Obama calls GOP tactics ‘lies and spin’

Times Staff Writers

Barack Obama accused Republicans on Monday of using “false advertisements, lies and spin” to distract voters from the major issues in the election.

The Democratic presidential candidate also sought to reclaim his image as a Washington outsider, saying he had upset leaders of his own party by pushing to stop favor-trading between lobbyists and lawmakers.

Obama’s renewed emphasis on reform comes as Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin are casting themselves as mavericks bent on changing Washington’s insular culture.


At an outdoor rally here in western Colorado, the Illinois senator told nearly 6,000 supporters that the election was “not about Paris or Britney.”

“It’s not about lipstick,” Obama said to a roar of laughter. “It’s not about pigs. It’s about you. It’s about whether you’ll be able to sell your home for what it’s worth, or put enough money away each week so that you can some day watch your child accept her college diploma.”

McCain has run ads that compare Obama to celebrities and that say Obama’s use of a common quip about putting lipstick on a pig was an insult aimed at the Alaska governor.

Obama also released a new TV ad that recaps some of the harsh media criticism that the GOP ticket has drawn in recent days for what even some Republicans say have been false or misleading statements by McCain and Palin. The spot slams McCain for “the sleaziest ads ever,” “dishonest smears” and a “disgraceful, dishonorable campaign.”

Aside from its caustic tone, the ad is remarkable for its blunt assault on McCain’s character. Obama has shied away from such attacks and often paid tribute to the Arizona senator’s bravery in the Vietnam War.

But Palin’s popularity has lifted McCain’s poll ratings, and the backlash against the Republicans’ campaign tactics gave Obama an opening to launch a new offensive.


At a rally in Jacksonville, Fla., McCain responded by making light of Obama’s effort.

“Sen. Obama has been saying some pretty nasty things about Gov. Palin and me,” McCain told 3,500 supporters who booed heartily. “That’s OK. He can attack all he wants. All the insults in the world aren’t going to bring change to Washington, and they’re not going to change Sen. Obama’s record.”

McCain went on to renew attacks on Obama, criticizing him for opposing a free-trade pact with Colombia, seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in “pork-barrel” projects for Illinois and resisting the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq last year.

“Sen. Obama opposed the surge,” said McCain, a leading champion of the strategy credited with helping reduce the violence in Iraq. “He said it couldn’t work. He said it wouldn’t work. He still fails to admit that he was wrong.”

In Grand Junction, Obama recalled President Bush’s 2004 attacks against his Democratic challenger, Sen. John F. Kerry.

“We’ve seen them turn an entire campaign into debates about Swift boats and windsurfing,” Obama said. “And what do you get when it’s over? Iraq and Katrina. And a meltdown on Wall Street. And millions without jobs or homes or healthcare.

“We must change the Karl Rove brand of politics that we’ve been seeing over the last few weeks, the politics that would divide this country just to win an election, where phony debates and false advertisements, lies and spin consume a campaign that should be about -- and must be about -- the great challenges of our time,” Obama said.


Recalling his tenure in the Illinois Senate, Obama said he fought to repeal a law that let lawmakers put campaign donations to personal use. “I called it legalized bribery,” he said. “And while it didn’t make me the most popular guy in Springfield, I put an end to it.”

Obama also took credit for lobbying reform in the U.S. Senate. “I led the fight for reform in my party, and let me tell you, not everyone in my party was too happy about it.

“When I proposed forcing lobbyists to disclose who they were raising money from, and who in Congress they were giving it to, I had a few choice words directed my way on the floor of the Senate. But we got it done, and we banned gifts from lobbyists and free rides on their fancy jets.”



Finnegan reported from Grand Junction and Levey from Jacksonville.