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. Larry, Apex, North Carolina

    Why does the media print ANYTHING from people from Texas?!

    July 10, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  2. Pick me!! Pick me!!

    On the 300 Economists

    You understand that the letter is a bait-and-switch right? When McCain says in a debate "Over 300 economists supported my economic plans, blah blah blah" he's not going to detail which exact planks of his economic platform they signed up to support. He'll imply that they supported all of his econmic ideas. You can support free trade and tax simplification and the unconstitutional line-item veto all you want but if you don't support all of his economic ideas, it's not a good idea to sign such a letter, which is an endorsement. Your argument simply doesn't float. No quarrels with signing the letter, my org's chief economist signed the letter too but that's just in the hope of some delicious gravy down the road. mmm... pork... gravy....

    It also leaves out two big chunks of McCain's economic argument: the gas tax holiday and his promise to balance the budget by the end of his first term - there's literally nothing in the release that mentions the deficit or national debt.

    July 10, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  3. FJ from Atlanta

    Right On Mr. President!

    Obama '08

    July 10, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  4. Diane M of Los Angeles, CA


    long list of Flip-Flops on national issues and voting records;
    lack of Statesmenship re: inappropriate jokes on Iranain genocide;
    and light-hearted responses to serious issues?

    Obama's mockery of a McCain supporter's comments is nothing compare to McCain's mockery of our country's foreign policies!

    July 10, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. Old Stradlater

    Can we get rid of the original Dr. Phil while we're at it?

    Belle, McCain's plan is garbage. He leaves off the gas tax holiday and the deficit. How many economists would sign off on it if he had those ridiculous proposals on it?

    July 10, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. 'Nuff Said

    I wish the government would "step-out" and give some families some relief.

    July 10, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. Anthony

    What happened with Bear Stearns? Why are we still finding ways to bail out other Brokerage firms. Why are we looking to help people save their homes. The high price of oil is affecting the cost of living for most. Maybe you have to be a economic genius and financially comfortable like Gramm to see the silver lining in the economy.

    July 10, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Chris

    Belle – do some research, McCain's "balanced budget" includes "saved" funds from the war too, borrowing more money from China (that's how he's "cutting taxes, he's just borrowing from China) AND is optimistically "estimating" the dollar's value in the future. It's a scam pandering plan.

    300 economists back McCain's plan? that's funny because over 2x that many say it doesn't work. These must be the same economists that have backed Bush and the "gas tax holiday"

    July 10, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. Dusacre

    Belle, only 300 economists signed on McCain's Economic Plan? The republicans got 8 years to fix this problem including over 4 years majority in congress; they did not fix the economy, things are getting worse. I don't think that grandpa McCain will fix this problem but it is up to the voters to decide.

    There are ten of thousands of economist in the USA, so having 300 is not a big deal. Maybe grandpa should have 10,000 signatures.

    July 10, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Shawn

    To Belle:

    Would these be the same economists that signed on to Hillary Clinton's plan? lol

    try again

    July 10, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. 60 YO white female , Springfield, VA

    Phil Graham and McCain are both insensitive, out of touch elitest who don't have a clue, and furthermore, they don't care about anyone but the haves and have mores !
    I can
    It wait for OBAMA 08 !

    July 10, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  12. blaising

    Hang him from the highest tree...gramm that is.

    July 10, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  13. IA Voter

    I forgot.

    Obama – 08 baby...
    WMEV – (White Middle-Aged Educated Voter)

    July 10, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  14. Doug, DC

    Hey Belle, July 10th, 2008 3:17 pm ET

    Obviously you suffer from lack of information because the majority of the 300 economists that signed his economic plan, signed it before the details were made available. They thought they signing a letter of support of McCain himself and his economic principles. Now that the majority of them have seen the plan, they are getting as far away from that plan as possible. Don't be an uneducated voter. Do research before taking a position!!

    July 10, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  15. WoMaN4McCain

    Nation of Whiners?? He's obviously talking about the PUMA/Hillary people. Now there's your whiners who need Dr. Phil in a bad way!

    July 10, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  16. M.H.

    A nation of whiners I think its true to a certain point alot of people want the government and others to always help them out everytime any little thing goes wrong I consider it a weakness.

    July 10, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  17. Arin

    Awww, we like Dr. Phil.
    Whine, whine, whine.

    July 10, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  18. Jon

    Mr.BHO, you of all sheeple should know that you are so full of it while you try to move to the center. I guess that is where you should have been from the get go. We , the center will not vote for you ever because you are such a flip-flopper and will only kill this great country of ours. Go Hillary.....

    July 10, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  19. al in memphis

    I know it is the "silly season of politics", but leaders and policy makers are so dilusional and out of touch with the people they serve. Why is it okay to borrow money from China to pay for the Iraq war, but it is not okay to intensively invest in our own country.
    Maybe Gramm wants us to increase to a 7 day work week, then we won't have time to whine. Work harder, smarter is okay, but we need the playing field to be fair.

    July 10, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  20. SJ

    Way to go Obama!! On the point and quick response!

    As for "Belle"... I believe many economists actually said that McSame wouldn't be able to balance the budget by the end of his first term, and would still have a deficit of BILLIONS of dollars!!! Check your facts.

    July 10, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. David Peter

    McBush is digging his own grave.

    July 10, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  22. David M. Buddingh in Naperville, IL


    I can find 300 sports fans who will tell you that the Kansas City Royals will win the World Series.

    Don't buy the hype!

    Obama '08

    July 10, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  23. Get a Grip

    People just need to take responsibilty for themselves and not expect the gov't to bail them out.

    July 10, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  24. Peter E

    Note, he doesn't talk about his own economic policies, just attacks his opponent.
    You know why? Because he has no plan or record on the economy!

    July 10, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  25. John in Binghamton NY

    This guy is your economic advisor and he doesn't speak for you?

    So your economic plan is the same as Bush's. If you do not have rich oil daddy or beer queen to pay your bills then shut your face and stop whining.

    The fact that your gas and food bills have tripled and your par has not is all in your head. Idiot!!!! Why would anyone vote for the GOP???

    July 10, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
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