In Run Up To Big Day, McCain Adviser Outlines Plans

In the final days of the presidential race, senior McCain campaign adviser Nicolle Wallace says they've noticed a bump in support whenever Sen. John McCain visits a state, so they're planning to visit as many as they can before Election Day. She also discusses McCain's stand on Barack Obama's tax plans.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Well, we can't put one of those count down clocks on the radio like they have on TV, but we all know November 4th is almost here.

NORRIS: And the swing states are getting a lot of love from the presidential candidates. Today, John McCain paid a visit to a place with a symbolic name, Defiance. That's in Ohio, where he also made several other stops.

SIEGEL: Barack Obama is working crowds in Florida, Virginia, and Missouri. And today, we caught up with senior advisers for both campaigns.

NORRIS: First to the McCain campaign. We're joined now by Nicolle Wallace. She's a senior adviser to the campaign, and she joins us by phone from the Straight Talk Express. They're somewhere in Ohio. Welcome to the program, Nicolle.

Ms. NICOLLE WALLACE (Senior Adviser, McCain Presidential Campaign): Thank you so much for having me.

NORRIS: Polls show that Barack Obama has a lead in many of big battleground states, if not most right now. And in many of those places, there are still a significant number of undecided voters. So, what's the message in these last days to try to get more of those voters into your camp?

Ms. WALLACE: Well, you know, the most hopeful thing about the polls for us is that they seem to be tightening nationally and in some of the key states where we've been traveling. So, we see some pretty clear evidence that when we travel to a state and deliver our message about Barack Obama's plan to redistribute the wealth versus John McCain's policy to grow the economy, that it seems to resonate.

NORRIS: Well, as you campaigned in the last few weeks, John McCain has really been going after Barack Obama, saying that he's a socialist. But when asked directly about that claim, John McCain had a very interesting response. And Nicolle, before we go on, let's just take a quick listen to a portion of his interview with "Larry King" on CNN last night.

Mr. LARRY KING (Host, "Larry King Live"): You don't believe Barack Obama is a socialist, do you?

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona; Republican 2008 Presidential Nominee): No, but I do believe - I do believe that he's been on the far left of American politics. He has stated time after time that he believes in, quote, "spreading the wealth around." He's talked about courts that would redistribute the wealth. He has a record of voting against tax cuts and for tax increases. And I don't think there's any doubt that he would increase spending, and sooner or later, we would be increasing taxes.

NORRIS: So, help us clarify something. If John McCain does not think Barack Obama is a socialist, why is that message a centerpiece of his recent campaign?

Ms. WALLACE: Because I think there are some economic philosophies that are apparent in Obama's self-described belief in redistribution that are certainly central to an economic aspect of a socialist, you know, economy or socialist government. So, Joe the Plumber was the first one to use the word socialism that describe Barack Obama's plan and vision in his own words, which was to spread the wealth.

NORRIS: But Nicolle, Joe the Plumber is not running for president. John McCain is, and a voter could listen to that interview and come away with a notion that John McCain is saying things that he doesn't really believe.

Ms. WALLACE: What John McCain is saying, that the idea of spreading the wealth, oh, Joe the Plumber just got on the Straight Talk Express, speaking of his words and his wisdom and his economic ideas. You know, he is someone who shares John McCain's belief that as a small business owner, and this is his selection...

NORRIS: But I just want to bring this back to John McCain because that's the person who is asking voters to put their faith in him, to send him to the White House. And again, that question, in listening to that interview, a voter could come to the conclusion that John McCain is saying something that he doesn't really believe.

Ms. WALLACE: John McCain believes that spreading the wealth is something that Barack Obama's tax policies have in common with socialism, that the idea of taking from others - listen, you go into a restaurant, and instead of leaving a tip, you stiff the waitress, and you give it to the homeless person outside. It is a noble thing to do. It is spreading money earned by that waitress and giving it to someone outside.

We're not passing judgment on whether that is what the American people ultimately decide on. We're just calling it what it is. It is taking from some, taking the success that some have realized in their piece of the American dream and redistributing it to others.

NORRIS: We've been speaking to Nicolle Wallace who's riding on the John McCain campaign bus known as the Straight Talk Express. Thanks so much, Nicolle.

Ms. WALLACE: Thank you very much.

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