Hours after the McCain campaign released an ad accusing Barack Obama of sexism over his controversial "lipstick on a pig" remark, the Democratic presidential candidate rejected the charge and accused his rival of lying.
The White House race plumbed new toxic depths Wednesday as Barack Obama raged against John McCain for stooping to "lies and phony outrage" in response to the Democrat's mocking talk of "lipstick on a pig."
In a new Internet ad, the McCain campaign accused Obama of a sexist "smear" against the Republican's female running mate, Sarah Palin. But Obama aides flagged a YouTube video showing McCain using the same phrase himself.
"You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig," Obama told an audience at a high school here, reprising his attack from late Tuesday to describe the Republican contenders' claim to be the true agents of change in this election.
"They seize on an innocent remark, try to take it out of context, throw up an outrageous ad, because they know that it's catnip to the news media," the Illinois senator said.
"I don't care what they say about me. But I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and 'Swift Boat' politics," he said, referring to an ad offensive against 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry.
"So spare me the phony outrage, spare me the phony talk about change. We have real problems in this country right now. The American people are looking to us for answers, not distractions, not diversions, not manipulations."
The McCain campaign ad over the lipstick row came just after another hugely controversial spot that had accused Obama of favoring explicit sex education for kindergarten-aged children.
Apoplectic Obama aides said the Democrat had supported a Senate measure last year that would have provided funds to teach very young children about inappropriate touching from adults and how to avoid falling prey to pedophiles.
The latest ad shows a clip from Palin's speech at the Republican National Convention last week when she joked that the only difference between an aggressive "hockey mom" like herself and a pitbull dog was "lipstick."
It then pulls Obama's line from Tuesday, delivered at a rally in Lebanon, Virginia, out of context and features a television newscaster decrying "sexism" during the Democratic primary race between Obama and Hillary Clinton.
"Ready to lead? No," the ad concludes in white type next to a photo of Obama. "Ready to smear? Yes."
In response, Obama aides highlighted the video showing McCain at an event in Iowa last October describing the former first lady's efforts to revive her push for universal healthcare, which failed in the 1990s, as "lipstick on a pig."
In a statement early Wednesday, the Obama campaign also detailed McCain using the same remark on two other occasions last year, and 12 other Republican leaders at state and national level uttering it down the years.
True to her "pitbull" tag, Palin has been mauling Obama daily on the campaign trail as McCain presents their Republican ticket as "mavericks" who will shake up Washington, salvage the economy and protect the nation.
"I know how to work across the aisle," the Arizona senator said Tuesday in Ohio, insisting that Obama had "never reached across the aisle on any major issue in the time he's been in the Senate."
An NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll late Tuesday showed a statistical dead heat with Obama on 47 percent to McCain's 46 percent, down from a three-point edge for the Democrat last month and a six-point lead in July.
But Obama, professing unconcern for the fluidity in the polls, said the true issues that will shape the November 4 election were being lost in the fog of campaign rhetoric.
"We have an energy crisis. We have an education system that is not working for too many of our children. We have an economy that is creating hardship all across America. We have two wars going on," he said.
"And this is what they (McCain and Palin) want to talk about," Obama said, referring to the "lipstick" remark.
"Nobody actually believes that these folks are offended. Everybody knows it's cynical, everybody knows it's insincere. The media knows it," he said.
"It's a game, it's a sport. And maybe if this wasn't such a serious time, then that would be OK. We can't take another four years that are like the last eight."
Date created : 2008-09-10