[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/31/art.obamaad.ap.jpg caption="Obama and McCain are sparring over the Paris-Britney ad."] (CNN) - The attacks and counter attacks in the presidential campaign are getting more personal.
Barack Obama today dismissed as "game playing" the McCain campaign's new attack ad comparing Obama's celebrity to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. At a town hall rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Obama taunted McCain, "I do have to ask my opponent: Is that the best you can come up with?"
When the subject came up at a McCain town hall rally in Racine, Wisconsin, McCain told a questioner, "We're proud of that commercial," and added, "campaigns are tough."
But Obama told the Iowa crowd: "Given the seriousness of the issues; given the fact that the decisions we make right now are going to help determine the future not just of the next generation but perhaps generations after that; given the magnitude of our challenges when it comes to energy and health care and jobs and our foreign policy; you'd think we'd been having a serious debate. But so far all we've been hearing about is Paris Hilton and Britney Spears."
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To the crowd's delight, Obama then asked, "Is that really what this election's about? Is that what is worthy of the American people?" Obama continued, "Even the media has pointed out that Senator John McCain, who started off talking about running an honorable campaign, has fallen back into the predictable political attacks, the demonstrably false statements. Obama told the crowd, "I'm not interested into getting into a tit-for-tat. These negative ads, these negative attacks, spending all this time talking about me instead of talking about what he's going to do, that's not going to lower your gas prices... It's politics as a game. But the time for game-playing is over."
A young African-American woman in the crowd at McCain's town hall meeting in Racine, Wisconsin pointed out that earlier in the campaign, he said he didn't want to engage in mudslinging. Referring specifically to the Britney-Paris-Obama ad, she asked McCain if he had "flip-flopped."
McCain pointed out that he regularly speaks about how he admires Obama's accomplishments. But he added, "Let me say there are differences and we are drawing those differences... what we are talking about here is substance and not style." McCain told the woman, "Campaigns are tough but I'm proud of the campaign we have run, I'm proud of the issues we are trying to address with the American people.... All I can say is that we're proud of that commercial."