LEBANON, Va. (AP) - Lipstick has more than one use in the presidential campaign. To Sarah Palin, it's part of a joke. To Barack Obama and John McCain, it's part of a gibe suggesting an old policy revisited.
Palin referred to lipstick as she accepted the Republican nomination for vice president, saying that it's the only thing that separates a hockey mom like her from a pit bull.
Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, brought up lipstick on Tuesday in comparing the policies of McCain, his Republican rival for the White House, to those of President Bush.
"You can put lipstick on a pig," Obama said during a campaign stop. "It's still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It's still going to stink after eight years."
McCain's campaign accused Obama of "smearing" Palin in "offensive and disgraceful" comments and demanded an apology - though McCain himself once used the folksy metaphor to describe Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care plan.
Obama's campaign responded by saying that Obama wasn't referring to Palin and accusing the GOP camp of engaging in a "pathetic attempt to play the gender card."
In his speech Tuesday, Obama followed up the comments by saying that Palin's is an interesting story, drawing boos at the mention of her name and trying to cut them off.
"Look, she's new, she hasn't been on the scene, she's got five kids. And my hat goes off to anybody whose looking after five. I've got two and they tire Michelle and me out," he said.
A questioner asked Obama to join Republicans and agree that candidates' families and religion are off limits. Palin's pregnant unmarried teenage daughter and the teachings of her church, the nondenominational Wasilla Bible Church, have been the subject of scrutiny since McCain picked her as his running mate.
Obama responded that he already has said families are off limits and he's very protective of his daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha. He said he doesn't want their inevitable future mistakes to become newspaper fodder if he gets to the White House.
Obama also is no stranger to attacks on his religion. He's been the subject of a false rumor campaign saying he's a Muslim, and the racially tinged sermons of his longtime former preacher caused problems for his campaign earlier this year.
He stressed that he's a Christian and "so the fact that Gov. Palin is deeply religious, that's a good thing." He said poking around in her religion or saying it's wrong is "offensive" and he wants to have a debate about the issues.
"But don't give people some sort of religious litmus test because I don't want somebody to question my faith and I'm certainly not going to question somebody else's," he said.