WEST CHESTER, Ohio (CNN) - It’s not uncommon to hear Democrats accused of socialism at Republican campaign events. It's less common to hear it directly from a Republican candidate - let alone the party's vice presidential nominee.
At a Sarah Palin rally in Richmond on Monday, for instance, two John McCain supporters held up a large white banner reading: “Obama is a Socialist/Marxist.” Shouts of “Socialist!” and “Communist!” often emanate from GOP crowds when McCain and Palin speak of Obama’s tax plans.
And on Friday, Palin herself seemed to make the same charge against Obama’s plans to raise taxes on the wealthy.
The remark came at an Ohio rally in which Palin was discussing Joe Wurzelbacher, more commonly known as “Joe the plumber,” who told the Toledo Blade that Obama’s plan to “spread the wealth” was “a pretty socialist comment.”
Palin picked up on Wurzelbacher’s quote on Friday.
“Sen. Obama said that he wants to spread the wealth and he wants government to take your money and decide how to best to redistribute it according to his priorities,” she told the audience.
“Joe suggested that that sounded a little bit like socialism,” she said. “Whatever you call it, I call it bad medicine for an ailing economy, and it's what Barack Obama will do to those who want to create jobs and we're willing to call Barack Obama on it.”
McCain himself has avoided referring to Obama as a socialist, but he has left the door open to that assumption. In July, he told the Kansas City Star that Obama’s senate record is “more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont.”
The GOP nominee was then asked if he believes Obama is a socialist.
“I don’t know,” McCain responded. “All I know is his voting record.”
(CNN) – Barack Obama launched a new television ad Friday that echoes his latest campaign trail attack on John McCain’s health care proposal: that the Republican nominee’s plan would major cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
“It Gets Worse,” a 30-second spot, follows up on a string of recent Obama ads about health care - all of which highlighted the tax implications of McCain’s plan.
The new ad suggests that, in addition to changing the historical tax treatment of employer-provided health care benefits, McCain’s plan would also involve significant cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, two of the federal governments largest entitlement programs. “Eight hundred and eighty-two billion from Medicare alone,” the ad says.
McCain-Palin spokesman Tucker Bounds called the charges, which Obama repeated on the trail Friday, “absurd”: “Unlike Barack Obama’s risky plan, John McCain’s plans for health care do not punish struggling businesses with fines and taxes, and they certainly do not cut a single benefit for Medicare or Medicaid – Obama is simply lying,” he said.
“It Gets Worse,” will air in “key states” across the country, according to the Obama campaign.
(Full script after the jump)
(CNN) - After rocketing Joe 'the plumber' Wurzelbacher to stardom at Wednesday's presidential debate, John McCain is defending the headline-grabbing undecided Ohio voter from what he calls Obama campaign "attacks."
"Last weekend, Senator Obama showed up in Joe's driveway to ask for his vote, and Joe asked Senator Obama a tough question," McCain told voters in Miami Friday. "The response from Senator Obama and his campaign yesterday was to attack Joe. People are digging through his personal life and he has TV crews camped out in front of his house. He didn't ask for Senator Obama to come to his house."
Wurzelbacher, who approached Obama last weekend when the Illinois senator campaigned in an Ohio neighborhood, asked Obama whether his taxes would be raised if he bought a business and made $250,000. Obama conceded that they would be - a comment McCain repeatedly sought to highlight at the third and final presidential debate earlier this week, when the plumber found himself thrust into the media spotlight.
"He wasn't recruited or prompted by our campaign. He just asked a question," McCain said at Friday's Miami rally. "And Americans ought to be able to ask Senator Obama tough questions without being smeared and targeted with political attacks."
ABOARD THE CNN ELECTION EXPRESS (CNN)
"You're kidding me, right?"
The speaker was a man named Derrick Stefford, 32. We had not, as a matter of fact, been kidding. We had merely been asking him the question that we've been asking people as we cross the country.
"If you're really not kidding," Stefford said, looking as if, hearing our words, he wanted to cross the street as quickly as possible, "my answer is: I can't wait until it's over."
The theory - one that has been shot down repeatedly since the first time we asked the question - was that this year's presidential campaign has been so compelling, has generated such high television ratings, has been the topic of so many conversations, that it has become a part of the very atmosphere.
The campaign has been like oxygen, or the sky - it's just there, all the time.
Thus, the question: Will you miss the campaign when it's gone?
(CNN) - John McCain campaigned in Miami earlier Friday, during which he got tough on the Obama campaign for "attack[ing] Joe."
"The response from Senator Obama and his campaign yesterday was to attack Joe. People are digging through his personal life and he has TV crews camped out in front of his house. He didn't ask for Senator Obama to come to his house. He wasn't recruited or prompted by our campaign. He just asked a question. And Americans ought to be able to ask Senator Obama tough questions without being smeared and targeted with political attacks," McCain said.
Read Mccain's prepared remarks
(CNN) – Barack Obama campaigned in Roanoke, Virginia earlier Friday, among the most conservative parts of the state.
During his speech, the Illinois senator got tough on McCain's healthcare plan.
"Senator McCain has been eager to share some details of his health care plan – but not all. Like those ads for prescription drugs, you have to read the fine print to learn the full story," he said.
Read Obama's full prepared remarks
(CNN) – He went from being an average plumber in small town Ohio to a talking point in a presidential debate. Now, a new group is asking “Joe the Plumber” to run for Congress.
With the slogan, “plunge the crap out of Washington,” Trevor Lair, chairman of the Massachusetts College Republicans, launched a website on Friday to try to get Joe Wurzelbacher to run for Congress. The Web site calls on visitors to sign a petition to show support for what Lair hopes will Wurzelbacher’s congressional bid.
"Washington, DC is broken and it needs to be fixed. Joe Wurzelbacher has a real-world perspective and the right attitude to clean up the mess on Capitol Hill,” Lair said.
Lair is aiming to get thousands of signatures to put Wurzelbacher on the ballot against Rep. Marcia Kaptur of Ohio, whom he called a “tax and spend liberal.” Lair praised Wurzelbacher for standing up to “big-government socialism” and said he would be the right candidate to fight for working class Americans.
Wurzelbacher received intense media attention after John McCain pointed to his encounter with Barack Obama in his home town of Holland, Ohio last weekend. His name was mentioned dozens of times during a presidential debate on Wednesday night.
ROANOKE, Virginia (CNN) – Introducing Barack Obama at a Friday campaign event, Virginia Senator Jim Webb questioned John McCain’s vice presidential pick and said it was a decision the Republican nominee now probably regrets.
“Do you really think that Sarah Palin is the most qualified person in the Republican Party?” asked Webb. “I don’t know how many people here like country music? I like country music. There’s a song about two years ago it was called ‘I know what I was doing but what was I thinking?’ I think John McCain is probably singing that song right now,” he added, referring to the Dierks Bentley tune “What was I thinking?”
“If you’re trying to talk to friends about clear distinctions in terms of judgment, temperament, vision, this is something you can really ask them to take a look at,” he said.
Webb said the choice of a running mate was the one real window into the kind of judgment a future president would exhibit in office. He said he did not really “understand the process” by which McCain picked Governor Palin but said Obama’s choice of Biden was “thoughtful,” and Biden is “capable in a moment of stepping forward” into the presidency.
“I watched the vice presidential debate and I thought Joe Biden did a very good job and at the beginning f the debate Governor Palin turned around and said ‘nice to meet you can I call you Joe’ and I was thinking Joe what you really ought to do is say ‘yeah, you can call me whatever you want - in two months you can call me Mr. Vice President,’” Webb said.
The junior senator said southwestern Virginia voters can “trust [Obama]” - and that the “Karl Rove” type campaign going on against him has gotten tough.
“What they do is they say that person is not like you that person doesn’t understand you,” he said. “There’s a lot of comments that have been made about certain ethnic issues in this campaign, and I would like to say we know Barack Obama’s father was born in Kenya. Barack Obama’s mother was born in Kansas by way of Kentucky. We’re going to see on Election Day the election of the 44th President of the United States, whose ancestry and whose family line goes back to the mountains of this area.”
WEST CHESTER, Ohio (CNN) – Sarah Palin questioned Barack Obama’s ties to ACORN in her most forceful and comprehensive language to date, and demanded that the Democratic presidential nominee turn over all communication between the campaign and the progressive organization, which claims to have registered 1.3 million voters nationwide.
“As for ACORN and voter fraud, now they're under federal investigation, and John and are calling on the Obama campaign to release communications it has had with this group and to do so immediately,” Palin told an audience, with House Minority Leader John Boehner applauding on stage behind her.
The FBI confirmed Tuesday that they have begun preliminary a investigation of ACORN’s registration efforts. Palin accused the group of “rampant voter fraud,” although technically they are being accused of voter registration fraud.
“You deserve to know, Palin said. “You deserve to know because we do need to know more clearly about the choices that we have on Nov. 4. In this election, especially here in Ohio, you’re going to be asked to choose between a candidate who will not disavow a group committing voter fraud and a leader who will not tolerate it.”
Obama’s relationship with the community organizing group has been highlighted by Republicans ever since it was accused of submitting fraudulent voter applications in various states, including Ohio. Obama helped train ACORN organizers in Chicago after law school and later represented the group in a 1995 motor voter case that, in Obama’s words, “helped people get registered at DMVs.”
(CNN) – Is Colin Powell set to make a long-anticipated endorsement?
The former Secretary of State under President Bush, who has been coy about who he will support this November, will appear on NBC's Meet the Press this weekend, the network has announced.
Rumors have long swirled that Powell, the first African-American Secretary of State, is leaning toward backing Obama.
NBC is staying mum on what Powell will say: "[He] will break his recent silence and share his views on a variety of important issues," the network said.
A source close to Powell wouldn't say if an endorsement would come Sunday.
"Stay tuned," the source said.
Powell suggested last month he had yet to make up his mind.
The election of an African-American president “would be electrifying,” Powell told a George Washington University audience, “but at the same time [I have to] make a judgment here on which would be best for America.
Watch: Powell: I'm undecided
“I have been watching both individuals, I know them both extremely well, and I have not decided who I am going to vote for. And I'm interested to see what the debates are going to be like because we have to get off of this ‘lipstick on a pig’ stuff and get into issues,” he said.