Lipstick Smear: Obama Assails ‘Latest Made-Up Controversy by the John McCain Campaign’

In Norfolk, Va., this morning, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., directly took on the false charge by Sen. John McCain's, R-Ariz., campaign that Obama had called Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin a pig. Obama called it "the latest made-up controversy by the John McCain campaign."

Tuesday night in Lebanon, Va., Obama -- talking about McCain's attempts to paint himself as an agent of change on various issues -- said, "you can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig."

Palin last week had joked that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick, and many members of the audience took Obama's comment as an allusion to Palin's remarks. (Though not as Obama calling the governor a pig.)

The McCain campaign immediately -- falsely and flatly -- asserted that Obama had called Palin a pig. Wednesday morning the McCain campaign launched a Web video repeating the false claim.

"What their campaign has done this morning is the same game that has made people sick and tired of politics in this country," Obama said. "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 for the media."

Obama explained to the students at Granby High School that, the night before, he'd been discussing McCain's economic policies and made the lipstick-on-a-pig line, and "suddenly they say,' You must be talking about the governor of Alaska!'"

The crowd laughed.

"It would be funny," Obama said, "except the news media decided that that was the lead story yesterday."

He charged that "the McCain campaign would much rather the story be about phony and foolish diversions than about the future."

Obama said, "this happens every election cycle -– every four years, this is what we do. We’ve got an energy crisis ... we have an education system that is not working for too many of our children and making us less competitive. We have an economy that is creating hardships for families all across America. We’ve got two wars going on -– veterans coming home, not being cared for. And this is what they want to talk about. This is what they want to spend two of the last 55 days talking about!

"You know, who ends up losing at the end of the day? It's not the Democratic candidate; it’s not the Republican candidate. It's you, the American people. Because then we go another year, or another four years, or another eight years without addressing the issues that matter to you.

"Enough!" Obama said. "I don’t care what they say about me. But I love this country too much for them to take over another election with lies, and phony outrage and Swift Boat politics. Enough is enough. These are serious times and they call for a serious debate about where to take the nation...

"Spare me the phony outrage, spare me the phony talk about change; we have real problems in this country right now," Obama continued. "The American people are looking to us for answers. Not distractions, not diversions, not manipulations. They want real answers to the real problems we are facing. That’s the kind that I intend to have because that’s the kind of debate the American people deserve. "

-- Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller

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