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. Mike

    Nice one Barack. Someone saying its all in my head when i cant fill up my gas tank. Hammer Mcsame on this. Time for some common sense.

    Obama/Clinton 08

    July 10, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  2. Shawna

    Back peddeling by Gramm won't save McCain on this issue. It is clear that he was referring to the American people, he clearly states " We have become a NATION, (NATION) of whiners. This line of thought is central to McCain's campaign and the republicans ideology.

    July 10, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  3. Enlightened Voter

    People, people, notice how all of mccain's people 'slip' up. Remember that Black said we should have another terrorist attack before the election? And now Gramm saying the nation is full of whiners. They don't 'slip' up, they are exposing how they really feel and how mccain feels, the only problem they have is when the public finds out. And believe me there will be plenty more 'slip' ups before the election because we all know the repubs don't care about ordinary Americans, they are for the rich only.

    July 10, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  4. DM, Let talk about the truth!!

    A story this morning detailing the McCain campaign's fraud in misrepresenting the support of McCain's "300 Economists" who signed on in support Monday of McCain's economic plan. This is a scandal waiting to break, and this should really blow a hole in McCain's Straight Talk Express....

    Politico breaks the campaign black eye

    July 10, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |

    One thing... If Mr. Obama wants to make fun of people utilizing freedom of speech then he should be able to take it himself without whining...

    July 10, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. Peter E

    Liberals want to have it both ways: first they complain when Bush tries to interfere with the housing and mortgage market. Now they complain that he didn't.
    They kept (correctly) harping that economists are warning about impending housing bubble and sub-prime mortgage crisis. But they bought into it anyway and now they pretend that Bush broke that system and they didn't have enough warning to avoid the crunch.
    Blind-sight is 0/0....

    July 10, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  7. Tanya


    Perhaps you didn't hear but the 300 economists didn't sign onto McCain's economic plan; they signed on to support him. None of them, I repeat NONE of the them realized what they were signing. Why don't you get informed before you shoot off your mouth. You hate Obama, we get it; but try not to languish in stupidity and misinformation along with your hatred.

    July 10, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. Stephen H

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

    Give me a break will you! Just because 300 idiots sign off on McCains economic plan does not make it feasible and it most certainly does not make it superior to Obama's. You're just another frustrated Hillary Clinton supporter who continues to whine about your candidate not being the nominee. You dont have to like Obama and I most certainly would not ask you to vote for him, but why the need to sabotage Obama? Why not do as Hillary has asked and support Senator Obama? Go ahead and admit it. You're a Hill-hypocrit and you never really believed in what Hillary stood for in the first place. Take your childish ways, grab your toys and go home. Worse yet, vote for McCain in November. That also would be a very mature response to not getting your way.

    Obama '08

    July 10, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. Deidre, Birmingham


    I will explain to you WHY 300 Economists signed "onto McCain's Plan" – BECAUSE THEY DID NOT READ IT. What was signed was a two page letter that summarized his goals long before the specific plan came out. This document DID NOT INCLUDE ANY REFERENCE TO BALANCING THE BUDGET!!!!

    McCain LIED when he said these economists agree with his plan and it's conclusions. Many of these economists have come out publically and said that there is no way in H*LL McCain can balance the budget with his proposals and they don't even agree with many specifics in his plan. One of them is even an Obama supporter who said he just got the letter by email from a colleague and should not have signed it.

    Seriously, that is a load of bull and no economist believes what John McCain is claiming – google it.

    July 10, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  10. Grizzly

    Well then Senator Obama, what is your plan to "solve" the economy? Are we supposed to wish our problems away, or "change" them away?

    One thing we must keep in mind: Politicians do not present concrete plans during election cycles anymore. They are too worried about their opponent poking holes in them.

    The shame of it is that Obama was supposed to be different. He is sounding a lot like ALL of the politicians that have run for President before.

    July 10, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. Joe Bloggs, Haiku, HI

    Belle is just another hood-winked dittohead who places credence in the 'fact' that " 300 economists signed on to McCain's Economic Plan", you may enilghten yourself to find out that this is yet another bogus claim of McCsame:

    Obama you rock! McSame you are going down in a landslide!

    July 10, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  12. JV

    Belle wrote:

    "AND HOW you plan to pay for your programs when they are funded from saving money from a war that is waged on BORROWED money!"

    John Mccain claimed those would be his "savings" duh! Barack Obama plans to raise the money he needs by rolling back tax cuts AND divesting us from the money sink that is Iraq. McCain is the one who claims he can "save" money by "winning" in Iraq and using not going into more debt as "savings". He is the one with no plan to actually raise revenues. Read more newspapers.

    July 10, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Lorna, NY

    To Belle: Show me the names of the 300 economist that approved McCains Economic Plan? Before commenting, I suggest you do your research first. McCain is counting on uninformed citizens like yourself to vote for him.

    July 10, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  14. cherish

    You don't have to take the recession seriously when you're worth a boatload of money and won't have to make another cent for you and your family to survive in luxury for the rest of your natural lives.

    MCCAIN and his campaign are OUT OF TOUCH!!!

    Ha! Read the Politico's investigation of the 300 economists who signed McCain's "economic plan" – they signed a 430 word document months ago – not his new 15-page plan which was completely devoid of his gimmick gas tax holiday and other ridiculous proposals.

    How do you pay for $300 billion in taxes by saving $18 billion in earmarks and pork? I know McCain's older than math, but that just doesn't add up!!

    July 10, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  15. CNN = Jerry Springer of news

    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….
    Belle, sources for your 300 economists statement please. I am an avid reader of political information and have not seen that anywhere. Also, regarding your question about why McCain can vow to balance the budge by the end of his first term...Anybody can vow to do anything. Remember George HW Bush and, 'read my lips, no new taxes/' Just because a politician says something does not mean it will come true.

    I am certain the comments by Phil Gramm offended many people who are working harder and making less than they did 8 years ago. I earn a fairly comfortable wage (however, not enough to benefit from a McCain 'tax cut'), yet I am feeling the pinch this summer – it isnot in my head. Those quotes were not 'taken out of context' as even Mr. Gramm states, he attirbutes them to being 'missunderstood.' I think many understood what he was saying just fine and I am glad Obama is making a point of these statements so people can see who McCain surrounds himself with/advises him so they really know what they may get with a McCain presidency (heaven forbid).

    July 10, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |

    He is making fun of it because its true... Otherwise he would simply shrug it off... Must have hit a nerve because he does constantly whine...

    July 10, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. John in Lincoln

    I agree that we all are struggling with higher energy and food costs, but Senator Obama does himself no favors by altering the facts to fan the flames of public discontent.

    By no measure that doe not include government jobs has America lost 438,000 jobs in the last 6 months.

    There is no data that suggests that the typical American family has lost $1,000 in the last 8 years. In fact, every indicator regarding personal wealth points to precisely the opposite. What is more disturbing than the outright fabrication, however, is the blatant hypocrisy or flat out ignorance of economical matters. If you believed that the typical American family was $1,000 poorer today than when President Bush took office why would you want to take more money away from us by rescinding his tax cuts?

    More evidence of Senator Obama's elitest view on the average American. Just tell us anything regardless of the facts or contridictions. We all is too ignorant to know better anyways.

    July 10, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  18. Matt, Minneapolis, MN

    Hmm it's nice to see all the liberals not read the story right below this one where McCain basically tells of Gramm.... But Liberals are just so good at yelling at the top of their lungs and not listening, I"m not surprised. They didn't notice Obama waffling on Iraq, on Campaign finance, on Anonymous Union Voting, On Foreign policy, and on warrentless wiretaping. Why would they notice McCain repudiating the guy right after he talks. Obama seems to like to wait for a few days before doing this, McCain has a history of doing it right away. Politics as usual from Obama, not from McCain. Change without substance is status quo. NO TO O.

    July 10, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  19. Jeremiah

    I think that it says a lot about McCain's "experience" that he appointed Phil Gramm as one of his top economic advisors. Bye the way, Phil Gramm was instrumental in making sure that there was no government oversight of the mortgage industry when he was in Congress. I don't know how much "experience" John McCain has, but I'm not sure our country can survive 4 years of it.

    July 10, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  20. Robert in Toronto, ON

    I would only like to add this:

    I'd like to see Obama go more on the offensive against McCain. It seems like in a good boxing match, Obama is doing his hits when McCain misses a punch or leaves himself open...but Obama has to start throwing some haymakers and really pound McCain.

    Take him to task on those flip-flopping charges that he's throwing against him. I say to have him wobbling by the time September comes and early round KO by October.

    July 10, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  21. Ted from Washington, DC

    Wow, how can people even begin to defend such a crewd statement by the McCain camp. Come on Media. look at how many articles are writen about Obamas every single word. compared to Mc Cain,

    Obama 1940
    McCain 1060

    and that is aCNN FACT!!!

    so whats wrong with this picture?

    McCain can get away with anything. it is Shame and dis to the American People That we STILL can not be fair. and The media may end up putting McCain in the house. and wonder what went wrong. Just like they did kerry and Bush. Bush LOST!!!! and we still gave it to them.

    Go figure.
    America Open your eyes and stand up and fight.

    July 10, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  22. Becky

    Any anyone who says, "McCain doesn't agree with Gramm's comments," ...

    (1) McCain has said he doesn't know much about economics.

    OK, then. Rely on great economic advisors.

    (2) Oh, wait, your economic advisor is Gramm...who um...yeah thinks the economic decline is just in our heads.

    Now what, McCain? Sounds like McCain's camp is just trying to downplay the economy as being the #1 issue because they know they don't have the man for the job. SO TRANSPARENT

    Obama '08

    please post

    July 10, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  23. Bitter - New Orleans, LA

    The government can't fix the current housing crisis. Any money they spend on it will create a larger bill down the road. The market will correct itself....always has, always will.

    Gramm is partially right. Everyone is blaming the government for everything (personal faults and all) and the media is over-hyping everything as usual.

    It's amazing that Americans expect to live confortably and lavishly during a time of war. No one is cutting back, no one is conserving anything. Ask your grandparents about wwII times. Whether you agree with the war or not, the reality is there and most are oblivious to it.

    July 10, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  24. mitchell martin

    great comeback barack! take this ball and run with it,all the way to the white house!noone's whining!we just want an oppurtunity to make things better for ourselves,but,republicans treat us like a business competitor,and cut our legs off below the knees,to the point we can no longer stand on our own.then they call us whiners and lazy.we were doing fine until republicans came in and took our livelyhoods away.what will they do when noone can afford to buy their bs anymore?

    July 10, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  25. Ryan

    Wow. Interesting comment. True polotics, though, isn't showering critical comments at economists, but rather promising to help ecnomists in their efforts to clean up taxes and prevent recession. It's just a lame effort on Obama's part to say something to a crowd.

    He did, however, prove his leadership capability by saying something totally hilarious!

    July 10, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
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