Cindy McCain Unleashed: From Calm to Combative

Cindy McCain, who has largely remained soft-spoken and optimistic during public appearances on her husband's behalf, has joined the attack dogs of the McCain campaign in recent days.

Just as McCain and Sarah Palin and prominent GOP supporters like Rudy Giuliani have stepped up their negative attacks on Obama this week, Cindy McCain took "one of her most personal shots yet at Barack Obama today" during a rally in Pennsylvania.

"The day that Sen. Obama cast a vote to not to fund my son when he was serving sent a cold chill through my body let me tell you," Cindy McCain said in introducing the GOP ticket. "I would suggest Sen. Obama change shoes with me for just one day. I suggest he take a day and go watch our men and women deploying."

In general, the McCains have avoided discussing their two sons' military service during the campaign. Younger son Jimmy McCain is a Marine who has already served a tour in Iraq. His brother, Jack, is at Annapolis.

Palin later invoked her own son's service overseas in suggesting that Obama did not understand the cost of war, comparing him unfavorably to McCain and his military heroism during Vietnam.

"God bless him, he spent five and a half years as a POW, and he knows the cost of war because he paid those costs himself," she said of McCain. "And as a mother of one of those troops, yup, that's exactly the kind of man I want as commander in chief."

And yesterday, Mrs. McCain made waves and stunned political observers when she stridently claimed that Obama had waged "the dirtiest campaign in American history."

Her newfound aggressiveness is obviously sanctioned by the campaign - a McCain aide said last night that the Republican nominee "wholeheartedly agrees with his wife's assessment."