This is how you know a campaign is having a bad day: when it feels the need to email out to reporters a Youtube clip of its own candidate bashing his own top economic adviser.
In Belleville, Mich., this afternoon, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., distanced himself from comments made by his top economic adviser, former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, who called the U.S. "sort of" a "nation of whiners" in a kind of "mental recession."
Watch McCain HERE.
"I don’t agree with Senator Gramm," he said. "I believe that the person here in Michigan that just lost his job isn’t suffering from a mental recession. I believe the mother here in Michigan and around America that is trying to get enough money to educate their children isn’t whining. America’s in great difficulty and we are experiencing enormous economic challenges as well as others. Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me, so I strongly disagree, go ahead and follow-up."
Asked about Obama’s comments today — in which Obama noted that McCain had said that part of the recession are psychological and that some of McCain’s energy plan will have "psychological", adding that the nation doesn’t need another Dr. Phil — McCain said that when it comes to ideas about energy independence, Obama is "Dr. No."
A reporter asked if there’s any chance that Phil Gramm would be McCain’s Secretary of Treasury or play a significant economic policy-making role in a McCain administration.
"I think that Senator Gramm would be in serious consideration for Ambassador to Belarus," McCain joked, "although I’m not sure the citizens of Minsk would welcome that."
ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf reports that Democrats on the Hill took advantage of Gramm’s remarks to attack McCain.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said "it takes a lot of nerve for someone to say this is a nation of whiners." Americans are hard workers, she said.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, agreed. "I can tell you when I was filling up my Saturn in the Twin cities, people at the pump were not hallucinating," she said. "This is not mental delusion, this is real."
"This is Exhibit A about a presidential candidate not in touch with the American people," McCaskill said. "Exhibit A!"
Gramm meanwhile told the Washington Post that he meant to say that the nation’s leaders were whiners, not its citizens.
"When I said we’ve become a nation of whiners, I’m talking about our leaders. I’m not talking about our people," Gramm said. "We’ve got every kind of excuse in the world about oil prices — we’ve got speculators, the oil companies to blame — but too many people don’t have a program to get on with a job of producing. If you listen to our leaders, we can’t compete against Mexico, for God’s sake. If they don’t think we can compete against Mexico who can we compete against?"
But otherwise Gramm — whose wife Wendy Lee Gramm was once on the board of Enron — stood by his comments to the Washington Times.
"I’m not going to retract any of it. Every word I said was true," Gramm said. "Look, the economy is bad. It is far below what we Americans have a right to expect, but we are not in a recession. We may or may not have one in the future, but based on the data we are not in a recession. But that does not mean all this talk does not have a psychological impact."
It certainly has a psychological impact on the McCain campaign!