Washington, Oct 7 : Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has targeted key goals for John McCain's faltering campaign by claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is "palling around with terrorists" and doesn't see the US like other Americans.
The Washington Post said that she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.
First, Palin's attack shows that her energetic debate with rival Joe Biden may be just the beginning, not the end, of a sharpened role in the battle to win the presidency.
"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," Palin told a group of donors in Englewood, Colo.
Obama isn't above attacking McCain's character with loaded words, releasing an ad on Sunday that calls the Arizona Republican "erratic" - a hard-to miss suggestion that McCain's age, 72, might be an issue.
"Our financial system in turmoil," an announcer says in Obama's new ad. "And John McCain? Erratic in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy."
In her character attack, Palin questions Obama's association with William Ayers, a member of the Vietnam-era Weather Underground, the paper said.
Her reference was exaggerated at best if not outright false. No evidence shows they were "pals" or even close when they worked on community boards years ago and Ayers hosted a political event for Obama early in his career.
Obama, who was a child when the Weathermen were planting bombs, has denounced Ayers' radical views and actions.
With her criticism, Palin is taking on the running mate's traditional role of attacker, said Rich Galen, a Republican strategist.
"There appears to be a newfound sense of confidence in Sarah Palin as a candidate, given her performance the other night," Galen said.
Second, Palin's incendiary charge draws media and voter attention away from the worsening economy. It also comes after McCain supported Wall Street bailout plan in spite of conservative anger and his own misgivings.
The larger purpose behind Palin's broadside is to reintroduce the question of Obama's associations. Millions of voters, many of them open to being swayed to one side or the other, are starting to pay attention to an election a month away.