Barack Obama addressed the controversy (widely regarded as contrived) over his "lipstick on a pig" remarks during an appearance in Norfolk, Virginia on Wednesday, accusing the McCain campaign of childish distortion and deliberate distraction from more substantive issues.
"I want to address the latest made-up controversy by the John McCain campaign," Obama said. "What their campaign has done this morning is the same game that has made people sick and tired of politics in this country. They seize on an innocent remark, throw out an outrageous ad because they know it is catnip for the media. It would be funny except for the news media decided that was the lead story yesterday. The McCain campaign would much rather have a story about phony and foolish diversion than about the future."
The counter attack -- both against the media and McCain -- was quintessential Obama, positioning himself on the high ground while bemoaning the fact that political history is littered with examples of senseless and counterproductive attacks. For some Democrats, it may not be enough. A month ago, when Obama told voters that the Republican opposition would paint him as someone too different to elect, the McCain campaign responded by accusing the Democratic nominee of playing the race card "from the bottom of the deck." It was a drowning offensive and immediately put Obama on the defensive.
While Obama spokesperson Anita Dunn accused the McCain camp of using the gender card in a statement Tuesday night, the Senator himself never went there. Rather, he stuck with the script that has gotten him this far.
"Enough," he said of the focus on the contrived lipstick controversy. "I don't care what they say about me. But I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies, phony outrage and swiftboat politics. Enough is enough. These are serious times and they call for a serious debate about where we need to take the nation. We can't take another four years that were like the last eight. Spare me the phony outrage. Spare me the phony talk about change. We have real problems in this country right now and the American people are looking to us for answers. Not distractions, not diversions not manipulations they are looking for real answers. That's the type of debate I attempt to have."
UPDATE: McCain-Palin spokesman Brian Rogers sends out the campaign response which, not surprisingly, accuses Obama of trying to have it both ways.
"Barack Obama can't campaign with schoolyard insults and then try to claim outrage at the tone of the campaign. His talk of new politics is as empty as his campaign trail promises, and his record of bucking his party and reaching across the aisle simply doesn't exist."