Sen. John McCain on Monday labeled his Democratic presidential opponent "the redistributor," saying a newly revealed Chicago radio interview from 2001 exposes Mr. Obama's plan for the nation.
In the WBEZ interview, Mr. Obama, discussing the courts, social issues and economic wealth, talked about the missed opportunities during the civil rights movement for "redistributive change."
"He believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs," Mr. McCain told supporters in Dayton, Ohio, quoting a chunk of Mr. Obama's interview to the audience.
"Maybe I am showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor but you know I am not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts," the Illinois senator said in the interview.
Mr. Obama's campaign called it a "fake news controversy" and blamed it on the conservative Drudge Report, which posted a YouTube clip of portions of the interview Monday morning, and Fox News and Mr. McCain.
"In this seven-year-old interview, Senator Obama did not say that the courts should get into the business of redistributing wealth at all," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton, calling the interview one of the McCain campaign's "11th-hour distractions."
And in an interview with Politico, e-mailed to reporters by the Obama campaign, a top Obama legal adviser said the interview was actually a complex discussion about legal concepts that was being misinterpreted as being about wealth redistribution.
"What the critics are missing is that the term 'redistribution' didn't man in the Constitutional context equalized wealth or anything like that. It meant some positive rights, most prominently the right to education, and also the right to a lawyer," Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein said. "What he's saying [-] this is the irony of it [-] hes basically taking the side of the conservatives then and now against the liberals."
Mr. McCain said the "unscripted moments" like the interview are beginning to show voters what they'll get in an Obama administration.
"We've learned more about Senator Obama's real goals for the country over the last two weeks than we learned over the last two years," he said. "It's amazing that even at this late hour we are still learning more."
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