Obama Says 'Enough' About 'Lipstick' Smear

"Lipstick on a pig" phrase stirs increasingly negative presidential campaign.

ByABC News
September 10, 2008, 8:48 AM

Sept. 10, 2008— -- Sen. Barack Obama angrily challenged Republican claims that he insulted Gov. Sarah Palin by using the expression "lipstick on a pig" to describe Sen. John McCain's attempts to paint himself as an agent of change, and called the GOP indignation "phony outrage and Swift boat politics."

"What their campaign has done this morning is the same game that makes people sick and tired about politics in this country," Obama told students at Granby High School in Norfolk, Va.

Obama was referring to a new Web video that states that Obama called Palin a pig, as well as demands by the GOP's Palin Truth Squad that he apologize to Palin for the remark, insisting it was a direct shot at the Republican vice presidential candidate.

"She is the only one of the four candidates for president, or the only vice presidential candidate who wears lipstick," said former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift, a member of the Palin Truth Squad. "I mean, it seemed to me a very gendered comment."

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"Spare me the phony outrage, spare me the phony talk about change," Obama scoffed.

"The McCain camp would much rather have this be about phony and foolish diversions," Obama said. He said it was reminiscent of earlier Republican campaign tactics of "lies, phony outrage and Swift Boat politics."

The Swift Boat politics was a reference to a GOP campaign to raise questions four years ago about Sen. John Kerry's service in Vietnam, despite the fact that Kerry won three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star.

"Enough," Obama said and began a speech about the economy.

Nevertheless, the Republicans made clear they are not giving up on the issue.

"Obama stepped in it," a McCain aide told ABC News and the campaign believes it will resonate with women voters.

The uproar began when Obama ridiculed the argument by the GOP ticket of McCain and Palin that they would be the team to change the politics of Washington, taking over a theme that had been Obama's campaign mantra.

"'We're really gonna shake things up in Washington,'" Obama said, mocking McCain's claim to offer change. "That's not change. That's just calling something the same thing, something different. But you know you can put lipstick on a pig, but 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! It's time to bring about real change to Washington. And that's the choice you've got in this election," Obama said.

Told of the whole quote, Swift suggested that Obama was also calling his opponents "an old rotten fish."

Democrats tried to dismiss the Republican accusation.

"Enough is enough. The McCain campaign's attack tonight is a pathetic attempt to play the gender card said Obama campaign senior adviser Anita Dunn.

"This phony lecture on gender sensitivity is the height of cynicism and lays bare the increasingly dishonorable campaign John McCain has chosen to run," Dunn said.

"That expression is older than my grandfather's grandfather," said Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki. "And it means that you can dress something up but it doesn't change what it is. He was talking pretty clearly about the fact that you can't just call yourself change when you've voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time."