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. indiePA

    "Top McCain Adviser" Gramm should take a step into the real world where John Q. Citizen doesn't make the big bucks that he does, where healthcare isn't his for life at someone else's expense, where seniors have to make a choice between medication and food, where education is free only to children of illegals. Wake up and smell the coffee!! If this is still the attitude of the Bush/McCain gang (and we know it is), we can do without them. I consider myself an independent, so there are some things I don't like about either candidate; but this country doesn't need 4 more years of "leadership" by those who tolerate only the wealthy and corporate entities.

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

    yeah now we try to clean up our comments. The american people see you both for what you really are.

    July 10, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |

    Republicans are really good at saying something and then trying to convince people they did not say what they said, even though it's on video.

    Not only does this guy think Americans are whiners, but apparently he thinks we're stupid too.

    July 10, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |

    I'm an Obama supporter and pray to God that he wins this election. Some advise for John McCain would be to let Mr. Gramm go. Anyone in there right mind can see that the nation is facing hard times right now and it is not a mental issue. This is the reason John McCain is shown to be out of touch with Americans. I am appalled by these comment but then again I am not, typical Republican BS

    July 10, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  5. What_Was_That

    Keep yapping Mr. Gramm. Everybody knows you have nothing to worry about, after all you are a multimillionaire and you belong to milliners club. While you’re advising your multimillionaire old fellow for his campaign, everyone in this country hurting either by high gas price or struggling to stay in their home. But your friends, John McCain and his wife are snapping these poor people foreclosed homes. Shame on the milliners club and shame on John McCain.

    July 10, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. George Scherf

    Spoken like a True Christian.

    This pawn needs to be fired, permanently, as with most of the entire Congress and faux administration, with the exception of Feingold, Paul, and Kucinich, who are True Americans.

    Good luck, this country is on a path to hell, and that's the way they want it.

    Let's see what freedom of speech means, right here right now......

    July 10, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. Tim

    Oh thanks...first we were Whiners, now we are just mental!!!!! Care to did this hole any deeper??? Wasn't McSame just saying that we love th people in Ohio or Pen and we know you are not bitter!!! Well you just called the whole country whiners!!!! This is a fatal mistake!!!

    We "Whiners" as you say will make sure we stop whining long enough to vote in November!!!! No McSame, it won't be for you!!!

    July 10, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  8. skunkrat The Marine

    Typical REPUKE,

    July 10, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. Ben

    Lets see if this gains as much traction as BitterGate.

    Also, in case anyone missed the Veteran's question at the McCain townhall meeting, a good summary of McCain's voting record on issues important to the Veterans of this great country can be found at

    The McCain Veteran Voting Record

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

    This is the worst year for hyperbole..

    July 10, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. Loretta from California

    Well CNN, did he or did he not say "Americans" If so, he was referring to me and every other American. With oil prices as high as they are (they seem to continue rising on a daily basis) we have every right to WHINE. Why change your statement now, Senator Gramm?

    All of these changes are making me dizzy.


    July 10, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. Scott Simmons

    Whining – I beg your pardon ...

    The problem is that we got duped into a war that is costing us billions of dollars to no avail – we have a glutinous society that consumes to the point of excess – and we are printing money so fast it is mind boggling

    When we consider the history of the last 8 years of the Bush Administration – if it clear that it is the greatest policy failure in our country's history

    The fact that "W" has his oil money and Cheney has his Haliburton stock should convince one and all that the neo-cons really do not care about the American people

    America – Wake Up – Get Active – Stop The Madness

    July 10, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. Ryan

    Nice cover.. but I read the interview, and there is no way that is what you meant.

    July 10, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  14. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    What we REALLY need are less bozos like Gramm and McCain! THANKS, Gramm, for the fine mortgage crisis you gave us! You and your bank deregulation-what a fiasco!

    July 10, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. HiFi

    "Mental recession" comment from a mental midget. The recession is as real as the Obama landslide coming in November.

    July 10, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. Is G,Pa 3 times removed thats McShame

    Phill Graham talks out both sides of his mouth he is so full of it .
    They are all members of "The Bird Brain Club "
    Their club motto is "Birds of a Feather Flock Togather"

    Rove, Bush, McShame along with Graham his left elbow man,Lieberman his right elbow man are full fledge members of this Bird Brain Club thats why they flop their elbows they think they have wings and above all others .

    We have news for them .
    It would be a plus to this country if they would all fly away.

    July 10, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Tom, Iowa

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

    Eh, that not what he said. Not even close. He specifically referred to the voters that put the economy at the top of their list. There was no mention of politicians. This guy is a joke. If I wanted McCain in the White House, I'd say dump him, but Phil Gramm is turning out to be Bill Clinton of the general election. Every time he opens his mouth Barack picks up half a point.

    I think I have my recommendation for McCain's VP.

    July 10, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. Kate, Atlanta

    Ah, but you said "nation of whiners" – sorry dude, NO ONE would refer to the congressional leadership/members as a "nation". You made a Kinsian gaffe – you said what you really believe to be true. and, if that's your feelings, and you're a top advisor, then how could you be advising anything different to McBush. Goodbye.

    July 10, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. Biff, hussein Biffington

    He's gonna need a bigger mop, and the industrial strength bullspit remover to clean this one up........

    July 10, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. Really

    I guess when your rich you are not in touch with reality or if you work for the media as a reporter and dont want your healthy salary to incurr any new taxes you definetly support the GOP. Your agenda is set for you, you are a small being making too much money with no scruples. I am very upset with all of the Spinning going on by the media when it comes to Obama's campaign. The media is being very obvious in their favortism for McCain which i truly believe is because of their taxes being raised, they'd rather see the country fall before having their taxes raised. This election is about the people against the Rich. America we have to take our Country back!!

    July 10, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  21. wilder

    Republicans call hard-working Americans "whiners" and "mental" cases?

    Here's how the McCain family lives, according to CNN:

    "Their credit card bills peaked between January 2007 and May 2008, during which time Cindy McCain charged as much as $500,000 in a single month on one American Express card and $250,000 on another, while one of their two dependent children had an AmEx card with a monthly balance as large as $50,000."

    "In the June issue of Vogue magazine, Cindy McCain said she favors suits made by the German designer Escada, which typically retail for around $3,000-a-pop."

    "Property records show that trusts and corporations controlled by her (Cindy McCain) and her children spent nearly $11 million between the summer of 2004 and this February on three condominiums in Phoenix and a pair outside San Diego."


    July 10, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  22. Chris from Fargo

    I'm glad that my losses at the pump, grocery store and hospital are really just tricks of the mind. At least then I can find comfort in the fact that since they're just 'mental' issues that the money is really back in my account.

    As for taking it out of context, what context could that possibly sound good in? Give me a break. This has to be some kind of sick joke. Nobody can be that ignorant of reality.

    July 10, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. Robert in Seattle

    Mental recession due to underfunded schools?

    No child left behind?


    Keep it up, you are only helping Obama.

    July 10, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. Carl from MI

    First Black's gaffe on 'A terrorist attack will be good for McCain's campain' and now Gramm's 'Our country is in a mental recession'. Are these guys really this dumb to be saying this stuff out loud?

    The blame goes exactly where the blame SHOULD go... on the Bush Administration, Repuglicans in Congress, and Big Oil. Once again... telling you who's to blame for it. It's everyone else's fault but their own.

    This country's in a recession, yet they still refuse to own it. When their plane crashes and burns in November... it will all be McCain's fault, as their party will turn on it's own. Their party shall reap what it sows....

    July 10, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. NickNas

    Hmmm yet another guy who looks alot like McCain telling us we are all nuts and they know better than the rest of us so just sit back shut up and give us all control..........................Look at the pictures of the people talking like this and look for the common denominator. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    July 10, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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