From NBC's Mark Murray and NBC/NJ's Matthew E. Berger
At a fundraiser in Denver today, Palin attacked Obama in some of her harshest comments since being selected as McCain's running mate -- bringing up Obama's tenuous ties to '60s radical William Ayers.
Palin's comments came as the McCain campaign finds itself trailing in national and key battleground state polls, and after major newspapers reported that the McCain camp plans a major offensive on Obama's character and past associations.
"This is not a man who sees America as you see it and as I see America," Palin said today. "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."
She then continued, "Our opponent though is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."
But as the New York Times reported today, Obama was never "palling around" with Ayers. "A review of records of the schools project and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63. But the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called 'somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.'"
Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan fired back at Palin. "Gov. 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 Gov. 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. What's clear is that John McCain and Sarah Palin would rather spend their time tearing down Barack Obama than laying out a plan to build up our economy."