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. carol62

    For all you hard-working Americans who can't seem to vote for Obama because you think he is an elitist, you folks need to reconsider your position. If Gramm's comments aren't proof of what he and McCain really think of your problems, then your heads are permanently stuck in the sand.

    Gramm has supported the programs and policies that are cause of you losing your homes, jobs, pensions and way of life. You think you're suffering now, put these chicken-neck old men in the White House and you won't have a pot to piss in or a back door to throw it out of.

    July 10, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  2. John

    Gramm has had his snout in the public trough all of his life. He's a hypocrite of the worst kind.

    July 10, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. Terry, Lakeland Florida

    DM, Let talk about the truth!! July 10th, 2008 2:09 pm ET

    Wow, so what actually happening to the Auto Worker, Airline Pilot, School Teacher my god!! loosing jobs is all mental!!!!

    Oh my God!!! Help us John McCain and Phil Gramm When you have so much money and a private jet I guess the cost of fuel really don't bother them….

    And that proves nothing. Yes people lost jobs people always do. OPena book and read what recession means.

    July 10, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  4. Sarah, SD

    Yes, I agree more leadership. That's why I'm voting for Barack Obama.

    I'll stop whining when George Bush is OUT of my White House.

    Obama 08

    July 10, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  5. Steve (Independent)

    I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, he believes the comments were taken out of context...

    Unfortunately, what he was thinking wasn't being articulated and people aren't telepathic. Therefore, people had no way of putting what he was thinking into any context beyond what he actually stated.

    So, is that really being taken out of context? Only in his own mind...

    July 10, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  6. saga4obama

    Gramm says something like this but i keep hearing about Jackson? interesting...this is the man (Gramm) running the McCain campaign if that's what i call fear tactics.
    CNN where is my other post?

    July 10, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. John, Brooklyn, New York

    Typical Republican. Once again they are out of touch with average Americans. If things weren't going well for EXXON, you'd BET Phil Gramm would be johnny-on-the-spot to throw them more tax breaks or free public lands to drill for profit.

    July 10, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    phil gramm – "anytime anyone says something, said Gramm, it can be “taken out of context"

    Except, of course, when Obama,or his wife, say it then it's taken at absolute face value. I wonder if ths will make the Fox News headlines today.....?

    July 10, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. Mike

    Ooops Freudian slip time again. The truth will out. Not only does McBush not understand the economy. He does not care. He and his multi Millionaire Buddies think that people who cannot afford gas to drive to work, Are Whinners! Can't wait for Cindy to be overheard laughing and saying 'let them eat cake'.

    July 10, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. David M. Buddingh in Naperville, IL

    So, if we all just hold hands and imagine happy things the economy will get better?

    My God he sounds like a Democrat! C'mon Republicans back the Candidate who at least acknowledges our economic issues.

    Obama '08

    July 10, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. Esther

    The most trusted name in news! You baffle me! I trusted you! Can you imagine your cover story is about McSame battling for blue-collar votes with Obama when he's so out of touch with the americans that his top economic adviser said we are whiners! Why are you becoming so BIASED? Why oh Why?! If it was Obama that his adviser did the same thing, the whole world will hear about it! This is a very grave cover story issue and yet the same elitist McShame is battling for blue-collar votes?! Well, I dont blame you. Americans really are very stupid and the street-smart Bushes and MsSames and Dr. Phils will continue to take them for a ride. How can any reasonable american in their right senses vote for this haggard old elitist McSame? Dr Phil is right and he maintains that point: americans are in a mental recession for them to be voting for McShame! Definitely! But not this american – ME.

    July 10, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. base

    please lou dobbs ,can you report that on your show, about graham being out of touch with the american people.stop attacking barak mr.dobbs.

    July 10, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. Norma

    Two grumpy old men. Do us a favor a both of you retire.

    July 10, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  14. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Gramm may be correct that we need more leadership. It is nice to know that the Republicans see that now. It is too bad that they didn't see that earlier. This administration failed to lead in most ways I can think of. I think that the led in being one of the most secretive administrations in US history! How did we fail? We let a man claim to be a uniter fail to do that and function as a tyrant and dictator.

    July 10, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  15. Kevin - IN

    What we need is more leadership ... I'll agree with that.

    Obama 08.

    July 10, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. Get a Grip

    Good for you! Stop whining! Start solving your own problems!

    July 10, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  17. Bob, San Diego, CA.

    I bet Senator Gramm doesn't even have to pump his own gas. He tosses the keys to an office boy who brings them to a lot porter who fills his big SUV with taxpayer dollars. It's called trickle down economics you dummies!

    July 10, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. Adam from NC

    This should be front page at the worst!!! The fact that it's not is troubling to be polite!

    July 10, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. Lorna, NY

    Phil Gramm is a liar, just like his pals McCain, Gulianni and the one from Connecticut who looks like the joker in the batman movies!

    July 10, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  20. vINCe

    **anytime anyone says something, said Gramm, it can be “taken out of context.”**

    You mean like the GOP does to everything Obama says? Like that you mean??? I see.....

    July 10, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  21. 'Nuff Said

    I would venture to guess that most folks posting on this thread have no clue that this guy was the Gramm (not Graham) of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act.

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  22. Maxine

    We all need to call the Broadcasting stations and protest that the American people need to know what Mccain top economy advisior said that we the American people is "A Nation Of Whiners" and high gas prices and high food prices are in our minds We the American people are not stupid!!!! tell that to the hurting families that can'nt feed thier kids!!! This is a SLAM on the American people who are trying to keep in thier homes and keep food on thier tables because ot the bad Bush Administration. We and millions are going to put a stop to this!!!

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  23. Eric

    I would love to see one of these guys live on 50k a year with a mortgage and a car payment and insurance and commute 50 miles a day and electric bill and heating bills. They wouldn't survive a week.

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  24. Geneva

    This is the same Phil Gramm who thinks the only reason Americans don't have health insurance is because they are "deadbeats." At least, that's how he was quoted on the front page of the Houston Chronicle a few years ago. He still doesn't have a clue.

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Obama / Clinton 2008

    Dr. Phil is right. Whining about silly stuff like losing your job, your home, your son (in an unjust war), gas prices, inflation, and other problems makes no sense.

    Instead, vote for the GOP and let them promise you NOTHING for the sake of reducing government and lowering taxes on the rich. That's your best bet.

    McYoda 08!

    July 10, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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