Gov. David Paterson said the McCain campaign has crossed an emotional and political line by claiming Barack Obama "pals around" with terrorists.
"We have to understand how serious terrorism is in this country," said the New York Democrat. "We are all very, very alarmed at the capacity of people who do not like our society to harm us. So for us to be peddling back and forth accusations about how either party is assisting [terrorists], I think it truly crosses the line."
Paterson, whose constituents were impacted by the 9/11 terrorist attacks unlike virtually any other, lamented the negative turn of the current campaign, saying it had reached new depths. Some of his critiques, in fact, were directed at Barack Obama's campaign, which he said had been far to eager to engage in the caustic tit-for-tat.
"I think that the campaigns that I have watched in all the parties and all the campaigns just can't resist getting into every media cycle," he said. "So, for instance, the day Sarah Palin was announced, Obama made a good statement about her and then an hour later his campaign office starts hitting her. Why bother? Why do that?"
Paterson suggested that Obama would have been better off avoiding bringing up McCain's involvement in the Keating Five scandal as a counter-response to the attacks on his association with Bill Ayers. But the governor, in an interview with the Huffington Post, saved his sharpest words for the Republican ticket and, in particular, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
He criticized the Alaska Governor's position on women's rights, argued that she was deliberately appealing to a "lesser standard" of political discourse, and made fun of her avoidance of any open press forum.
"She says people want straight talk -- they want to hear straight talk and that's why she is not going to answer the questions. Well, how can you not answer the question and even associate yourself with straight talk?" he asked. "She is in the candidate protection program now. She went to the debate but hasn't been seen since."
Paterson also dismissed the notion that, as governor, Palin had enough executive experience to potentially serve as president. "I guess I have been here for six months and I would have more executive experience [than Obama, Biden, and McCain] myself," he said.
Among the nation's governors, Paterson may be uniquely suited to discuss national politics. His position as chief executive of the state of New York puts him firmly in the midst of the current financial market crisis. And he has been widely credited with offering a steady if not somber assessment of the current economic pitfalls. Blame, he said, should be given to many parties - from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, predatory lenders, and investment banks and pension funds - not any singular cause.
"The response of the Republicans is very defensive and accusatory," he said. "There is always some one agency or individual they hold to blame for. I'm not saying there is no blame there. But to act like [Fannie and Freddie] are the whole problem...is, I think, very shrill and very misguided."
Reminded that Sen. John McCain had also castigated a individual player - SEC Chairman Christopher Cox - and even suggested replacing Cox with New York's attorney general Andrew Cuomo, Paterson seemed confident that he would be keeping his Democratic colleague in state office.
"I talked to Andrew," he said. "He was flattered by [McCain's] remarks but promised me he'd stay here and be my lawyer."