Obama pounces on McCain adviser's 'mental recession' gaffe: 'America already has one Dr. Phil'
After sticking his own foot in his mouth on Social Security, Republican presidential candidate John McCain was forced to repudiate an adviser's description of economic hard times as a "mental recession" Thursday after opponents pounced on the remark.
Former Sen. Phil Gramm, a key economic adviser to McCain, told the Washington Times that worries about the sluggish US economy sinking into a recession were just in everybody's head.
"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession," he said, noting that growth has held up at about 1 percent despite all the publicity over losing jobs to India, China, illegal immigration, housing and credit problems and record oil prices. "We may have a recession; we haven't had one yet."
The campaign of Democratic candidate Barack Obama jumped on the gaffe, quickly releasing a statement this afternoon.
"One of Senator McCain's top economic advisors may think that when people are struggling with lost jobs, stagnant wages, and the rising costs of everything from gas to groceries, it's merely a 'mental recession.' And Senator McCain may think it's sufficient to offer energy proposals that he admits will have mainly 'psychological' benefits. But the American people know that our economic problems aren't just in their heads. They don't need psychological relief – they need real relief – and that's what Barack Obama will provide as President," said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.
Obama himself had this to say at a campaign stop in Fairfax, Virginia: "Whoa! ... America already has one Dr. Phil, we don't need another one. We need somebody to actually solve the economy. It's not just a figment of your imagination. It's not just in your head.
"It isn't whining," the Illinois senator continued, "to ask government to step in and give families some relief." Video of Obama's reaction to Gramm is below.
The McCain campaign said Gramm's comments didn't represent the campaign's statement.
"Phil Gramm's comments are not representative of John McCain's views. John McCain travels the country every day talking to Americans who are hurting, feeling pain at the pump and worrying about how they'll pay their mortgage. That's why he has a realistic plan to deliver immediate relief at the gas pump, grow our economy and put Americans back to work."
This video is from CNN.com, broadcast July 10, 2008.