July 10th, 2008
06:35 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama mocks Gramm comments: No more Dr. Phils


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

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. Mr.De La Hoya

    With comments like this-it just proves that the McCain camp doesn't really care about the American people. Ignoring all the facts. They're not true patriots. Why should anyone vote for them? They just want the rich to get richer and the poor to get more poor...sounds just like another Bush Campaign to me!

    July 10, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  2. Chris from NY

    This is the kind of campaign rhetoric we want to hear from Obama than him defending himself on issues we already know he didn't shift his stance on. He should hit McCain where it hurts. Phil Gramm is one of McCain's campaign economic adivers. So, McCain should not claim that what Phil said doesn't represent his campaigns view. It sure does.

    July 10, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  3. Patty

    I will be so glad when the elections and these stupid news articles are over with! I don't believe any politician is going to "fix" anything but their own selfish gains!

    July 10, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  4. Nick - Arlington, VA

    Belle July 10th, 2008 3:17 pm ET

    Oh yes Senator Obama…do your mocking thing again….why don't you actually explain WHY 300 economists signed on to McCain's Economic Plan…why he can vow to balance the budget by the end of his first term….
    This deserves to be mocked...unless you feel that you too are imagining $4.50 a gallon and 400,000 in jobs lost...and for the economic story..they were all mainly conservative economists, the report they signed off on had nothign about driling off-shore or abotu a gas-tax holiday and many just simply signed onto it because they supported mccain, even without even reading the report....this was reported on politico.com yesterday

    July 10, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  5. judi in NJ

    Excuse me, Belle, but out of the so called 300 economists, most of them did not agree with McCain in the most important points, and some didn't even know he had quoted them. What kind of people talk like this? Phil Graham is just disgusting and always was. I was hoping he had slithered back to Texas for good.

    July 10, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  6. Floyd MacGillicutty

    This is it? Jesse Jackson's comments about Obama are front-page material for two full days, but Gramm saying American's are delusional gets buried in the ticker, with the headline, "Obama Mocks Gramm", as though you are not-so-subtly trying to make Obama the offender?

    Disgusting, CNN.

    July 10, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. steve Marshall, MN

    Strongly agree. Then he comes out and tries to lie to us again. Shame on him and McCain.

    July 10, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. John in Binghamton NY

    That is exactly what rich people like McCain and Bush think. They don't see any problems with $4 gas and depressed wages. How could they when they have millions in the bank. The GOP are the elitist.

    The fact that Bush didn't know gas was $4 and then acted like it must not be true since he didnt heat about it says it all. He is not a regular guy. He hasn't had a real job until he was 40 and lived off of dad's money and name. McCain gets to live off he dad's name and his wife's 100 million beer money. Down to earth??? Are you out of your mind?

    July 10, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. Debbie

    The American economy is in the toilet because of George W. Bush.

    an American whiner

    July 10, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  10. Lisa in Ga.

    The Republicans are so out of touch with America... its really a shame that this is still a race.....

    Let's be clear, the republicans have done enough damage!
    Its a shame that people have to choose between food and gas!

    July 10, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  11. Raymond Duke

    Gramn should have kept his mouth shut. If you don't make a statement or divulge a policy until a debate all Obama can do is talk hope and change. His brain is as empty as the suit he wears except for it being full of waste. He hasn't got Clinton for him and his campagin to copy off and make inteeligent statements.I'm glad the far wing left liberals with the democrat leadership stole this election from clinton. She would have won this years general election easy.

    July 10, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  12. Dave Platt

    I guess the fact that I was laid off because they closed the store I worked at for 13 years,is a figment of my imagination. I worked for Carrier Air ( United Tech ) for almost 13 years in South Florida.
    In May of 2007, the company re-upped for the lease on the bldg. for 5 more years, until 2012.They also spent 50-75000.00 dollars to remodel the showroom.This past June ,they closed the store.
    I guess the economy is not bad for people like Phil Gramm.
    Dave Platt Hollywood Fla.

    July 10, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. Dennis

    It's obvious we need a changing of the gaurd... if anyone out there actually thinks we should 'stay the course' with the GOP in the executive branch, they should really have their head examined... by a real Dr., not Phil.

    July 10, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. Dave


    Why don't you explain why just about every analyst / economist has panned McCain's talk about balancing the budget in 4 years? Pander much?

    Give the corporations $300 billion in tax cuts and pay for it by stopping $18 billion in earmarks...that's McCain math for ya.

    Obama '08

    July 10, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. Kevin Leo (Jonesboro, GA)

    It really kills me when people don't take the time to go to Barack's website and actually READ his plans before popping off that he does not offer any! Take the time to become informed and you make actually learn something in the process!

    July 10, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. NickNas

    Belle July 10th, 2008 3:17 pm ET

    Oh yes Senator Obama…do your mocking thing again….why don't you actually explain WHY 300 economists signed on to McCain's Economic Plan…why he can vow to balance the budget by the end of his first term….


    Hey Belle. It is easy.. It has been reported all over the news that many of those people who " Signed" it not only DID NOT AGREE some were not even privy to most of what it contained. Also MUCH of it was added AFTER they signed it a even some of them DO NOT EVEN WANT MCCAIN for President.

    The Backlash was so hot that even MCCAIN HIMSELF had to flip flop once again to add that Social Security and Medicare were not included in his Balanced Budget either....then he just gave up on the whole thing as an issue because hundreds of the people he claimed supported this plan came out and said " uuuhhh NO I Don't"

    I am glad to help you avoid spreading false news and when you need anymore help just ask.

    That is all.

    July 10, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. case

    Belle, what 300 economist.. the same ones who rejected the empty gas tax suspension? Oh, lest not forget that McCain requires "victory in Iraq and Afgan to get to a balance budget. Thats like saying we will have a successfull corn crop as soon as I learn how to make it rain..

    July 10, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. Jerry

    Also as a GOPer, I have to laugh...actually kind of witty on Obama's part. Gramm really came across as out of touch and Obama did a good job of making it seem so.

    July 10, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. Bryan

    I have a difficult time believing that a 'small intellectual elite' can manage the affairs of the economy better than millions of profit motivated Americans. Obama should stop trying to convince people he has a magic economic crystal ball and let the markets readjust themselvees.

    CNN reported for almost 2 years that homes were selling way above market value. People knew that taking ARM mortgages and interest-only mortgages were risky.. McCain's advisor is correct, sometimes in life people need to take responsibility for their actions. Typical Democrat pandering.

    July 10, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. JIM...TX

    Come on Belle...name THREE economists that believe in McBushes policy. Hell McSame doesn't even belive it ! Him balancing the budget in 4 years is about as likely as a snowball making it in hell.

    July 10, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  21. Kel

    Truth Hurts!

    July 10, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  22. L

    I saw this. What a total loser. He really thinks he's the man. He's so arrogant.

    Gramm is an economist (i studied economics and believe me all economist are a bit weird) and what he said is totally true. he didnt mention the american people, he was talking about government and media. we are in a growing economy and now this is out the real truth might come out. foreclosures are happening becuase we were all too greedy and wanted to borrow more then we could afford to buy as big a house as possible. unfortunately the economy is always going to be up and down, and now its down so people do suffer. it will grow again though, so just be positive for a change.

    July 10, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  23. gluv

    @ belle...that 300 economist cosignment is extemely flawed accounts. go to politico.com and they broke it down that those people merely cosigned on small portions of the economic plan, but pretty much all of them disagree with the notion that with this plan the national debt would be balanced within 4 years.

    in fact, ONE of those people are actually OBAMA supporters...

    July 10, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  24. JERRAL

    STOP in your tracks

    enough of bashing
    we have a mess in this country and obama and hillary will fix it

    July 10, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  25. susanb2010

    Gramm is seriously so out of touch and McLame, well, they are two peas in a pod. I bet it's difficult for Gramm to see from that Ivory Tower with all his dirty Eron and UBS money blocking the view. What a sad time for the US.... I just hope we make it to 2009. (Belle...you might want to read up a bit more on those 300 economists before you just spew campaign rhetoric.)

    July 10, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
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