Palin: Obama "palling around with terrorists"

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It's "time to take the gloves off," Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin said on Saturday before launching an attack that sought to link Barack Obama to a violent, 1960s-era radical group.

No ramp-up time was needed for Palin, fresh off last Thursday night's debate. She hit the ground in Colorado and California, 'spittin' fire' as the folksy governor might say.

"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," she said, referring to a co-founder of the 1960s-era Weather Underground, an organization the FBI labeled as a domestic terrorist group.

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The co-founder, Bill Ayers, now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, served on a board with Obama and held a fundraiser for him in 1995. Obama has condemned the actions of Ayers, and many media organizations have discounted any ongoing relationship between the two.

New York Times

In discussing Obama and Ayers, Palin cited the newspaper that the McCain-Palin campaign regards as a foe.

"I get to bring this up not to pick a fight, but it was there in the New York Times, so we are gonna talk about it," she said. "Turns out one of Barack’s earliest supporters is a man who, according to the New York Times, and they are hardly ever wrong, was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that quote launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and US Capitol. Wow. These are the same guys who think patriotism is paying higher taxes."

Swift-boat

In an email to reporters, Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan condemned Palin's remarks and included a listing of media outlets that dispute the charge of any meaningful relationship between the two men.

“Governor Palin’s comments, while offensive, are not surprising, given the McCain campaign’s statement this morning that they would be launching Swiftboat-like attacks in hopes of deflecting attention from the nation’s economic ills. In fact, the very newspaper story Governor Palin cited in hurling her shameless attack made clear that Senator Obama is not close to Bill Ayers, much less ‘pals,’ and that he has strongly condemned the despicable acts Ayers committed 40 years ago, when Obama was eight."

Aggressive

Sevugan was calling attention to a statement McCain strategist Greg Strimple made on Saturday as reported by the Associated Press.

"We are looking for a very aggressive last 30 days," Strimple said. "We are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis and getting back to discussing Mr. Obama's aggressively liberal record and how he will be too risky for Americans."

Stop the bleeding

The tougher approach is part of the McCain campaign's strategy to stabilize poll numbers, which have dropped substantially in the last two weeks. With voters more critical of Republicans for the nation's financial woes and several shaky performances by Palin in the media interviews, the McCain campaign has some ground to cover.

But after a better than expected performance by Palin in Thursday's debate (a CNN poll found that 84 percent of Americans thought Palin exceeded expectations), the vice presidential nominee followed the campaign's playbook.

“This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America," she said. "We see America as the greatest force for good in this world. If we can be that beacon of light and hope for others who seek freedom and democracy and can live in a country that would allow intolerance in the equal rights that again our military men and women fight for and die for for all of us."

Erratic

Not wanting to let the McCain campaign change the conversation, Team Obama released a new television ad calling attention to the McCain strategy.

"No wonder his campaign's announced a plan to turn a page on the financial crisis, distract with dishonest, dishonorable assaults against Barack Obama," the ad says. "Struggling families can't turn the page on this economy and we can't afford another president who's this out of touch."

The :30 spot calls McCain "erratic in crisis" and "out of touch on the economy." Familiar scenes are peppered throughout the spot including a shot of McCain with President George H.W. Bush on a golf cart and a smiling McCain with the current President in the Rose Garden.

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