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. Patrick

    He's right on, the definition of a recession is two straight quarters of negative growth. By definition we are not in a recession. The more we start to think we are the better our chances become that we get into one.

    July 10, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Too much of the meds.

    July 10, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. mk

    Amazing – the lack of judgement from McCain and his chosen ring of advisors. This is exactly what you would expect from the Bush administration. Anybody that is contemplating voting for McCain has their head cemented under a rock!

    July 10, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  4. Carl from MI

    This guy is an idiot AND a whiner. One of the worst kind of Repuglicans there is. Him and others like him are why people are leaving their party in droves. Repuglicans are gonna get creamed in the election this fall... I can't wait to hear the spin on why they're gonna lose. I'm sure it will more of the same... playing the fear card and telling who's to blame for it. And to think I used to respect this party...

    July 10, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  5. Nom Deplume

    What we really need is to push more authority and responsibility to the state level. Once we are able to make meaningful distinctions in the lives of americans based on where they live, we can cut off the lefties and let them wallow in the misery that will be the United Soviets of America.

    Red states are still american. Blue states are something approaching the former Eastern bloc.

    Saying this while I still can unless the comrades at CNN censor it.

    July 10, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. Lorna, NY

    The American people should remember these comments when election time rolls around and vote these morons right out of office!

    July 10, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. Frank from Peterborough

    How could anyone with the IQ higher than a house plant vote for these characters unless of course your annual income exceeds $500,000.00?

    McCain has stated he intends to do away with Social Security when he is elected because he doesn't think any part of the taxes younger people pay should be used to fund the Social Security system. If it isn't funded it won't be there it's that simple.

    If older people don't have any pension monies coming in after they are too old or medically unfit to work what would McCain propose be done with them. Maybe they should just be put down rather than have them go to the street and eat out of the garbage pails.

    Anyway his elitist cronies will come up with something to deal with the elderly................maybe they will propose sending them to Iraq!

    July 10, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. Down with McBush!

    I am amused by all of the Clinton supporters who say they are going to vote for McCain.

    That means they will have rare opportunity to vote for two losing candidates in the same election year!

    Double the losses, double the bitterness!

    July 10, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. 35 Southbound

    This explanation doesn't work for me.

    July 10, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. Brendose, Oceanside CA

    This guy's BRAIN is in a mental recession!

    He says he only represents himself........well, if that was the case, you wouldn't be called an ECONOMIC ADVISOR!

    McCain relies on your ADVICE, therefore you represent yourself AND your clients!!

    Either way, I wouldn't put any money on what he says........

    July 10, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  11. Bob

    When your net worth is in the millions that's an easy thing to say.

    July 10, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. Nelson From Knoxville, TN

    This man is pathetic and chronic liar.

    He said "WE have become a NATION of WHINNERS" so where is the leader in this statement
    He should rather come out and apologize for his reckless remarks. If he thinks he can continue to decieve us with semantics, he is makink a big mistake.

    July 10, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  13. Doris,Memphis,TN

    Americans are not whiners!
    Americans are hurting because
    of eight years of Republican Leadership.
    You are right about one thing Senator
    Graham (AKA Dr. Phil) we need new
    leadership. I will vote for Barack Obama
    November 4, 2008.

    Say no to Bush 3 and his surrogates!

    July 10, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  14. Steve

    I am so glad to hear that all my financial struggles (paying my bills, filling my tank, keeping my house, providing comprehensive healthcare for my family) is all in my head, and that I'm just whining. Wow! Thanks Senator Gramm! What a relief! I thought it was the reality of America today! Guess I was wrong.

    I have a suggestion, Senator Gramm, why not roll down the window of your beltway insider limo once in a while and listen to what America is saying. I know, I know, the commoners stink, but if you hold your embroidered silk, perfumed hankie to your nose, you won't have to smell reality.

    Senator, you are an insider politician of the worst kind. You are out of touch with what is actually going on around you. Your "Let them eat cake" mentality is appalling. It is my greatest hope that you and others like you are kicked to the curb in the next round of elections.

    July 10, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. Phil Newton, Murphy, OREGON

    Mr Gramm's remarks have not been taken out of context. He is a corporate creature with disdain for those not like him.

    His contempt for average Americans is obvious. His view is reflected in the overall GOP agenda.

    No, thanks.

    July 10, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  16. insanity

    lol.. I think McCain's campaign things we're living inside the Matrix.
    Gramm is like Agent Smith, and McCain is the architect.

    Which makes Obama, Neo. I wounder who Morpheus is ? Axelrod ?

    Seriously.. what a moron !!

    July 10, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. Jonathan

    If the downturn is all mental then the growth periods were all mental as well. You cannot have it both ways.

    July 10, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  18. Lily

    Whiners yall!! Why don't you just eat cake! Ye know? So says Mr. Gramm

    July 10, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. KenB

    Corporate Talking Heads...same as it ever was

    July 10, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. Nicole in NE

    Yeah – we are in a recession......loss of jobs, dollar value going down, price of everything going up.

    fact the facts and get in touch with the rest of America McCain campaign.

    July 10, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. Len in Washington

    "We don't have measured negative growth"

    Are you kidding me? By whose measurement?
    Have you checked with the folks all over the nation that:
    don't have enough groceries
    don't have money for gas
    don't have health insurance
    don't have a job
    don't have a home anymore?

    Yeah....I see who's "out of touch" here and it sure as hell isn't Obama!

    July 10, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. Will

    Gas is at 4 dollars and so is milk and we're 'whining'? Who is the Elitist now? I guess it's tough flying everywhere in a private jet, living off a billionaire wife, drinking 300 dollar scotch these days. Man McCain is out-of-touch. I guess this inedependent will hold his nose and vot for Obama.

    July 10, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  23. Janey/Michigan

    What we need is more people willing to work and less people whining that they need govt handouts! And before you Obama people curse me, I am not talking about challenged and old people. I mean able-bodied people whom I support with my high taxes. Besides, you all seem to despise old people, so I guess you young-uns are the ones wanting handouts! Pull up your socks and stop whining for Obama to look after you!

    July 10, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. Susan

    I AGREE!!!!!!!!

    July 10, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. Dennis

    Mr. Gramm, that is an awful lot of spin. You said we had become a nation of whiners. You said "nation," not "our nation's leaders have become whiners." If you in fact meant something else, you weren't taken out of context. You may have mispoke, but your words were not taken out of context. You should own up to this one.

    Even if there is no measured negative growth, that doesn't mean the economy is doing well. It costs twice as much to fill the car with gas. Food becomes more expensive every week. The value of the dollar has declined. Instead of calling people names, whether it be the nation as a whole or its leaders, Mr. Gramm, you could offer some solutions. But then, it appears you are more interested in the game than the solution.

    July 10, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
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