At a town hall meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said that rival Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, had the "most extreme" record in the Senate.
Kansas City Star reporter Dave Helling later asked McCain about that comment.
"Extreme?" Helling asked. "You really think he’s an extremist? I mean, he’s clearly a liberal."
"That’s his voting record," responded McCain. "All I said was his voting record, and that is more to the left than the announced Socialist in the United States Senate, Bernie Sanders of Vermont."
Asked Helling: "Do you think he’s a socialist, Barack Obama?"
"I don’t know," McCain said with a shrug. "All I know is his voting record, and that’s what people usually judge their elected representatives by.’"
Obama campaign spox Tommy Vietor responded that "“this attack is straight out of the Bush-Rove playbook, and is exactly what the American people are tired of. Instead of making false, divisive attacks, Senator Obama is working to bring our country together to meet the challenges we face as a nation."
McCain campaign spox Tucker Bounds responded to Vietor’s response: “The truth is National Journal, a non-partisan publication, ranked Barack Obama as the most liberal Senator in the U.S. Senate. John McCain simply said that he didn’t know whether or not Barack Obama is a socialist, and noted that national rankings have rated him as more liberal than the only self-proclaimed socialist in the Senate. It’s up to Barack Obama to explain his extreme record.”
Obama’s campaign has voiced its displeasure with the National Journal rankings before. But the hedge on whether Obama is a socialist will certainly strike some commentators as a bit much.