In an interview with conservative The New York Times columnist William Kristol published Monday, the Alaska governor said there should be more discussion about Wright, Obama's pastor of 20 years at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. The Democratic candidate denounced Wright and severed ties with the church last spring after videotapes surfaced showing Wright making anti-American and anti-Semitic comments from the pulpit.
Wright had appeared to be off limits for the McCain campaign ever since McCain himself condemned the North Carolina Republican Party in April for an ad that called Obama "too extreme" because Wright was his pastor. He asked the party to take down the ad and said, "I'm making it very clear, as I have a couple of times in the past, that there's no place for that kind of campaigning, and the American people don't want it."
When Kristol pressed Palin about Wright, she replied, "I don't know why that association isn't discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country."
She continued, "To me, that does say something about character. But, you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up."
At a morning rally in Florida, Palin kept up her criticism of Obama's ties to Ayers, a founder of the violent Weather Underground group blamed for several bombings during the Vietnam War era, when Obama was a child.
The Illinois senator has denounced Ayers' radical views and activities.
"This is someone who sees America as 'imperfect enough' to work with a former domestic terrorist who targeted his own country," Palin said of Obama. That was a tamer description than Palin used at rallies in California and Colorado over the weekend.
In her earlier attacks, Palin had said that Obama "pals around with terrorists." News reports pointed out that Obama was eight years old at the time of Weather Underground bombings and that the two men do not know each other well although they live in the same Chicago neighborhood, have served on a charity board together and Ayers hosted a meet-the-candidate event when Obama first ran for state office in the mid-1990s.
Reporters weren't permitted to wander around inside Coachman Park in Clearwater to talk to Palin's audience, the St. Petersburg Times reported.
When reporters tried to leave the designated press area and head to where the crowd was seated, an escort would dart out, confront him or her and say, "Can I help you?" and turn the person around, Times staff writer Eileen Schulte wrote on the paper's Web site. When one reporter asked an escort, who would not give her name, why the press wasn't allowed to mingle, she said that in the past, negative things had been written, Schulte reported.
Later, Obama adviser David Axelrod told CNN the Illinois senator "didn't know the history" of Ayers' Weather Underground activities when Ayers hosted the 1995 gathering. Speaking in Estero, Fla., Palin responded, "Today they're saying for the first time that Barack Obama didn't know back then about Ayers' radical background."
Palin was spending two days in Florida, which President Bush won easily in 2004 but has become competitive this time.