Move over lipsticked pigs. Make way for another installment of the recurring campaign soap opera, "Surrogates Say the Darndest Things."
On Wednesday, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler told a reporter for the website Politico that Sen. John McCain chose a running mate "whose primary qualification seems to be that she hasn't had an abortion."
That was a ham-handed reference to the fact that in April, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gave birth to her fifth child, Trig, who has Down syndrome.
Springing into action were two members of the "Palin Truth Squad," a passel of Republican legislators who have been deputized to launch instant counterattacks on Democrats who say mean things about Palin.
In a hastily called conference call with reporters, McCain pal Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Fowler's remarks were an "inappropriate, outrageous, demeaning personal attack." Graham accused Democrats of being in a "meltdown" over Palin, and insisted that Obama condemn the remarks.
Also on the call was Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who alleged that Fowler's remark was part of a sexist pattern by the Obama campaign, starting in May when Obama addressed a reporter as "sweetie."
Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said: "Mrs. Fowler was not speaking for our campaign, just as John McCain has said state parties don't speak for him. But obviously this does not reflect our view."
Another Obama deputy wondered on MSNBC where the outrage of McCain supporters was last year when McCain said he was going to beat Hillary Rodham Clinton "like a drum."
Late in the day, Fowler issued an apology: "I personally admire and respect the difficult choices that women make every day, and I apologize to anyone who finds my comment offensive. I clumsily was making a point about people in South Carolina who may vote based on a single issue."
-- Robin Abcarian