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. Someone in Canada

    We have many social programs in Canada, especially universal health care, but we currently have a conservative, "right wing" government. Social policies do not equal communism. While our system of government and our programs are not perfect, every Canadian has access to health care and yet we spend less health care dollars per person than you do in the USA. Obama is right, it is a disgrace that in the richest nation on earth, there are nearly 50 million Americans without health care coverage. Obama is a brilliant man with great integrity and vision.

    Save your country America-vote OBAMA/BIDEN

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

    Oh well, the McShame/Palin ticket is running out of ideas.

    As long they can attack Obamas vision and proposals, he distracts from his own facsits ideas.

    Oh yes, McShame is fighting hard for his billionary friends and big corporations and lobbyists.

    Darn right, George Bush and McCain have iintroduced more socialist
    progrmas then any other president before.

    And Sarah Palin is a proven liar and abused her power as govenor.

    Now these are facts, and americans know it.

    The republicans are getting now their rewards for 8 years of failed politics.

    Obama / Biden 08

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

    Agreed...better to be a socialist than fascist!

    October 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. Jean Paul

    John McCain has nothing to loose. He is retiring this November 4th. My only issue is Sarah Palin who has shown to the American public a low intelligent capacity to handle the crisis as VP. She has been avoiding to speak with national Media. The question to the Sarah Palin supporters. Why do you support someone to ran a Big Country like US with a very small back ground knowledge. How is she going to stand in front of other World leaders addressing US foreigner policy. It is time for CHG. Go Obama?Biden 2008

    October 18, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  5. A citizen of the world.

    I am a European and I have to tell you that the ideology of the US Democrats and of Obamas ideas resemble more the policies of conservative ideologies in Europe. Obama is the opposite of a socialist or a social Democrat. In Europe he would be regarded as center-right to right.

    October 18, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  6. Joe - Chicago, IL

    Ah yes, shifting the tax code so the poor are not burdened with a higher percent tax than the rich is socialism. In fact, any system where the rich have to pay taxes at all is socialism.

    October 18, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  7. John

    I'd rather see my tax money going to help out a fellow American than a large corporation or someone who is already rich. I guess that " Socialism" is only good as long as it's for the rich, the Republican cronies,lobbyists ,and Wall street fat cats (all Republicans). I'm much more offended by giving those people billions than helping out a single mother or a handicapped person with thousands. Whenever the Republicans start crying about welfare I have to wonder about the hypocrisy....how is giving billions to corporations ok but helping out our fellow citizens is "socialist" ?
    John McCain is surrounded by lobbyists, his cronies all get rich selling one thing,their access and friendship to/with Senator John McCain. Think about that.

    October 18, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. will

    The progressive income tax (taxing the rich folks more) is inherently socialist/marxist. Are any of you familiar with the communist manifesto? Lowering the taxes on 95% of people means that you are redistributing the wealth of the other 5%, effectively discriminating against those that have worked hard. Obviously some people marry into the wealth, but at some point the money had to be earned.

    October 18, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  9. Josh

    John didn't you sign the bail out bill.You signed off on Socialism Stupid..Come on guys..what about the real issues that matter to the rest of the country. I think it is pathetic what you are doing, and maybe that is why so many smart and moral Republicans are jumping ship. You have no one to blame, but yourselves, for losing this election. You just don’t get it. Americans are tired of politics as usual. Enough is Enough!

    October 18, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    comrades, do not worry so much. the people shall prevail.

    October 18, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. sam

    where did obama get all his money from

    October 18, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. JL

    McCain I respectfully suggest you carefully study socialism. You are deeply uninformed. Again, an example of your persistent dirt throwing politics. You will soon discover that Americans are wiser and smarter than you have given us credit for. In fact, we are all just holding out for this be finished.


    October 18, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. JR, Columbus, Ohio

    It's not socialsim yet, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

    Baby steps.

    October 18, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. Kathy

    The McCain-Palin campaign can be represented by "D" words. They obviously think that the American people are "dumb" and the tactics of the campaign are "deceptive", "despicable", "deplorable" and "desperate".

    October 18, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Concerned Citizen

    Why are Obama supporters so aggressive and hateful. So you disagree with McCain/Palin...I get it. But there campaign has had fewer negative ads then Obama's.

    Obama isn't a socialist...but a "redistribution of wealth" is pretty close and is a pretty scary concept. His tax plan is a huge restructuring of the welfare system under another name. I don't think the existing welfare system has been very successful at getting families out of poverty. Expanding makes little sense to me.

    October 18, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. Thomas

    When the GoP starts invoking the fear of the "S" word, that tells me that they truly have nothing positive to offer this country.

    Don't tell me what is wrong with the DNC candidate, tell me what is good about YOUR candidate.

    October 18, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. Amused Texan

    The McCain-Palin Show is starting to sound like the Good Cop Bad Cop Show.

    October 18, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  18. Lewis Moore

    Everyone please get out and vote on the 4th. Why isn't the 4th a national holiday so that everyone has time to get the to voting booth?? I mean columbus day gets people out of school and work, so if we can take a day off for a misguided sailor we should be able to have a day off to vote.

    October 18, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  19. Denise

    Keep talking McCain/Palin. You keep digging yourself deeper every time you attack Barack Obama with baseless allegations, rather than telling the American people how you are going to help them. At this stage of the game if you don't have any answers for them....it's over for you.

    October 18, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. canada

    I wish i could vote for obama but i can't because i am canadian, the whole world want obama because we want peace in world, please vote for obama.

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

    If lowering taxes for those making less than $200,000 per year is socialism, I'm all for it!

    October 18, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  22. JL

    Ron-I agree....it is the return of the McCarthy era.


    October 18, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  23. denise nc

    i can't wait for this election to be over. it is very tiring and annoying. everytime mccain or palin are on tv i quickly change the channel they are the most disgusting ticket ever please don't vote them in the white house please she abused her powers and so did mccain

    October 18, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  24. Mom w/daughter

    It simple. Are better off today than you were 4 years ago? 8 years ago? I can afford to send my kid to college. Why? Because in the 90's when we had responsible government the economy boomed and we made enough money to put away to make sure our kids could go to college. We paid more in taxes but we saved more also.

    Democrats are for responsible government. Save Joe? Then vote for the party that stands for a strong economy. Look around and see what Republican greed has done to our country. Small and large businesses are failing in record numbers. The Republican government failed this country.

    October 18, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  25. Rami

    Mr McCain,
    What do you think our current system does?
    We pay taxes so the the government can pay for roads and infrastuctures and defense and also for programs that support the poor and needy and the elderly. Is this socialism in your opinion Mr McCain? Stop your gimmicks. We know what Obama is talking about ... we know that his plan is not to raise taxes like you keep saying. Under his plan 95% will get a tax cut. You are starting to make me sick. You would say anything to get people afraid of Obama. I hope America is smarter this time.

    October 18, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
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