October 18th, 2008
05:44 PM ET
10 years ago

McCain-Palin use the 'S' word

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McCain and Palin are increasingly suggesting Obama is a socialist.

McCain and Palin are increasingly suggesting Obama is a socialist.

CONCORD, North Carolina (CNN) – John McCain stepped up his rhetoric against Barack Obama on taxes in his weekly radio address, comparing his plan to 'socialist' programs that would “convert the IRS into a giant welfare agency, redistributing massive amounts of wealth.”

The remarks were part of a theme McCain has used since the final presidential debate that criticizes Obama’s philosophy, but his most recent comments were the first time he directly invoked the word 'socialist.'

In the radio address that aired Saturday morning, McCain didn't directly call Obama a socialist, but he let the now-famous Joe 'the Plumber' Wurzelbacher nearly do it for him.

“You see, [Obama] believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that help us all make more of it. Joe in his plainspoken way, said this sounded a lot like socialism,” McCain said.

In an interview with ABC last week, Wurzelbacher said Obama's proposal to raise taxes by 3 percent on those making $250,000 and over is a "very socialist view."

Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin has used the word in speeches the last two days as well.

Also in the pre-taped radio address, McCain said, “At least in Europe, the socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives. They use real numbers and honest language. And we should demand equal candor from Senator Obama. Raising taxes on some in order to give checks to others is not a tax cut it's just another government giveaway.”

McCain did not repeat the wording in his appearance at a rally in Concord, but did allude to those European socialist countries that like to "spread the wealth around."

"Spread the wealth around. We have seen that movie before in other countries and attempts by the liberal left before," McCain said.

In his speech, McCain also said said, “This explains some big problems with my opponent's claim that he will cut income taxes for 95 percent of Americans. You might ask: How do you cut income taxes for [95] percent of Americans, when more than 40 percent pay no income taxes right now? How do you reduce the number zero? That's the key to Barack Obama's whole plan: Since you can't reduce taxes on those who pay zero, the government will write them all checks called a tax credit. And the Treasury will have to cover those checks by taxing other people…the Obama tax increase would come at the worst possible time for America.”

Asked why McCain used the word socialist in the radio remarks, a spokesman told CNN, “That’s what it is, 'spreading the wealth' around is socialism.”

In a July interview with the Kansas City Star, McCain said Obama had the “most extreme” record in the Senate. He said at the time in a comment he has since repeated on the trail, “his voting record… is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont."

Pressed if he considered Obama a socialist, McCain shrugged and said, “I don't know."

In remarks this week, Palin has referred to Obama’s encounter with Wurzelbacher in Ohio last Sunday. At a rally in West Chester, Ohio Friday where one banner in the crowd read, “Obama is a Socialist/Marxist," Palin said, “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.”

In North Carolina Saturday, McCain also invoked the specter of a huge filibuster proof Democratic majority in the house.

“By the way did you happen to see that Speaker Pelosi said she anticipates a 250 seat majority, “said McCain to loud boos from the crowd. “My friends we can’t let that happen. They’ll raise taxes and increase spending and they will concede defeat in Iraq.”

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (301 Responses)
  1. Grandma

    He need to go home and send his partner back to Alska so she can work as pro Alska as she did befor

    Obama 08

    October 18, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. laurie

    Uh...Sarah Palin? When did you last read Marx? Can you actually define the word "socialist"? Or are you just using hot-button words you don't understand to get people riled up? Perhaps you could give a press conference where you discuss your own knowledge of economics?

    What an idiot.

    October 18, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. bb

    all this people putting all these criticism are nothing but non-sense. everybody thinks that they are a better person. a bunch of ka-ka to me.
    let's get together and say "MAY THE BEST CANDIDATE WIN" on Nov. 4th. Thank u very much.

    October 18, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. Greg P.

    We've been redistributing the wealth upwards for the past thirty years so it's about time we reverse the trend.

    October 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. Afraid For Americans

    McCain-Palin is running out of time and lies......Their Senior advisor was just on MSNBC (Nancy) she was talking about VA used to be republican but now they are voting demc' so they are going to VA to campaign but they are going to a certain area of VA "The Real VA" and the host asked Nancy did you just say "The Real VA".....that's pathetic just listen to the McCain-Palin and their advisors they are all for themselves not the people of the USA. McCain said Obama want to spread the wealth around whats wrong with Obama wanting to give Everyone especially our children an opportunity to be all he or she can be. Everyone wasn't born with a Golden nor Sivler spoon in their mouth!!!!!

    October 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. ash

    And Your mother wears combat boots...

    I'm really tired of the middle-school-playground-like name calling by
    extremists on both sides.

    And yes, I support Obama/Biden. Read the endorsements of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times - and think about it.

    October 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. John

    Sarah please continue to shout it from the mountain tops, “Obama is the most liberal Senator in America. Look at his voting record. His voting record is more liberal than Ted Kennedy.” Moderate and Conservative Americans who are thinking of voting for Obama need to realize that if Obama wins, yes, they can feel good that they may have made up for having done racist things in their past by voting for Obama, but they will also empower Reid, Pelosi and Obama to fast track our nation away from a safe balanced bipartisan way of managing our economic evolution. Those of you who feel guilty for your past racist sins, please don’t think that voting for Obama will help clear your conscience. Vote against the partisan politics of Obama, don't reward politicians that make it to the top by being supported by domestic terrorists like Ayers and USA haters like Wright and convicted power abusers like Rezko. America needs bipartisan leadership like McCain.

    October 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. Jean

    Palin doesn't know socialisme at all. Most European countries have democratic, based on socialisme thinking and working Goverments. And that works quite well. She, Palin thinks it is communisme and that is easy to use to fear people. Very cheap, but even more wrong.
    It seems the Republicans want back to the dark ages! That is regression (Rep) instead of progression (Democrats stand for!)

    October 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. Rocky

    Wall Street has done a pretty good job of redistributing two trillion dollars of wealth in just the last three weeks and my money was part of it. If the rich can use the market to rob us I say we use Uncle Sam to rob the rich. Even the trillion dollars McCain lies about Obama spending is less than half the amount Wall Street just stole from us and that holdup isn't over yet.

    October 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  10. Robert Sparks

    Dear John and Sarah,
    You need to start warming up to the facts that Obama is always a step ahead of you and you're going to lose...huge.

    October 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. VA will go BLUE!!!!!!!!!

    So sad, they have no hope what so ever.

    October 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  12. J, FL

    I do not know about anyone else, but I do not want my hard earned money going to pay for people who don't want to do anything. It's called entitlements. No one, and I repeat no one, is entitled to my money through socialism and redistribute the wealth programs. Wake Up, America!

    October 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. Andrea

    These people really need to get a life!!!! If they think Obama/Biden are socialist then maybe socialism is what we need!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  14. Ann

    I hate McCain. I use to respect him. Now I cannot stand the sight of him. I pray that he does not become President. And when the time comes, I hope he is not relected as Senator.

    October 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. mel in pa

    The McCain/Palin campaign is circulating and promoting scripts full of terms like terrorist, socialist, leftist, and radical extremist. The candiates, the surrogates, and the supporters use these terms constantly in an attempt to characterize their rival as dangerous – a risky choice – un-American. Every person who says these things or believes these things is to be pitied if not feared for falling prey to such negative tactics.

    October 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  16. jack b


    October 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |

    I have all ready voted and I voted for McCain whit no regret. How many of you may have regrets about voting for obama. If you have not voted yet thing about it very much and you wont be sorry. Socialism have no matters in our country.

    October 18, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. Kendall (Portsmouth, VA)

    I have lost all respect for him. America should never forget his demagogic and pathetic campaign. It's a shame that he's willing to jettison so many virtues in order to win. That is very telling of his character.

    "America First"....Please

    October 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  19. Pat, Pa.

    Give me a break ! The man doesn't even know what Socialism really is.
    he is just pathetic.

    October 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. Steve Smith

    Really? Give more to the rich and less to the poor. I don't understand how anyone could vote for McCain. I'm very glad Obama is in the lead. I can't wait for him to become president. It's very sad that McCain and Palin have come this far. They're so out of touch with reality. If they were elected to office this country would go to waste in the next four years. They want to cut MORE funding for great programs such as Head Start? There's barely anything to cut. We have no healthcare. We have no College money.

    And they want to waste more money on a useless war in Iraq so they become richer. Why not go into other third world countries such as Somalia, Congo, Burma, North Korea? Why are we in Iraq? There are lots of other bad countries with dictators. I guess McCain loves taking our money and saying it's used on the "War on terror." He can't resist. He sounds like George Bush, He looks like George Bush, He has the same policies as George Bush. The entire world is laughing at us.

    As for Mrs. Palin ask yourself this:

    Does she even have enough experience to be on a news station let alone vice president?

    Very sad situation.

    October 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. ron

    MCCain really is pathetic, he knows he's got little or no chance to win, and his dysfunctional campaign team will try and say anything because they have a defeatist attitude and really don't care. If he wanted a real chance I wonder why he hired two thugs Schmidt and the lobbyist Rick Davis to run his campaign, these guys don't have a clue and are trying to mimic Zimbabwe's election process.

    October 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. values


    October 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. geoff

    Have you no shame, Senator? Have you no sense of decency?

    McCain, McCarthy, what's the difference? When right-wing whackos have their backs to the wall, they'll sputter any sort of hysterics as they try to cling to power. The behavior of McCain and Palin is simply evidence that they're going down, big time, and taking the Republican Party with them.

    October 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. Paul Wolborsky

    What comes to mind when you hear Socialist? The Canadian health care system. The EU where everybody has a job but when they don't they're covered till they find one. And while people's unemployment are running out in time for the holidays, Europeans are vacationing.

    These days, socialism sounds like a pretty groovy gig to me.

    October 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  25. Wendy

    The last time I looked we had a congress, free elections, term limits, and a constitution. Did something happen in McCain World that we all missed?

    October 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
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