While out pimping his new book, Courage and Consequence, Karl Rove, the controversial former adviser to President George W. Bush, says he and Dubya weren't responsible for rumors that swirled through South Carolina during the 2000 GOP presidential primary claiming Senator John McCain had fathered a black child.
In the heat of the 2000 presidential primary, calls were made to South Carolina voters asking the question, "Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?"
Clearly, the calls didn't come out and say, "John McCain has an illegitimate, black child," but in a place like South Carolina, where many residents don't take kindly to that sort of thing, the mere suggestion damaged McCain's campaign and goes down as one of the sleaziest moves in modern, American politics.
By all media accounts, McCain blamed the Bush campaign -- "turd blossom," in particular -- for starting the rumors, but Rove claims he had nothing to do with it and it was started by a professor at Bob Jones University.
"Nothing to do with it. This is the kind of thing the media love, these kind of allegations," Rove says in an appearance on NBC's Today. "But for people in practical politics, I've got to tell you, I was seized with fear when this rumor began to circulate through South Carolina."
Rove went on to say McCain should have capitalized on the allegations but instead played the victim card.
"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, because Cindy McCain adopted a child from an orphanage in Bangladesh. The story of this is an incredible tale of love and compassion," Rove says.
"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."
After the 2000 primary, McCain told Dad Magazine "There were some pretty vile and hurtful things said during the South Carolina primary. It's a really nasty side of politics. I believe that there is a special place in hell for people like those."
We contacted McCain's spokesman, Brian Rogers, to see if "The Maverick's" buyin' any of Rove's denials. He hasn't gotten back to us.