"Is he a socialist?" asks FOX News’s blunt television host Bill O'Reilly.
“I prefer to use the term that ‘he’s just over his head,'" the former governor of Massachusetts responds with what he must have thought was a safe answer.
"Yeah, but you gotta' look at his economic plan, and that economic plan was top down, federal leadership getting us out of the recession -- we spent trillions of dollars--and people say, 'Listen, the guy's a socialist!' It's class warfare; that's what he's going to wage against you if you get the nomination," O’Reilly says, gesturing towards Romney.
"You're a rich guy, you're out of touch," the host adds.
Concluding his prediction that Romney should prepare for "class warfare" should he earn the GOP nomination, Bill O'Reilly repeats the question.
"Is he a socialist?"
"You know, I consider him a ‘big government’ liberal democrat. I think as you look at his policies, you conclude that he thinks Europe got it right and we got it wrong," Romney answered, again avoiding the question.
"I think Europe got it wrong. I think Europe is not working in Europe and I'll battle him on that day in and day out," Romney added.
Watch the O'Reilly interview:
While some analysts would applaud Romney's refusal to out-and-out accuse the president of being a "socialist," other commentators would disagree with this tactic.
Back in March, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said the following:
So the presidential campaign, here's the question. You got an incumbent, Barack Hussein Obama. Does the Republican nominee focus on what we all believe to be true, the guy's got a different view of the American tradition than all the rest of us? Do we say...Obama as anti-traditional American values, do we say this guy is a socialist, this guy's models consist of Marx and Alinsky, do we go that way, do we point that out?
Or do we say to ourselves, you know what, most people don't want to think that about their president. There's such reverence for the office that people don't want to think that even if they admit that they made a mistake in voting for the guy, they don't want to think that they've elected somebody who is essentially an enemy of traditional American founding values...
In other words, do we depersonalize this and strictly focus the reelection campaign in the opposition to Obama on policy or do we go full bore and warn the American people why his policies are what they are?
I dare say that if you are of the camp that wants to hear the Republican presidential nominee talk about the guy's a socialist, the guy doesn't believe in traditional American founding values, that you're gonna be sad and disappointed. You're not gonna have a candidate say that. The candidate is gonna accept that Obama's a legitimate American politician, a legitimate president, just got totally cockeyed policies. We're gonna hear policy this, policy that, that's why we're in the dumper.
Based on the widespread assumption that Mitt Romney will be the GOP presidential nominee, and based on his answers during the O'Reilly segment, it would appear that Limbaugh's prediction was spot-on accurate.