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. Derek

    A) socialism is not neccesarily a bad thing
    B) redistribution of wealth to those who would spend it [the poor] (therefore helping the economy) is better than redistributing it into the hands of those who would horde it [the rich] (thus harming the economy)
    C) McCain stop manipulating numbers by ignoring qualifiers made on statements (such as "95% of working americans" – that's different than "95% of americans") or just pulling strange definitions out of your nethers (as in your definition of "Small business"

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

    Amazing! McCain is actually lying about the well known numbers. All of the analyses from the non-partisan tax groups compute these fractions from those that have income! Obama's numbers are based on only those with income. His claim that Obama's plan will write checks to people without income is a bald-faced lie! Don't be fooled!

    October 18, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. Joseph Adewole

    The world is watching and waiting to see if America is really what it claims to be; one thing is sure Americans cannot be fooled by McCain's lies and propaganda. McCain will say anything that will confuse the voters just to get vote....But we are all waiting to see real AMERICA

    October 18, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. Jeff

    McCain is really panicking, isn't he?

    October 18, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. Ken

    As a Canadian watching this process play out: the desperation, fear, and - what comes awfully close to loathing - of the Republicans is frightening. Rep. Bachmann's comments on Hardball yesterday should send a shiver down everyone's spine. Ditto to Palin's comments about 'pro-American areas' of the country.
    This stuff was rife in the 1950's. I believe you called it 'McCarthyism'.

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

    Hey John, you were palling around with a fascist named Liddy. Does that mean you are a fascist?

    October 18, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Annie, Atlanta

    I don't know how Republicans can even utter the word socialism when we just bailed out (rescued) Wall Street and all their rich friends who ran their companies aground after bilking millions and billions of dollars. The same companies that are taking expensive "sales trips" and planning on billions in bonuses this year. ENOUGH! The Republican party has turned into the Socialists.

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

    I have a theory regarding McCain and Palin's frequent use of the words such as "celebrity", "terrorist" and "socialist":

    These are actually reminders to their aged supporters to take their meds.

    It's actually really thoughtful of the candidates to do this, if you really think about it.

    October 18, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. Mothernature Houston,Tx

    McCain is out of touch and out of time!!!!!

    October 18, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. "S" word?

    Palin used he "S" word? what she say You betcha I 'm "S"tupid and anyone who votes this ticket is "S"tupid?

    October 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Matt

    Note to Sen. McCain: The entire idea of a progressive tax system is a giveaway. Unless you're willing to advocate for a flat tax, stop saying the government is going to give away money because it already does.

    October 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. sid

    Only fool repeats the failure of the past. Here is what happened during Reganomics, “..., the benefits of the economic growth of the 1980s were confined largely to higher-income Americans. The real income of the poorest 20 percent of families dropped by more than 10 percent during decade, while the real income of the richest 20 percent increased by 3 percent, while taxes for the highest 20 percent decreased by 5 percent. The result was a widening of the income gap between America s poorer and richer families” (Patterson, 514). If that economics wasn't welfare for wealthest Americans, what would you call it? Enough is enough.

    October 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Gino

    These two are impossible: ignorant and desperate. Neither has any idea what socialism is and they barely have a notion of what democracy is. They are covering themselves with the mud they are slinging.

    October 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. Brenda R. Harris

    ONLY IN AMERICA, we can make fools of ourselves by opening our mouths.

    October 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. Doug, Pittsburgh, PA

    When all you left have are desperate, untrue scare tactics, I guess you go with what you got.

    October 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  16. C Spurgeon

    Instead of just a washed up old senator, he is now an old washed up liar, Who would think Warren Buffet would be supporting Barack in a socialist movement. McCain would do anything to become President and he has lost any respect or regard that I once had for him.,,his VP selection doesn't even warrant notice. What a pair...They are just Bush Cheney all over again.

    October 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  17. Sandy

    Socialism? Like the state owning shares in public banks? Like cuts in capital gains and estate taxes so the rich get the wealth spread their way? Looks like the GOP under Bush (with the approving votes of McCain) are leading the way towards "socialism" if that's what they think is happening.

    October 18, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. 61 year old White guy from NC

    Of course, they both are far the most stupid politicians i have ever seen in my 61 years on earth

    October 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. Annoyed

    hey Mccain- in case you haven't noticed, part of our country is already socialist- education, postal office, and now banks, courtesy of your bud, Bush. AND your plan to "buy back" bad mortages- doesn't that contain socialist elements as well?

    October 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  20. Brandon

    I agree with a previous poster - this shows how out of touch John McCain is with the reality of 95% of the country. Not everyone can marry someone who has 100 million dollars, 7 hours, and 13 cars. I can't wait till we're done hearing from this loser.

    October 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  21. April

    Apparently, McCain you just don't understand. 95% of working families do not mean 95% of Americans, unless of course the economy really recovers under Obama/Biden administration and we can put 95% of Americans to work.

    Then even "Joe the Plumber could afford to pay his back taxes

    October 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  22. Jerry, Illinois

    SOCIALISM is that the same party that voted twice
    for George Bush?

    October 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  23. Marie SC

    What McCain is saying is true, like it or not. What Obama is proposing is that the citizens of this country who earn more should offset the taxes of those earning less. Let's see, if I make $250,000 a year because I chose to go to college and become a doctor, I should be penalized by our government. If I earn $25,000 per year because I chose not to go to college and work harder then the government will give me some of the higher paid folks money. That's welfare folks. Take from the rich and give to the poor. That is socialism at its best. I don't want to live in a country tha penalizes me for doing better and working harder.

    October 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  24. JJ

    A choice between "socialism" and spreading the wealth around, versus an aristocratic, merchantile mindset and bailing out of the wealthy? Give me "socialism" any time.

    October 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  25. 40 year old "Joe-Six Pack" for Barack&Biden

    Its sad, b/c McCain and Sarah dont understand economics. Socialism is any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.

    October 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
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