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White House ’08: Puttin’ lipstick on a pig of a politics story

Story by Chris Graham

John McCain said of Hillary Clinton’s health-care proposal last year: “I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.” McCain made a similar-sounding remark about former GOP presidential Mitt Romney during the New Hampshire primary: “Never get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty — and the pig likes it.” And now the McCain camp is up in arms – because Barack Obama riffed on Sarah Palin’s line from last week’s Republican National Convention today in Southwest Virginia.

“You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig,” Obama said, referencing one of the more memorable lines from Palin’s RNC speech in which she deadpanned: “What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.”

“Sen. Obama uttered what I can only deem to be disgraceful comments comparing our vice-presidential nominee to a pig. It’s clear to me, as I’m sure it will be to fair-minded Republicans, Democrats and independents across the country, that Sen. Obama owes Gov. Palin an apology,” said Jane Swift, the former Massachusetts governor and the head of the newly-formed Sarah Palin Truth Squad, in a conference call with reporters this evening.

Swift said the comment is “just the latest in a series of comments that many folks like me will find offensive” – listing among those a comment from Obama’s running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, that Palin is “good-looking” that Biden delivered in remarks to a rally in Toledo, Ohio, last week, in which he also made self-deprecating remarks about his own physical appearance.

Swift would probably then also find offensive an item from the Republican Party of Virginia website that I happened to come across yesterday. Under the heading “Sarah Palin vs. Barack Obama: Compare the Candidates,” the RPV offers an issue-by-issue breakdown of Palin and Obama on matters including one labeled Public Opinion. In the item for Palin as it appears on the site today: “Very attractive accomplished mother with a career.” In the item as it appeared yesterday (from the Google cache): “Smoking hot in a naughty librarian sort of way.”

A reporter asked Swift specifically about the comment that McCain made about Romney earlier this year. “I think there is a difference,” Swift said. “Ultimately the American people will make that decision. I think what Sen. McCain was complaining about were the accusations that were coming toward him that were equally indefensible. And so I do think there is a difference. And I think ultimately the American people realize that calling a very prominent female governor of one of our states a pig is not what we want to see when we are supposedly going to have this great debate that is the politics of hope.”

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