Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., when describing the fundamentals of the economy -- which he maintains are strong -- has, in the past, described those fundamentals as the U.S. being "the greatest exporter, the greatest importer, the greatest innovator, the greatest producer, still the greatest economic engine in the world. And, by the way, exports and free trade are a key element in economic recovery."
Taking heat today for asserting this morning in Jacksonville, Fla., that the fundamentals of the economy are strong -- when headlines from Florida to Alaska wail about Wall Street failures -- McCain offered later in the day a new definition: "The American worker and their innovation, their entrepreneurship, the small business, those are the fundamentals of America, and I think they’re strong," McCain said in Orlando.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has been hitting McCain hard on the comments for months, never including McCain's many caveats and statements of understanding that people are hurting.
Tonight in Pueblo, Colo., Obama not only repeated McCain's assertion about the strong fundamentals -- "of all days!" Obama said, "He said (it) just this morning" -- he also mocked McCain's new definition.
"A few hours later, after he said this, this morning he said this, 'The fundamentals of the economy are strong,' John McCain’s campaign sent him back out to clean up his remarks," Obama said to the crowd at the Colorado State Fair Grounds grandstand. "And he explained that what he really meant, what he really meant to say was that American workers are strong."
The crowd of an estimated 13,500 did not seem to believe the new explanation.
"Now, come on, Sen. McCain!" Obama said. We know you meant what you said the first time because you’ve said it before. You said it just a few weeks ago. And your chief economic advisor -- the man who wrote your economic plan -- said that we’re in a 'mental recession;' that this is all in our heads; that we’re a nation of whiners. That's what he called you, a nation of whiners!...
"Now, don’t get me wrong, don’t get me wrong," Obama said, "when Sen. McCain says that American workers are the backbone of our economy, and that they aren’t getting a fair shake from Washington, he’ll get no argument from me. My argument is, it's about time that he figured that out. Because I’ve been making that case for nineteen months.
"So, I congratulate Sen. McCain for saying something nice about American workers, I think it’s good that Sen. McCain is celebrating the American worker today. But it would have been nice if some time over the last 26 years he stood up for them once in a while!"