By Jeff Mason / Reuters
Thursday, July 10, 2008; 4:01 PM
BELLEVILLE, Michigan (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Thursday sharply rejected a top economic adviser's description of the United States as "a nation of whiners" who are in a mental recession.
Democratic White House rival Barack Obama pounced on the remarks and said they proved McCain was out of touch on the economy, a critical issue in November's presidential election.
McCain moved quickly to limit the political damage caused by the comments of adviser Phil Gramm, a former Texas senator who questioned the extent of the U.S. economic downturn in an interview with the Washington Times.
"Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me. So, I strongly disagree," McCain said. "America's in great difficulty and we are experiencing enormous economic challenges."