August 18th, 2008
03:19 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama jabs McCain for 'rich' definition


[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama took aim at McCain for jokingly defining ‘rich’ as earning $5 million or more per year."]

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (CNN) – Barack Obama took a jab Monday at a weekend comment by John McCain that the minimum income for “rich” making $5 million a year.

At an economic roundtable discussion of the economy Monday in Albuquerque, Obama accused McCain of “peddling” President Bush’s economic policies from the past eight years, including tax breaks for the wealthy.

“Which I guess if you’re making $3 million a year, you're middle class,” said Obama, admitting that maybe McCain was joking.

But that's reflected in his policies,” Obama continued, “where for people making more than $2.5 million, he's giving folks a $500,000 tax break. And so this is a fundamental difference in this election.”

Both candidates appeared, separately, at Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church on Saturday for his “civil forum” on faith, values and leadership. Asked to define “rich,” McCain responded that it should be defined by a home, a good job, education and “the ability to hand our children a safer and more prosperous world…”

“So I think if you’re just talking about income, how about five million?” he later added. “I’m sure that comment will be distorted, but the point is that we want to keep people’s taxes low and increase revenues.”

Asked the same question earlier in the night, Obama joked that it was book sales of 25 million referring to Warren’s bestselling books. He then declined to give an exact number saying that it depends where one lives but that $250,000 a year means “you are doing well.”

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds responded in an email saying that Obama is “shamelessly distorting” McCain’s comment.

"Remember when Barack Obama said he was ‘tired of distortion, name-calling, and sound bite solutions to complicated problems?’ Neither do we," wrote Bounds.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (172 Responses)
  1. kel

    to the wrirter of the above
    Obama never say 55k was rich so you better get the GOP talking points right . he mention poeple making 250k were doing alright depending where you lived.The so called finance poeple were the same one's who back the current Bush plan see where gotten us.The marriage penalty is also a a lie, When over half of the major companies do not pay any taxes is another why we have a problem.

    August 18, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  2. peekay

    rewrite– to your comment he said 250k+ so get it right.. stop lying on the man and pay attention to what he says.

    August 18, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. McCain is the dummest candidate that will ever exist

    O.K. let me get this right: Panamanian McCain will keep the same Bush tax cuts in place. These tax cuts have destroyed this country. Any questions?

    August 18, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  4. Susan from Boston

    To the poster "Obama is the dumbest candidate ever"

    Clearly you have no other intelligent input nor have you clearly read his economic platform. You need to look at your self in the mirror and realize that you yourself are a lemming – just simply believing the Republican lies.

    Personally I am frightened of people such as yourselves – no ability to keep an open mind and really find the truth. Instead we are seeing the dumbing down of America, where we believe in easy solutions, and have foreign policy that can be reduced to simple campaign stump speeches like "Drill here – drill now"

    August 18, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  5. Ardnuas

    These are the rich people McCain is going to help the MOST.... McCain and Rick Warren cheated on Saturday and SMART voters KNOW IT.

    August 18, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. Mccain is the dumbest candidate ever

    If you have to cheat before having a debate with a pastor you have definately lost your bearings......

    August 18, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. Mike

    I heard it. McBush was joking but it was a freudian slip joke. In McCains world, five million dollars is not much money.

    August 18, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |

    Who was the leader of their clas and who graduated 85 out of 89 poop-for- brains?

    Change 08

    August 18, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  9. banderson

    Deception, misdirection and propaganda, that is the Republican way. If anyone with any common sense think that John McCain and the wealthy Republican party is going to look after them then they are crazy. Forget about it.

    August 18, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. tom

    "Obama is the dumbest candidate ever" whoever you are you are so dumb, read again the article it says 250K not 55k, idiot think, you must be taking something really big.

    August 18, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. Gene

    To the one guy that's posted so far... economists have already confirmed that his plan would save people making 55K range more money than McCain's would... so before spouting off distortions that certain crazy right wing radio show hosts are lying about... actually take a look at his plans. That way the person calling Obama the dumbest candidate ever won't look like the dumbest blog poster ever.

    August 18, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  12. Chris

    McCain still hasn't answered the question...

    McCain also advertises that Obama will increase taxes on everyone – so McCain started the financial distortions first.

    "he's giving folks a $500,000 tax break." – how is giving breaks to the rich helping our economy? I know 3 people worth several million and none of them are spending that $500k of tax savings on our economy.

    McCain is richer than Obama even without his wife's income. Who's elitist? Who puts Country First?

    August 18, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  13. Kitten for Obama

    Obama did not say 55k + is rich, if you are going to quote get it right. He said if you are making 250K+ you should be comfortable. If Americans weren't living above their means then we wouldn't have this huge mortgage crisis with foreclosure at a all time high. A lot of people brought houses above their means, we couldn't afford the war, and all of this unnecessary spending that the President has gotten us in, so can you imagine how it is going to be if McCain is in the white house, we will all be in the poor house if you are not making millions.
    I quess it is the norm to walk around in $500.00 and their are Americans that can not afford shoes for their children. THINK!!!!!

    August 18, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |

    Obama is the dumbest candidate ever – SPOKEN LIKE A TRUE MILLIONAIRE. Once again if your are making more than $250,000.00 a year then you will pay more. If you are under $250,000.00 you know the people the McCain Campaign thinks are WHINNERS and in a MENTAL RECESSION you will get a tax credit. KNOW THE FACTS

    OBAMA 08-12

    August 18, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  15. gm


    August 18, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  16. MMN Milwaukee WI

    Even when Jesus was born his earthly parents had gone to be counted and pay taxes. Having said that I have to remind you that any government the world over has but one simple business and that is… collect taxes to allow the governments to provide services and protection to its citizens…take that away and there is no purpose of a government. I think you should be more involved in deciding what those services are. Take your pick and whining is not an option.

    August 18, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  17. Reasonable Observer

    Obama's rich number appears to move. President Bush vetoed the Farm Bill, citing the preference to limit subsidies to farmers making over $2 million per year. Obama voted to override the veto, so at least on that day, rich was apparently somewhere over $2 million. Regardless of any of that, why does Obama think that just because someone makes more money, they should pay more taxes. Progressive (socialist) tax rates are not the answer.

    August 18, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  18. Kelby from Houston, TX

    LOL the term rich is relavent. Oprah is poor, when you compare her to Bill Gates and 55K is rich if you're making around 20-30K.

    August 18, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  19. Derek C.

    Obama goofed on this one. McCain said in the forum that he was joking and that he'd probably have it used against him by the Obama campaign. That Obama took the bait, here, shows he is playing politics at the most amateur level. He should have let this one ride. Mistakes like these are going to cost we Democrats the White House. 🙁

    August 18, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  20. What!?

    ...he later added....the point is that we want to keep people’s taxes low and increase revenues.”

    Well, this is what McCain AND Obama would say. But you and I know that you can't do both. And the government will always err on the side of helping itself to your income. Revenue, to the government IS taxes. So does it make sense to say "keep people's taxes low and increase taxes"?

    don't vote for either of these two candidates!! They are only looking out for themselves, bigger government and more bloated government programs for their friends to run.

    August 18, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  21. Hank

    Sorry McCain, not all of us choose to leave our wives for multi-million dollar heiress'.

    August 18, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  22. Cecelia

    Obama didn't say 55,000.00 was rich – he said 250,000 & over would be taxed & lower than 100,000.00 would get a tax break!! See thats the problem with Republican voters – they always hear only what they want!!

    August 18, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  23. James

    Why haven't we seen any stories envolving McCain's children from his first marriage?

    Could it be that they don't respect him? Are they refusing to be interviewed or are McCain's koolaid sippers, the mainstream media, protecting him like they did Edwards by not bringing attention to his adulterous past? Did McCain threaten them not to make any public statements?

    Or that they are following the golden rule-

    If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all. I think that lack of support says volumes about not only McCain's family values but also his morals and his ethics.

    August 18, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  24. Republicans hate america

    when has Obama said 55K is rich? just another example of if the GOP cant debate the issue they just make something up. Obama did say GOP take pride in being ignorant boy is that true.

    August 18, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. Prove it

    Where does it say that Obama thinks $55K is rich? Do tell.

    August 18, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
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