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. Maja

    PALIN/MCCAIN ARE LIARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.VOTE FOR THEM
    AND AMERICA IS THIRD WORLD COUNTRY.

    September 14, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. payback

    "You want the truth, you can't handle the truth". That's why people, watch fox(fix)news.......And vote republican......................

    September 14, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. Veteran for OB

    McCain's lead is down to 1%. He's on the way down. Didn't get much of a bump after the RNC, and he's starting to lose what he gained.

    Palin is a non factor.

    Headline should read, "McCain is losing his lead." Not McCain's lead increasing. That's a flat out lie.

    This time he will lose his lead for good.

    As for the Evangelical Republican Conservatives: I'm Christian. I don't agree with abortion. And I am NOT a Republican. Why? There's much more to it than one or two issues, unless you're a simpleton. How about looking at the behind the scenes death, destruction, lies, and corruption. All equally morally wrong.

    Republican Evangelical = Pharisee = Hypocrite

    I'm not down with you Republican Pharisees. You guys are plastic Christians. Fake as fake flowers.

    September 14, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  4. BS

    I think some people are attracted to a Palin ticket because they are hurting in the current Bush economy and want their pain to end now.
    I think those people will be disappointed and disillusioned.

    Many of the Republicans stike me as angry people (Rudy G, Tom Delay).

    Hopefully, McCain,72, will retire now.

    September 14, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  5. Andy

    As Dennis Kucinich pleaded at the convention: Wake up America! The media is playing into the hands of the McCain campaign, which is in turn being run by lobbyists from, among other places, the media industry. Is it any wonder it's so hard to elect someone like Obama who, by and large, tells the straight truth? The news media is ignoring the fact that A) McCain doesn't know Sunni from Shia, B) he doesn't know anything about the economy (by his own admission), C) McCain has lobbyists running his campaign, D) Sarah Palin has lied pathologically about her record on everything from foreign travel experience to the bridge to nowhere, E) McCain has illegally used federal funds for his primary campaign, in which he also took advantage of his wife's private jet for free, which is against federal funding rules, F) McCain's VP choice doesn't know the different between 'sight' ("I can see Russia") and _insight_, which is what she was asked about by Charlie Gibson, G) every McCain campaign ad released since the celebrity ad has been a fabric of lies designed to distract voters from the issues that matter.

    September 14, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  6. pete

    Who cares. It's working and Obama is on the way down for the count.

    McCain/Palin 08′

    you are too stupid and ignorant to live, typical republican though.

    September 14, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. Mike Mc

    Factcheck.org has set the record straight with its non partisan review of all campaign ads. McCain has crossed the line because hes desperate.

    McCains untruthful sleazy ads outnumber Obamas by at least 4 to 1. Take that to the bank,

    September 14, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  8. Mary

    I just don't know what to make of this. It's true though, McCain has sunk to new lows – all from the guy who had said he would run an honorable campaign. McCain would rather loose his integrity than loose an election.

    September 14, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. edster

    Hey, CNN. Can you secure the rights to show the McCain interview with the news anchor from Maine, or at least post the transcript? He asked the Senator point blank what foreign policy credentials his running mate, Governor Palin, possesses. Senator McCain's response was "Energy". Huh? A non-sequitur to be sure. Give us all a break. Please!

    September 14, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. Melody

    whatever, he only admitted the fact that McCain's ads have been a "little off base" so he could put a jab in at Obama's ads too. as if they're anything similar at all.... he's making it seem like he's coming out and saying something against McCain, but he's really just trying to downplay how atrocious his campaign ad lies are by linking Obama to those sorts of tactics as well. "Oh! But everyone does this!"

    McCain's ads are vicious lies. Obama's actually stick to the truth because the truth about McCain-Palin is horrific and speaks for itself!

    AUGH!!!!

    September 14, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. Jon

    Why not have a campaign debate. Have both parties tickets on the same stage at the same time. Obama & Biden against McCain & Palin. See which is the strongest all around ticket instead of taking swipes at one at a time.

    September 14, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  12. kimbo

    Interview quote in Time with Bill O'Reilly concerning Barak Obama:

    Did your interview with Barack Obama change your opinion of him? Edward Pniewski LANSING, MICH.

    I don't endorse candidates, and I don't tell people who to vote for, but I learned something about him: that he's a sincere man and a tough guy. His policy is what he says it is. He's no phony. He's telling you: I'm going to set up a big government apparatus, I'm going to redistribute income and I'm going to use more soft power than hard power abroad. What he says is what he believes.

    September 14, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. Sage

    Update-save face...the truth is no one can possibly believe a word from McCain or Palin's lips.
    Tradition of Honor
    I will not Lie
    I will not cheat
    i will not steal
    I will report the student who does....
    a tradition John McCain has thrown under the bus...he has NO honor.
    John McCain has lost his integrity to try to win an election...pity

    September 14, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. NORA, FLORIDA

    Hmmm for once, I really agree with Rove. I am glad to see that someone else is paying attention besides the ones who are caught up on Palin's looks. Looks will not be what lead this country but it could be what destroys it!!!

    September 14, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. cherie

    As they say what goes around comes around....when are the democrats going to learn to leave Sara Palin alone ... their comments made me ...an independent.... to like her more and more and to vote republican .... glad I found out what their party was like befor it was too late

    September 14, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  16. OH

    That's right Mr. Sleeze, McCain is taking leaves from your play book.

    For those who thing McCain dirty politics is working; dream on until you awake and find most States blue.

    America is tired of the dirty lies and hate mongering of the Republicans.

    September 14, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. michele

    IS HALF OF AMERICA IS REALLY STUCK ON STUPID TO ACTUALLY BELIEVE IN MCCAIN LIES ABOUT OBAMA. WELL THAT TELL US THAT HE IS ALSO LYING ABOUT THE CHANGES THAT WILL HAPPENED. MCAIN HAVE ALL THESE LOBBIST WORKING ON HIS CAMPAGN AND I READ IT IN THE HUFFINGTING POST ALL THE ISSUES THAT MCAIN HAS FLIP FLOP. HE IS THE WORST AND THE BIGGEST FLIP FLOPPER EVER. IF THE DEMOCRATE STILL HAVE CONTROL OF CONGRESS BELEIVE ME THERE WONT BE ANY BIPARTISHIP. GOV PALIN WITH HER LIES AND NO EXPERIENCE IS ONE BEAT BEING BECOMING PRESIDENT. HAVE ANY WOMAN HEARD ABOUT WHAT SHE STAND FOR SHE IS VERY DANGEROUS. SHE AGAINST ABORTION WHETHER IT RAPE AND INCEST AND SGHE AGAINST WOMEN RIGHT AND SHE A WAR MORGER. PLEASE DON'T VOTE FOR GENDER BECAUSE YOU WILL BE MAKING THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OUR YOUR LIFE. THIS ELECTION SHOULD BE ABOUT ISSUES THAT IS EFFECTING OUR LIVES AND OUR CHILDREN. I HAVEN'T HEARD ANY BREAD AND BUTTER ON MCAIN SIDE. JUST NEGATIVITY. I USED TO BE A REBULIAN NOW I'M VOTING FOR OBAMA THIS WOMAN PALIN JUST TURNED ME OFF.

    September 14, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  18. Carol in Durham, Maine

    Looks like the Pot calling the kettle black.
    IF the media can get over Palin, maybe someone will point out the issues at stake. This isn't a game, it is America's future at stake. Media just love the trash talk, and sadly no one seems to care or will listen.
    Obama is wrong.. We are that Stupid.... Look at the polls.

    September 14, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  19. RJ

    The media network executives decided that McCain should be the next President and that's how it will end. No amount of outrage by the average Americans will stop this. As long as the media is owned by corporations, we will continue to see Republicans in the white house. It's time people start controlling the airwaves instead of few owners.

    September 14, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  20. kimbo

    I didn't want to cut off half the interview and put only the first half of the quote. That would put me in the style of the Republicans. While he does take a dig at Obama in the second half, saying this is what I think he is saying, he does say in the first half that he thinks he is an honest man. You need to make your own judgments about what you think he is saying.

    September 14, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. Moderate Republican for Obama

    You know it is a shame with Rove calls you a liar!

    September 14, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  22. Holmes

    McCain is so desperate to win that he is willing to put this Country he love and service last become President. He truly believes being a POW should guarantee him to be our next President. Wow! He doesn’t want to run on his experience now nor his record. McCain wants to play checker instead of chess. I wonder why? Everybody knows his V. P. pick was a political move only. However, he has place his bet (all of none) that white women just want get it; until it too late. I don't believe this will work because they know better than him how the power of fear, envy and dishonest work. Media fight back this is your country too. So, don't give them a third change to continue to destroy this country. Can this country take 4 more years of this...?

    Karl Rove's feel the heat and see the fire coming!

    Holmes
    Jacksonville, Fl

    September 14, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  23. Reena

    Do we have to attack Carl Rove of telling what he thinks. Come on America. We are United states.

    September 14, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  24. Michael

    Obama has had selective hearing the whole campaign and runs adds that lie about what McCain and Palin say.
    When Rove points out both sides are running ads that go too far Obama once again has selective hearing and says only McCain is doing it. That sets Obama's sleaze level to one lower than the one he accuses McCain of having.
    As far as I'm concerned, as long as they both run these kinds of ads, they cancel each other out. No one gets points for taking the high road, so the ads become nothing more than anoying.

    September 14, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  25. Roxanne

    I think people are beginning to see through McCain and Palin's lies and ads. If they are lying now, imagine what will happen once they are elected.

    In response to the person who said "find leadership in Palin". I say, Thanks, but no thanks. Palin is against everything I believe in. She doesn't believe women have the right to choose even in the case of rape, and she cut funding for special needs children in Alaska before her son was born and McCain does not believe in equal pay for equal work for women. Why on earth would I cast my vote saying I believe in this 18th century way of thinking?

    What are their plans for the economy? What are they doing for health care? McCain couldn't even get coverage under his own health care proposal with is medical history. Since they don't have issues to run on, they lie even more about Obama.

    September 14, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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