September 14th, 2008
03:54 PM ET
7 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. Helen, NY

    CNN, do not distort what Karl Rove says. he has told both campaigns that theirs ads are not completely true so why should you just headline it saying McCain campaign is wrong. It shows you are biased and I know that you will moderate this message and then you will not publish it because it undermines your fairness.

    September 14, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. kimbo

    The New Democrats- you can't hide behind the moniker, it pretty easy to see you are a Republican conservative. Even John McCain has said he turned negative because Obama would play by his rules. Remember he said it to those hard hitting journalist of the view. No mistaking that. If they can't handle that hard hitting show, how on earth will they handle the Russians and the Chinese. and how will they take back our country from the Chinese who Bush sold it to.

    September 14, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  3. Sandy

    Yeah, take it from the king of sleazy...which white hair guy is more sleazy?? McCain or Rove?

    September 14, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  4. Steve LeDuc

    The sad thing is that many American's are falling for the McCain campaign. Many average American's aren't into politics for the issues rather the circus act antics of politicians such as John McCain. I'll admit that it has been working for him. Won't I won't admit is that these types of campaigns are what America needs. This is exactly the type of politics Barack Obama will eliminate from Washington DC and the rest of the country. It's one thing to be Barack Obama and stand for something and believe in something. It's another thing to be John McCain and just say things because he thinks thats what voters want to hear regardless of if it's truthful or not.

    September 14, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  5. gc

    Comig from the king of sleaze himself, this is quite a statement. One must ask what is the alterior motive here. Probalby to keep the debate on the personal and not on the issues. FOCUS ON THE ISSUES. Who out there has benefited from the last 6 years of RNC domination and more two years of deadlocked congress.

    GC in Lubbock

    September 14, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  6. D.C.

    See even Rove is calling his Republican Brother on the lies. That is very bad for the man on The Straight Talk Express- By Any MEANS Necessary to get to swear on The Bible in January.

    September 14, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  7. DJ in Colorado

    That's the funniest thing I've heard in months – Karl Rove discussing matters related to TRUTH! Spare me any rethuglican talking about truth! Anyway, isn't he or shouldn't he be in jail???

    September 14, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  8. brittany

    OBAMA IS NOT A MUSLIM! It's shameful that you right wing rednecks will say anything to defile another candidate's qualifications. You should get real facts and not from

    September 14, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    McCain and Palin would be a disaster for this country.She couldn't control her own daughter, How do you suppose she can run a country? Why wasn't her minister's remarks about Jews all over the news? This woman has not only lied once, but she has more skeltons in her closet than carter has liver pills.
    McCain is re-living the past. If I recall, the Vietnam War was forty years ago. Doesn't he have any way out of the mess in which he voted with Bush 90% of the time? It's apparent that he stays in the attack mode in all his speeches.

    September 14, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  10. Get Real

    Truth is America is tired of the Rove/Schmidtz/Davis campaign of lies, smears and division. Stick to the issues and your bones might not get picked.

    McCain has allowed his people to launch a Dirty Campaign. But then again, it is probably not really McCain's Campaign anymore, it is Sarah Barracuda Palin's campaign. And we all know that she is just power hungry.

    Cindy and John word of advise… watch your backs… Sarah is not in this for you or America. She is in it for herself and Rove/Schmidtz/Davis/Chenney/Bush have found the real 3rd Presidency of G.W. Bush.

    Dig that Bush Doctrine!

    September 14, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  11. Former Republican

    When the one of the detested men in Washington calls your campaign tactics lies, you've fallen very low indeed. The Straight Talk Express has derailed and gone into a ditch. McCain is through. What a disgrace.

    Barr '08

    September 14, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  12. FormerAlaskanFemale

    Karl Rove, the GOP boy, admits that John McCain is a liar (his ads are not a 100% true). Now according to McCain when he appeared on The View, and he was asked why he approved of those ads. His reply was because the ads were true... Now who is the LIAR? If you are not a liar or 100% truthful, Mr. McCain, then please tell the American people why you are so aligned with the GOP, the party of Karl Rove. Do you really expect people to believe you are going to CHANGE Washington.

    And Mr. McCain, I agree with the ladies on The View, you have CHANGED!!! There was a time I would have voted for you. Not now, no way, no how, no McCain.

    O/B/Hilary (Cabinet) '08

    September 14, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  13. Tom Griffin

    Look this is the test now. Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. John McCain lied to the American people continuously;and add insult to injury, the American people are aware but chose to support the" McCain lies." This is a testament of what that administration will do to all of us. The problem is Palin will stop at nothing to get what she wants and the
    Presidency too.

    September 14, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  14. Ralph

    True Democrats will vote or any idiot the party puts up, as will a true Republician, it is up to the rest of us to make the best choice

    September 14, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |

    Why would someone vote for someone who was beaten by George W Bush in 2000 in the primaries? And presumably McCain was more well liked back then?

    So the GOP is running the second place winner from 2000?


    September 14, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  16. Ron

    I have yet to see a Republican run an honest ad. Same old tactics. Bush did this is 200 and 2004.

    Republicans refuse to discuss policies and instead spread lies, rumors and half truths. It is the American peoples fault for continually falling for this type of campaigning. They do it because it works.

    McCain will win in November not on policies, but because of the lies and rumors they spread.

    Dont like it? Vote Democrat and show the republicans we will not allow this type of campaigning any longer.

    September 14, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  17. Alex

    Who else will jump on Rove's wagon from the Republican side and admit how nasty they are getting? I know McCain will not do it since he is desperate to win. This is his last chance to have an attempt at the presidency so he has to saying anything he could think of that will boost his chance. It does not have to be true. There is a scale worst than failing Rove’s scale.

    September 14, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  18. e.Rivera

    William E. Timmons – the Lobbyist of lobbyist was an interesting recent pick by Mccain to lead his transition team if elected. It insures the Lobbyist wont miss a beat to continue bush policies.

    I dont get how Mccain can come out of his face with "Change, change, change" this week and then add another lobbyist to his machine.

    Absolutely bizzare.

    Just short of 100%? not exactly

    A walking LIE? check.

    September 14, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  19. Patti Zimmerman

    The Liar calling liars too extreme? Are the Republicans going to try to distract the American people all the way to the election? This could be funny if it wasn't so predictable.

    September 14, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  20. Dan

    Rove is calling them out? What next! McCain needs to turn Palin loose. After one interview it's obvious she is an idiot!

    September 14, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  21. John

    Sara Palin has a strong record to stand on. She killed 'the bridge to nowhere.'. she put the Governor's jet on ebay, she counseled the troops in Iraq,and she's an energy expert. Drill Baby, Drill. Palin McCain in 08

    September 14, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  22. Karlie

    Wow, Rove says something resembling the truth for once!

    September 14, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  23. Ralph

    They now believe Rove, go figure.

    September 14, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  24. Palin 2012


    Go home and take your witch Hillary with you. McCain does not need you anymore to win this election.

    Palin 2012

    September 14, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  25. john ippolito

    this jim from chicago is a complete fool! must be on mccain's payroll as a houseboy in one of the homes mccain cannot account for!

    September 14, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
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