March 8th, 2010
12:11 PM ET
4 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. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Of course you were behind the rumor Karl.

    March 8, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  2. An 8 year old ELEPHANT dung heap, does not transform into compost in just 1 year!

    "doe-faced"?

    Fat, dough faced bald lead smear tactic guy, would be more accurate.

    March 8, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. FRANK, LAS VEGAS

    Karl Rove, YOU LIE!

    March 8, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  4. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    if you're one of those persons that believes ANYTHING this man says PLEASE come see me here in Texas because I have some swampland I would just love to sell you. So far eveything that Rove has been accused of he is totally inoccent of it and that I find very hard to believe.

    March 8, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  5. JR

    Does anyone still believe a word this lying piece of crap says?

    March 8, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  6. Kathy

    Yeah sure!! Sorry but you are nothing but dirty:
    In the fall of 1970, Rove used a false identity to enter the campaign office of Democrat Alan J. Dixon, who was running for Treasurer of Illinois. He stole 1000 sheets of paper with campaign letterhead, printed fake campaign rally fliers promising "free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing", and distributed them at rock concerts and homeless shelters, with the effect of disrupting Dixon's rally. (Dixon eventually won the election). Rove's role would not become publicly known until August 1973. Rove told the Dallas Morning News in 1999, "It was a youthful prank at the age of 19 and I regret it."

    March 8, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. A Guy

    Rove: 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 doe-faced, balding guy who's the grey eminence behind the campaign and blame him?

    Karl, Karl, Karl, come on buddy, everyone knows you cooked up this idea.

    March 8, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. TM

    Rove did not get where he was by playing fair. He has a long, documented, history of lies and dirty rticks. He EARNED that label. He can write as many works of fiction as he wants, but history and his own words while Bush was in office will not be so easily forgotten.

    March 8, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. Dieter Zerressen

    I don't believe Rove for a minute. Like Lee Atwater, another Republican smear dirtbag, Rove will have a deathbed confession – that I'll believe. The rest of his book is pure fiction.

    March 8, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  10. Dano

    Carl Rove knows nothing about either courage nor consequence. He is a spineless coward who worked behind the scenes to destroy Bush's enemies using whatever means necessary and never faced the consequences of his dishonorable actions.

    March 8, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. Nick San Diego

    Still don;t believe Rove .

    March 8, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. VirginiaJeff

    I'm pretty sure Rove said "dough-faced," not "doe-faced."

    March 8, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  13. Texas Doc

    Whatever man. You guys smeared an honorable man and a veteran to get dingbat W elected. It is what you and your "party of values" stand for and it is despicable. In fact, it treasonous and un-American.

    March 8, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. David Johnston

    They are both Republicans, can you trust what either one of them has to say.

    March 8, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  15. John

    Karl Rove lies like a rug- he's trying to re-invent recent history and exonerate himself for every bad thing he did while serving as the right hand to one of the most incompetent presidents in one of the most vicious administrations this country has ever elected. He viciously smeared John McCain (To say otherwise is a blatant falsehood, remember the lies that McCain had fathered a mulatto child), then Al Gore, then John Kerry (remember the "swift boat attacks" – you're not naive enough to think he had nothing to do with them do you?) and anyone else who go in the way of his cabal's neo-con agenda. These lies did not invent themselves- they were crafted and delivered to crate maximum distraction among the electorate and havoc within opposing campaigns. He cared nothing about this country or its citizens- he was and is only interested in the acquisition and maintenance of power and influence. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool and should stop drinking the Kool-aid this guy dispenses like a fire hydrant.

    March 8, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. VirginiaJeff

    So why didn't the Bush campaign take the high road and set the record straight when it counted? Someone needs to tell Rove that silence equals consent.

    March 8, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  17. AndyBlue

    The Republican motto: "If we can stop any progress America gets out of Obama, Americans will forget the lies, wars, deaths, torture, disgrace and greed of the last administration"

    Is it any wondert they will turn on each other like they do on the Majority of Americans?

    Disgusting people. I will never vote for any Republican the rest of my life.

    March 8, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. GI Joe

    And we ALL know no one in the Bush Administration never lied about anything (NOT).

    March 8, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  19. Cindy

    So why not pick at the sort of dough-faced, balding guy who's the grey eminence behind the campaign and blame him?"

    Because, you make it so obvious.

    March 8, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  20. Laverne

    You can't believe a word that comes out of Karl Rove's mouth. I wouldn't read that trash of a book even if it were free! This man is wicked and will probably die a horrible death!

    March 8, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Nothing this evil, evil man says is the truth. Now that I know that his father may have been gay and his mother committed suicide, it may shed some light on how one human can become so heartless and evil.

    March 8, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. Marc

    Karl Rove denies what he did in an hourly basis...

    March 8, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. Bob Dog

    Rove is a monster. An evil, ugly disgusting monster. He was the Adolph Eichmann of the Bush administration. I'll never forget how he attacked John Kerry's THREE purple hearts, destroyed Valerie Plame's career (and nearly her life), and in this case, tried to smear John McCain. Rove is the father of today's terrible political discourse, which knows no limitations in decency. Ronald Regan inspired the best that is American. Rove inspires hate, fear, distrust, and anger.

    March 8, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  24. Ken in NC

    Who was whispering? I thought it was being said out loud that he had done it. I was not then and am not now a McCain supporter but I was angered by the accusations made against McCain about being the natural father of a Black child. The accusations were uncalled for and who ever started the rumors should be hung out to dry.

    March 8, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  25. UDH

    If there is one thing that I am sure of, it is that Karl Rove is as likely to tell the truth as it is likely that pigs will fly. What happened to him being subpeoned?

    His response was that they blamed Rove because Bush was hard to blame because he was a "nice guy"?????? Pick on the doe-faced, balding guy???

    This was Rove's job and he did it quite well, however when it is all said and done if you have to come out even years later and deny things that you have done, it may very well mean that you are what people suspected all along – Robes Peirre

    March 8, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
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