Rove advances falsehoods about Obama's "lipstick" remark

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

Karl Rove falsely asserted that Sen. Barack Obama's statement that "you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig" "was a deliberate slap at Governor [Sarah] Palin." In fact, Obama did not mention or refer to Palin in the comments immediately preceding his "lipstick" comment. Rove also falsely asserted, "The only time this word has intruded in recent months in the campaign was in her [Palin's] you know, self-deprecating remark at the convention"; in fact, McCain himself used the phrase "putting lipstick on a pig" in a public appearance on May 2.

On Fox News Sunday, Fox News contributor and political analyst Karl Rove falsely asserted that Sen. Barack Obama's statement that "you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig" "was a deliberate slap at Governor [Sarah] Palin." In fact, Obama did not mention or refer to Palin in the comments immediately preceding his "lipstick" comment. Rove then falsely asserted, "The only time this word has intruded in recent months in the campaign was in her [Palin's] you know, self-deprecating remark at the convention." In fact, McCain himself used the word "lipstick" -- and, indeed the phrase "putting lipstick on a pig" -- in a public appearance on May 2. At a town hall meeting in Denver, McCain said "All I can say is that, yes, in 1993, we rejected the then-Clinton universal health care proposal. It was rejected by the American people. I don't like to use this term, but the latest proposal I see is putting lipstick on a pig, as we used to -- as we used to say."

Asked by host Chris Wallace on the September 14 broadcast of Fox News Sunday after playing a clip of Obama's September 9 comments, "[D]o you have any problem with what McCain is doing -- for instance saying, which a lot of people thought was kind of made up, that Obama was smearing Palin?" Rove responded: "Well, first of all, I do think that the lipstick remark was an inappropriate and maybe it was unconscious, but it was a deliberate slap at Governor Palin. The only time this word has intruded in recent months in the campaign was in her, you know, self-deprecating remark at the convention. For her to use the lipstick remark less than two weeks after she used it struck me as too much of a coincidence not to have been a deliberate attack."

But, as Media Matters for America has noted, Obama was not speaking about Palin when he made the "lipstick remark." Rather, his preceding comments consisted of what he described as a "list" of Sen. John McCain's policies that Obama said were no different from President Bush's. Obama said:

Let's just list this for a second. John McCain says he's about change, too. Except -- and so I guess his whole angle is, "Watch out, George Bush, except for economic policy, health-care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy, and Karl Rove-style politics. We're really gonna shake things up in Washington." That's not change. That's just calling some -- the same thing, something different. But you know, you can -- you know, you can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig.

From the September 14 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: You say Obama shouldn't attack McCain, but I want to play a clip for you this week of Obama ridiculing McCain's claim that he is the agent of change. Take a look.

OBAMA [video clip]: John McCain says he's about change too, and so I guess his whole angle is watch out, George Bush, except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy and Karl Rove-style politics, we're really going to shake things up in Washington.

WALLACE: When Obama and his camp talks about Karl Rove-style politics, they mention things like the McCain effort this week to make a big deal about lipstick on a pig and to say that Obama was smearing Palin. They say it's diversionary tactics. First of all, are you complimented or insulted by the reference to "Karl Rove-style politics," and secondly, do you have any problem with what the McCain people are doing?

ROVE: Look, I demand a royalty. Every time they mention my name -- when John Kerry stood up at the Democratic convention, used my name four times -- I ought to get a small royalty. Maybe 25 cents per mention, a buck per mention. Please, it's my name. Stop using it without my permission.

WALLACE: I think you're a public figure. But in any case, do you have any problem with what McCain is doing -- for instance saying, which a lot of people thought was kind of made up, that Obama was smearing Palin?

ROVE: Well, first of all, I do think that the lipstick remark was an inappropriate and maybe it was unconscious, but it was a deliberate slap at Governor Palin. The only time this word has intruded in recent months in the campaign was in her, you know, self-deprecating remark at the convention. For her to use the lipstick remark less than two weeks after she used it struck me as too much of a coincidence not to have been a deliberate attack.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Karl Rove
Show/Publication
FOX News Sunday
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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