September 9th, 2008
06:54 PM ET
11 years ago

McCain camp says 'lipstick on a pig' is trip through the mud


(CNN) - John McCain’s campaign said Tuesday Barack Obama’s reference to “lipstick on a pig” to describe the Republican’s vow to bring change to Washington was offensive language, and a slap at VP nominee Sarah Palin – despite the fact that the Arizona senator himself used the phrase last year to describe a policy proposal of Hillary Clinton’s.

Obama made the remarks at a Virginia campaign stop late Tuesday afternoon. “John McCain says he’s about change too, and so I guess his whole angle is, ‘Watch out George Bush – except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy and Karl Rove-style politics – we’re really gonna shake things up in Washington,’” Obama said.

“That’s not change. That’s just calling something the same thing something different. You know you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. You know 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.”

He then praised both McCain’s “compelling story” and Palin’s “interesting story,” and says his “hat goes off” to anyone who’s looking after five kids - “I’ve got two and they tire Michelle and me out,” and says “that’s why John McCain’s campaign manager [Rick Davis] said this campaign isn’t going to be about issues, this campaign is going to be about personalities.” He added a standard stump speech line, that the campaign wasn’t about “me or John McCain or Sarah Palin or Joe Biden…”

Within minutes, the McCain campaign announced a conference call focused on the remark, which they said was a deliberate reference to Sarah Palin’s line: “You know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.”

In Iowa last October, McCain drew comparisons between Hillary Clinton's current healthcare plan and the one she championed in 1993: "I think they put some lipstick on the pig, but it's still a pig." He used roughly the same line in May, after effectively claiming the Republican nomination.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers told CNN the campaign saw a “big difference” between the two references: “McCain was referring to a policy proposal. Obama was referring to Governor Sarah Palin. It’s obviously disrespectful and offensive….

Who has been talking about lipstick lately? It was obvious. The crowd went crazy because of it.”

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
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