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. diridi

    Rove looks like that plumpy thug, rush limbam....idiots...Arizona, do not vote for these thugs, idiots, any more....ok. They messed our nation for a decade, I even hate Ronald Reagan's face on 50 bucks...sad, sad, and sad....

    March 8, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. lilacluvr

    Why would we believe Rove? Rove also thinks he and his fellow Republicans are the only 'real' Americans. If you believe him, I've got a bridge in Alaska for sale – real cheap. You betcha. Wink-wink

    March 8, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Amazed

    Why all the hate? This is old news that nobody should care about. Move along folks, there are more important issues to be talking about. Like Obama and the Democrats doing more damage to this country in one years than Bush and the Democrats did in the last two years of Bush's term.

    March 8, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. Steve

    Karl, I think I am the only reader that agrees it was not you. It was Scooter Libby!!!

    March 8, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  5. Marc

    Next:
    Karl Rove will deny his participation in the .... (insert any shameful act of the Bush campaign or government)!!!!
    Big NO NEWS!!!

    March 8, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. Jack

    Fat, white, silver spoon in your mouth Rove. He is and was so out of touch with the American people that he should just go away. Anyone that buys a book by him or Bush is an idiot. I am a conservative, and have voted pretty much Republican across the board, but I do call it like I see it, and Bush Jr. will go down as one of the worst Presidents in our history. He is so lucky that Carter turned out like he did, it deflects the historical fallacy of the Bush (lack of legacy).

    March 8, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  7. Indy

    Both are most well known for being liars so hard to say here, all I know is I would hate to be Rove, Cheney, Bush,Rumsfeld,Palin, McCain at the pearly gates.

    March 8, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. gstannard

    Haha guess there is to many young folks posting .. Nixon was the one.. and main his teacher.. the voters will believe anything I tell them ..

    March 8, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  9. elmizmo

    why is it every time something in the news speaks of the dishonesty and crookedness of the right wing/ conservative/ GOP folks surfaces they all seem to deflect away from those disastrous 8 years and immediately start bash the current administration (read Obama) as if to change the subject. seems they are embarrassed about voting for GW and the mess he caused. we all would like to forget those years but unfortunately it will take a while to fix their mess and get that bad taste out of our mouth.

    March 8, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  10. Why isn't he in jail?

    What do you expect from a man whose father committed suicide when he was a kid and his mother turned out to be a lesbian....truth. I don't know about you, but for me that explains alot. Looks like "Bush's Brain" really is broken. It is called MENTAL ILLNESS! And this guy has many diagnosis' to choose from. Ain't Karma grand!

    March 8, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. About Time

    Rove is a dispicable sick person. It would be very hard to dig his grave.

    March 8, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. Dave

    Let's waterboard him to see if it works!

    March 8, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. sammieb51

    With this guy, if his lips are moving, he is lying. Actually, if he is awake, he is thinking about lying and cheating. Doesn't really matter though - the architect's time has passed and we can all Thank God McCain was not elected at any time, particularly this last time - We Really Missed The Bullet on This One folks.

    March 8, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. Jim

    Rove denies that he spread the McCain negativity, and, hot news flash, water is wet. Of course he's going to deny it. Admitting it would have severe repercussions. But we all know the truth.

    March 8, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  15. Ken in NC

    Rove claims he was not the "Brain" of "W." It's impossible to prove or disprove that statement since there would have been no difference in the brain activity had he been the "Brain" of "W".

    March 8, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  16. Fenarkleman

    Tough to believe a guy whose face melted off after the Arc of the Covenant was opened.

    March 8, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  17. Cynthia, NJ

    Liar, Liar pants on fire. I cannot believe this guy is still lying and now he is going to make millions telling the same lies. Capitalism at it's best.

    March 8, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. Linda

    As if Rove would admit it. From what I've read about Carl Rove, I'm not surprised at the accusation.

    March 8, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. FRANK, LAS VEGAS

    His book, "Courage and Consequence"? Karl Rove knows nothing about either Courage nor Consequence. He lied then and nothing has changed, he still lies now. How can anybody believe anything he says, except for the Fox News right wing junkies that is.

    March 8, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  20. Wayne

    Why is it a smear to father a Black child??? Why is the Ethnicity important? Wouldn't it be just as bad if he simply fathered a child out of wedlock regardless the race of the child??? The Republicans are a racist organization plain and simple who cater to the racist inclinations and fears of white people.

    March 8, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. walleye

    Nothing coming from Roves mouth can even be construed as being true. Cheney/Rove=LIARS

    March 8, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. Monster Zero

    Say what you will about Rove, there is no smear machine that has EVER come close to equaling to that of the Clinton's. Where did all that birther crap start anyway, oh that's right, it was Phil Berg, influential Philadelphia Democrat lawyer supporting Hillary in the primaries. Problem is, no one listened to him, he was right, Hillary would have been FAR better for our Nation than Odumbo!

    March 8, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Guess Who's Coming To The Voting Booth?

    My problem with "Conservatives" is that it has historically been a code word for RACIST.

    What they have wanted to "conserve" was the status quo that kept women and minorities out of the halls of power and decision making.

    They have always feared that the angry black man and bitchy white woman would want to get even with them. This is why the Republican Party's DNA is to revert to FEAR to sell it's ideas. That's how they've always done it.

    What they don't realize is that the people they fear are some of the kindest, most compassionate people on the face of the earth. They are not punks ... they are not pushovers ... but they are gracious and fair.

    Conservatives better think about this and change their anti-black, anti-woman, anti-latino biases now. Then maybe they can garner votes from the black [or female or latino] fiscally conservative voter that they have turned off for the past 20 years.

    March 8, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. super crook

    One small crook accused the other super crook as straight theft express.

    March 8, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. Wisconsonite - It's Not Socialism, It's SANITY

    I wouldn't cross the street with a bucket of water if I saw Karl Rove on fire! OR John McCain for that matter!

    March 8, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8