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. Lee - Austin, TX

    Mark, from Michigan: what has John McCain done...except of course to change his policy on key issues like this, the Bush tax cuts, the state of the Iraq war (worse now than when he said our strategy wasn't working), immigration, and the homeowner/real estate crisis. Tell me?? What has he done that includes action over words (within the last 8 years, meaning not including the fact that he's a war hero) which would make him more credible to you than someone within your own party? Positions that he held so dear just two years ago, so dear that he went against his own party to defend them, are now issues that he has completely given in to the GOP on. So you let me know...if actions speak louder than words, what does John McCain's betrayal of his own convictions tell you about his leadership qualities? Clinton or Obama 08...no more American $$$ for Iraqi civil war!!!

    April 11, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. we wanh hillary, not mccain...screw him.

    If America doesn;t vote for Hillary, then SHAME ON YOU.

    HILLARY and Nader for America's families. 2008

    April 11, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Val

    Look in the mirror, Obama, YOU ARE ALL TALK, and everyone knows it by now.


    I like McCain's stance on this issue. He is right!

    April 11, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. Drew

    Yes because asking that CEO's not getting $100 million bonuses when their companies are being federally aided is a step towards socialism.

    April 11, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. Cat, Costa Mesa, CA

    Obama and dems are channeling the ghost of Mussolini again!

    This is america, the land where ANYONE can make as much money as they want. No one is stoping ANYONE from getting out there and making money, opening businesses, selling products/services, and so forth. We are only limited by our own capacities.

    April 11, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. unbiased

    you can't consider yourself a democrat if you're so biased against the democrat being presented in this article before even reading it.

    April 11, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. jj

    I'm with Mark. MI all talk and xeroxing Clintons plans and ideas doesn't give Obama a good chance in Nov. Their ideas and plans are so similar because he's copied everyone of them with a few little changes to make them look original but ALWAYS, after Clinton has rolled out her plans. Not buy talk, actions speak louder.

    April 11, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. merle 7

    It is true he is all talk. I have been following these campaigns and remember what McCain said about big corporations,which is they deserve the tax breaks because after all they are the driving force of the economy. Now he is attacking the CEO of these corporations, oh I get it another senior moment.

    Obama 08!
    Yes We Can!

    April 11, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Mike

    The "bully pulpit of the presidency"? We've had a bully for 8 years already and we certainly don't need another one.

    Go Obama, Go!

    April 11, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. hello

    I think Obama is buying this election, including all this media anchors and reporters.
    CNN never had any positive heading for Hillary, including today's poll that she is beating John McCain by 3 point while darling of media is trailing.
    Media should ask him why he visited Pakistan?
    and in India why Hydrabad (muslim majority) and not Mumbai, Delhi or Agra

    April 11, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. Alonzo Demetrius

    Obama is T-A-L-K-I-N-G to try to divide the country between the haves and have-nots. He is trying to impress the poor African-Americans and others that he will take care of them at the expense of the bad old rich people that stole all of their money....

    April 11, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. Curtis

    It is interesting that when rhetoric gets in the way of meaning,
    that we get politics.

    When words are placed in a particular order as to attack, inflame or
    dishearten, we know we have politics.

    John McCain's spokesman should re-read his words and where he has Senator Obama's name, he should substitute that of Senator McCain. Platitudes will never solve an issue, rectify a bad situation, or stop an illegal occupation.

    Maybe Senator Obama was referring to the growing list of golden parachutes awardees who reap millions while losing millions for their shareholders. It certainly can't look good to your average American who purchases gasoline at CEO's corporation's gasoline stations. Or buys food at CEO's corporation grocery stores. Who gets socked again and again every time these failures are allowed to continue without repercussion. Failures that keep reaping millions. I think they call those bruised and beaten people, the American taxpayer.

    Besides who knows more about "typical Washington shenanigans" than John McCain. He's stepped into his fair share.

    April 11, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. jj

    I'm with Mark. MI all talk and xeroxing Clintons plans and ideas doesn't give Obama a good chance in Nov. Their ideas and plans are so similar because he's copied everyone of them with a few little changes to make them look original but ALWAYS, after Clinton has rolled out her plans. Not buying talk, actions speak louder. We need someone with experience with the way things work right now to clean up this mess, we can take on congress to clean up their acts in the next 12 or 16 years. 4 or 8 for Clinton & 4 or 8 for Obama after that, once he can show people he isn't a racist and get some experience.

    April 11, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. Trev

    So what is Obama planning ot do about it. Obama's brain (Axelrod) is trying to make him look like a populist. Only problem is.... Obama is not a populist.

    April 11, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. Alonzo Demetrius

    p.s. Notice that Obama is using the same old political charges that have caused so much rancor in Washington, and he says he wants to bring 'change'? The kind of change he is talking about is the three cents left in our pockets after he raises all our tax rates.

    April 11, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. Rohit

    Mark, MI April 11th, 2008 1:09 pm ET

    "As a democrat, I'm with McCain here…. "

    My friend, you are not a democrat anymore....you think you are but you are not...somebody's gotta do some soul-searching!

    April 11, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Look byond

    The cheap political attack my friends, is going to be the constant THIRD TERM GOVERNMENT OF GEORGE BUSH that will be implimented when JOHN MCCAIN IS elected.

    We all know that "WAR" is the top agender of the MCcain campaign!\

    We are sick and tired of wars and rumors of wars, Let's bring our troops home, and let's send their children to a CIVIL WAR that America cannot win in Iraq. The war in Iraq is a CIVIL WAR or lets say a tribal war between the sunnies and shiittes and the other more ethnic groups in Iraq.

    Saddam Hussein was the only ruler that can bring these tribes to order, and now he is gone.
    We have a big problem to solve and in other words this problem cannot be solved by AMERICANS.
    It has to be solved by the IRAQis

    The real fight for terrorist is in Afghanistan, where Bill Laiden and others are hidding.
    The Bush administration knows that, and the question is, why are they not going after the real terrorist?

    Do we need another George Bush government or do we need CHANGE?

    What about the ENRON, and other CEO's who have dupped the 401k's of innocent employees. Talking about CEO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I think Obama is our true leader,.
    America wake up, we need drastic change in Washington, and the new change is a new approach to the real issue, which Obama will bring to the table for all Americans.

    Lets united behind Obama, and bring this country back to where our founding fathers believed this country should be at.

    That is the world's SUPERPOWER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 11, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  18. Jon, Pittsburgh, PA

    Obama is taking another cheap shot at his rivals. He is politics as usual and anyone with half a brain understands this. They say his supporters are the college educated Democrats. I say this college educated Democrat knows a thing or two that his supporters fail to acknowledge – mainly that he plays politics in the way that they accuse the Clintons of. His is the most hypocritical campaign I've seen in my life.

    April 11, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. scott

    obama only does what best interests him. he decides florida & michigan dont count cause its not "good" for him. Now he has fliped on campaighn finance cause it would hurt his chances against McCain. Havnt we had enough of a president that thinks about his best interests!

    April 11, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. peacenow

    McCain's campaign is run by a lobbyist. Anybody who understands the role of lobbyists knows that their concern is not that of the average American. I believe McCain should break ties with all these powerful lobbies before we can allow ourselves to believe that he actually cares about transparency and accountability of greedy CEOs.

    April 11, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  21. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    McCain does NOT care what the CEO's get paid. He wants them
    to make bundles of money just like Cheney, and his other cronies.

    To Steve, Not a "Socialistic Country. A fair Country. We want fairness
    in our Government. We want the fat cats to stop spending our taxpayer
    money on their own self-appreciation.

    April 11, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. demwit

    When is Obama going to limit my pay too?

    April 11, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  23. Jack Box

    "In the first month of the newly Democratic-controlled 110th Congress, Obama worked with Russ Feingold (D–WI) to eliminate gifts of travel on corporate jets by lobbyists to members of Congress and require disclosure of bundled campaign contributions under the "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act," which was signed into law in September 2007"

    And that's just from Wikipedia. Please do your research next time Mark.

    April 11, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  24. BCNU

    Here's a great idea for helping struggling families. Instead of "extending or making the 'Bush tax-cuts' permanent" let's do away with taxes altogether, except those necessary to provide for the common defense.

    I could find better uses for my money than any of these jokers.

    April 11, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  25. Steve, IL

    Mark, as you speak mr. nObama is pushing a bill through congress that will place the huge pay packages CEOs are receiving under greater scrutiny to hopefully cut the amount being thrown at them.

    how's that for no action

    April 11, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
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