Barack Obama opens fire on Sarah Palin
September 8, 2008
Source: The Australian
WITH fresh polls confirming Sarah Palin has thrust John McCain back into the presidential race, Barack Obama yesterday broke his silence on the omnipresent Republican vice-presidential candidate, directly attacking her for the first time.
The Democrat, who has seen his lead over Senator McCain fall into a virtual dead-heat after last week’s Republican national convention, condemned Ms Palin for accepting so-called earmarks – federal funds for often questionable local projects – while a mayor in Alaska but opposing them now.
“I know the Governor of Alaska has been, you know, saying she is (supporting) change,” Senator Obama said at a campaign stop in the swing state of Indiana.
“And that is great. She is a skilful politician. But when you (have) been taking all these earmarks when it is convenient, and then suddenly you are the champion anti-earmark person, that is not change.
“Come on. I mean, words mean something. You can’t just make stuff up. We have a choice to make and the choice is clear.”
But Ms Palin said she was “surprised” the Democratic senator had attacked her on earmarks, saying she “didn’t think he’d want to go there”.
“Our opponent has requested nearly $1 billion in earmarks in just three years. That’s about a million dollars for every working day,” she said.
It was thought that Senator Obama would leave the thorny issue of what to do about Ms Palin, whose meteoric rise over the past week has been nothing short of astounding, to Hillary Clinton.
Except that his erstwhile rival for the Democratic presidential nomination has made it clear she will not be an “attack dog” against the self-proclaimed “pitbull in lipstick”.
“We’re not going to be anybody’s attack dog against Sarah Palin,” a Clinton insider said yesterday.
The job, then, will probably fall to Joe Biden, Senator Obama’s running mate. He needs, however, to avoid the inflammatory language used by his colleague Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week, who characterised Ms Palin as “shrill”, prompting condemnation from women of all political stripes.
Senator Biden will be a formidable opponent for Ms Palin on many levels and the Democrats believe a woman who is still using a teleprompter to deliver her stump speech and has avoided any significant media interviews is ripe for a Dan Quayle-style faux pas.
Mr Quayle infamously compared himself to John Kennedy in the 1988 vice-presidential debates, prompting Democrat Lloyd Bentsen to utter perhaps the most famous put-down in US political history.
“Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy,” he said to thunderous applause.
Senator Biden went after Ms Palin and Senator McCain aggressively yesterday, portraying the Republicans as desperate to make the November election about personalities because they have no capacity to discuss policy.
“They got great quips,” he said of his foes’ convention speeches. “The silence of the Republican Party was deafening on all the things that really matter.”
He said there was no attempt from the McCain-Palin ticket to discuss employment, healthcare, education or foreign policy because their strategy was simply to try to tear down the Democratic ticket on a personal level.
“What do you talk about when you cannot explain the last eight years of failure? You talk about the other guy.”
The Republican strategy, however, seems to have resonated in the electorate, judging by the new opinion polls published over the weekend.
Both the Gallup poll and the Rasmussen polls have confirmed the findings of a CBS News poll, which shows Senator Obama’s eight-point lead of six days ago has virtually evaporated. The CBS poll has the candidates in a dead-heat while Gallup and Rasmussen have Senator Obama barely ahead.