(CNN) - Fighting for a Pennsylvania victory his campaign has called critical, John McCain accused Barack Obama of flip-flopping on his support for the hometown Philadelphia Phillies.
“I heard that Senator Obama was showing some love to the Rays down in Tampa Bay yesterday,” McCain told a Bensalem, Pennsylvania crowd Tuesday to a chorus of boos. “Now, I'm not dumb enough to get mixed up in a World Series between swing states, but I think I may have detected a little pattern with Senator Obama. It's pretty simple really. When he's campaigning in Philadelphia, he roots for the Phillies, and when he's campaigning in Tampa Bay, he shows love to the Rays. It's kind of like the way he campaigns on tax cuts, but then votes for tax increases after he's elected. Or the way he says he backs the middle class and then goes and attacks Joe the Plumber after he's asked a tough question. What’s that all about?”
On Monday, half a dozen members of the Tampa Bay Rays - pitchers David Price and Edwin Jackson, outfielders Jonny Gomes, Fernando Perez and Carl Crawford, and designated hitter Cliff Floyd - endorsed Barack Obama at a Florida event. “I want to just make the point I’ve said from the beginning that I am a unity candidate, bringing people together,” Obama told the crowd. “So when you see a White Sox fan showing love to the Rays, and the Rays showing some love back, you know we’re on to something right here.” A spokesman later said he was being polite, “saying nice things about the members of the team that came out to support him.”
Earlier this month, Obama told a Philadelphia radio station with the elimination of his own Chicago White Sox, he was pulling for the Phillies because his campaign manager David Plouffe "is a huge Phillies fan."
McCain, an Arizona Diamondbacks fan, may be remaining neutral this October — but he doesn’t have to look far for another politician whose baseball loyalties may seem a bit murky during playoff season: running mate Sarah Palin has used a variation of the same line to rouse fans in at least three battleground states this month.
Two weeks ago, at appearances in Jacksonville and Clearwater, Florida, the St. Petersburg Times said Sarah Palin “was all about the Tampa Bay Rays.”
"You know what that tells me, it tells me that the people in this area know a little something about turning an underdog into a victor," Palin told the crowd. "And we're counting on you to help us do that November 4." The Times later said she “might as well have pulled on a Rays jersey and sprayed the crowd with champagne and beer.”
But in Salem, New Hampshire one week later, Palin paid tribute to the Rays’ American League foes. “New Hampshire, I gotta tell ya, I am looking forward to the debate tonight right here in Red Sox Nation,” she said. “We’re just 20 days out from the election and it’s gonna come right down to the wire, and we’re counting on you because Red Sox fans know how to turn an underdog into a victor, and that’s exactly what you can help us do on November 4!”
So does that mean Palin’s backing the AL this year? Not necessarily.
Over the weekend, she used the same line in front of a Pennsylvania crowd.
“It's so great to be here in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country. Good to be here in the home of the Lancaster Barnstormers,” she said at a Lancaster, Pennsylvania campaign event. “And of course, congratulations on your Phillies on making it to the World Series. First time in 15 years. Ok, Philly fans, you do know all about turning an underdog into a victor. May you please help us do that also on Election Day, please? Pennsylvania, are you ready to carry your state to victory?” Palin has not yet said which team she is rooting for this fall.