July 10th, 2008
01:50 PM ET
10 years ago

Gramm: 'What we need is more leadership and less whining'

Gramm told CNN he did not mean to suggest Americans are 'whiners.'

Gramm told CNN he did not mean to suggest Americans are 'whiners.'

(CNN) - Top McCain adviser Phil Gramm tells CNN that his most controversial comment about the economy in a recent interview has been misinterpreted.

The former Texas senator, who advises presumptive Republican nominee John McCain on economic matters, also said he had not been speaking for the campaign when he spoke to a Washington Times reporter. “I didn’t claim to be representing anyone except myself,” he said. Gramm called CNN from his cell phone before boarding a flight Thursday, to clarify his remarks.

Gramm said he that he was trying to say the nation’s leaders, not its people, were “whiners.”

“The whiners are the leaders, hell, the American people are victims, but it didn’t quite come out that way in the story,” Gramm said. These national and congressional leaders “blame speculators and oil companies for our problems, instead of presenting concrete programs for using energy more efficiently, or leaders who don’t think we can compete with Mexico.

“What we need is more leadership and less whining,” he added.

But he stood by his assessment that the country was in a “mental recession.”

“I said we are in a mental recession. We keep getting the steady drum beat of bad news…it’s become a mental recession,” said Gramm. “We don’t have measured negative growth. That’s a fact, that’s not a commentary.”

Asked whether he understood beforehand the kind of political impact his statements might have, he said this outraged reactions his remarks had drawn were just part of the “game” - anytime anyone says something, said Gramm, it can be “taken out of context.”

Filed under: John McCain • Phil Gramm
soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. Republican for Obama

    Riiight, I believe you Phil, honest I do.

    July 10, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  2. Tim

    The McSame's camp has the nerve to call workers in this country whiners??!!! Also we are in a mental recession??? You have some nerve!!!! It's easy to say everything is okay when your wife is a multi millionaire Mr McSame, but hard working people are struggling or are you so out of touch that you don't notice???? I have news for you McSame, we are not whiners and our votes will let you know that fact in November!!!

    July 10, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. ANGIE

    liar liar graham we know what you meant no turning back now i know graham your a flipper like your old pal mccain!!!!

    July 10, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. Dale

    Holy Cow – Whinergate made the CNN ticker.

    Let's see if it gets night and day coverage for the next two months

    July 10, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. Lindsay

    "We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline," said the former Texas senator.

    "Nation of whiners." ...Doesn't sound like he was talking about the leaders to me. One question: is this reversal pandering, or just a good old-fashioned Freudian slip? (Or could it be both?)

    July 10, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  6. Susan

    This, sadly to say is what McBush believes. Let him stand in line to pay for food, or pump his own gas. hHe might get a clue, though I doubt it!

    July 10, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  7. Truely a Democrat

    Now you understand how Obama feels all the time. They always twist his words around. Youor McSame just haven't been on the receiving side. One question: How does it feel???

    Obama 08

    July 10, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  8. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    All you people who lost your homes due to forclosure, stop whining.
    All you people who lost your jobs due to outsourcing, stop whining.
    All you people who have to decide whether to feed your family or fill up the gas tank, stop whining.

    It's all in your head.

    Way to go, John!

    July 10, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |

    Idiot !!!!!

    July 10, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. David, Silver Spring, MD

    i agree with Gramm that we shouldn't just blame people or businesses that are winning according to the rules we've set.

    The leadership we need, though, is leadership that will rewrite the rules in a comprehensive way so that we don't see such gross outcomes. A progressive tax policy is a good way to start.

    It's funny to hear him talk about programs for using energy more efficiently. How many such bills (e.g. raising fuel efficiency standards for cars) has Gramm opposed over the years. How many programs for funding research into solar and wind energy did he vote against?

    And when Ronald Reagan took down the solar water heater that Jimmy Carter put on the White House, was Phil Gramm cheering? I'll bet he was. When we needed leadership, he, like John McCain, was AWOL.

    July 10, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  11. Chris from NY

    Talk about leadership. His own party guy has been on the driver's seat for seven and half years. And now he's backing another. If they never got it right the first time how in the world do they think they can get it right now? This is the mindset of the Republican party. They never agree that anyone is suffering. It's always about the people's fault. Can their leaders ever take responsibility for anything in their lives. Blame! blame! blame! the people.

    July 10, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  12. tom, boston

    a leader of your mold, right, phil?

    what a shameless thief!

    July 10, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. Anita from Arizona

    So, and I'm quoting here "A Nation of Whiners" does mean the nation. It means the leaders of the nation. Whatever. Another bad mark on the McCain campaign.

    July 10, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. Greg, NY

    I love how the McCain campaign issued a statement saying:

    "Phil Gramm’s comments are not representative of John McCain’s views."

    Meanwhile when General Clark made his statements, McCain jumped all over Obama even going as far as to tell him to drop the General.

    Is McCain going to drop Gramm? Doubtful, because "Gramm's comments are not representative of McCain's views."

    Great, but that line of thought goes both ways, sir.

    July 10, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    "Americans have become a nation of whiners" is exactly what he said and he didn't separate the "leaders" from the "victims". And if he's hoping that Americans will believe his explanation, then he also thinks Americans are stupid too.

    July 10, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |

    WOW this guy is blowing McCain's campaign. This is a deadly comment guaranteed Obama camp will seize on this.

    July 10, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. scotty

    An what about Obamas vote on the FISA bill. he is for the wiretap he promised to filerbust before? this guys veiws change with the wind, What really are his politics. hope they dont see my many Changes. Theres moving to the center then theres going BUSH on us.

    July 10, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  18. FactCheck

    Oh I see, so you avoid completely reporting on Gramm's comments that Americans are whiners but have no problem putting together a nice piece of how he was misinterpreted. Do you enjoy making up the news CNN? Because I was brought up to think the journalists are supposed to REPORT the news.

    July 10, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |

    In case any of you need insight into this mans brain, below is from his bio.

    Career: Gramm unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 1976. He first won election to the House of Representatives as a Democrat three years later. The long-standing state tradition was for right-wing Texans to pose as Democrats to get elected.

    July 10, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  20. SJ

    Backpeddling much?

    Sorry, but you can't take it back that easily. Time for the OBAMA camp to take it and make an add with it in Swing States...!!!

    McBush admits he knows nothing about the economy, and now his senior advisor has proven he doesn't either. How can polls still show that SOME people STILL trust McSame on this issue???

    July 10, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. DJ, LA, CA

    Epitomizes the "real" state of condition of the GOP at this time. This comment is the equivalent of "let them eat cake" by France's monarchy that was totally out of touch with the dire conditions of the people.

    Gramm is an elitist jerk and most Americans are baffled and offended by his rhetoric. It IS about the speculators and Big Oil monopoly stupid. Either continue to be slaves of Big Oil or move forward and find better alternatives such as wind, solar and all-hybrid 50 mpg cars within 5 years.

    July 10, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. Justin in CA

    If you don't believe McCain and Gramm have talked about this and agree, you are kidding yourself. Its not possible his top economy advisor and him are on a different page. His past statements only show he has at least some belief this is true. This is the worst thing McCain could ever have imagined happening.

    July 10, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  23. @HusseinIsAmerican2

    Personnaly, I would like to know why is it that McCain is collecting Social security?!....giving his millions!

    I would also like to know why John McSame wants to kill civilian Iranians with "outsourced" American cigarettes.

    Is this a mental recession or mental war going on in our head or McSame head?!

    I need answers....because I dont trust McBush with the white house!!!!!

    July 10, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  24. Jan From Boca Raton, Fl

    I agree with Gramm. Noone whines more than Obama. When anyhting happens he dosen't like he pull sthe race card.

    July 10, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. James Hussein, SC

    How much out-of-context can you take:

    "“Senator McCain said the economic problems facing Americans are psychological — now his top economic adviser and BFF, Phil Gramm said Americans facing tough economic are ‘whiners?’”

    This is a direct quote!

    He must be right. It is all part of the “game”

    My life, my wife, my children, and my community are all part of a game.


    July 10, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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