(Adds Obama campaign comment on Palin, 12th paragraph)
By Deborah Charles
FLINT, Mich., Sept 8 Democrat Barack Obama
criticized Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin
on Monday for portraying herself as a crusader against wasteful
spending on pet local projects while aggressively pursuing the
money for Alaska.
Obama said presidential rival John McCain had tried to
revive his maverick image since choosing Palin, the Alaska
governor, as his No. 2 -- but he said neither Republican was
the maverick they portrayed themselves to be.
"Just about a month ago they were all saying 'oh it's
experience, experience experience.' Then they chose Palin and
they start talking about 'change, change, change,'" Obama said
in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
"How do they have the nerve to say it when you've been
supporting this current president, your party has been in power
and you're not offering anything new?" he asked a cheering
crowd of about 1,000 people.
Obama and McCain released dueling ads about who could
deliver on their promises for change, with McCain claiming he
and Palin were "the original mavericks" and Obama declaring
McCain "is hardly a maverick."
The exchanges came as polls showed McCain gained a healthy
bounce from his convention last week and his selection of Palin
and now leads Obama or runs even with the Illinois senator in
seven national polls taken since the convention ended.
The tight race seemed to fire up the rhetoric on both
sides, as Obama and Palin battled over which candidate was a
more credible fighter against earmarks -- the pet projects
inserted in U.S. spending bills with little or no oversight.
Obama said Palin had been an enthusiastic supporter of such
funding projects and rejected her claims to have opposed the
infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska -- a federal earmark
that has come to symbolize the expenditures.
Independent fact-checking services have found Palin spoke
favorably about the project while running for governor in 2006
and claimed to be an opponent only after Congress killed its
"You can't just reinvent yourself. The American people
aren't stupid," the Democrat said of Palin while campaigning in
"When she was mayor she hired a Washington lobbyist to get
earmarks, pork barrel spending. All the things that John McCain
says is bad, she lobbied to get, and got a whole lot of it."
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe called Palin "a
gold-medallist earmarker" who was "fairly recklessly
misrepresenting her record and not being honest about ours."
Palin said at a rally in Missouri that Obama had requested
nearly $1 billion in earmarks during his time in the U.S.
Senate and she was "surprised that he would even raise the
subject at all. He wouldn't want to go there."
Earmarks are often blamed for waste in Washington and have
been a prime target of McCain.
"He battled Republicans and reformed Washington. She
battled Republicans and reformed Alaska. They'll make history,"
McCain's new ad said.
"Now we have a team of mavericks," McCain said in Lee's
Summit, Missouri. "America knows it's time for change and it's
time for the right change."
(Additional reporting by Jason Szep; editing by Chris Wilson)