Rove Decries Dirty Tactics That Target Politicians’ Families

Today, former Bush adviser Karl Rove was on NBC’s Today Show to talk about his new book and how he became “a political mastermind.” In the interview, Rove addressed the fact that his adopted father might have been gay, and denounced critics who have used the story to attack him:

LAUER: It seems to me that their story — in particular this episode, an event in their story — is used by some to even go a step further, Karl. It is to say either you are one of two things: If you are the son of a gay man, then you were either traumatized by that — and that may be the reason for your stance against things like gay marriage — or that you’re a hypocrite. That you couldn’t feel that way about gay marriage being the son of a gay father.

ROVE: If he were gay, and that was sufficient grounds for him to reject me, he obviously didn’t. But that’s politics — our view in political issues, on issues of public policy can and should be divorced from our families. And our families shouldn’t be used as convenient targets to shoot at in order to get at people in politics.

Watch it:

Rove, however, has reportedly personally orchestrated such smears. In 2008, the Nation reported:

Rove invented a uniquely injurious fiction for his operatives to circulate via a phony poll. Voters were asked, “Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain…if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?” This was no random slur. McCain was at the time campaigning with his dark-skinned daughter, Bridget, adopted from Bangladesh.

Roy Fletcher, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) deputy campaign manger, also said that the entire South Carolina smear “was orchestrated by Rove,” and Cindy McCain has reportedly said she would “stab” Rove.

In his talk with Lauer, Rove denied any involvement in attacking Bridget. “Nothing to do with it,” Rove said. “This is the kind of thing the media love, these kind of allegations. 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. It was sent out by a professor at Bob Jones University.”

Rove then went on to criticize McCain for not seeing the smear as “an enormous opportunity to give an insight into who he and his wife are.” “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,” he added.

Rove was also involved in the leaking the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame, in order to discredit her husband, Amb. Joseph Wilson, who was criticizing the Bush administration’s claims on Iraq.


In a 2004 article in the Atlantic, Joshua Green has more on Rove’s dirty tactics:

A typical instance occurred in the hard-fought 1996 race for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court between Rove’s client, Harold See, then a University of Alabama law professor, and the Democratic incumbent, Kenneth Ingram. According to someone who worked for him, Rove, dissatisfied with the campaign’s progress, had flyers printed up — absent any trace of who was behind them — viciously attacking See and his family.

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