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. dz

    Gramm's comments are pretty spot-on. We always hear what we can't do. We used to hear about what we can do. We started with an idea to go to the moon and developed the technology and accomplished the goal in only 9 years!! We can do whatever we put our collective minds to. McCain should back up Gramm's comments and use Obama's words against him. God help us if Obama is elected.

    July 10, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. Josh

    You know, sometimes I wonder if we are in a "mental recession." And if the economy can be "solved."
    ...really? That's what these guys are saying?

    McCain's adviser needs a reality check; he should look at rising commodity costs, lowered housing prices, and every other "non-illusory" metric to judge the economy.

    Obama should consider treating the economy less like a Rubik's cube and more like a multifaceted, complicated, and yes, not always "solvable" component of American society.

    When will politicians stop pandering grandiloquent solutions and start forcing Americans to face harsh? I'm leaning heavily toward the "never" end of the spectrum, but that's the way it will be until politicians are incentivized to act truthfully and not appeal to the will of the mob.

    July 10, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  3. S. Boatman Warrensburg Mo.

    Mccain And His Entire Campaign Is Garbage!

    July 10, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  4. Jan From Boca Raton, Fl

    Look who's calling the kettle black.

    Obama wants mandatory spanish in schools, next he will be demanding rap music . This man is nuts.

    July 10, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  5. Venus

    Way to go Bam! Hit em' hard on this issue! Funny... now McSame doesn't want to be attached to Gramm!

    July 10, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  6. Jann, Denver CO

    I think this is great and can only help Obama. It illustrates how out of touch the Republicans are with the American people. We are not whiners who are whining for the sake of it. People are hurting...losing their jobs and houses; unable to afford gas and food. The Republican party cannot relate to the average American and does not understand what it's like to struggle to pay the bills just to stay above water.

    This statement is a perfect example as to why McCain and the Republicans are dangerous for this country...they have no clue what we are going through, and therefore have no idea how to help us.

    July 10, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  7. larry from minnesota

    Senator Gramm must live in the fantasy world of the ultra rich if he is unable to see the dire economic straits of so many Americans. When one loses his home because of the stew money challenges (less hours at work, higher gas and food prices, the steep drop in the house's value)
    please us the dignity of not accusing us of "whining." These rich Republicans, they just don't get it.

    July 10, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  8. nor do we need ...

    We certainly don't need another know-it-all president either, Mr. Obama! Distort the facts any way you want them, but our economy is still growing ... just much slower. What part of "recession" do you not understand?

    July 10, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    "300 economists signed on to McCain's Economic Plan"

    Wow - that's got to be like, 0.01% of the nation's economists, right? An overwhelming consensus indeed! Never mind the fact that 99% of the economists who spoke out about the "gas tax holiday" said it was a wholly ineffectual gimmick.

    July 10, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. july 9th

    =====only idiots would vote for mcbush, only idiots!====

    July 10, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. Gordon

    Actually, Belle the '300 economists' who signed onto the McCain plan signed on to a statement that was only 403 words long and didn't contain specifics. Many of these economists don't support all of McCain's agenda and one of them is an Obama supporter. If CNN did a better job with finding out the facts instead of kissing up to the republicans they would have reported on this by now.

    July 10, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  12. Esther

    CNN is definitely working for McShame. I can see that. I have tried to post over 20 comments on these blogs to no avail!

    July 10, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  13. kcl, Maryland

    Nice shot, Matt from Manchester. I too, will vote for McCain, but his henchmen need to learn not to insult the people McCain is trying to get to vote for him. Gramm belittles people by calling them whiners? Maybe he’d like to be in the same position as all those airline workers who will lose their jobs, and likely their health insurance. Hey, Gramm has a lot of money, and paid health insurance through his wife, probably – maybe he’d graciously pick up the premiums for some airline employees who won’t have any income to pay for their families’ insurance. Whiner? Gramm needs to look in a mirror and stop sandbagging McCain’s chances. Ugh, that voice/accent of his is the WORST, isn't it?

    July 10, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. NG in DC

    Obama is funny. And Hillary has good cackle too. Perfect Team!
    Obama/Clinton 08-16

    July 10, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. paul mooney

    McCain is constantly stating that certain people don't speak for him, but he keeps them on as advisors. Grahmm is totally out to lunch with his comments. It's only because he sits up there on Capitol Hill totally secluded from the real world just like everyone else up there. It's just like George, Sr going to the grocery store and being amazed that scanners were used. These men and women that supposedly lead our country, have never lived in the real world.

    July 10, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  16. Marc

    Phil Gramm believes in total deregulation and has no clue about the lives of typical working families.
    He thinks this is a "Mental Recession" because he lives in a bubble or aristocracy, corruption and pure amoral power lust.
    By the way, the last time the US had no regulation in business, America's families including CHILDREN were forced to work 18 hour days. Hey, maybe that's Mr. Gramm's plan.

    July 10, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. Peter E

    Sorry, but this 'recession' IS artificial. For years economists warned about sub-prime mortgages. For years economists warned about the housing bubble. For years economists warned about the weakening dollar. People knew about it coming. But they were too greedy to listen. They thoughts they'd get out before it all crunches. Now they complain that they lost money that was based on speculation to begin with.
    It's easy to keep blaming politicians. That's what they're there for. First you blame them when they interfere with your greed. Now you complain that they did nothing to protect your greed.
    It's time to take a look in the mirror America!

    July 10, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. brittneyt

    lol dr. phil

    July 10, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  19. NotFallingInLine.org

    And what exactly does Obama think the country needs, an inspirational speaker or a cheerleader like himself or Tony Robbins at the helm?

    Obama is so unqualified for the office.

    Democrat NFIL

    July 10, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  20. Grand Rapids, MI

    McCain and his team are all losing their bearings!

    July 10, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  21. CPJ

    McCain's plan is to have no plan. Just keep on going with the same stuff that isn't working.

    No thanks!

    July 10, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  22. Herve

    the facts that dr phil support john McCain doesn´t mean that he should not said the true about what is going on in america......and i ask myself the question to know if the republicans are senseless or people are still proud to said (i am a republican)....etc...etc.
    well OBAMA we wish you all the beste and cannot wait to see you here in germany.

    July 10, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  23. Tom


    "For Americas Women"


    July 10, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  24. J. S.

    Can't blame it entirely on President Bush or the Republicans–we've had a majority in Congress for 2 years that's Democrats. I'm a registered Democrat–what has Congress done in the last 2 years???

    July 10, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  25. peter, dc transplant

    I'm kind of dissappointed in the "reformed politics" of Obama. Its becoming more and more apparent that he is anxious to pounce on any slight comment made by the opposition, but dismisses any slams on him or his party as "politics as usual". Don't get me wrong, I want the republicans out of the white house, but come on Obama, walk the walk.

    July 10, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
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