Watch Obama mock McCain's top economic adviser and former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm Thursday (Getty Images)
(CNN) - Barack Obama mocked a top economic adviser to John McCain Thursday for suggesting Americans are whining over to the country's economic woes, telling a Virginia crowd the nation doesn't need another Dr. Phil.
"I want all of you to know that America already has one Dr. Phil," Obama said, laughing as the crowd cheered. "We don’t need another one when it comes to the economy. We need somebody to actually solve the economy. It’s not just a figment of your imagination, it's not all in your head.”
Earlier: McCain adviser criticized for comments
Obama was responding to comments from Phil Gramm, a former Texas senator and a co-chair of McCain's presidential campaign who told the Washington Times that America has "become a nation of whiners" and the country is in the midst of a "mental recession."
"We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline," he said. “You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession."
Related: Gramm says comments misinterpreted
Gramm also said the media was responsible for fostering unnecessary anxiety over the state of the economy. "Misery sells newspapers,” he said. “Thank God the economy is not as bad as you read in the newspaper every day."
Recognizing Gramm's comments may not sit well with many working class voters, a key voting bloc this election cycle, Obama said his administration would deliver more than 'psychological' relief.
"Let's be clear, when people are struggling with the rising costs of everything from gas to groceries, when we've lost 438,000 jobs over the past six months, when the typical family has lost a $1,000 of income in real terms since George Bush took office…this economic downturn is not in your head," he said. "When people are out there losing their homes and property values are declining, that's not a figment of your imagination and it isn't whining to ask government to step in and give families some relief."
Meanwhile, McCain quickly attempted to distance himself from the controversial comments, telling reporters that the former Texas senator does not speak for him.
“I don’t agree with Sen. Gramm,” McCain said. “I believe that the person here in Michigan that just lost his job isn’t suffering a mental recession. I believe the mother here in Michigan and around America who is trying to get enough money to educate their children isn’t whining.”
Related: McCain repudiates Gramm comments
(CNN)–An unexpected, off-handed comment by Senator John McCain’s top economic adviser Phil Gramm led to a day of back-tracking by the presumptive Republican nominee. In the latest episode of CNN=Politics Daily, CNN’s Dana Bash reports on Gramm’s controversial statements and the effect they could have on McCain’s presidential run.
Barack Obama is struggling to appeal to women voters, and is looking to former Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Clinton for some help. CNN’s Jessica Yellin reports on the presumptive Democratic nominee’s effort on that front.
Meanwhile: The vice-presidential search continues for the McCain and Obama camps. Senior Political Analyst, Bill Schneider reports on a new poll that shows what members of each each party is looking for in their number two spot.
Finally: Obama votes on a piece of legislation that would make the president happy. White House Correspondent Ed Henry reports on Obama and President Bush’s common ground on the issue of unwarranted wire-tapping.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was non-committal Thursday when asked if he would like to retain Sen. Joe Lieberman as chairman of a key Senate committee next year if Democrats retain control.
Liberal bloggers, who are angry with the former Democrat for supporting Republican Sen. John McCain for president, have started a campaign to pressure lawmakers to strip him of his job leading the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Asked about that drive, Reid first praised Lieberman for voting with Democrats on many key issues but made no promises the Connecticut senator would keep his chairmanship next year.
“Let’s talk about this year,” Reid initially responded. “Anytime we have a problem here, with the exception of Iraq, Joe Lieberman is with us. So I wish people would leave him alone.”
But what about next year, a reporter asked, when Democrats are expected to expand their majority which is currently razor-thin?
Watch McCain's comments on Gramm.
(CNN) – Just how much distance does presumptive Republican nominee John McCain want to put between himself and the unfortunate headlines surrounding top economic adviser Phil Gramm?
Apparently, at least an ocean’s worth.
Campaigning in Michigan, McCain was asked just how big a role Gramm had played in the formulation of his economic plan – and just how much influence the former Texas senator would have if Republicans held on to the White House. “Is there any chance he would be your Treasury secretary, or play a significant economic policy making role in a McCain administration?” asked one reporter.
The Arizona senator replied that Gramm’s influence might be limited to a corner of Eastern Europe.
“I think Senator Gramm would be in serious consideration for ambassador to Belarus,” joked McCain, “although I’m not sure the citizens of Minsk would welcome that.”
The distance between Livonia, Michigan and Minsk is around 5,000 miles.
BELLEVILLE, Michigan (CNN) –- John McCain forcefully repudiated comments by his national campaign co-chair Phil Gramm Thursday, telling reporters, “Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me.”
Gramm had said in a newspaper interview that the country is merely in a “mental recession,” and called America a “nation of whiners” when it comes to the slumping economy.
Campaigning in the economically lagging state of Michigan – which suffers from has the highest unemployment rate in the nation – McCain held a press conference and quickly disavowed Gramm’s remarks.
“Phil Gramm does not speak for me,” he said. “I speak for me.”
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(CNN) - On a conference call with reporters, the McCain campaign said it has $95 million cash-on-hand, with most of that money - about $67 million - held by the Republican National Committee. Campaign manager Rick Davis also said McCain was outspending Barack Obama on the airwaves by a wide margin.
(CNN) - Top McCain adviser Phil Gramm tells CNN that his most controversial comment about the economy in a recent interview has been misinterpreted.
The former Texas senator, who advises presumptive Republican nominee John McCain on economic matters, also said he had not been speaking for the campaign when he spoke to a Washington Times reporter. “I didn’t claim to be representing anyone except myself,” he said. Gramm called CNN from his cell phone before boarding a flight Thursday, to clarify his remarks.
Gramm said he that he was trying to say the nation’s leaders, not its people, were “whiners.”
“The whiners are the leaders, hell, the American people are victims, but it didn’t quite come out that way in the story,” Gramm said. These national and congressional leaders “blame speculators and oil companies for our problems, instead of presenting concrete programs for using energy more efficiently, or leaders who don’t think we can compete with Mexico.
“What we need is more leadership and less whining,” he added.
But he stood by his assessment that the country was in a “mental recession.”
“I said we are in a mental recession. We keep getting the steady drum beat of bad news…it’s become a mental recession,” said Gramm. “We don’t have measured negative growth. That’s a fact, that’s not a commentary.”
Asked whether he understood beforehand the kind of political impact his statements might have, he said this outraged reactions his remarks had drawn were just part of the “game” - anytime anyone says something, said Gramm, it can be “taken out of context.”
Watch McCain field a question about Viagra and health insurance.
(CNN) – John McCain is known for his frequent chats with reporters and his willingness to discuss nearly any issue.
But at least one is off-limits, the Republican presidential nominee suggested Wednesday: Viagra.
"I certainly do not want to discuss that issue," the Arizona senator said aboard his "Straight Talk Express" bus in Ohio when asked about his views on health insurance covering the medication.
But the off-message topic was raised from a member of McCain’s own team: national co-chairwoman Carly Fiorina, who had said earlier women often express frustration over the fact many health insurance plans cover Viagra but not birth control medication.
"Let me give you a real, live example, which I've been hearing a lot about from women. There are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra but won't cover birth control medication. Those women would like a choice," she said Monday.
A McCain spokesman later said the Arizona senator supported competition in the healthcare industry, presumably allowing women to nix policies that cover Viagra but not their specific needs.
Election Center: Where McCain stands on healthcare
McCain has voted against Senate measures that sought to require insurance companies to cover birth control medication.
The exchange also followed a town-hall event during which McCain touched upon the abortion issue, a matter that traditionally hasn’t animated him on the stump.
After praising President Bush’s efforts to expand faith-based programs, McCain pivoted: “I also think that we should do everything that we can, and one of those in my view is respect for human life both born and the unborn.”
The comments led to a standing ovation - his first at that event.
LIVONIA, Michigan (CNN) - Responding to the sinking share values of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, John McCain said Thursday: “They will not fail. We cannot allow them to fail.”
"Those institutions, Fannie and Freddie, have been responsible for millions of Americans to be able to own their own homes," McCain told reporters Thursday after a retail stop at a local diner. “They are vital to Americans' ability to own their own homes and we will do what's necessary to make sure that they continue that function.”
Asked if that meant he supported federal intervention to bail out the two mega-lenders as they cope with the housing slump, McCain re-iterated his position.
“I think that Freddie and Fannie have a vital role to fulfill and that they cannot and will not fail,” he said.