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. Wendy

    What are you gonna call him next...

    I would call McCain's campaign "ineffective"

    October 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. (Former) Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    Purely shameful. McCain is a coward!

    October 18, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. David

    People in this country never cease to amaze me with their stupidity. Does anyone using the word "socialism" as a negative actually know what it means?

    I can't speak for anyone else here, but I think of countries in Europe and I think of places that are doing a lot more things right than we have in quite some time.

    Anyone who says America is the greatest country in the world is WRONG.

    October 18, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. wil

    All I want to know is HOW all I want to ask Mccain is HOW are you going to balance the buget in your first term How are you going to end two wars,capture or kill bin laden, solve the finacial mess that we are in How are you going to fix all that is wrong with this country you say you are going to do all these things but you don't say HOW so Mr. Mcain I'm calling you on it HOW.

    October 18, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. Mark

    Social democracy is the only way to go. The cuurent system of extreme, unchecked/unregulated, free-market capitalism has repeatedly throughout American history (robber barons, great depression, savings & loan buyout, 2008 bailout) encouraged and supported greed and arrogance among the wealthy. It has created the current cut-throat culture war and is responsible for extreme bitterness hatred and division.
    It has further required social-progressive adjustments to return to a much higher general prosperity of reduced poverty, reduced crime, higher education, stable families, and general well being in EVERY single case. Whether it has been unionization, government regulation and consumer protections, etc, the evidence is resounding that social democracy i.e. "spreading the wealth" is the only viable alternative to revolution: in which case, everyone loses.

    October 18, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  6. Motov8n

    Sarah Palin "Palling around with Secessionist "!!!

    October 18, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  7. otto

    the republicans have been giving socialist welfare to the super rich and practicing "capitalism" on the rest...think about it.

    October 18, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  8. Angela

    Oh, my God!!! What Obama will do reminds me of the '90s when Bill Clinton did the same to this country!!!!

    Wait a second. The '90s were good times!!!

    October 18, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  9. Charles

    They will say ANYTHING at this point!

    October 18, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. DJ in Colorado

    Here's an "S" word for McCain-Palin:
    S T U P I D!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 18, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  11. JD in NC

    This is getting insane.

    McCain and Palin are relying exclusively on personal attacks to mask their lack of a coherent plan.

    October 18, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  12. California Gold

    At least Obama has identified the problems. McCain can't be bothered with this country's problems. Deregulate, wash your hands of the mess and let the chips fall where they may. No leadership.

    It's getting too late in the game for McCain. He has become nothing more than a critic.

    October 18, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. Colin

    McCain wants to have the government buy up bad housing debt from lenders to the tune of 300 BILLION dollars and HE is accusing people of being socialists? Don't make me laugh!

    October 18, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  14. nate

    Moderate USA-loving Dems like me dont like being called Socialist. That seals it. Im voting for Obama.

    October 18, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. Darren

    The GOP ought be weary – right now 'socialism' doesn't sound too bad to a lot of Americans.

    October 18, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. Lars from Denmark

    The mixed economies of western Europe are prospering, have low crime rates, high standards of living, absolute freedom, and unfailingly happy populations.

    Yet the US persists in treating social programs as evil, oppressive and unfair, and now the word "socialism" has become another in the long list of unutterable words in American English?

    I personally find this hilarious beyond words.

    October 18, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. Tracey

    A true sign of a campagin "gone bad". He has a new pitch every week. Stick to an issue, please!

    October 18, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  18. John

    "Since you can't reduce taxes on those who pay zero, the government will write them all checks called a tax credit."

    Wow, McCain must really think people are stupid. What kind of induction is that? Why not really go for McCain? Here's a better one:

    "Since you can't reduce taxes on those who pay zero, the government will have to kill all these people."

    October 18, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  19. Mark

    Socialism? You mean more than from the republican party, right? After all, that is what we have after eight years of Bush...call it nationalism if you would like, but it is all the same.

    October 18, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  20. reggie

    It is socialism...no matter what you want to call it.

    October 18, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  21. Dan

    of course, the irony of all this is that the current Republican administration just bailed out all the major banks and nationalized them. John boy McCain supported this. Pot, please meet kettle.

    October 18, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  22. Skyview

    Desperation forces the republicans to use t he "s" word when policies such as Social Security and Medicare are proposed as solutions to problems republicans have caused. In the past deficit spending was called "socialism" by the repubs, but this was before Mr. repub, himself, Regan ,used deficit spending to overcome a recession he caused in the early 80s, and which Bush has used to create the present recession(starting a war and giving tax cuts at the same time). The fact is that most repub are not hurting from the recession becuase they have a secure income from the government or business connected to government, and therefore know they will survive the economic downturn...

    October 18, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. Marianne H Fischer

    Any body that believes MCain cares about them and earns less than $250,000 a year ia an idiot. The rich have done verrry well under Bush. The GOP hopes to dupe people by inducing fear. Maccain has no plan to take on the health insurance industry to stop discrimination because of existing condition; To provide options for employees that lack any option except an inferior plan at high prices @ work. The healthcare game is hurting employers and employees across this country. MCcain doesn't care!

    October 18, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. Kathleen

    Cold War is over! Get over it! Socialism is not a dirty word.

    October 18, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. melody watkins

    A great Republican once said "you can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but you can't fool all of the people all of the time". McCain and Palin are preaching to the choir; no one else is listening.

    October 18, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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