So did Barack Obama‘s campaign just turn nasty, or was he really only describing John McCain’s policies when he said that putting lipstick on a pig still leaves you with a pig?

The statement certainly evoked Sarah Palin’s widely reported quip in her VP speech to the RNC last week where she described herself as a “hockey mom” and then quipped that the only difference between a pitbull and a hockey mom was lipstick.

The Guardian reports that the ‘pig in lipstick’ folkism has been widely used in politics, and in fact was used by John McCain during Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, comparing Hillary Clinton’s healthcare proposal to that which she developed while first lady.

The McCain campaign had leapt on Obama’s statement: “Hoping to stoke anger among female voters, McCain aides dispatched former Massachusetts governor Jane Swift on a conference call with reporters to accuse the Illinois senator of insulting Palin, who, Swift pointed out, is the only of the four candidates in the race who wears lipstick. This morning, the McCain campaign released to the media an advertisement saying Obama had “smeared” Palin.”

Read the full Guardian report here.