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.
“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.”
“Phil Gramm does not speak for me,” he said. “I speak for me.”
Democrats immediately seized on Gramm’s comments. Barack Obama, attacked both McCain and Gramm at a campaign event in Virginia, saying: “America already has one Dr. Phil. We don’t need another one when it comes to the economy.”
McCain responded to those comments with another pop culture reference which has become one of his favorite lines on the stump.
“He is Dr. No,” McCain said of Obama, before listing a series of energy policy proposals, such as expanding nuclear energy and offshore drilling, that the Illinois senator has opposed.