now to get our economy back. It kind of says, hmmm, he's right, why didnt I think of that in the past 7 yrs? See Obama for who he really is, not what McCain/Palin say he is, they are proving who they are. People who slander and degrade fellow citizens of this country. This isn't politics, this is cheat, lie, degrade, personally attack, whatever it takes to win tactics from the GOP ticket. I am not an affiliate of either party, I am an Obama supporter because I see the truth. I hope we all do. He is a true, honorable leader, and is all about our issues not just winning.

    September 14, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  16. Priscilla

    Most of McCain's ads are lies. He's no maverick. He's an old, out-of-touch politician who will do anything for a vote. I bet he stinks too!

    September 14, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  17. Ron, NYC

    Rove engineers lies against Obama, spreads them and now says they are not 100% true. What a scumbag? Can Rep. Conyers throw this scoundrel in jail?

    September 14, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  18. Cam

    You know, the more I think about it the more I think McCain and Palin are right about changing Washington........of course if you had asked me 6 months ago I would have told you that there was no way things could get worse than they have been under Bush.......well, I guess I was wrong because if McCain and Palin get in they will change it for the worse!

    I saw the CNN shows on Palin and Biden last night and all I can say is the choice should be pretty obvious. Palin has more questionable abuses of power in less than two years than Biden has in 36 years.......WOW. Say what you want about him being a Washington insider. He has character.....

    September 14, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. Robbie

    Gee Wiz, why is Rove telling the truth now? Has McCain gotten too sleazy... EVEN for Rove's "standards?" Wow!

    September 14, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  20. Jim Freeh

    Vote Repuglican, the party of repugnant politics!

    September 14, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  21. Belle2

    Did anyone read the article. Rove said McCain went too far and Obama's ads were worse than McCain's. Maybe that is just the blind faith of the Obama fans. They see what they want to see and nothing else.

    September 14, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. Bill

    Funniest thing. I dropped over to Fox and read the post for myself. Rove has the same criticism of the Obamies but, apparently, CNN chose to ignore that part. Imagine that! Oh, well, can't expect CNN to change its nature at this point but it would be good if you'd wipe off the saliva before posting such slanted "articles".

    September 14, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. Jen, Gainesville

    Rove is stirring the water to make it as if it is dirty on either side. The truth is that the McCain side is murky and dirty and the Obama side is fairly clean. Rove is manipulating the American public as he always does. These people (Rove, Bush, McCain, and Palin) have no shame and no integrity.

    September 14, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. sam ca

    Unbelievable!!! Even the Republican idol Karl Rove says that
    McCain is runnning lying ads. McCain/Palin is the sleaziest, most dishonest campaign in history. He picks a lying hypocrite for his running mate, and runs the sleaziest ads ever seen, even putting little children at risk from sexual predators. Not what I want too see in my President.
    McCain Presidential? NOT!!!

    September 14, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. Charles Dragonette

    Karl Rove has been advising the Swift Boat veterans on how to slime Obama and now he's shocked; SHOCKED! to find people are noticing!

    Just say no to Bush III.

    September 14, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
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