I’ve held back on the “lipstick on a pig” line, in part because I think there are bigger issues, and in part because I haven’t had much to add, but it crossed my mind:
When you get caught saying something that is widely understood to be calling one of your opponents a pig, the proper response is not to attack them. That just adds to the evidence that the remark was calculated, which really doesn’t look good.
The proper response is something to the effect of “Of course I was talking about policy, not a person. It would be wrong to call a political opponent a pig, and I’m sorry if my comments were taken the wrong way.” That last part is important, especially with the media in your pocket, an apology is going to play out a whole lot better than the actual reaction seen from the Obama campaign.
Come out swinging on that one, and it just proves that the remark was a calculated one, and one that leaves the stink on you.