July 18th, 2008
10:40 AM ET
15 years ago

McCain: 'I don’t know' if Obama is socialist

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/10/art.both.gi.jpg caption="McCain said Obama's Senate record was more liberal than a self-described socialist's."]
WARREN, Michigan (CNN) - John McCain on Thursday described Barack Obama’s Senate record as “more to the left” than Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont - an independent who caucuses with Democrats but has described himself as an “independent Democratic socialist.”

During his town hall meeting with voters in Kansas City yesterday, McCain said, “Senator Obama has the most extreme record of any member of the United States Senate.”

In an interview after the event, The Kansas City Star asked him to clarify the remark.

“His voting record … is more to the left than the announced socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont,” McCain answered, according the paper.

Asked if he thought Obama was a socialist, McCain answered: “I don’t know. All I know is his voting record, and that’s what people usually judge their elected representatives by.”

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (275 Responses)
  1. Ogden

    It would be nice if McCain actually gave us his definition of "socialist" instead just throwing out a word he thinks will scare people.

    He should get his campaign out of the gutter.

    July 18, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. Ray

    Obama doesn't have the most extreme voting record. This is another falsehood spread by the GOP. On balance Obama is something of a moderate. McCain is simply trying to paint him as an extremist because that sells. I mean, obviously, this "news" story made the ticker when there are far, far more important things to worry about...

    July 18, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  3. Scott

    The canadians are for Obama, the European's are for Obama, Iran is for Obama, the Palestineans are for Obama, Al-Qaeda is for Obama. I guess the "Debate is over". then again maybe not. Obama shares the world view of Jimmy Carter, the worst president EVER. Obama has less credentials than a peanut farmer to be president. McCain is not my guy, but I will be voting against Socialism and Obama in this election!

    July 18, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. Ndalio

    This guy is foolish... give solutions to the problems American is facing today and stop using cheap attacks. I'm sure can't define the word socialism.

    July 18, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  5. Janice

    McCain being McCain – dirty politics of insinuation. John McCain knows Obama believes in a strong capitalist system but with sufficient safety nets – like most Americans.

    On another subject .....

    I find it curious that no CNN report I've seen has covered the story that other networks have covered of McCain telling a tasteless rape joke back in a previous campaign, and his campaign spokesperson when confronted with this said it was an example of how "authentic" McCain is.

    You know – in most state elections I know (at least in strong Democratic states) , telling a joke like the one he told would end your chances of being elected. McCain I guess was very fortunate Arizona citizens did not hold him accountable – or else there are a lot of scary voters in Arizona..

    I wonder why now it's not relevant when it comes to CNN's coverage of the Presidential candidates.?

    You can be 100% sure if a Chicago newspaper in the past had covered Obama telling a joke like this as part of an old campaign, and if Obama's campaign chair today had answered that it showed "authenticity" that Obama would have wall to wall coverage for a week on this and his chances of being president would pretty much be over..

    You can be biased by omission just as you can be biased by what you cover, CNN. Show the courage to tell the American people – an especially women voters – who this mean, sexist, man McCain really is.

    July 18, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  6. tidho

    His policies do sound pretty socialist to me. There's a reason its called 'socialized' healthcare.

    He's funding social security by increasing taxes on the wealthy.

    His plan is bigger government – that's moving towards Socialism whether you like the term or not.

    What do you want a Democrat to do, preach personal responsibility?, lol.

    July 18, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  7. Mike - Texas


    And you think capitalism works well with no issues? Think again.

    Sure, if you are a member of the super-rich, then it works great. But for the rest of us... not so great.

    What we need is a combination of the two. Take the best aspects of capitalism and merge them with the best aspects of socialism.

    Of course, the owners of this country, your owners, would never allow it.

    July 18, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. Tony

    Pat, the reason why Obama's views are so popular with so many is that we have a LARGE number of people in this country who believe that they are entitled to those things that the rest of us work for. We do not have the RIGHT to happiness, only the right to PURSUE happinesss. The same for wealth, health, etc.

    Our culture is becoming more and more socialist over time, and like the frog in the pan of water in which the temperature is slowly elevating, we will not see the problem until it's too late.

    People, take a good hard long look at France. I mean, a really hard look. That is our future. Soon we're likely to be simply a large, heavily populated country of whiners who the rest of the world (at least the productive parts) will dismiss. The problem is that we already have a very large number of people who are basically like the rioting youths in France. What gets rewarded gets done, people. Pay for performance. When equality if favored instead of equity, really bad things happen. The sad part is that most people are either not smart enough to recognize this or simply salivating at the thought of a free lunch. There is no such thing, certainly not in the long term. Your sons and daughters will pay the price for your lack of achievement need.

    July 18, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  9. jon

    mccain says we cant trust gov to fix health care he is wrong .
    he says give the people $7000 to get it on their own . so maybe he should not have the health care he has now lets give him 7000 to take care of his own health care.
    is he not a retiree how then this great country can move foward with a retiree running it . plus he is collecting ss checks he along with others who are at the 65 yrs point should be forced to retire and maybe the unemployment line will be shorter . has any one drive with their granpa on a highway and was nervous here we go agian more wars he said it vote for change

    July 18, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  10. Char for Obama 08 & 12

    McCain needs to shut his pie hole!

    July 18, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  11. Racine

    Of course Obama is a socialist. He believes in taking from the rich to give to the poor without any consideration what is actually best for all. But let's not confuse him with a true socialist. Obama does not do wha the does because he actually believes it is something that will work for America. He is too smart and has too many smart people advising him to actually believe in his socialist policies. He is a socialist for the purpose of getting elected to the White House. So I guess we can call him an opportunistic socialist. If it was easier to get to the White House as a capitalist, Obama would be one.

    July 18, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. Anonymous

    he is a socialist live with it!

    July 18, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  13. AJ in Fla

    Mr. McCai, please stop been naive. Mr.Obama is a Socialist with anarchist tendencies, controlled by his wife and a potential disaster for our Country. He is the perfect "Great Impostor" and I predict that by October most of his supporters will have second and third thoughts. The only people that will remain with him are those with corrupt morals, cowards, people that will put their peronal interest ahead of their constituencies and country ie: gthe likes of Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid. THE RUBBER IS ABOUT TO MEET THE ROAD....!!!!!!

    July 18, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  14. Carl

    Obama is a socialist live with it!

    July 18, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |

    This guy is too much...the nerve

    July 18, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  16. E for Obama

    Hey McCain, is Obama's record "Extreme" because he voted differently then you would have? Or is it because you would stay in Iraq for 100 years and Obama wants to withdrawl?

    I guess I am "Extreme" because I am pro-choice.
    I guess I am "Extreme" because I want our troops out of Iraq.
    I guess I am "Extreme" because I want a comprehensive energy plan that does'nt include fossil fuel.
    I guess I am "Extreme" because I don't want drilling off our shore line.
    I guess I am "Extreme" because I want lower healthcare premiums and free healthcare for poor children in this country.
    I guess I am "Extreme" because I want a tax break
    I guess I am "Extreme" because I like the idea of a $4K college tuition credit for students who serve the community.

    McCain you are an "Extreme" idiot.

    July 18, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  17. An observer on Aruba

    For the GOP: This election stinks. What choices do you have besides McCain? McCain is just an old educated angry fool.

    Time to consider to become a democrat.

    July 18, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  18. Kelby

    HAHAHAHAHAHa somebody said BARR '08. Do we have to look out for the Nader effect? again? oh that was so funny. 🙂 YOU GUYS

    July 18, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  19. Lisa

    Wow McCain does not know if Obama is a socialist, He is so clever. The list of what he does not know is so much longer than the list of things he does know, poor old pathetic man, he should have our pity and not our votes

    July 18, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  20. Don't attack McCain,

    Can't you all see that he has his Flag Pin on?

    July 18, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  21. Uncle Eccoli

    That's all McCain's got: name-calling.

    July 18, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  22. Capitalist

    @You can't win an occupation,

    Well then, get a new job!! This is America. Get an education, get a job and work your way up. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it takes time. The economy is not as bad as everyone says it is.
    And if you're having such a hard time finding work at the low end, maybe we could get rid of the 12 million ILLEGAL immigrants so that you might have a better chance of higher demand and better wages.

    Corporate profits are fine. If people are worried about "windfall" profits, then why are we not taxing Bill Clinton more for his speeches!!? Why are we not taxing the $100 Billion endowments of Ivy league schools!!?
    Because this is America! If you have the will, and people want to pay for your product, you should be able to get rich. You should also be a good citizen and give back-but we don't need the government to manage this.

    July 18, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  23. Bob Stephens

    John McBushes voting record on the war has been just to the right of ATTILLA the HUN ,

    July 18, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  24. Tim

    McCain is better off just saying as little as possible. Everytime he opens his mouth he reminds everyone of how wrong he would be as president and the press just jumps all over it.
    Who's running his camapign? Bill Clinton?
    Get the muzzle out and use it.

    July 18, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  25. Tony

    Socialist is right on. Again, if you Obama supporters have the guts for it, look long and hard at socialist countries. IT DOESN'T WORK.

    I suppose I do have some faith in our system, however...while it may take a long time of pain to recover from where these socialist policies could take us, eventually it will simply be a blot on our history; evidence of a moment where our culture, at its most lazy, selfish and unproductive peak, managed to take us away from the values and principles upon which our country was founded. Sooner or later, laziness will no longer be fashionable or rewarded.

    July 18, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
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