April 21st, 2011
07:11 PM ET

Obama invokes his faith and A.G. in Nevada town hall

Reno, Nevada (CNN) - President Obama invoked his Christian faith Thursday, to explain his understanding of scientific advancements, at a town hall meeting in Reno, Nevada.

“I am a Christian and a person of faith and I believe that God gave us brains to figure things out,” Obama said when asked by a woman in the audience what his health policies could do to assist her husband who is suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Obama touted a provision in the Recovery Act that funds the National Institutes of Health to deal with such ailments. “We've got to use science to make lives better for our families and our communities and this planet,” Obama said.

While he acknowledged he did not know much about her husband’s disease, Obama promised “I will do when I get back is I will have the National Institute of Health explain to me what they're currently doing and start seeing if they can do more on this particular ailment.”

With anxiety over rising gas prices spread across the country, Obama made news on a separate front in his remarks by announcing a team led by Attorney General Eric Holder to “root out any cases of fraud or manipulation in the oil markets” that might affect gas prices. Obama said that inquiry would include traders and speculators to make certain “no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain.”

The event in Reno took place before a friendly audience of approximately 200 people at ElectraTherm, a small business in Reno that produces renewable energy from low temperature heat sources. Obama made the stop in between fund raising stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Topics: Economy • Energy • President Obama

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Tina

    There is much more to this story. Funding for this disabling illness is woefully inadequate. http://mcwpa.org/resources/research-funding-comparison/ Twenty-seven years of many people being bedridden. All we want is an equal opportunity to a cure. The disparity in funding makes many patients feel there may be discrimination in our government. And as in all cases of discrimination, the root is ignorance.

    April 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  2. Carolyn

    So glad that someone is asking this question. This disease affects millions of Americans yet there are still no answers as to what causes it and how to cure it. Even the treatment of the many symptoms is woefully inadequate, leaving patients to continue suffering. I will be very interested to hear what President Obama finds out from the NIH and I hope that this disease starts getting the attention and research it deserves.

    April 21, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  3. Cheryl

    ME/CFS is a very real and serious illness far from the "ailment" that President Obama referred to. It must be one of the best kept secret illnesses out there. No one wants to touch it, cure it, fund it. They just expect patients to keep their mouths shut and deal with it. We are tired of it being swept under the rug and funds being mishandled. Never in the history of this nation has a severe illness been so mishandled. It is inhumane.

    April 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  4. Keith Baker

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrom is the most underfunded serious disorder in this nation today. With 1-4 million ill and costing the economy billions you would think the president would understand the disorder and be putting large sums of money into getting these people with CFS back to heath and work. Right now they have to collect disablity in many cases. My whole family has this disease and I cannot work nor can my brother for the past 24 years. Please do something Mr. Obama this is a national crisis right under your nose and i's a travesty that the disease is funded at the level of Hay fever and psioriasis at the NIH.

    April 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  5. Karen Failinginhealth Hart

    President Obama, Did you have that talk with the NIH about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? What did you find out? We'd like to know when you will instigate plans to put clinics nationwide that will diagnose,treat and research for a cure. I hope it's before it's too late for me..Vital systems are degradiing as we cyberchat. Thanks for doing what you can do.

    April 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  6. Kary

    Chronic Fatigue Immuno-deficiency Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (U.K. name) is a huge public health problem that is as diabilitating as Congestive Heart Failure–but gets almost zero funding for biomedical research. It's been linked to reduced blood flow to the brain, damage to mitochondria, what could be a new human retrovirus, inflammation similar to autoimmunity and reactivation of the Herpes Virus family.

    This is something the president could change by appointing a liaison officer to expedite the grant funding process and directing the NIH to form & fund a research group to coordinate the various lines of investigation in a tiered approach. This would be absolute chump change to do! And a lot of american citizens could be potentially helped and/or spared this disease...

    April 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  7. Pat Mayer

    Thank you for writing about this important issue. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is the most underfunded disease in the country. Most people don't realize the seriousness of this disease. Patients, and there are an estimated 1,000,000 of us in this country, suffer like someone with late stage AIDS or terminal cancer. However, for us, there is no end. There are many housebound, bedridden patients that have been ill for over 25 years and waiting for our government to do something/anything to help us, to offer any treatment or any research. Thank you for writing about the president's response to this very important question. I hope that you will continue to ask questions yourself about why there is so little funding for this devastating disease.

    April 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  8. Michele Krisko

    As a patient who's health and life have been greatly impacted by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a serious neuro-immune disease that affects multi body systems, it was nice to read that Mr. Obama will talk with the NIH and see if there is something they can do to speed up research. A million people in the US alone are living this nightmare. 25% or 250,000 of those patients, including myself are living with the severe form and are housebound or bedridden unable to care for the basic necessities of life. It would be wonderful if CNN would do an hour long presentation explaining this illness to the country.

    April 21, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
  9. Marian Smartt

    I just read a report on your town hall meeting in Reno, NV. A woman asked if you were aware of her husband's illness, CFS. You replied that you would speak with the NIH upon your return to Washington to see what could be done to further research of CFS, also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. This disease has taken me from being a highly energized and motivated Registered Nurse to a woman who spends most days in bed, and in much pain. I am not even able to care for my children. I implore you to meet with the NIH with an open mind and increase funding for research that will give us our lives back. Warmest, Marian Smartt, R.N., BSN

    April 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  10. Jayne

    Thank you so much for reporting on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, it is something that is rarely heard about in the news, we suffer in silence year after year after year. More research/funds are urgently needed – the Whittemore Peterson Institute have been working with and for CFS sufferers for years, an absolutely marvelous Institute that is 'trying' to help so many. An article on the Institute would be great 🙂 Once again, many thanks.

    April 21, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  11. glen

    Its great to hear that the president will be addressing this dreadful disease

    April 22, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  12. Blair A. MILLER

    I AM a who has been suffering with ME/CFS, fibromyalgia & several other Auto Immune Illness'! MY SO CALLED LIFE IS IN ruins, i cant get the proper treatments on HMO Medicaid, not even able to see a Rheumatologist ! I LIVE IN Boca Raton, Fl & Molena Health Care Of Florida tells me the closest dr or Pain Center is in Miami,over an hour away! I do not mean for Pills but for trigger point injections that help a little! PEOPLE do not understand The suffering we endure, physically, financially & socially! I USED TO BE A PARTICIPANT IN LIFE, NOW i am an observer & poor! Basically homeless trying to survive in SSI! GOV scott is only CuttinG programs here, making everything worse! Thankyou for writing This! We may be weak in our body's but we are strong in Numbers & in Advocating for If Not Us , Then Who?

    April 22, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  13. Mike Munoz

    Thank You CNN and Bob and Courtney Miller for bringing such an important issue into the limelight. ME/CFS research funding is significantly under funded compared with other like kind serious illnesses and I hope that President Obama makes an honest effort to dig deep into the issue and not accept it at face value. 17 million ME/CFS patients worldwide and 1 million in the US are counting on it. President Obama, please ask Kathleen Sebilius, Dr. Collins and Dr. Frieden why the Department of Health and Human Services, NIH, and CDC continue to ignore the seriousness of this illness.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  14. Eileen

    Chronic fatigue syndrome (more properly called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or ME/CFS) has been shamefully neglected and trivialized by the Centers for Disease Control. (See Hillary Johnson's book "Osler's Web.") Luckily, in 2009, a groundbreaking study by the Whittemore-Peterson Institute in Nevada that associated the illness with a retrovirus called XMRV in the patients' blood got research moving - well, as quickly as research can without meaningful government support. Recently, the CBS Evening News reported that the illness is also associated with hundreds of infected proteins in the spinal fluid. Other studies show that the disease attacks the immune system by weakening the NK (natural killer) cells in the blod and damages the brain's white matter and metabolism. Often, the body loses the ability to properly maintain blood pressure. As a result, the patient cannot stand or even sit up for any length of time without blacking out. Other patients have cognitive problems, daily migraines, nausea, vertigo and fibromyalgia, and about a quarter of them are bedbound. Dr. Nancy Klimas, whose practice was once devoted solely to HIV/AIDS, now treats ME/CFS and compares our condition to that of AIDS patients in its last stages. Yet the reaction of the NIH has been to spend less on ME/CFS than it does researching hay fever. Meanwhile, ME/CFS spreads. It attacks all age groups, including children. It decimates families, careers and lives. It is extreme (so extreme that the second most common cause of death among patients is suicide.) It is incurable. For the sake of its millions of victims worldwide, I hope the President keeps this pledge. I also hope that CNN will follow the example of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times and report on this overlooked, malignant illness.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  15. Maureen

    There is widespread misunderstanding of this illness in part because of the misleading label "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome". It is not about ordinary fatigue. In addition to post-exertional malaise, this illness is characterized by weakness and extreme exhaustion and a multitude of neurological and flu-like symptoms including in many cases unremitting pain. Many are too weak to walk or care for themselves. Time we got real about "CFS". Recently patients have experienced hope as a result of research at the Whittemore Peterson Institute, Reno, NV, but funding for this illness is abysmal as has been expressed in above comments. Thank you for reporting on this very important Town Hall Q&A with the President.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  16. Toby Vokal

    I hope that the President will follow through with his words " But based on the story that you told me, what I promise I will do when I get back is I will have the National Institute of Health explain to me what they’re currently doing and start seeing if they can do more on this particular ailment. Okay?" There is PLENTY more they can be doing and should have been doing for years. However let' s get funding and research underway immediately to help the millions who suffer severely in silence no more!

    April 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  17. Anita Patton

    Thank you to President Obama for his kindness in researching this situation. I am grateful for his help and thankful that he is taking the time to investigate.

    April 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  18. Liz Carter in Georgia

    First, 'ailment' is the term used by many people who are referring to illness or disease. The slight against the PRESIDENT for using the term is hideous! However, I've always believed that for many, many years, the REAL reason that government has been so laxed in funding medical research studies for diseases and ailments, especially chronic and terminal ones, is because they PROJECT so much of the population to die off anyway! They projectively budgetize population, against projected expenses! Hmmm..CENSUS!

    April 22, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  19. Suzanne K.

    I am encouraged to see this make news. Every comment I have read is absolutely correct- as a person with both CFS and Fibromyalgia, I can attest to the severity of the effect it has on our lives. Yes, we need research. No, we don't want to live on pills, but most of us have no choice. It took years to get my 'prescription cocktail' right, and it needs to stay carefully balanced. This is the only reason I can work at all, even though it is still very difficult. However, I cannot always afford all of my medicine. Please, Mr. President, do investigate this. Nothing would make us happier than to be drug-free, pain-free, energized and productive again! Thank you.

    April 22, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
  20. Rosie UK

    I'm in the Uk and call me 'cynical', but I hope this isn't just more hot air from politicos! If Obama really means this and is truly a man of his word then sufferers of this illness around the globe will be indebted to him if he can shake things up at the NIH and get the real science into this serious neuro-immune illness going inthe right direction as it might mean the difference to those of us in countries where poilicy based abuse and psychologising of this illness are de rigueur.

    April 23, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  21. Dee Bee

    We have been waiting for THREE DECADES for the serious debilitating neuro immune disease known as CFS to be given adequate funding for the research it so badly needs and deserves. Between 1 to 4 million Americans, and 17 million people worldwide, are currently known to have CFS, many of whom are children. We want President Obama to understand how devastating this illness is, and keeps his word to DO SOMETHING to change the pathetic lack of attention our government agencies have given it so far. Thank you.

    April 23, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  22. Barbara Kell

    ME/CFS, is grossly underfunded in both your country and mine as has been pointed out to you. It would be wonderful if you could get the NIH to do some real funding into research of this illness before it is too late for more generations striken with this illness.
    The disease knows no barriers so please do not feel that it will never happen to your family. I assure you if not enough is done it most certainly will strike some member of your own family. We need help NOW, we have waited long enough.
    If you truly are a Christian man you will make sure that those of us are terribly ill are at last give some help. Please fund the WPI Reno Nevada.

    April 23, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  23. LAURA

    However; it was a great pleasure being in Reno, Nevada that day, facing the airport. Mrs M was very lucky to have
    been chosen: one out of five/six. Can't thank you both enough; it was an emotional moment (www.vimeo.com/lasnow)
    I strongly believe that President Obama will follow through. And, that we have finally received the "blessing" too many
    of us have been waiting this long for~ HAPPY EASTER and/or HAVE A NICE WEEKEND!!

    April 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  24. carlos

    Dear President Obama

    CFS is a debilitating illness with a clear immune disfunction that has been objectivated in several research studies, such as NK cells functionality, RNASe-L disregulation, CD5 Bright of CD8, CD57 of NK cells, suggesting anergic state of these cell groups, mitochondrial disfunction, etc... Unfortunatelly, so far the cause is unknown, but chances are that genetic predisposition plus a viral stressor does the trick to impare the immunity or CFS patients. There is growing confidence that human retrovirus XMRV might play a role in this disease that currently affects 20 million people worldwide, and chances are that it might be infectious, puting at risk the blood supply of the country. We need you to allocate funds for XMRV research to the Whittermore Peterson Institute, which is the institution that has made the biggest advancement on research of neuroimmune diseases.

    April 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  25. Michelle

    I hope our President will follow through on his promise to “...have the National Institute of Health explain to me what they're currently doing and start seeing if they can do more on this particular ailment.” ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) has left me homebound and mostly bedridden for five years. Hay fever receives more federal funding for research than this illness.

    I am currently totally disabled and live on SSDI. I would really like to regain my health, go back to work and return to being a contributing member of society.

    April 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  26. ixchelkali

    I'm glad to hear that this topic was raised and I'm glad President Obama said that he would look into what the NIH can do about this profoundly disabling disease. ME/CFS funding has been remarkably low for a disease that the Centers for Disease Control has called as debilitating as congestive heart disease, end-stage AIDS, or COPD, and which affects over a million Americans. As a comparison, inflammatory bowel disease is funded by the NIH at approximately $104 per patient, breast cancer at $274, hepatitis C at $4,850, West Nile virus at $2300, while ME/CFS gets only $5 per patient in funding. Not one dollar of NIH Recovery money went to ME/CFS research.
    Since the cost of the illness is about 9.8 billion dollars a year in the U.S., it would be cost effective to find a treatment. That's not counting the toll in human suffering and families whose lives are devastated. And now that a retrovirus has been linked to ME/CFS, it's even more urgent that research be conducted to discover whether it is, indeed, the cause, and what the risk of infection is. Let's stop it before more people have their lives steamrollered by this disease.

    April 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  27. Justin Reilly, esq.

    I hope this does something for ME ("CFS") research. NIH and CDC have been waging a quarter-century war on ME science and patients. It's about time this ends.

    April 24, 2011 at 1:36 am |
  28. Aly

    So many people are suffering from this horrific disease that affects every aspect of one's life and family. I hope President Obama follows through and educates himself about CFS/ME and how it is sorely overlooked and easily pushed to side for more prominent and popular diseases of the moment. If we could only educate some people who have a lot of power and authority, we might actually be able to attract some serious research dollars! Here is to hoping....

    November 7, 2011 at 9:07 am |