April 11th, 2008
11:15 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama, McCain clash on CEO pay

At a press conference in Indianapolis, Barack Obama said that when it comes taking action against excessive CEO compensation, John McCain is all talk.

The McCain campaign quickly responded, calling the comments a "cheap political attack."

(full exchange after the jump)

Key Obama excerpt:

"I know Senator McCain had some sharp words the other day about what some CEOs are getting paid. And I was glad to hear it. But when he’s had the chance to do something about this problem, he’s opted for continuing the do-nothing approach of the Bush years. And this seems to be a trend with Senator McCain. Yesterday, he finally proposed some steps to deal with our housing crisis. And I’m glad he’s moving in the right direction, but what he’s proposing isn’t enough to really help struggling families.
"So I respect John McCain. He’ll be a worthy opponent. But we can’t afford another four years of policies that don’t make a difference in the lives of ordinary Americans, and that’s what John McCain is offering."

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds' response:

“Once again, Senator Obama’s words don’t match his actions. Apparently Senator Obama thinks cheap political attacks and typical Washington shenanigans substitute for real leadership. Corporate boards have the power to serve shareholders and make CEO pay match performance. John McCain believes cozy relationships with boards should not allow irresponsible CEOs to rake in millions on the backs of small investors. John McCain is committed to using the bully pulpit of the presidency to hold them accountable.”

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Keep it up Obama moving more and more into that left box that you won't be able to get out of. Since Carter the American people have rejected every Domocrat who ran from the left in favor of the Republican candidate. President Clinton ran from the center and won two elections.

    April 11, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. Mark, MI

    As a democrat, I'm with McCain here.... I don't see how NOBAMA will do anything about this. It's great that he is TALKING about this issue, but he has not said anything about how he is going to CHANGE this issue.... talk is worthless, do SOMETHING with your ACTIONS, NOBAMA.

    Clinton or McCain 08!

    April 11, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |

    If the board of directors, voted for and approved by the share holders want to approve a CEO salary... why is that any of the Feds buisness... and people wonder why companies are leaving America...

    If they are going to regulate that... how about doing the same for the over paid unskilled union workers who get 30+ dollars per hour too turn a wrench?

    This country has become so entitlement based is almost sick...

    April 11, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. Eric

    How is this a cheap political attack? Obama feels McBush has not done enough?

    It's a cheap political attack to not just simply respond with the facts, instead mcbush sends his little peons out to say 'oh no obama is being mean to me, i can't handle this is my poor frail decrepid state'

    April 11, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. mary

    Obama thinks he's soooooo cool, running on about McCain and Clinton. I bet it backfires on Mr. Cool, he's got a lot of skeltons in his closet.

    April 11, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  6. Fabienne

    Folks, let's face it, we all know Obama is right!
    Mccain is now talking a "little bit " about he economy jst because he is pressured to do so. But he has no real plans, actually he said that's it's not the government busisness to help with this crisis.

    April 11, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  7. miss belief

    If every time Barack points out a difference between him and McCain and McCain cries"unfair" or "cheap attack", it's gonna get really old really fast. McCain just needs to respond with details of how his positions or plans would benefit Americans and let it at that.

    April 11, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. anon

    Obama is for the minimum wage, now he's for a maximum wage? I wonder if he wants Oprah to take a pay cut!!


    April 11, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. Craig

    I am not surprised by the comment of Mark. good luck..but that will not stop Obama winning...

    April 11, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. KimSC

    Now I am really "rolling" my eyes here. Obama has a "magical" answer for everything it seems. Except a plausible one for his 17 year relationship with Rezko, his 23 year relationship with Wright, and a board appointment with Ayers and he says he would have fired Penn? Hillary is my candidate and if not her then McCain.

    Clinton 08

    April 11, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  11. bjmiddle

    Wasn't there a piece today (Washington Post, maybe) reporting that about half of the money Sen. Obama has raised is from corporate fat cats? I believe he's been telling us that it's from small contributors. New politice?

    April 11, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  12. Debby

    Oh geez it sounds like Obama has the nomination wrapped up from his comments above. The Bush years are gone if Obama hasn't heard the news yet. McCain as President will have the clout to institute what didn't get accomplished in previous years.

    April 11, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. clmartin

    When companies are folding and executives are getting paid millions in stock and comp while employee from ENRON, Coutrywide and etc are walking away Millionaires....questions have to be raised. I am glad to see that Obama is not afraid to ask these questions.

    April 11, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. Izzy, NH

    I find it absurdly hilarious that McCain's response is that if he's president the thing he'll do to put a leash on extravagant CEO pay is to... talk. For those unaware, that's what using the 'bully pulpit' is really. As president, you can rail about something and bring attention to something. But in a situation like that with this issue, that ain't gunna do a thing in all reality. The boards that abuse their power don't really care what the president says. The only things they care about are making money, and staying in power. If that means paying off their CEO at the expense of the low level workers, then that's what they'll do.

    I can fully expect a great number of responses to this will be of course that Obama is all talk and no action, as McCain seems to claim. I hope the irony of McCain's talk solution isn't lost of those whom actually read the entire article.

    April 11, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. mike

    MCcain has never done anything about it before when he had the chance and that is proof!

    He is a sorry excuse for a presidential Nominee

    April 11, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. Stephen

    This is consistent with the negative attacks always coming from the Obama campaign

    April 11, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. melvin

    The fact that you refer to Obama as Nobama is indicative of conservative-minded voters who have pre-judged Obama before casting their vote. John McCain is much more a political insider who has moved and circumvented issues as a Washington insider than Senator OBAMA. His tenure in Washington versus OBAMA proves this. Additionally, has Senator McCain proposed any legislation to curtail the ever-increasing pay of CEOs???

    April 11, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  18. Rachel

    Maybe Obama can start taking action against excessive CEO pay by talking to his girl Oprah about much she is raking in.

    April 11, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. paul oregon

    not sure how mccain cain hold any body acountable for anythine .
    when mccain was questioning gen. petraaerus he seemed to forget
    who was fighting whom in ariq. must have had a senior moment.
    wink wink.

    April 11, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. Steve

    Little by little leading Dems wants to turn the U.S. into a Socialistic country. Very scary!

    April 11, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. When He's Commander in Chief...

    Mark, MI, when he is Commander in Chief, he will do something. Obama is more likely to do something in this arena than McSame as Bush.

    April 11, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. YLR

    To: Mar, MI

    I'll take McCain. But when I see you write "Clinton" as one of your options, then I question your judgement.

    Even McCain has a little bit more integrity than that lady.

    You might as well write "White or White '08"

    Hispanic, Woman, AND NOT FOR BILLARY!

    April 11, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. Alice in Florida

    Obama is ALL talk NO action, and the only time he makes sense is when he's repeating what Hillary said. Come to think of it, that's also the only time that he actually has solutions instead of just empty words.

    The best thing he could do for this country is go on a permanent vacation and take all his crazy followers with him.

    If not Clinton, McCain!

    April 11, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. gary


    April 11, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. Jack Hicks, Fort Myers

    CEO compensation–should be determined by the market...and each companie's board of directors.

    Some CEO's put in 70 hours per week...and more. Every venue attended–the CEO represents the company 24/7.

    How can Obama (always a 9-5 er) possibly understand the exceptional demands, sleepless nights, and risks of a corporate CEO?

    What we do need to do however...is take a serious look at our return on investment when it comes to the congress and the President. We sure aren't getting our monies worth from those fat cats–and with Mr. (we should be socialists) Obama-we'll see even less.

    Lot's of talk–no basis in American reality.

    April 11, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
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