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. BJ, Seattle

    I got a good laugh when I saw Obama speak the line about "Dr. Phil" That pretty well sums up John McCain's economic plan-the bad economy is in our head . Which triggers that memory from Animal House. " Remain calm. All is well!"

    July 10, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. Adam from NC

    Belle you're an idiot if you believe McCain will balance anything near a budget! Making Bush, his mentor's, tax cuts permanent will only add to the national debt!

    Obama in a landslide this fall

    July 10, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. DJ, LA, CA

    ha ha ha...very funny Obama. Best joke I heard yet by the candidates.

    July 10, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. Truely a Democrat

    That is why Obama will have my vote in November. I want to know how McSame tends to balance the budget by the end of his first term...

    Obama 08

    July 10, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. Kevin, FL

    in before crazy PUMA types a post in all caps

    July 10, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. Mike

    Jump all over this major foot in the mouth comment Barrack. No doubt McBush would rub your face in it if anyone close to you said anything near this stupid and insensitive.

    July 10, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  7. Walter, Long Beach

    If our recession is only mental, maybe the recovery should be mental as well.

    Why doesn't Obama propose a crash program of basic R&D designed to produce a means of personal transportation that is not dependent on fossil fuels. We can then give the technology to domestic auto manufacturers free of charge, as long as they pledge to build the cars in the U.S.

    We will have retrieved those jobs in Michigan that McCain said were never coming back. We will substantially reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And we will have also gone a long way toward meeting our climate change goals.

    A triple play for Obama!

    July 10, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. dick bohanon

    hey belle check your facts
    more than one of the 300 economists
    has stated that they dont support his
    plan and signed on months ago before
    the plan was presented
    find out what non partisan experts
    rate the potiental for of success
    his plan has
    (not very good)
    GAO estimate for 2013 deficet under mccain plan: $445 billion
    i am not a member of either party
    i call it as i see it
    his plan makes no sense
    the fact that phil gramm is part of his team
    should be a red flag

    July 10, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  9. Allan

    OK, CNN. Cut out the censorship. I am a US citizen and deserve to have my comments posted. What is wrong with you?

    July 10, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  10. Paul

    McCain no longer equals Bush. He's much, much worse.

    July 10, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  11. Peter E

    Reality check: economists have warned about sub-prime mortgages for years! People kept making them anyway because they thought they had a 'right' to own a home they can't afford. Property values are also only declining because people overspeculated them to begin with. Economists also warned us about this impending property crunch/housing bubble for years. But you weren't listening...

    July 10, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  12. Major Michael Lorton, Virginia

    A dose of reality for Graham.......Now take your reality dose 4 times a day as prescirbed by the American people......by the way......who is Dr. Phi being treated by? Maybe we can make an appointment for a referral for Graham.

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. Abby

    Belle, site your sources. Economists discredited McCain and his off shore drilling and his gas tax holiday. Don’t lmake things up please. Thanks.

    Way to go Obama.

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  14. Where's the truth

    What a politically stupid thing to say. Is there really one person in America that likes being called a Whiner? Obama isn't going to have to beat McCain, he's doing too good of a job beating himself. All he needs to do now is go into another rendition of "Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran!"

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. Daniel

    We have become a nation of whiners who have been filled with the "it’s not my fault" mentality. Many people are losing their homes because they took loans they could not possibly afford and failed to understand the agreements they were signing. Many companies are failing because of CEOs and managers who make horrible business decisions. The government can do more to help people but people need to start doing more to help themselves.

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  16. MDB

    I don't understand Obama's comments about the average American losing $1,000 a year since Bush took office. Wages have gone up since Bush took office (in all fields) and taxes are about 6% lower than they were during the Clinton administration. I think Obama is a panderer and an idiot and hopefully he has an economic genius leading him. The difference between Obama and McCain on the economy:

    McCain- admits the economy is not his strong suit and will have advisors to help with it (like every other politician in history)

    Obama- just runs his mouth and pretends he knows all about it when he does not have a clue.

    For reference:
    Average salary 1999: $23,800.00
    Average salary 2007: $31,480.00

    Average tax bracket 1999: 28.75%
    Average tax bracket 2007: 25.35%

    Average Home interest rate 1999: 8.9% fixed
    Average home interest rate 2007: 5.7% fixed

    The reason gas is $4.00 a gallon in 2008
    Because that's what the middle east is charging us for it, and since the libs keep voting against domestic drilling we have to buy from other countries.

    The reason gas should be about $2.50 a gallon: because thats what it would cost us to drill, refine and sell it ourselves here in the US.

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  17. Mark Vale

    McCain's campaign keeps affirming one way or another just how out of touch with reality they are. Phil Gramm's comments certainly reveals it.

    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. dennis

    Those in the administration and the republican party have lost (if they even had it) with the American people. Their priorities are all wrong.

    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. Janet

    Obama is right again! So iguess when people don't have enough food to eat and they have hunger pangs they should repeat the McCain campign's mantra "It's all in your head" and the feeling will go away? Or when your car runs out of gas because gas is too high it's just the car's fault. and when all the jobs have been shipped overseas and you don't have one, that's all imaginary too. I'm tired of old rich white men dictating policy for all Americans

    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. bakersfield

    he mocks everyone

    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. Tom

    You tell them Obama!!!

    McSame and his crowd are out of touch

    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  22. Kevin, NC

    Despite what the out of the loop conservatives and liberals say, the reality on the ground is that the economy is hurting due to the failed policies of the Bush Administration, and if you think McCAin can fix it, please please vote for him, but dont cry when your job is next on the chopping block or when his old tail leads you down the hall of doom. You can say what you will about Obama, but he will be our Next President.

    And to all of the fake Hillary supports acting as though they are dissappointed at her fair defeat, irrespective of what the media says, we arent counting on you to win this election.

    If you get a chance read a book called the "Fall of America" by Elijah Muhhamad.

    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  23. Marc PDX

    Obama is becoming the punchline to a joke (how many Obamas does it take to fix the economy?). What, exactly, is his economic recovery plan? I've seen his plan to increase taxes. But he is also planning on increasing spending (and lowering taxes for many people). But that just adds money to the government, not the economy. And taxing businesses will just cut into their profits (that's bad for the economy and job creation). So just what is his plan for jobs and the economy. He hasn't said a darn thing that applies. Hope won't be enough!

    NObama N'08

    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  24. Mike in Vancouver BC

    More denial that the country is in a mess from the McCain camp from one of his surrogates. McCain will get Cindy to help all of you who are havling tough times......

    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  25. july 10th

    cnn u never post my comments why is that? why?
    we know you support the GOP, you should support americans.

    shame on you CNN.

    July 10, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
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