March 8th, 2010
12:11 PM ET
5 years ago

Rove denies leading 2000 'whisper campaign' against McCain

 Karl Rove (left) said Monday that he was not behind an infamous rumor in the 2000 presidential campaign that alleged Sen. John McCain (right) had fathered a black child out of wedlock.
Karl Rove (left) said Monday that he was not behind an infamous rumor in the 2000 presidential campaign that alleged Sen. John McCain (right) had fathered a black child out of wedlock.

(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."

Rove said he became an easy target for critics to accuse him of masterminding this malicious campaign tactic.

"Cindy McCain and the McCain campaign, [Deputy Campaign Manager Roy] Fletcher and others – they needed somebody to blame and they didn't want to blame Bush," Rove said. "It was hard to blame Bush. He's a nice guy. People knew him. It wouldn't stick. So why not pick at the sort of dough-faced, balding guy who's the grey eminence behind the campaign and blame him?"


Filed under: John McCain • Karl Rove
soundoff (198 Responses)
  1. Aspen Professor

    Based on the Bush – Cheney history of lies, why wouldn't we believe that the source of the rumor was the Bush – Cheney camp?

    Now, the base of lies has broadened to include most of the Republican leaders, controlled by the right-wing extremists. Death panels, not a citizen, a socialist - it goes on and on.

    March 8, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  2. Dean

    Liar Liar pants on fire

    March 8, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. mattsumaru

    "Doe-faced"? Are you sure he didn't say "dough-faced"?

    March 8, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  4. Ruth

    Fighting politicians! So, what else is new?

    March 8, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  5. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    At this point in time and with 50 years of "dirty tricks" in their black bags, how can anyone not believe any accusation against the GOP of smear campaigns?

    Troll Rove is a filthy little schmuck.

    March 8, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. Hawk in Texas

    More lies from karl ( turdblossom ) rove. the truth is not in this scumbag. we know he lied, bush lied cheney lied, rumsfield lied, powell lied. etc.

    March 8, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but....

    How do you tell if Karl Rove is lying? His lips are moving. Seriously, why would anyone believe a single word this pitiful excuse for a human being utters? Have a nice day!

    March 8, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. shucks

    Why was he so "siezed with fear" if he hadn't started it. He is still lying, and I'm sure his book is just what he wants you to hear. What a moron, and those who support him are just as him. MORONS

    March 8, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  9. vgal

    Rove is a nasty man.

    March 8, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  10. Mr. Moderate

    Rove has been lying his entire career. Why would it be any different this time?

    March 8, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. if I was crazy, I'd be a conservative too

    Most Americans know the truth about this turd blossom.

    March 8, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. teena

    Like any intelligent person would believe this blow-hard!

    March 8, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  13. Thomas, Baton Rouge, LA

    Of course Rove did it.

    March 8, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  14. get real

    I don't believe a single word this slimy worm has to say!

    March 8, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  15. KLS

    Personally, I don't believe for one minute the Bush campaign were not responsible for leaking the false and ugly rumor about John McCain's adopted daughter. They were the "kings" of false information.

    March 8, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  16. ProfBill

    Rove deplores the nature of the rumor, but applauds its efficacy...

    March 8, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  17. R. Williams

    Why blame Rove? Because if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.

    March 8, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  18. quincy nashville

    Why are the news entities giving so much coverage to Rove, Delay and Liz Cheney? Why does CNN insist on promoting the Rove book?

    March 8, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  19. Jeff

    If you believe that, I've got a couple bridges I'd like to sell you.

    March 8, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  20. Jack

    This whtiewash job is pretty thin. Okay, let's take him at his word. He did not originate the smear. Why did he remain silent? Why did he not come forward, in a foreceful manner, then and (and his boss W.) to defend McCain. Show some real class. Why? Because it was to his and his candidates advantage to let this garbage float around the universe for a while. No class. No manners. Win at all costs. Mean, angry, hypocrites, the whole lot.

    March 8, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  21. stop the nonsense

    Someone in the campaign did it. If not Rove then who? These guys were to savvy to not knwo what was going on in the campaign.

    March 8, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  22. Jim

    based on this, it would seem the republicans have a history of fear , and smear, and wild waving about of pointed fingers. it's a shame they can't be more productive and helpful to our society.

    March 8, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. lequino

    Everyone understand Rove was the architect of the McCain smear. It's well documented. The fact that Rove denies it is just another example of how truly corrupt this guy is. "Siezed with fear" what a laugh. This guy oozes corruption and deserves whatever he gets.

    March 8, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    Boy, Rove has been doing alot of denying lately. I say: where there is so much acrid smoke, someone has most certainly set fire to the [R] cesspool.

    March 8, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. Pam

    If I really cared what is in Rove's book , I' d read it. It seems there's an item from the book every day.

    March 8, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
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