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. G.R. the railroader

    Good grief, give it up McCain! You've tried it all. No level headed person is buying it. It just shows how desperate your campaign is. You lost this election when you chose Sara Palin!!!

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

    the Republican "spin machine" amazes me. To take a tax plan and call it Socialism is ridiculous. And please let's remember that the only reason we know of "Joe the plumber" is becasue John McCain originally invoked his name...not Senator Obama. At this point he has no choice but to ask "Joe" to join him on the trail now that he can't work due to being exposed as an unlicensed handy man who hasn't even completed the necessary apprenticeship to practice as a plumber. It goes to show you what kind of leader McCain will be...act first, research later. Then again, it's the same process he used when selecting his running mate. It's obvious that proper due diligence was not part of either of these decisions. He continues to make himself look like an idiot! Though I never agreed with his politics, I at least used to respect and like him a great deal...that's starting to fade. Though politics is a tough business, you shouldn't allow it to reduce who you are as a human being.

    October 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. jake747

    Where was the outcry when Bush redistributed wealth to the wealthy? That's exactly what happens when you slash taxes for the wealthy and embark on deficit spending. The rest of us pay through inflation, a weakened dollar, and pressure for regressive tax increases in other areas. Redistribution goes both ways. If Obama's socialist, then McCain is either a fascist or feudalist.

    For those who still don't know what the socialism is, it's the redistribution of wealth to the extreme that it creates equality among all; plus the nationalizing of industry for ownership by the people. What Obama proposes is no where close. And, if he is lying and does? Guess what, he'll be voted out in 4 years.

    October 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Zach

    I just see why socialism is that bad. That said Obama is hardly a socialist

    October 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. Jimi NY

    The "S" word for Obama is SUPERMAN!!! Seeing how he was born on Krypton. And he will supercede McCain and Palin on November 4!



    October 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. From Canada

    What's wrong with Socialism? Canada is socialist. The most progressive countries in the world are socialists. When ranked according to most efficient health care, more habitable countries, countries which takes care of children and workers best, the US of A is well below Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and other European, SOCIALIST countries. The US of A spends 40% more in health care than Canada but ALL Canadians have access to one of the best health care system in the world.

    I'm not saying that Barack is socialist. I am just saying that SOCIALISM is NOT BAD as the GOP would have you Americans believe. It's politics of fear. The GOP does not know any better or they're just fooling the Americans and hope to get away with it by getting your votes.

    October 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. Law Students for Obama

    Whoa!! I'm still not getting with you Senator McCain. I don't feel sorry for people who make over $250,000 who will "feel the pain" of a 3% tax increase. Furthermore, the tax increase isn't even on all income! It's only on that portion of income that will be over that $250,000 mark. So they'll only see an increase of at the most a couple thousand bucks even if they make millons of dollars a year. Enough with the scare tactics. People who make under $250,000 will get a tax break that better than Senator McCain's proposal under Senator Obama's plan. So I'm not buying this whole thing that all of a sudden, people who are really struggling in this economy will be getting a "welfare check" from the super wealthy most of which WE JUST HANDED A 750 BILLION "WELFARE" CHECK TO! That's not "spreading the wealth," that's doing what's right. I'll be in the over $250,000 mark pretty soon and I know what it's like to struggle financially. The least I could do as an American is shell out a couple extra thousand from my huge salary to pay for things like education, roads, social programs, etc.

    By the way, why don't you say what you really mean. Just say that Senator Obama will only be looking out for the black people and will be stealing from all the good, harworking, patriotic (white?) Americans while all the lazy poor people will be getting a check for sitting on their behinds all day. Sickening.

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

    I'm sure that its possible we will hear that Barack and probably Joe also are Communist also... When your losing your bearings anything you bump into tastes good. My Friend Jonh, actually you are not my friend nor are you a friend of the majority of Americans...certainlly not anyone that works for a living... the reason that you are losing your bearings is because of spin...SPIN and perhaps too much believing that War is GOOD. SPIN SPIN SPIN.... LIE LIE LIE... Rove said that
    it will become truth... Aren't you glad that Republicans are TOPS...!!

    Barack and Joe are not Communists or Socialist... they are American
    politions running for the two most important positions in the world, and thank God they are.... Vote America in the most important election in my life time... vote for Barack and Joe... help yourself to a better life and that will help my grandkids which is the reason... that...

    Yup, I'm that old-(69 yrs)-white-retired guy from Ma. former Republican


    Vote OBAMA and BIDEN...... PLEASE

    October 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. Annemarie

    Perhaps the most important reason Obama will make an excellent president is this one: he can't afford to screw up. As the first African-American president, he's got to do a better job than any other president before him, because if he blows it, it will take a million years before the American people will trust another African-American with the job.
    Other than that, I'm puzzled as to why "spreading the wealth" is considered socialism. Most Western and Northern European countries have a system in which wealth is redistributed in order to provide basic health care and a safety net for everyone. Yet they're not socialist countries, not a single one of them. Instead, we call it civilization – as opposed to the GOP alternative to spreading wealth: grabbing as much of it as you can, at the expense of the less fortunate if at all possible, and make sure no-one other than yourself benefits. Which, incidentally, is the way wealth was handled in the former socialist countries...

    October 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. Phil Newton in Murphy, Oregon

    I have news for you:

    The government already does control your money.

    Right now the GOP is giving trillions of it away - to Iraq, oil companies and those Wall Street thieves that wrecked the joint.

    Obama proposes letting most of us keep a little more and McCain calls that Socialism.

    That's RICH.

    My friend.

    October 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. Jeff from Austria

    As an American living in Europe and particularily Austria for the last 20 years i really don't know why people would have a problem with basically free health care, free schools and Univerisities, great apprentice programs for kids who want to become masters at a particular craft, free reeducation for those unfortunate enough to lose their jobs, and a decent retirement plan so you can actually live off the goverment security system.
    Tax rates are progressive with the highest rate of 50% after a net income of roughly €80000(there are lots of deductions before you get to the Net income).

    The benifits for the people greatly outweigh the higher tax rates.

    Obama wants to raise taxes for the ultra rich, okay by me. Give him a chance to get the other programs going and let him get America back into the pole position.

    October 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  12. David

    Get a life you two has beens. John, go enjoy your millions while the rest of us struggle just to get health insurance. Palin, oh hell, there is nothing you could do because your illiterate. And Barbie doll, go and EAT SOMETHING will you. I want to introduce to you the new President of the United States of America. BARACK OBAMA and so proud to do it. the McCain campaigne is TOAST!!!!!!!

    October 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. SB in NoVA

    I have some "S" words for them and their despicable campaign:

    Scraping the bottom

    I'm sure you get my point ...

    Obama/Biden 08 and beyond!
    Turn VA Blue!

    October 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  14. redhead from toronto

    I thought Barack Obama said he would cut taxes for 95% of workers. This would be workers who DO pay taxes. I think John McCain and Sarah Palin should listen more and talk less.

    October 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. Rose

    They actually think that the word socialist is going to get to everyone?

    October 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. martie bian

    What do you call the democrates and obama's plan? GIVE,GIVE,GIVE.

    What is the government going to pay all of the free programs with? The U.S is broke.

    Take the 700 Billion dollar BAILOUT, and add ONE TRILLON DOLLARS that the democrates want to GIVE AWAY. How do you spell broke. democrates plan. ( SOCIALISM).

    October 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Carolyn from Georgia

    Redistribution of wealth is not that uncommon. The wealthy Americans have been doing it for years. That is why the wealth hardly trickles down to average Americans. The wealth is distributed among the wealthy. That is why Warren Buffet said that he pays less taxes than his secretary. Have you ever heard that saying that the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer? Well, that where that saying comes from. Obama is trying to distribute the wealth to average Americans to make the playing field more fair. After all, if a person who owns a restaurant wants to make money, he has to have people come in and buy his food. If his customers don't have the money to patronize his restaurant, then the restaurant owner can't make money anyway.

    October 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  18. Rob

    Hey McCain not everyone left his wife and married his wealthy Mistress–your a lowlife . Your the loser ticket . Ask Botox Barbie to buy you a new home !

    post this please

    October 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  19. Pete from Ohio

    The tax increase on the wealthy are only returning the taxes to the level they were before Bush started and gave tax breaks to millionaires. The taxes are not checks to the poor or redistribution of wealth. This is money that goes towards running our country, ( military, schools, roads, healthcare etc). When will the Republicans quit being so dishonest and misleading. I was undecided but this has put me into the Obama camp.

    October 18, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  20. Ted

    Obama's comment simply states what the U.S. has been doing since the great depression. It collects taxes from most people and uses them to fund many programs. Some of these benefit all and some benefit people who pay low or no taxes, including veteran's benefits and low income food stamps, etc.

    For example, when I was much younger I got Korean War veteran's benefits to attend college and to get a low cost mortgage on my first home. Just before I retired (at age 73) I paid much more in taxes then I received directly in any kind of benefit, although I benefitted from highway maintenance, homeland security, National Parks, and many other things.

    October 18, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |

    These two do not know the definition of Socialism. They can't seem to keep anything straight.......If you are sick of the 1% elite rich controling your life, get out and vote for Obama who cares about the rest of us!

    October 18, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  22. Independent for McCain

    That is why I have said we need to balance the White House and Congress. Do not let one party control the country and give them a BLANK CHECK! Vote McCain to control DEMOCRATS uncontrol spending.

    October 18, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  23. J. Dean


    October 18, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  24. Brian B

    What is it called when me and my wife pay more in taxes than my aunts actually make in a year, yet they get stimulus checks and we get nothing because we made too much....>>>redistribution of wealth<<<<....thanks republicans....bums.

    October 18, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  25. Phil Newton in Murphy, Oregon

    It appears that the majority of Americans have rejected McCain's robo-campaign. Obama remains at above 6% nationally and has solidified the swing state vote.

    Should robo-man win, however, the Joes of this country will quickly find how much McCain & Co. love them.

    They love you once every four years, Joe.

    My friend.

    October 18, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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