The Obama campaign today accused Republican rival John McCain of distorting Barack Obama's record in a series of campaign ads that independent groups, the media and former Bush strategist Karl Rove say include unsubstantiated claims.
A new ad released today by the Obama campaign asks, "What's happened to John McCain? He's running the sleaziest ads ever."
Quoting from editorials and writers from Time magazine, the Washington Post, CBS, the New Republic and the Chicago Tribune, the Obama ad blasts the McCain campaign for running "dishonest smears" and ads that include statements "exposed as a lie."
The Obama ad concludes, "It seems 'deception' is all he's got left."
The Obama campaign today highlighted comments by former Bush political adviser Karl Rove, who said McCain and Obama should stop the negative attacks.
"McCain has gone, in some of his ads, similarly gone one step too far in sort of attributing to Obama things that are, you know, beyond the 100-percent truth test," Rove told "Fox News Sunday."
"Both campaigns are making a mistake, and that is they are taking whatever their attacks are and going one step too far," Rove said. "They don't need to attack each other in this way."
The McCain campaign has come under fire for an Internet ad that accuses Obama of calling Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin "a pig."
In fact, Obama last week likened the Republican ticket plans for government reform to putting "lipstick on a pig."
Even the Arizona senator admitted today that Obama didn't call Palin a pig, but defended the ad anyway.
Obama "chooses his words very carefully," McCain told reporters today in Florida, after saying "no" when asked if he thought Obama called Palin a pig.
"He's very eloquent," McCain said. "It was the wrong thing to say."
The Obama campaign has also complained about a McCain ad that claims the Illinois senator supports sex education for kindergartners, referring to Illinois Senate legislation that would teach young children age-appropriate sex education and how to reject advances by sexual predators.
The ad has been widely criticized by independent groups and longtime journalists.
Reporter Jonathan Alter, Newsweek's senior editor and columnist and author of the book "Between The Lines: A View Inside American Politics, People and Culture," said the tenor of McCain's ads have reached a new low in the seven presidential campaigns he's covered.
"The latest one accuses Obama in the Illinois legislature of supporting sex-ed for kindergartners, which is a total lie about the nature of that piece of legislation in Illinois, to me it set a new low," Alter said on "Charlie Rose" Thursday.
Noting such attacks usually come from third-party or so-called "527" groups, Alter said "these are the first lies that I have ever seen that come directly from one candidate in a presidential election."
Democrats today also launched a new Web site called "Count the Lies," arguing McCain has made 51 false claims that have been found to be false by independent groups like FactCheck.org and mainstream news media organizations.