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. Joe

    This is hilarious. Let us not forget that Alaska is the largest welfare state in the union, and just like other Alaskans, the Palins themselves are recipients of social welfare benefits.

    October 18, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  2. Chuck

    Interesting: McCain pushed and voted for the largest Socialist bailout of the private sector since the Great Depression. Who is he to call someone a Socialist. Maybe he sould look at his own actions before calling someone a Socialist. A Senior Citizen and Indpendent voter in Ohio.

    October 18, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. ohio

    mccain another liar

    October 18, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. Republican for Obama/Biden

    They are so nasty, all they have lies, hate and they are trying to divide this wonderful country.

    McCain/Palin don't have anything left but to run a nasty campaign.

    Independents please don't buy into this.

    October 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. cindy

    North Carolina vote Obama, not Mccain.
    Obama/Biden for president

    October 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. Joe in Vermont

    Desparation time!

    October 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  7. Ex-Republican

    McCain just voted to bail out the banks to the tune of 1 trillion dollars... Maybe the bailout was needed, but cries of "Socialism" from his campaign are pretty thin gruel.

    Wars and corporate bailouts are not free, folks.

    October 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. Obama's Welfare Train

    Toot–toot. Everybody get on Obama's welfare train. Working days are over. Joe the plumber is gonna pay our bills. Toot-toot.

    October 18, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. Dia, Dayton, Ohio

    The Republicans are trying to scare white people by telling them that Obama will take their money and give it to (poor) black people. Why don't they just admit it? disgusting.

    October 18, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. Molly

    So, McCain is towing the Republican line. Socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor. Gotcha. Privatize the gains, socialize the losses. Thanks, but no thanks, McCain.

    October 18, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. Beth

    Because, you know, a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street doesn't smack of socialism at all.

    October 18, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. Jason

    This is not redistribution of wealth. Redistribution is taking ALL of the money and giving it to the inordinately wealthy under the facade of trickle down economics.

    This is taxing people that can afford it in order to put money into the pockets of those who can't afford to both pay taxes and survive.

    If these people end up homelss, they'll end up jobless and paying no taxes anyway!

    October 18, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. Kentucky

    God help us if these two dummies ever win!!!

    October 18, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  14. Drew

    It's not a bad thing that McCain and Palin are using the word "Socialist." They're just calling a spade a spade. Obama has made no secret that he wants to turn the USA into a Socialist nation. Look at his politics and stop buying into the media adoration of King Obama.

    October 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. Becky

    Why is it Patriotic to spend $10 Billion a month on Iraqis, yet socialism to help Americans?? Who are the real Anti-Americans in this race?

    October 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. Cindy

    Just more desperation from the McCain/Palin camp. We know they plan to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, in these last weeks. Tomorrow it will be whatever they make up for the day.

    October 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. Todd

    I find it interesting that the Obama camp did not immiediately refute this claim. Could it be because it is true?

    October 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. Jane Zacek

    Looks like McCain is getting pretty DESPERATE.

    October 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. NC Voter

    Um, wasn't it the incumbent administration was has been forced to nationalize (socialize?) our banks???

    October 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. dian

    What's wrong with helping the poor? I don't get the fear, or is it greed and elitism?

    October 18, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. TN Dem

    This is so obviously a gross distortion of Obama's plan...McCain and Palin wouldn't know the truth if it hit them in the face...but even if it was an accurate description of Obama's plan, just when did it become such a bad thing to help your less fortunate fellow human beings?

    October 18, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  22. Electra

    We in England have a National Health System and a welfare system and we are so far from Socialism. NHS is essential (i would not be alive) and i have used the welfare system (when i have no choice hence the NHS!!) and its undisputed here. Both have their problems and fair share of issues which need to be def addressed but they are essential and undisputed nonetheless. America doesnt know what its missing., esp with NHS. Maybe Americans would benefit from wonderful system esp your seniors if they werent so scared of 'socialism'. You never know when you might need it! (i am only 27 yrs old unfortunately)

    October 18, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Carl Brooks

    I've been torn about which candidate to vote for, but the recent remarks made by Senator McCain have made me uncomfortable with his potential presidency. He seems very apt to use divisive and manipulative language to propell is campaign. Sen. Obama is maintaining a clear message about his intended policy and is addressing the issues that matter to me. I have to say, the more I know, the more strongly I support Obama.

    October 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. susie

    Spreading the wealth is socialism.

    October 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. LaRue

    What is all this about welth distribution? Is it not true that John McCain gives his salary to his favorite charity? If thats true, and he is wealthy enough to do it, why doesn't he send it in with his tax return? It seems to me he can afford higher taxes. The guy is not in touch!!! Go Obama.
    I think all government officials should be made to live on minumum wage for their first year in office. After their first year, get back to me and let me know how ya made out.

    October 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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