(CNN) - Karl Rove denied Monday being the source of the infamous rumor in the 2000 presidential campaign that erroneously alleged Arizona Sen. John McCain had fathered a black child out of wedlock.
Rove, a longtime political and policy advisor to former President George W. Bush, said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show he had "nothing to do with" the smear tactic that began circulating prior to the South Carolina Republican presidential primary. The rumor was false as one of McCain's daughters, Bridget, was adopted from a Bangladesh orphanage.
Rove, who is promoting his new book "Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight," said he was "seized with fear" as the rumor began to spread.
"I thought John McCain would seize it for what it was, which was an enormous opportunity to give an insight into who he and his wife are," Rove said. "Because they adopted, Cindy McCain adopted a child from an orphanage in Bangladesh, who is their daughter, and the story of this is an incredible tale of love and compassion. But rather than doing that, John McCain said 'I'm a victim' and was angry and complained about it and pointed the finger at Bush when he had no evidence whatsoever that he was behind it."
Arlington, Virginia (CNN) – For congressional Democrats, the not-at-all-secret password this year is … jobs. They want to convince voters that they are working tirelessly to create them and thus regain some of the political momentum they have lost.
But the employment hole is deep. Can Democrats climb out of it by November?
Electoral odds maker Charlie Cook on Monday gave a grim assessment of their chances.
The unemployment rate, currently 9.7 percent, would have to fall about 1 percentage point by November for Democrats to proclaim "mission accomplished," he said. Cook, who runs the non-partisan Cook Political Report, spoke at the annual policy conference of the National Association for Business Economics, a leading group of professional economy watchers.
Even a continuation of the year-long stock market rally wouldn't help the Democrats much.
(CNN) - Can the Republican National Committee bring the Senate GOP leader and President Obama together?
White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton intimated just that when he was asked Monday about a controversial RNC fundraising presentation containing degrading images of the president and Democratic congressional leaders.
"I saw that Mitch McConnell distanced himself from it yesterday, and I think we may have really found an issue where the president and Mitch McConnell agree," Burton said in a briefing with reporters aboard Air Force One.
Appearing Sunday on ABC's "This Week," McConnell distanced himself from the presentation. "I don't like it, and I don't know anybody who does," he said.
A page from an RNC PowerPoint presentation that surfaced last week contained cartoonish images depicting President Obama as the Joker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Cruella DeVille and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as Scooby Doo.. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
Washington (CNN) - Top Republicans had harsh words Sunday for a leaked Republican National Committee document containing images skewering President Barack Obama and other top Democrats.
"There is no excuse for that type of stuff," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told NBC's "Meet the Press." He added that he is "ashamed" of it.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on ABC's "This Week," was asked whether such messaging is helpful. "I can't imagine why anybody would have thought that was helpful," he responded.
The PowerPoint presentation described high-level Republican donors as "ego-driven" and claimed they could be enticed with "tchochkes." The document included a slide - titled "The Evil Empire" - with cartoonish images depicting Obama as the Joker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Cruella DeVille and Harry Reid as Scooby Doo.
Since the presentation was leaked to Politico, Republicans have been working to distance themselves from it.
Washington (CNN) - A small Kansas church that has gained nationwide attention for protesting loudly at funerals of U.S. service members will receive a Supreme Court hearing over free speech rights.
The justices Monday accepted an appeal from the father of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq over efforts to keep members of the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church from demonstrating near memorial services and burials.
The Marine's family won a $5 million judgment from the protesters, which lower courts overturned.
The church, led by pastor Fred Phelps, said it believes God is punishing the United States for "the sin of homosexuality" through events such as soldiers' deaths.
Members have traveled the country, shouting at grieving family members at funerals and displaying such signs as "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "God Blew Up the Troops."
(CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is making it official.
The four term Democratic senator from Nevada will file for re-election Monday in Las Vegas, according to Reid's campaign.
While he's raised a large amount of campaign cash, polls of Nevada voters suggest that Reid faces a very difficult re-election.
–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
(CNN) - Do New Yorkers want embattled Gov. David Paterson to resign or finish out the remaining 10 months of his term in office? Two new polls offer conflicting results.
According to a Siena College Research Institute survey released Monday morning, 55 percent of New York State registered voters want Paterson to stick it out, with 37 percent calling on him to resign.
But a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday indicated that New Yorkers were split, with 46 percent urging the Democratic governor to finish his term and 42 percent calling for the governor to step down. The 46 percent who said they wanted Paterson to stick it out was down 15 points from a Quinnipiac survey conducted days earlier.
Late last month Paterson, who became governor in 2008 after Eliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace, said he would not seek a full term in office this year following reports that he had intervened in the case of a top aide who was accused of domestic violence against a woman. Paterson has said over the past week that he won't resign.
"I don't have any plans to resign," Paterson said Friday. "At a certain point, I will cooperate with the investigations and will be clearing my name."
Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) - Iraq's elections "really went very, very well" and the "Iraqi people deserve a lot of congratulations from us," the United States' ambassador to Baghdad said Monday.
"The election was supported by the overwhelming majority of Iraqi people," Christopher Hill told CNN's "American Morning" program, saying there was "a great deal of support for this political process."
Hill was speaking a day after millions of Iraqis turned out to cast ballots for the country's parliament, despite the ongoing threat of violence.
Militants intent on disrupting the vote carried out dozens of attacks, leaving 38 people dead.
Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. military commander in the country, said most of the casualties came from a single incident when bombers collapsed an apartment building in Baghdad, portraying the overall level of security nationwide as good.
"In the rest of Iraq, it was extremely peaceful," he said. "I was very impressed with the coordination and work done by the Iraqi security forces."
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) - U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrived in Afghanistan on Monday morning on an unannounced visit, as NATO-led coalition forces are pressing an offensive in the nation's south.
Gates was scheduled to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan.
Coalition forces are battling Taliban fighters around the town of Marjah in southern Helmand province.
Dubbed Operation Moshtarak, the offensive was launched in February by an international coalition of 15,000 troops, including Afghans, Americans, Britons, Canadians, Danes and Estonians.
Gates told reporters that he was going to Afghanistan to "get an update on the campaign, not only in Marjah but the next steps as we look to spring, summer and fall."