“Even Karl Rove”

Pssst, campaign reporters! Permission to say that the McCain campaign has, perhaps, on occasion, stretched the truth: granted! It’s ok — it’s safe— now! Why? Because even Karl Rove has said as much.

Rove on Fox News yesterday:

ROVE: [B]oth campaigns are making a mistake and that is, they are taking whatever their attacks are and going one step too far. We saw it this week for example in the Obama ad where he makes a point, a legitimate point, that John McCain came to the U.S. Congress in 1982 and he’s been a long-time Washington insider. But they then say he doesn’t even know how to use a computer — doesn’t send e-mails. This is because his war injuries keep him from being able to use a keyboard…that’s like saying, “He can’t do jumping jacks,” well there’s is a reason he can’t raise his arms above his head…

FOX NEWS’S CHRIS WALLACE: …What is McCain doing that’s a step too far?

ROVE: He has gone, in his ad, similarly gone one step too far and attributed to Obama things that are beyond the 100% truth test and they don’t need to attack each other in this way. They have legitimate points to make about each other…

WALLACE: Real quick question, thirty seconds. Do they need to be 100% passing the truth test? In other words, when you were running Bush’s campaign did you care whether some fact check organization…

ROVE: No, and you can’t trust the fact track organizations, they are human beings and individuals and they have their own biases built in there but, both campaigns ought to be careful about, there ought to be an adult who says, “Do we really need to go that far in this ad? Don’t we make our point and won’t we have broader acceptance and deny the opposition an opportunity to attack us if we don’t include the one little last tweak in the ad?”

Rove says that Team McCain has “gone too far” at times — “too far,” that is, from the truth. You don’t have to say it; You can attribute it to him!

CNN’s Don Hill:

Even Karl Rove has come out on Fox News today saying, you know, that McCain has been stepping over the line when it comes to the truth meter…

Fox News’s Megyn Kelly:

KELLY: Over the weekend, even Karl Rove came out and said that McCain has gone too far. Do you deny it?

TUCKER BOUNDS (MCCAIN CAMPAIGN): Actually what Karl Rove said was that maybe both campaigns had gone a step too far…

KELLY: I want to hold you accountable for what McCain is doing…Has your candidate gone too far? Has he stretched the truth with the voters?

BOUNDS: Megyn, what we have done is gone to great lengths to discuss Barack Obama’s record…

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough:

You know what my commercial is tomorrow [if I were with the Obama campaign]? Seriously, I take what Karl Rove says about John McCain’s campaign and say, ‘Even the man who ran what was described as the dirtiest campaign in history against John McCain is now saying John McCain went too far’….

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.