"Our opponents spend so much time pretending they are running against the current president. I think it's wearing pretty thin," Palin said, without mentioning Bush's name. "The American people are really waking up and saying no, the status quo is not one of the boxes to check."
She added, "That's what our opponents are afraid of. That more and more Americans are remembering who John McCain is."
Palin and McCain appeared with their spouses at the event for the Republican Victory Fund, where guests paid as much as $28,500 to support the presidential ticket and other GOP candidates. The fundraiser was expected to net at least $8 million for the party.
McCain also has taken steps to distance himself from Bush in recent days. The Arizona senator debuted a new stump speech this week in which he pledged to fix the economy, saying "we cannot spend the next four years as we have spent much of the last eight, waiting for our luck to change."
Palin's reference to Bush wasn't McCain's only reminder of the current president's legacy. As the candidate left his midtown Manhattan hotel to travel to the fundraiser, the red carpet premiere of "W," Oliver Stone's new film critical of Bush and his policies, was under way across the street.
National and battleground state polls show Obama opening a clear lead over McCain, particularly since the financial meltdown took hold in mid-September.