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. David

    Quit drinking the Kool-aid boys. Obama is the MOST Socialist politician we have in the good ole US of A. It's about time somebody called him out on it.

    October 18, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |


    October 18, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  3. A Canadian

    So what is with Socialism. Canada is a socialist country and yet during the Wall Street meltdown, The World Economic Forum released a report saying that Canada has the most sound financial system in the world.

    I hope Americans will not be deceived by the use of big words by the GOP. I've watched the campaign since Feb. and Barack's opponents would like to use fear to win votes. This is indicative of what kind of presidency they will have. If McCain wants to govern Americans through fear as his campaign thrives on evoking fear in people, he is no better than the leaders of the Communists country. America, the choice is clear: either vote Socialist or vote Communist (McCain)...

    October 18, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  4. EZ

    Unfortunately the delibarately un-educated half of the US is buying it.
    McCain is himself Pal(l)in(g) around with a nut case.

    October 18, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |

    Ohhhh no! The rich are going to have to start paying taxes! The horror!!! I got news for you Obama, we poor people arent interested in rich folks money. We dont think it's fair that they might have to wait an extra year for that ferrari. Why should they have to stop throwing their spoiled brat daughters million dollar birthday parties? Why should those children have to suffer? A million dollar sweet 16 is the most important thing you can give your children. They shouldnt have to settle for last years Lexus. This year's Lexus is available, and if our taxes are lowered, that poor child will have to suffer because of that.

    October 18, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  6. Karl

    More fear mongering. The comedy is, Bimbo wouldn't know a socialist if it came up and bit her in the butt. And McShame is out of touch. We have never had a flat tax for all. We've always had an incremental tax burden on the wealthiest and always had a welfare system for the underprivileged. What world is McCain living in? Out of mind, out of touch = idiot.

    October 18, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  7. Brian OR

    From the very beggining the U.S. has had a mixed capitalist/socialist economic system coupled with a representative form of democracy as a political system. This combination has made us the strongest, fairest, most productive country ever in the history of the world.

    For those who question socialism during the beginning of U.S. history, what do you call homesteading? People were given land secured by the federal government.

    October 18, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  8. joe

    With President Bush with alot of power, can we ask if the way the used our tax dollars was socialist too. Who said we have to use money in Iraq! Man up Republicans and tell us how we ended up in Iraq with the wrong intelligence!!

    October 18, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Connie

    Was it socialism that got us out of the great depression. Face it John McSenile your wife earned 4 million dollars last year, it is HER TAXES you are worried about. As Warren Buffet has said his tax bracket is smaller that his secretaries and he would not mind paying more. John McSenile help Joe the plumber pay his taxes please, make him a true America. Vote early, vote OBAMA.
    Connie from Indiana

    October 18, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. Bell

    I'm so tired of the fear mongering already. I'm going to use the F word: Fascist. This is where we are headed if McCain wins.

    October 18, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  11. Leena

    Uh...didn't our government just bail out somebody like a Socialist government would? I'm pretty sure a Democrat wasn't President yet when that happened.

    Please let me wake up and it be November 5th.

    I feel stupid for ever considering voting for McCain. I apologize to everyone for that moment of dumbness.

    October 18, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. Independent for obama

    Like I said before, what we have now isn't working. Maybe it's time to try something new.
    When I had my 2nd child via c-section I told the hospital I wanted to be released asap, even if I wasn't ready because my insurance was charging me $150 per day for my hospital room. I left in 2 days. I was in so much pain, but we couldn't afford to stay any longer. And I had health insurance.

    Was leaning for McCain, but did my own research and Obama is the person for me. Voted already.

    October 18, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  13. carrie

    We've got socialism for the CEO bankers so why not everyone else?

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

    Mccain/Palin comes to their rally and LIE to their supporters about Obama and twist the truth and the Republicans can'n t even think for themseives and believe everything Mccain/Palin say. I guess thier supporters just turn their brains off Republicans turn your brains back on and you can think for yourselves and know that Obama/Biden can move this country in a postive direction and get the Economy up and going to its highest standard. Obama/Biden know how to clean up this mess that the Republicans made. My brains is thinking why would we trust a Republican with their ideas? their ideas got us into this finanical mess!!!

    October 18, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  15. Paul

    It's a sure sign of a campaign in desperation when they go so far as to try to compare a great American like Barack Obama to terrorists and socialist dictators. The conservatives have even called him the anti-Christ. The GOP is SO DISPLACED FROM REALITY!!!!!!

    OBAMA in 08 and 12!!!!!!

    October 18, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. GForce

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it's a duck.

    Obama is CLEARLY has a Socialist agenda.

    The new Democrat slogan;

    "Spread the Wealth Around"


    "Change; It's What Will Be Left of Your Check"

    October 18, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. ML - California

    This election is a joke! Neither candidate has convinced me that they can run this country and treat the American people with respect. WE DO NOT NEED TO GO FROM A DEMOCRACY TO SOCIALISM! All politicians care about is themselves – so, what's new?

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



    October 18, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  19. a democrat

    It's ironic they would use the S word since Republicans have no problem being socialist when it fits their agenda like when they give 1 trillion to businesses. Or like when they force tax payers to fund the building of another stupid sports arena we don't need.

    You can't have you cake and eat it too – you either let the markets be totally free (which means, don't as me for taxes to help YOU get richer) – spend your own cash or the government (the people) have every right to step in, take your toys away, and profit from your mistakes.

    October 18, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  20. Lisa

    i guess that makes me a socialist, too. Yawn.

    October 18, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  21. Jim J

    Redistributing wealth to people who do not pay income taxes at all is not only Socialism but against the free market philosphy that this great country was founded upon. Too bad rage results in stupidity on the part of the American voters particularly the youger ones who have not or do not understand the value of the dollar and only want everything for free. Shame on you.

    October 18, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  22. Carmine Abbattiello

    McCain/Palin's recent tactics seem calculated to produce perhaps the most one-sided federal election in 40 years. Their incompetence, even stupidity (I know, not nice, but it fits) has become obvious to all. (Picking a neophyte like Palin will go down as the biggest blunder ever in presidential politics.) The Republican party will be rebuilding for the next 20 years because of the damage W, Cheney, and the neo-cons have wrought. But much worse, the American public will suffer through some very desperate times ahead.

    October 18, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  23. undecided voter

    Still making up my mind but getting closer..as a small business owner I want to know what their philosophy is not so much their plan, since neither plan is likely to get fully into place after the election it never does. I think after I made honest indendent research over these competing tax plans.. Sen Obama's overall philosophy as he said in his own words was to spread the wealth. To me that just smacks of being too far to the left. McCain did have it right when he said America has the second highest business tax in the world and that helps chase out business to overseas markets that foster a climate of encouraging good businesses to come. Ireland has truly been drawing alot of the high tech industry lately because of this. I know in Wosconsin under the dems we have lost loads of business to less taxed states. I am agreeing with McCain on taxes and jobs at least.

    October 18, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. Cathy, Peoria AZ

    Is there nothing that these two will not stoop too? I have had enough of both of them. I never thought I would see John McCain want to win so badly that he resorts to more and more lies every day.
    America, I am confident we are smart enough to rise above the negativity

    October 18, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. Conservative Independent-Democrat Chick

    Why do these comments appear so extremely one-sided (L)? At this point in the game, both sides – BOTH parties – are using whatever means to make their point. It is called politics, Lefties. Your reactions are a disservice to democrats.

    October 18, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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