Palin Shifts Attacks From Ayers To ACORN

(CBS)
From CBS News' Scott Conroy:

(WEST CHESTER, OHIO) - It was less than two weeks ago when Sarah Palin unveiled against Barack Obama one of the sharpest lines of attack that any candidate has made this election cycle.

"Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who target their own country," she told a cheering crowd of about 10,000 people in Carson, California.

In the following days, Palin made the link between the Democratic nominee and the 1960s domestic terrorist the centerpiece of her stump speeches, and it appeared that their relationship would be a focal point of the Republicans' campaign down the home stretch. But continually declining poll numbers suggested that Palin's attacks may have been counterproductive, and over the course of the past week, the Alaska governor has not even mentioned Ayers during her rallies.

Instead, Palin has ratcheted up her questioning of the Obama campaign's relationship to the community activist group ACORN, which is being investigated by the FBI over accusations of fostering voter registration fraud.

At a rally here this morning, Palin upped the ante, devoting a full five minutes of her stump speech to ACORN.

"In this election, especially here in Ohio, you're going to be asked to choose between a candidate who will not disavow a group committing voter fraud and a leader who will not tolerate it," Palin said. "This group needs to learn that you here in Ohio, you won't let them turn the Buckeye State into the ACORN State."

Palin noted that Obama provided training for ACORN during his community organizing days and that the group has endorsed his presidential candidacy. She concluded that his relationship with the group would "be a lot of baggage to drag into the Oval Office." Still, she insisted that she was not engaging in negative campaigning.

"These associations are important," Palin said. "They go to the heart of someone's judgment and truthfulness. And it is not mean-spirited. It is not negative campaigning to ask someone about their record. It's in fairness to the electorate."

Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor responded, "We have not worked with ACORN at all in the general election. Rather than make these false, desperate attacks, the McCain-Palin campaign should release an economic plan that actually helps the middle class instead of giving billions in tax cuts to big corporations."
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    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.