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. Demetri

    Nice spin Rove, very nice. This is why he will go down as one of the greatest political minds.

    March 8, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  2. Justin

    To hear Rove tell it, he and Bush weren't really responsible for much of anything.

    Someone should ask Rove who, then, was in power from 2001-2008? If not Bush and Rove – his chief strategist and closest advisor – then who?

    March 8, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  3. Jim

    In other news, a strange brown marking is found on former Vice President Dick Cheney's briefs. When questioned about it, Cheney denied that he was the source of the smear.

    March 8, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  4. aaron

    Liars always have a couple of alternative viewpoints. No less, no more.

    March 8, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  5. Sgt. Flagg T. McLiberty, Superpatriot

    Yeah, sure, Karl. Just like you had nothing to do with Valerie Plame. Liar.

    March 8, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  6. cspurgeon

    I wouldn't believe a word Rove said. His whole book is to whitewash the Bush administration and his own mi8x in it. Its all a bunch of repig propaganda. UGH!

    March 8, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. snood

    Lets start worring about today and tommorrow and not 2000. I listening to the OB speech in PA and what a joke. this guy is back at the campaignehe needs to stay in washington adn stop running around making more promises to the little kiddies at school. it really shows how even though you are so called educated you dont know nothing. Just we can live off mommy and daddy until where 26. jobs and money mean nothing to those who just get it from there folks to live.what a joke of a adminstration and president

    March 8, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    His story sounds plausible, but quite frankly based on his well-earned reputation I don't believe a word of it. Nice spin though!

    March 8, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. SMDH

    The underlining pinnings of this situation is infamous and highlights that America still has a long way to go when it comes to race relationships!! Here we have a case of someone crying that a white man sleep with a black woman and such is considered a scandal; possibly aggregious enough to derail Presidential aspirations! The fact that he may have cheated on his wife is blurred in the public frenzy. We are such a sick society.

    March 8, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. Jason

    "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,"

    Attempts to shift blame back on to the victim are usually good indicators of who was responsible.

    March 8, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  11. stanton cummings

    I don't like or believe republicans of any kind and I think that karl rove is one of the biggest liars of our time along with Bush and Cheney!!! and in my opinion they did lie to get us into A war in Iraq along with destroying our economy and then trying to blame it on president Obama ,Speaker Pelosi and Harry Ried !!!!

    March 8, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  12. gstannard

    That man has no courage but he will never face the consequences because of that lack , as the saying goes he can not handle the truth.
    He ideas are talking points, with no conviction.
    False pride an inflated ego are his only alley.. blame an shame on him an his bushwacker friends.. U can hide but you cannot re-write history any more.

    March 8, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  13. sandra, Alt

    Karl,
    And we are supposed to believe you!! Sure we do (not!).

    March 8, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  14. JB

    Ol' Rovey is cracking me up.

    If you believe him, he was just the Knight in shining armour and did nothing wrong.

    He and dubya, nothing but th truth and character. LOL!

    March 8, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  15. lequino

    I'll also say that Rove came up with other dirty political plays. In Texas, one of the most corrupt political scenes around, he came up with a rumor about Gov. Ann Richards, implying she was a lesbian. It's sickening that he plays the "poor me" card, talking about being doe-faced and bald...good grief man...People don't hate you because you look bad, they hate you because you're a jerk.

    March 8, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. Jim

    Must be slow day on the ticker

    March 8, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. djb

    of course he denies it along with everything else that places an unflattering light on him..........the fat old lying gasbag is at it again!

    March 8, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  18. Crazy Harry

    Duh!

    You think the Rove would start telling the truth now and mess up his perfect record?

    March 8, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  19. Proud American

    Please. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.......

    March 8, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. skurfer

    More revisionest history. Next W and Cheney's.

    March 8, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  21. Sorensen

    Who cares what those two totally uninteresting and irrelevant people
    have to say about anything?

    March 8, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. Debbie from AZ

    Rove has the right to write whatever he wants in his book. I have the right to totally disbelieve what he has written in his book. He is and will continue to be nothing but an ass.

    March 8, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. John

    Rove has a history of these kinds of attacks. Not only is this his MO, he didn't deny it back then either.

    March 8, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. grahame rhodes

    This gets more like the Sopranos every day. Who is he trying to kid when everybody knows he was the architect behind every smear campaign from Swift Boat to this one. Bush didn't and doesn't have the brains. I can just hear Rove talking to Chaney who did an end run around Bush anyway. Not that it was that difficult. Their protestation defy any credibility at all, at least among anybody with an IQ larger than their shoe size.

    March 8, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  25. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Poor Carl,the kids probably kicked alot of sand in his face as a child and he never got over it.

    March 8, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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