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. paul

    here is another problem I have with most of you. and that is as long as someone like Obama gives you lots of free goodies you have no problem with him stealing money from people that earn more then you.

    Maybe if some here were hard working people that made a good living and then saw Obama about to steal what they make they change their minds about voting for this Socialist.

    October 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. Reality Check Richmond Virginia

    total garbage. both candidates support progressive tax plans, so if McCain wants to throw around the socialist tag, he could apply it to himself as well.

    October 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. Dixie

    An agency working for the republican party is hoodwinking people into registering as Republicans. Read the article in the LA Times. John says he knows how to get things done (right or wrong), just so it suits his purposes. Does anyone else feel that "Joe the Plummer" feels a bit fishy ? A plant? Sorry if you opose the suggestion ,but after this campaign, I will never trust McCain/Palin/GOP again. Please vote Obama/Biden.

    October 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. FAYE, NV

    Pocking fun I guess is to stop from crying because McCain has no real solution. Keeping criticizing about Obama to avoid real life issue.


    October 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  5. AOA

    Are McCain and Palin aware that "Joe the plumber" has some tax issues? But then...I guess it's a little much to expect integrity when you look at their past. Repubs are just an amazing group....really.

    October 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. JJ in Chula Vista, CA

    This is the expected tactic of Republicans in utter desperation; Barack Obama is a Socialist! Cue the dramatic music! Give me a break.

    October 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  7. Cheryl Fontaine

    Same old mccain, same old mcbush.

    Get off the stage mcsame, your day is over. send mz barbie back to alaska – she seems to do best in the bush – pun intended.

    I am so tired of your rhetoric, lies, slander, and egregious behavior aimed at only one thing: Bamboozling the American public and getting you and your plastic wife into the White House.

    October 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  8. hez

    What's new? Hasn't Senator MacCain himself supported a Socialist move by the republican governemnt of President Bush to become joint owners of some selected banks?

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  9. M.L. Cuellar

    McCain is really a loser, trying to accuse Obama of being a Socialist? What a bunch of tripe! George Bush push a bill to bail out Wall Street, a bill that most of the politicians from both parties approved including John
    McShame! This bill is the ultimate form of corporate Socialism! For McCain to accuse Obama of being a socialist? McCain is way out of touch with the world around, he might as well accuse all the members of congress, and the president of being socialist,

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  10. Jason

    If his campaign is a glimpse into how he would run the White House a McCain/Palin presidency would be quite dysfunctional. I mean it has gotten to a point where outright lies and hatred have taken over for civil arguments on the different policies these candidates support. The McCain campaign is a several headed monster all with different viewpoints and strategies. The Obama campaign has been a single unwavering strategy with an overall goal of change and specific policies that would bring this change. I have heard nothing on specifics from McCain except how he would keep things the same as Bush.

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  11. Rick

    McCain is an idiot. He says it is not a tax cut, it's a government giveaway. Well, for the 95% of the people that will get a "government giveaway", IT IS a tax cut. Keep it up John, you and Sarah bury yourselves further every time you open your mouths.

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. bob

    Forget about what Sen. Obama says (it all sounds wonderful) – just look at what he has done – vote in lock step with the most liberal members of his party. He talks an inclusive game but he has no action to back it up. He is eloquent and charismatic but I am more interested in what he will do as President.

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  13. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Obama's a terrorist! Obama's a Socialist! Obama's a Liar! Obama's a Celebrity! Obama's an Arab! Obama's a Marxist! No John, Obama is none of those things. Obama is the next President of the United States.

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. leigh

    I remember when Bush senior called Bill Clinton a Bozo. Bush knew he was losing and he had left was name calling. These two whackos got nothing. They are done. Why don't they just turn Palin loose to go home and face the music in Alaska and McCain to go plan his retirement party in Arizona.

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. Rob

    Obama's own words...."spread the wealth around". Maybe some of you "highly intelligent" people can explain exactly what that means!

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. John

    First of all, socialism is not a curse word, though it's treated as such by people who don't know what the word means and imagine some gloom and doom, 1984 scenario when they hear it. Secondly, we already have some socialist policies, e.g., the bailout, medicare, federal education programs, among others. Thirdly, how do McCain and Palin expect to "reign in" the "greed and corruption on Wall Street" if not via socialist maneuvers? Socialism is government control of the distribution of goods and services. Control of Wall Street by the government would be the epitome of socialism.

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  17. Elizabeth

    Palin, go back to Alaska

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. waxwing069

    How much you wanna bet that McCain gets rid of Palin for VP and asks The wannabe plumber to take her place as VP??? lmao

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. Confussed

    We will not be feared into your corner. This is not Socialism.

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. Susan

    Let the fear mongering begin! The socialists are coming, the socialists are coming! Hide your women & children! Good grief. The Republicans are losing because their "dumbing down" of America apparently didn't take hold in enough areas of the country. Interesting. Look at the reddest of the red states and then take a peek at how much "federal money" (i.e, welfare, etc.) these states get. You might be very, very suprised.

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. PDX Gal

    This explains why Sarah wants rape victims to pay for their own rape kits. Obviously, if the local goverment pays for it- that's just too gosh darn Socialist for Sarah Palin!

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. Ken

    McCain is so right in the point that if Obama is elected, we will be another step closer to socialist type of government.

    It will be a major mistake if Obama is elected and we will see our government cause us to go further in debt and his ways are totally wrong for our economy.

    NOBAMA 2008

    McCain/Palin 2008

    October 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. Republican for Obama/Biden

    Just 17 more days and McCain/Palin will be history instead of the future.

    October 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. TheTruthHurts

    We have a progressive income tax system now with those making more money paying more taxes. Is that socialism to. Also, how is it socialism to give people back the money they earned through a tax cut? It's not a spending program, it's a tax cut.

    This guy is so out of touch he doesn't know how income taxes work. His advisors (and Tucker Bounds) need to be fired.

    October 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  25. Notdrinkingthekoolaid

    Call it socialism or Barakonamics- it's still going to be redistribution of wealth. And how will the 5% paying 60% of the bill make up those additional taxes? They will lay off employess, increase prices, etc. But hey, at least we'll have plenty of welfare and free medical for illegal immigrants and the people who will lose their jobs over this. And as many abortions as we like!!!

    October 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
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