- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday blasted his Republican opponents’ change message, but the analogy he used - “lipstick on a pig” - offended female Republicans, who said they saw an effort to compare the GOP’s vice-presidential candidate “to a pig.”

“You can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig,” Mr. Obama told supporters in Lebanon, Va., drawing outrage from former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift, the head of a new “Palin Truth Squad” established Tuesday to defend vice-presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin.

“She’s the only one of the four presidential candidates or vice-presidential candidates who wears lipstick,” Mrs. Swift said, pointing back to Mrs. Palin’s remark at last week’s Republican National Convention that the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is “lipstick.”

Mr. Obama’s remark came in the midst of a specific attack on Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, and he did not mention Mrs. Palin in that part of his remarks.

The Obama campaign responded by digging up a quote from last year of Mr. McCain blasting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s health care proposal with similar language: “I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”

As the most intriguing figure of the election this year, Mrs. Palin has come under intense scrutiny, and the McCain campaign has kept her mostly under wraps.

That changes Wednesday when she gives her first solo interview, to ABC News, since being tapped for the Republican ticket.

Mrs. Palin, who’s been stumping with Mr. McCain and studying domestic and foreign policies to avoid the pitfalls of hardball national politics, will sit down Wednesday with ABC News anchor Charles Gibson.

Billing it as “the interview everyone’s been waiting for,” the network will showcase the interview on Thursday and Friday, carving out excerpts on “World News Tonight,” “Nightline,” “Good Morning America, “20/20,” and ABC News Radio.

While ABC News producer Jon Banner said Mr. Gibson landed the interview because he’s fair and tough, some observers say the veteran newsman won points with the McCain campaign after he grappled with Mr. Obama in April - asking pointed questions about the Illinois Democrat’s infamous “bitter” voters comment and about his relationship with the firebrand Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright.

Mrs. Palin was a significant or dominant factor in 60 percent of all campaign coverage during the first week of September, according to an analysis of 567 news stories released Tuesday by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The media onslaught and negative nature of some of the Internet-fueled rumors have forced the McCain camp to ante up some additional muscle. On Tuesday, it created the “Palin Truth Squad,” consisting of 54 female lawmakers and public officials, who will issue statements to counter claims made about Mrs. Palin by political opponents or in news reports.

“We will not allow those on the left and in the media to smear a woman who has always served her constituents with honor,” said Mrs. Jane Swift - who was pregnant and gave birth while in office.

Stephen Dinan and Christina Bellantoni contributed to this article.

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