Obama Courts Trouble With "Lipstick on a Pig Comment"

Obama Courts Trouble With "Lipstick On A Pig" Comment Criticizing the McCain-Palin ticket's attempts to separate themselves from President Bush, Sen. Barack Obama said yesterday, "You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig." The problem for him is it appeared to relate directly to Gov. Palin's remark at the GOP convention that "lipstick" is what separates a hockey mom from a pit bull. The AP notes his comment was received with "an outbreak of laughter, shouts and raucous applause from his audience."

The AP adds "McCain's campaign called the comments 'offensive and disgraceful' and said Obama owes Palin an apology." The Wall Street Journal notes "Republicans struck back" at the lipstick comment "calling the attacks on" Palin "old-style Washington attacks that run counter to Obama's promise of change." RNC spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson said, "Sarah Palin's maverick record of reform doesn't need any 'dressing up,' but the Obama campaign's condescending commentary deserves some dressing down." The Los Angeles Times, under the headline "Race Goes From Pork To Pigs," says "a day of tussling in the presidential campaign ended Tuesday with a fight over, of all things, lipstick-wearing pigs."
Some of the big media is skeptical of the GOP complaints. The Washington Post recounts "four reporters were allowed to pose questions during" a conference call with" former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift (R), aiding the McCain camp, "and three of them were from women who asked, with obvious incredulity, whether Swift believed that Obama was referring to Palin. When one reporter asked Swift why she assumed the remarks were directed at Palin, Swift replied: 'It seemed to me a gendered comment. There's only one woman in the race.'" CBS didn't mention the controversy, while ABC World News simply reported, "Now, some members of the audience thought" Obama "was surely talking about...Palin's joke last week that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick, but a spokesman for Obama said no, he was just using an old expression." NBC Nightly News reported the audience at an Obama event "actually started chanting no more pit bull. Pretty sarcastic reference to that lipstick joke that...Palin made at the GOP convention."

Media Hits On Palin Continue As Candidate Proves Huge Draw The big national media outlets continue to target Palin – for example, the Washington Post, the CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News are all heavily covering the Palin's opposition to the "bridge to nowhere," focusing on her original support for the project. Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Times reports that McCain has in the past highlighted his environmental credentials, but by selecting Palin "has aligned himself with a Republican whose record as governor of Alaska has drawn scorn from environmentalists."
The media hits don't seem to be denting massive excitement for the GOP ticket, and Palin in particular. McClatchy reports that at a rally in Pennsylvania yesterday, "An estimated 10,000 people found parking wherever they could near the school, hoofing it with umbrellas in muggy weather to the rally. The pre-rally chants for 'Sarah, Sarah' were louder than 'we want McCain.'" The Philadelphia Inquirer says, "Although McCain received a loud and enthusiastic reception, there was no doubting the real star of the show." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that while McCain "is at the top of the Republican ticket," it was Palin "who got the loudest and longest applause at a rally at Franklin & Marshall College yesterday." G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College, is quoted as saying of Palin, "There's no case in American history where a vice-presidential candidate has energized the national ticket as she has."
Reports from a campaign trip to Lebanon, Ohio, yesterday were similar, with the Columbus Dispatch reporting, "Palin-fever was almost palpable as thousands gathered," with "many" saying "they came to see Palin, the Alaskan governor and self-described pit bull with lipstick who has been generating excitement and big crowds since hitting the campaign trail this week with McCain."
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports Fairfax County school officials "said that a rally scheduled tomorrow for" McCain and Palin today in Northern Virginia "will be moved from Fairfax High School, following protests from some School Board members and parents that the event would violate school system policy." However, "The decision to move the event was made by the McCain campaign, Fairfax schools spokesman Paul Regnier said." The AP adds that the McCain campaign said the gym, "with a capacity of 6,500, was too small."

Democrats Anxious As Obama's Lead Evaporates The media today is focusing on concerns among Democrats that the presidential race might be getting away from them despite a very favorable national environment. Roll Call reports, "No one's panicking, at least not yet. But Congressional Democrats say that over the next two weeks they will be watching nervously to see whether" Sen. Barack Obama "can retake what was once a comfortable lead over" Sen. John McCain. The Hill runs a similar story. The Los Angeles Times, in a story titled "Palin Bounce Has Democrats Off Balance," says Democrats yesterday "expressed anxiety about the new challenge suggested by recent surveys showing McCain has gained ground among independent voters and women, who could decide the race in states such as Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia."
The AP reports Obama "has found himself in a position he hasn't been in during many long months of campaigning -- on defense," despite "an election season in which the sour mood of voters and their thirst for a new direction are just a couple of the advantages for Democrats trying to recapture the White House after eight years of Republican rule." The Washington Post reports Obama "fought back yesterday against Democratic concerns that...McCain has seized the initiative in the presidential race, arguing that the conventions did little to change the structure of the election and that his rival made a major miscalculation by focusing the choice on who can do more to change Washington." The CBS Evening News reported McCain "appears to have the momentum in the presidential race."
National Polls Range From McCain Up Five To Obama Up One The Gallup daily presidential tracking poll shows McCain leading Obama 49%-44%. The poll surveyed 2,737 registered voters from September 6-8.
The Rasmussen Reports automated daily presidential tracking poll for September 9 shows Obama and McCain tied at 46% apiece, and at 48% including leaners.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Obama leading McCain 46%-45% among registered voters.
In addition, an American Research Group poll of 1,200 likely voters taken September 6-8 shows Obama leading McCain 47%-46%. A similar poll taken August 30-September 1, following the Democratic convention, showed Obama leading 49%-43%.

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In Shift, Obama Now Focusing On Traditional Battleground States The Wall Street Journal reports that "a few months ago," the Obama campaign was arguing that their victory "could be sweeping, coming from flipping deep Republican states in the West or the South," but recent events are "prompting a return to the old political map -- and a grudging concession by some Obama campaign operatives that certain states once deemed winnable may be more of a long shot than once thought." In a similar story, the Financial Times says "as polling day draws closer and the campaigns reveal their priorities in where they spend their money and locate field offices, all of a sudden 2008 is starting to look like 2004." As a reflection of this, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today that Obama's campaign "will shift personnel out of Georgia into more competitive states such as North Carolina, staffers confirmed Tuesday."
McCain Up 11 In Montana A Rasmussen Reports automated poll of 700 likely Montana voters taken September 8 shows McCain leading Obama 53%-42%. A similar poll taken at the end of July showed McCain up 45%-44%.
McCain Up 20 In North Carolina A SurveyUSA automated poll of 671 likely North Carolina voters taken September 6-8 for WTVD-TV Raleigh shows McCain leading Obama 58%-38%.

Obama Hits Back At McCain For Sex Ed Ad NBC Nightly News reported that late yesterday the McCain campaign "put out a tough TV spot responding to Obama's comments on education today, claiming that Obama supports legislation to teach sex education to kindergartners before they can learn to read. The Obama campaign called that a shameful and perverse political attack." The AP reports that the McCain "ad says Obama has a weak record on education and that his only accomplishment was legislation to teach sex education to kindergarteners. 'Learning about sex before learning to read?' the ad says. 'Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family.' But the legislation was not Obama's, it never became law and it would have required age-appropriate information in schools. Obama has said that means warning young children about sexual predators and explaining concepts like 'good touch and bad touch.'"
According to The Politico, the Obama campaign "took its most personal shot ever" at McCain over the ad, with Bill Burton, Obama's press secretary, saying in a statement: "It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls -- a position that his friend Mitt Romney also holds. Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn't define what honor was. Now we know why."

Obama Unveils New Education Proposals The New York Times reports that Sen. Barack Obama "is campaigning on an ambitious plan that promises $18 billion a year in new federal spending on early childhood classes, teacher recruitment, performance pay and dozens of other initiatives." Obama "would retain the emphasis on the high standards and accountability of President Bush's education law, No Child Left Behind. But he would rewrite the federal law to offer more help to high-need schools." The Wall Street Journal adds that Sen. Obama "also proposed...that ineffective teachers be replaced, although he didn't say how. ... But some education-policy experts said Sen. Obama had missed an opportunity to show his reformist credentials, failing to challenge liberal orthodoxy on an issue that even many Democrats think needs fresh approaches." The AP adds that Obama also vowed "to double funding for charter schools."

NY Gov Says Hitting "Community Organizers" Is "Racial Coding" The AP reports New York Gov. David Paterson (D), the state's first African-American governor, said yesterday "that there were racial overtones in the Republican presidential ticket's criticism of Democrat Barack Obama's work as a community organizer. 'There are overtones of potential racial coding in the campaign,' Paterson said at an event in New York City." Paterson said, "The Republican party is too smart to call Barack Obama 'black' in a sense that it would be a negative. But you can take something about his life, which I noticed they did at the Republican convention. A 'community organizer,' they kept saying it, they kept laughing, like what does this mean?" The New York Daily News adds that Paterson "said he hoped that America had moved past the coded racial appeals in the 1988 presidential campaign, when Republicans used black criminal Willie Horton to criticize Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis' record."

Washington News

Democrats Criticize Bush Iraq Drawdown Plan Largely overshadowed by coverage of the presidential campaign – and particularly of Gov. Sarah Palin – President Bush's announcement of plans to reduce Iraq troop levels came under fire from Democrats and some media commentators yesterday. The AP reports Bush "announced...that he will keep the US force strength in Iraq largely intact until the next president takes over, drawing rebukes from Democrats who want the war ended and a bigger boost of troops in troubled Afghanistan." Sen. Barack Obama "said Bush's plan to bring 8,000 combat and support troops home by February 'comes up short."
Another AP story reports the "bottom line of Bush's troop announcement on Tuesday is that the US military footprint in Iraq largely will stay intact for the rest of the year when he'll pass command of the wars to his successor. Bush is sending more troops to Afghanistan, but Democrats say it's not enough."
The Washington Post reports, "The announcement underscored the reemergence of Afghanistan in the debates over US national security and illustrated how, nearly seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Democrats and Republicans remain fundamentally at odds over the best strategy for fighting al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremists."
The Wall Street Journal notes that on Iraq, "Bush chose to emphasize that he was moving forward with 'additional force reductions,'" but "Democrats quickly shot back that Mr. Bush isn't doing enough to get troops out of Iraq, and into Afghanistan, where violence is rising." USA Today says Bush painted "a much improved situation in Iraq," and said of Afghanistan, "The terrorists will suffer the same fight in Afghanistan that they are now suffering in Iraq and they will be defeated." AFP meanwhile, reports Bush's "modest shift in US forces to Afghanistan...falls short of his commanders' requests despite signs the seven year-old US-NATO project there is at risk."
Petraeus: Iraq Still Central Front The Washington Post reports, "Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the departing commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said that the country remains 'the central front' for al-Qaeda and other extremist groups, but acknowledged that violence is rising in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- battlegrounds he will soon oversee as the next head of the US military's Central Command."
Fox News' Special Report reported Petraeus "made his suggestions to the President before the decision was made. ... Asked about what drove his recommendations to the President about troop withdrawal...Petraeus said today, 'There is now a degree of durability in Iraq that wasn't here before.' You may not think that is saying much, but for this commander, it really is."

Deficit Soaring To New Record The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday released new projections that show the Federal budget deficit will grow dramatically for the 2008 and 2009 fiscal years. The Wall Street Journal reports the Congressional Budget Office "said the US budget deficit for fiscal 2008 -- $407 billion -- will be more than double the deficit for 2007, hit by the wars and a weak economy, and predicted it is likely to rise further in fiscal 2009." The agency "foresees an increase to $438 billion by fiscal 2009, which begins Oct. 1, with the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac further complicating budget projections."
The Financial Times reports CBO's estimates "highlight the troubled state of US government finances as it embarks on a new stage of interventions to contain the economic impact of the credit crisis."
The Washington Post reports in a front page story that the "next president is likely to face a shortfall in January of well over $500 billion, congressional budget analysts said yesterday. A deficit of that magnitude could severely constrain the next administration's agenda, regardless of whether Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the Republican candidate, or Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), his Democratic opponent, wins in November."
US Faces Budget Fallout From GSE Bailout The Financial Times reports the US "on Tuesday began to face the financial consequences of the bail-out of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after Congress's budget watchdog said the housing giants' operations should sit on the government's books and the cost of insuring against a US default crept higher." With the stock market "tumbling, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the government takeover of Fannie and Freddie meant the companies should no longer be regarded as outside the public sector." CBO Director Peter Orszag said, "It is the CBO view that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be directly incorporated into the federal budget."

Kim Jong Il Thought To Have Suffered Stroke NBC Nightly News reported on speculation that "Kim Jong-Il of North Korea is in poor health" and "may have suffered a stroke." Kim "was absent from today's 60th anniversary parade in North Korea" and "has not been seen in public in weeks." The CBS Evening News noted that "some Western intelligence experts" say "it's not clear who's in charge right now or what impact this might have on North Korean's nuclear program." The AP reports Kim's illness or possible death "could jeopardize the already troubled international effort to get his nation to abandon nuclear weapons."
The Washington Post, meanwhile, reports Pyongyang's recent announcement that it would begin to reassemble its Yongbyon nuclear reactor is an indication of "a power struggle already underway." North Korea's "nominal No. 2 leader, Kim Yong Nam, gave a 60th-anniversary speech that referred to Kim Jong Il mainly in the past tense," said Jonathan Pollack, an Asia expert at the Naval War College.
The New York Times, however, reports an American intelligence official, who "spoke on condition of anonymity because assessments about Mr. Kim's health are classified, said that it did not appear that Mr. Kim's death was imminent," noting that "there were no clear indications that the North was stepping up preparations for a possible transfer of authority."
The Wall Street Journal also reports that "a Bush administration official working on North Korea expressed concern about the country's apparent lack of leadership," noting that Kim's suspected "ill health has coincided with a significant hardening of rhetoric out of Pyongyang in recent weeks."

Political Humor

The Latest From Late Night Comedians

Jay Leno: "You know...those glasses" Palin "wears? Those are...a hot item right now. ... Everybody's buying them. They're huge, selling much better than the Joe Biden hair plugs."

Jay Leno: "Well, as you all know, President Bush was not at the Republican convention due to a disaster -- his presidency."

Jay Leno: "Out on the campaign trail this week, once again John McCain spoke about the nightmare of being stuck in a...tiny 8 x 10 room thinking he might go crazy. Not in Vietnam -- when he got stuck in the Capitol elevator with Joe Biden," and Biden "wouldn't shut up."

Jay Leno: "Well, as you know, this past weekend, the government announced a massive bailout of mortgage lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Give you an idea how big this bailout is, they actually had to tell President Bush about it."

David Letterman: "How about that Barack Obama?" They are "saying for the first time he's starting to slip in the polls," but "don't worry. He's got a plan. He's going to go back to campaigning in Europe."

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