August 18th, 2008
03:19 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama jabs McCain for 'rich' definition

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Obama took aim at McCain for jokingly defining ‘rich’ as earning $5 million or more per year.
Obama took aim at McCain for jokingly defining ‘rich’ as earning $5 million or more per year.

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (CNN) – Barack Obama took a jab Monday at a weekend comment by John McCain that the minimum income for “rich” making $5 million a year.

At an economic roundtable discussion of the economy Monday in Albuquerque, Obama accused McCain of “peddling” President Bush’s economic policies from the past eight years, including tax breaks for the wealthy.

“Which I guess if you’re making $3 million a year, you're middle class,” said Obama, admitting that maybe McCain was joking.

But that's reflected in his policies,” Obama continued, “where for people making more than $2.5 million, he's giving folks a $500,000 tax break. And so this is a fundamental difference in this election.”

Both candidates appeared, separately, at Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church on Saturday for his “civil forum” on faith, values and leadership. Asked to define “rich,” McCain responded that it should be defined by a home, a good job, education and “the ability to hand our children a safer and more prosperous world…”

“So I think if you’re just talking about income, how about five million?” he later added. “I’m sure that comment will be distorted, but the point is that we want to keep people’s taxes low and increase revenues.”

Asked the same question earlier in the night, Obama joked that it was book sales of 25 million referring to Warren’s bestselling books. He then declined to give an exact number saying that it depends where one lives but that $250,000 a year means “you are doing well.”

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds responded in an email saying that Obama is “shamelessly distorting” McCain’s comment.

"Remember when Barack Obama said he was ‘tired of distortion, name-calling, and sound bite solutions to complicated problems?’ Neither do we," wrote Bounds.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (172 Responses)
  1. Kim J

    The main problem is that most Americans don't understand the tax brackets and probably don't even know how much they actually pay in federal income tax. If you ask someone, they just use bad math to calculate what their gross pay was vs what their actual check is – forgetting all of the other deductions (state withholding, 401K, health insurance, etc.) You might pay 30% out of your check but it sure isn't going to federal income tax. Most small businesses make over $250,000, which does not mean that the owner of that business is rich, it means he has some operating capital in the bank to meet payroll and other expenses. Why one of Obama's economic advisors has not explained that to him yet is a mystery.

    August 18, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. get real

    jabbing Obama - you idiot, you think Obama is anywhere close to as rich as the McRich's? stop drinking cool aid, Cindy spends $750k on her Amex in a month. you have no leg to stand on on this discussion.

    August 18, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Obamalism

    Why work harder if you have to pay more for someone who doesn't? This is why socialism and communism fail. It's called motivation and incentives.

    Cut the govt umbilical cord and the earmark spending and this country would go along way economically and socially.

    August 18, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. Pam

    fella from Chicago August 18th, 2008 5:04 pm ET

    Well Barack, I guess that makes you and the good Senator from Arizona rich. So what's your point?
    ___________________________

    Obama has said several times that he knows his tax plan would increase his personal taxes, and the taxes of everyone who ran for president in the primaries. So what's your point?

    August 18, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  5. DarylD

    Most of those bad-mouthing Obama's plan to add some taxes to the
    rich are either among the wealthy themselves, or they have fantasies
    of becoming so. I guess they care not about the other 80% of us.

    August 18, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  6. Floris

    how you want te finance the healtcare, school etc. without race tax.
    You better except tax because the US have to pay china a lot of money.

    August 18, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. I OWN MY BODY, THE CHOICE IS MINE, NOT THE REPUBLICANS!

    HIT HIM HARD OBAMA–HOME STRETCH BABY!!! OBAMA08.

    August 18, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. Derek C.

    You guys are arguing in the comments over half truths here. What McCain said was that being "rich" should be measured by if you can afford your home and provide for your children. The $5 million comment was a joke in saying that he wanted to lower taxes for all people and then used an absurd number as an example of a bracket that might be worthy of being taxed higher. I'm a registered Democrat, but pushing this argument of the $5 million mark is a losing argument and makes the Democrats look like they're playing politics. I wish people commenting here would pay attention and not just take the bait constantly. I feel like people are reporting and responding to reports based on snippets without going deeper into the story. There is now a lot of room to make those making this argument look incredibly foolish.

    August 18, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  9. karen-phoenix

    McCain is sooooo out of touch with reality and the American people thats why he said that. McCain really believed it and that is what is sooo soooo sad!!!!! McCain also said a lot more at Saddleback that was soooo out of touch with America. How can a man who buys $600 dollar shoes and lives in 8 houses and flys around in his private jet understand us. Also, in AZ he owns just about the most expensive piece of realestate in Sedona! And that is reality! Go Obama!!!

    August 18, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. PUMA 4 HILL

    It is time to put down the kool-aid and ask yourselves these questions:

    – Who is this man? Really, he has more than one name and too many questions as to where he was born and what his faith is.
    – What has this man accomplished for America? For you? For anyone other than himself.
    – How is he going to bring the kind of change he promises to bring – and his promised are too vague?
    – Again, what legislature has he sponsored, introduced and gotten praise?

    Empy arrogant suit. I don't blame it all on him. He was manufactured beginning in 2003 – READ and learn.

    August 18, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  11. ShirleyY - Seattle

    MCCAIN WIFE IS WORTH 100 MILLION PLUS, I AM SURE THAT WAS AN UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTION AND HE WAS VERY SLICK ABOUT HIS MARRIAGE, HE DIDNT STATE THE REASON WHY HIS MARRIAGE WAS DISSOLVED, DUE TO HIS ADULTERY AND CHEATING.

    NOW I KNOW WHY HE ANSWERED QUESTIONS SO QUICKLY, HE WAS LISTENING IN.

    SHAME ON RICK WARREN BEING A PASTOR AND HELPING MCCAIN PLAY DIRTY POLITICS. THIS IS WHY PASTORS SHOULD NOT GET INVOLVED WITH POLITICS.

    HEY RICK WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE, HELPING MCCAIN CHEAT.

    DONT LET MCCAIN PLAY MIND GAMES, HE ALWAYS BRING UP HIS WAR TIME, FOR SYMPATHY, HE'S NOT THE ONLY ONE TORTURED

    MCCAIN MADE THE STATEMENT DEFEAT THEM, THAT TELLS THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WE WILL BE AT WAR FOREVER.

    August 18, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  12. pam Eugene OR

    To those of you who say, only Obama will raise taxes you are just uninformed. McCain will also raise taxes. Our country is so far in debt to China that our great-great grandchildren will not be able to pay it all back. Compliments of the Republicans thank you very much.
    I think people who make over 1/4 of a million dollars a year are rich and can afford to help others out. They sure don't need tax breaks for Gods sake.
    My family makes over 100K and we live a very good life. We also pay our fair share of taxes.
    McCain will increase your taxes to support and finance his wars. Obama will increase taxes to give all of us health care.
    The choice is clear.
    Obama 08

    August 18, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. Shannon

    LOL!! It is always fun to read some of the comments here. I swear do we live in the same America? McCain is the one that couldn't even come up with a serious number. Maybe under 5 million isn't rich to a guy that lives off his wife's 100 million. As far as the tax conversation, I say you all need to read the details it sounds like you are buying some swamp land in Texas from McCain without seeing the property.

    August 18, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. NotFallingInLine.org

    Everyone keeps saying they want to hear from Senator Obama and what he plans to offer. He was serious last Saturday. He spoke from the heart, openly and honestly.

    John McCain joked around constantly. He gave some of his answers befor he received the questions (huum). Folks don't you see the set-up? McCain laughs at Americans and you are ready to vote for him.

    August 18, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  15. Jeff in Illinois

    I would consider myself wealthy at $250k/year, rich at $500,000 a year.

    August 18, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  16. Who Is John Galt

    As unpopular as taxes are, given the sorry state of this country's infrastructure, not to mention the looming crisis in health care costs, it seems inevitable that the government will have to get the money from somewhere. Maybe we need to have a major effort to sell government bonds, like what was done during the Second World War.

    Neither candidate has shown the kind of urgency on the need to re-invest in the United States. There is a lot talk about alternative sources of energy, but we need to start putting our money to work on America's basic needs (health, transportation system) NOW!

    Remember...the Sign of the Dollar...

    August 18, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. EDW

    I don't want my president kidding about my income or the economy at all. I don't want a man that is worth $40 million to think that rich starts at $5 million.

    Down with McCain!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 18, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  18. gt

    NICE TRY OBAMA ,,,LETS NOT DISTORT OUR RECORDS ,,, CHEAP SHOT <<<

    August 18, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  19. Collins- Riverview, FL

    I think it's cool Obama is all nice and gentle...but after the Republican convention I think its time to get hard (but legal) as a Chicago gangster.

    August 18, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  20. Obama is the dumbest candidate ever

    To poster who said $250+, you are as naive as Obama, fi you think $250K is the cut off.

    That's what I mean about the non-education and leminglike quality of Obama supporters.

    August 18, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  21. T.O, New York, NY

    To "Fella from Chicago":
    He had always said that his tax policy means himself and the likes of McCain, Bush, rich oilmen etc would have to pay more in taxes while those making less than $250K would get a tax relief of about $1K. So please do us all some justice by having some facts before posting on these blogs.

    To "the first poster":
    His plan clearly stated >$250K. I do not know where your imaginary $55K figure is coming from.

    August 18, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  22. jo

    Mr. Mccain 1 dollar is important when you don't have any Please give the money for the people who works hard and lives pay check to pay check.

    August 18, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  23. Angelo

    when everybody laughed at his $5 million, he realized he made a BIG GAFF!

    It looks like poor McCain has yet to find a competent senior advisor to take his former "American are whiners" senior advisor

    August 18, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  24. Cynthia

    Senator McCain was making a joke about $5million being rich – what he has to realize we all know just how rich he is or his sugar mamma is. I do agree with Senator Obama that someone making over a certain amount that you should pay more in taxes. Senator McCain is just trying to make sure that people making over $250,000 doesn't pay in more in taxes by saying no new taxes.

    August 18, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  25. John

    Why is CNN not pulling McCain for listening in to the question that warren was going to ask he cheated not very Christian yes

    August 18, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
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