As the novelty of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin wears away, so her attractiveness seemed to fade under growing criticism from Democrats. Meanwhile McCain allies accuse the Obama camp of 'ageism'.
Republicans Sunday accused Barack Obama's camp of stooping to "ageism" against John McCain, hitting back after Democrats complained their White House challenger had been smeared by "disgusting lies."
The Democratic hopeful meanwhile said he had smashed his own record and raised 66 million dollars in August, grabbing a leg-up in the frenetic seven weeks of no holds barred, coast-to-coast campaigning until the election.
Republicans replied after Obama launched a fierce counter-attack last week as his poll numbers ebbed, while McCain rode a wave of enthusiasm following his choice of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate.
"The Democratic Party is in full-throated panic over Sarah Palin," said McCain ally and former top business executive Carly Fiorina on ABC News' "This Week," lambasting US columnists who accused McCain and Palin of telling lies.
Fiorina also complained "ageism" was rampant, with Obama partisans arguing that Palin, a first-term Alaska governor and 44-year-old mother of five, was too inexperienced to serve as vice president, given McCain's age.
The Obama camp raised the age issue implicitly last week when it ran an ad mocking the 72-year-old McCain as out of touch and oblivious to the Internet revolution.
Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill was more specific, saying on ABC: "We're talking about a reality here that we have to face.
"This is someone who's going to be one heartbeat away from the presidency," she said, referring to Palin after noting that McCain had already had cancer.
Fiorina dismissed the comment.
"I frankly find this disrespectful in the extreme. This is ageism," she said.
"All you need to do is look at the schedule that John McCain has kept for the last two years to realize that he is one of the most vigorous, most energetic campaigners, frankly, in my judgment, out there.
"This continued resort to 'he's too old' is desperation, frankly."
Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani said the campaign had grown too negative on both sides.
"The main reason for that is that Senator Obama has refused to debate in these town hall meetings every week," the Republican said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Democratic Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, however, branded the McCain barrage as "distortions, baloney."
"It just makes me mad," he said on CNN.
The Republican fightback came after Palin faced new accusations Sunday of handing jobs to friends as Alaska governor.
The New York Times reported she granted the 95,000-dollar-a-year directorship of the state division of agriculture to a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, who cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification.
Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages, the paper said.
However, McCain was unfazed by the controversy, attending a Nascar race in the northeastern state of New Hampshire with his wife, Cindy, aimed at showing his ties to blue-collar voters.
One of those voters in attendance, Susan Carroll, 37, said she supports McCain "for his war record," and added: "Palin is a little weak."
Democrats complained McCain adopted a scorched earth policy, after charging Obama of calling Palin a pig and backing sex education for kindergarten children.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton accused McCain of "running the sleaziest and least honorable campaign in modern presidential campaign history.
"His discredited ads with disgusting lies are running all over the country today. He runs a campaign not worthy of the office he is seeking."
Obama Sunday announced a record-breaking August, in which he piled up 66 million dollars for the crucial run to the November 4 election.
McCain raised 47 million dollars in August -- his best month so far. But the Republican has accepted public financing for his effort, which limits his spending to 84 million dollars until the November 4 election.
Obama will seek to press home his advantage through large-scale advertising blitzes, seek to stretch McCain's limited resources across the electoral map and fire up a massive get-out-the vote effort.
Latest polls Sunday showed a tight race.
The Republican led by three points by 50 to 47 percent in Sunday's tracking survey by Rasmussen. Gallup's latest snapshot Sunday had McCain up 47 percent to 45 percent.
But Obama opened up a 12 point lead in the midwestern battleground of Iowa, 52 percent to 40 percent, according to a Des Moines Register poll. The state went Republican in 2004.
Date created : 2008-09-15