FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. -- Listening to Barack Obama, it can seem like Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is the main person standing between him and the White House instead of John McCain.
Obama is putting as much heat on Palin as he is on the man at the top of the GOP ticket, objecting to the Republican Party's portrayal of her as a reformer who can bring change to Washington.
That is supposed to be Obama's distinction, and he's not taking kindly to Palin trying to claim it. Especially when it appears the new star on the GOP ticket is boosting its standing: McCain has jumped to a dead heat or narrow lead over Obama in the latest national polls since choosing Palin as his running mate.
Obama said last week's Republican National Convention did a good job of highlighting Palin's biography -- "Mother, governor, moose shooter. That's cool," he said. But he said Palin really is just another Republican politician, one who is stretching the truth about her record.
"When John McCain gets up there with Sarah Palin and says, 'We're for change,' ... what are they talking about?" Obama said Monday, arguing that they aren't offering different ideas from President Bush and they are just trying to steal his campaign theme because it seemed to be working.
"It was just like a month ago they were all saying, 'Oh, it's experience, experience, experience.' Then they chose Palin and they started talking about change, change, change," he said.
Obama's supporters appear to be just as fired up against Palin. In Farmington Hills, they booed when Obama first mentioned her name and laughed dismissively when he said she had a compelling biography. "Whatever," an audience member shouted.
In Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday, the crowd waiting for Obama to take the stage chanted "No pit bulls! No pit bulls!" -- a reference to Palin's joke that lipstick is the only thing that sets hockey moms like her apart from the dogs.
Obama's campaign seemed to be caught off guard by McCain's surprise pick of Palin on Aug. 29. Obama's spokesman initially blasted her as a former small-town mayor with zero foreign policy experience who wants to continue Bush's policies. But Obama quickly walked the statement back with more congratulatory words about Palin as a compelling addition to the ticket.
Voters, particularly women, seem to agree, according to new polls.
An ABC News-Washington Post survey found white women have moved from backing Obama by 8 points to supporting McCain by 12 points, with majorities viewing Palin favorably and saying she boosts their faith in McCain's decisions.