The 'Lipstick' War

Wednesday, September 10th 2008, 3:40 pm
By: News 9

By Karin Caifa, for NEWS 9

Sept. 10, 2008

WASHINGTON -- There are just 55 days to go until Election Day, and in this final stretch both camps are fired up - and seizing any opportunity to jab at one another. For example, amidst the "change" wars between the Obama-Biden and McCain-Palin tickets, another battle has just erupted: the "lipstick" uproar.

It started early yesterday evening, at a Barack Obama rally in rural Lebanon, Virginia. The Democratic presidential nominee was talking economy, and trying to wrestle back the mantra of "change," from his opponents.  Obama trying to link John McCain's policies to those of President Bush, hoping to drive home his argument to the battleground voters. "You can put lipstick on a pig," Obama said. "It's still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It's still going to stink after eight years. We've had enough of the same old thing."

The comments immediately triggered a reaction from the McCain camp.  Within minutes, the campaign arranged a conference call by a new "truth squad" aimed at defending Palin.  They said Obama's "lipstick" remark was a reference to a joke the GOP vice presidential nominee has often used:  "You know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?  Lipstick."  The McCain campaign branded Obama's comment as "disgraceful" and asked for an apology.

Obama campaign adviser Anita Dunn fired back in a statement, and accused the Republicans of making "a pathetic attempt to play the gender card about the use of a common analogy."

Despite the fact that McCain used the same expression to describe Hillary Clinton's health care plan last October, the dispute did not end overnight.  This morning, the McCain campaign released a web ad that features Palin's "lipstick" line butted with Obama's, followed with a clip of CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric talking about sexism on the campaign trail (Couric was referring to Clinton's failed presidential bid.) The ad ends on a picture of Obama and an announcer saying, "Ready to lead? No. Ready to smear? Yes."

Obama was less than pleased, and this morning in Norfolk, Virginia, he said, "Enough is enough."

He accused the McCain campaign of manipulating what he called an "innocent" remark. "I'm talking about John McCain's economic policies. I say this is more of the same," the Democrat explained. "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. And they say, oh, you must be talking about the governor of Alaska."

"Spare me the phony outrage. Spare me the phony talk about change," Obama added before his prepared remarks about education. "We have real problems in this country right now. 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."

But the GOP isn't likely to let Obama's comment go.  Many believe Palin has been under attack from the beginning.  "This woman is undergoing the most vicious assault that anyone has ever seen in public life," Fred Thompson said while introducing Palin and McCain at a rally in Farifax, Virginia, this morning. "They are absolutely in a state of panic, they're pulling out all the stops."