July 10th, 2008
01:50 PM ET
6 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. Jeff, AL

    Another old, rich and out of touch with America politician.

    July 10, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. Pam, WI

    No one is going to change their vote over any surrogate's remarks. We need to stick to discussing the differencess between the candidates. However, we know who Gramm is referring to when he says people are whinners. Certainly not the wealthy that McCain's economics caters to.

    Yet these are many of the people that will vote for McCain anyway. Why don't people vote their economic interest?

    July 10, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  3. Bill, Streamwood, IL

    I couldn't agree more.

    Twelve years of Republican-controlled Congresses and seven-plus years of a Republican Presidency has put this country in a "mental reccession."

    And what does the GOP offer the country to get us out of this funk? John McCain!?

    Time for "something completely different" and the GOP ain't it.

    July 10, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. Ellie in Aurora, CO

    Why would anyone listen to this guy? He is a crook and one of the authors of the Exxon and mortgage crises. How in the world can McCain still use this guy as an advisor? That clearly says alot about McCain! He is as crooked as any of them and only pretends to be a straight talker. Plus how could we stand to look at that creepy smile for 4 years? How could we expect the rest of the world to look at it?

    July 10, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. Obama-Junkie, IL

    What a pomptous dumbA$$!

    So the lady at the gasoline pump who complains about gas and groceries being so much more expensive is not "whining", but the political leader of that community or state in which she lives is "whining" about the economy?!?!

    This latest economic statement blunder by McCain's top economic adviser just reinforces how out-of-touch McCain and his campaign are in relation to the average American.

    July 10, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. Bob Stephens

    Phil Gramm is McSames chief economic adviser and the one that pushed the Enron loophole though congress. He is a big reason why you are paying over $4 a gallon. What a jerk........

    July 10, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. STILL VOTING FOR HILARY!

    SERIOUSLY, I AM SOOO TIRED OF OUR SENATORS AND CONGRESSMAN DOING NOTHING! THEY GET PAID WELL ENJOY LONG HOLIDAYS HAVE THE BEST OF HEALTH CARE, I WOULD STILL BE WAITING FOR A REFERAL IF I WERE TED KENNEDY WITH MY INSURANCE, I PROB WOULD HAVE DIED ALREADY. THEY NEED TO STOP THE WHINNING ALRIGHT. WE ARE SICK OF THEM. THEY SPEND THE MONEY WE WORK SO HARD TO MAKE. I AM NOT SAYING THEY DONT WORK HARD, BUT THE REWARDS ARE TOO PLENTIFUL FOR THEM FOR NO PRODUCTION. WE WOULD ALL BE FIRED WITH A PRODUCTION RECORD LIKE THEY HAVE. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE NEED TO GET MAD AND GET EVEN AT THE POLLS. VOTE ALL THESE DO NOTHING BEEN IN THE SENATE 50 YEARS DROOLING ALL OVER THEMSELVES PEOPLE OUT! AND IF NOT. PUT THEM ALL ON COMMISSION. YOU PRODUCE YOU GET PAID AND TAKE AWAY THEIR BENEFITS. GIVE THEM AN HMO AND LET THEM PAY OUT OF THEIR POCKETS FOR A CHANGE. I THINK EVERY ELECTED OFFICAL SHOULD HAVE TO LIVE ON 30K A YEAR NO PERKS. IF THEY CAN SURVIVE ON IT WITHOUT PUTTING IT ON THEIR CC I WILL SHUT UP FOREVER.

    July 10, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. proud army and navy mom

    talk about someone who doesn't know when they are in a hole to stop digging ...

    Phil only made it worse. was he and others republicans in leadership positions that would have allowed them to "present concrete programs" for energy as well as housing. It was stated that his own wife help create the loophole for Enron to steal from the American people. Gramm hands are just as bloody for helping us into this mortgage crisis.

    But this idiot wants to blame the people that report the news for steady drum beat of bad news.... Here's a new flash, repugs, give them some good economic news to report.

    July 10, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. DJ in TX

    I can't belive this guy has the nerve to say something like this. Many people may NOT know the true definition of a recession is two quarters with negative growth. But that does not justify the pain Americans are feeling. Business are closing daily. ExpressJet is the latest Airline to shut down.

    I agree under the truest definition, we're not in a recession, but in the "spirit" of the word, yes we are.

    This guy must have a "mental" view of the average everyday working American and the pain we are feeling.

    And this is what the Republicans have to offer?

    July 10, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  10. Canuck

    yup, the baseball stadiums are full, people are buying iphones, everyone has a benz or bmw. but things are soooo bad. we are a bunch of whiners.

    don't worry the messiah will fix the economy. i cannot wait to drive my benz around and fill up on $1.59 gas, thanks to his cheap talk.

    good grief.

    July 10, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. L

    This man knows a thing or two about the economy. You are all hysterical. I was laughing reading all your other comments about this.

    You must have been living somewhere else when we were in one of the biggest economic booms the world has seen in a long time, right after the 'downturn' when the dot.coms callapsed. the bubble burst and now we are in a downturn, but nobody wanted to hype up the fact that the economy has been GROWING, just at a much smaller rate. We are not in a recession. Unemployment is still low too.

    Want lower gas prices then support drilling our own oil

    July 10, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. Nicole in NE

    Another thing – why is that everytime ANYONE that is a surrogate of Obama (Wesley Clark for example) says ANYTHING – it is DIRECTLY realated to Obama, but not the same when it someone in McCain's camp?

    Mitt Romney's statement about global warming and disarming nukes as a LIBERAL issue – should be noticed as well if he is in the running for VP!

    And McCain's top advisor especially! geez

    July 10, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. California Gold

    Perhaps in the academic sense of the word we are not in a "recession" but Americans paying the bills and trying to balance their household budget know the economy is in the dumper. They also know it's getting worse every day. We need leadership, not goofy politicians and their advisors playing word games with the media and calling anyone "whiners". This sort of rhetoric is offensive.

    McCain and his side kick Gramm need to understand a basic concept: long after we forget what they said we will always remember how they made us feel.

    July 10, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. Desiree

    I don't think talk like this is going to get McCain a lot of votes. McCain needs more younger ungrumpier people on his team if he wants to win.

    July 10, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. mitchell martin

    we could use less of your leadership.we're "whining" because you have destroyed our economy and our children are hungry.sorry.

    July 10, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. Timothy

    Vote Mccain this country will be in deep, deep trouble Mccain's own Economy advisior said that we the American people are whinners and that this recession and high gas prices and people losing thier homes are mental all in are minds!!! NO to Mccain NO NO!!!!

    July 10, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. Jesse, Burnsville, MN

    Why is this not a front page story?? When the economy is the number one issue in this election and the Republican nominee says our economic problems are "psychological" and his economic adviser calls us a "nation of whiners", the story needs to be told to the American people. Let them digest it however they will, but at least let them read it!

    July 10, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. RickytheGriff

    Ah, CNN really knows how to bury a story..... don't they?

    This guy looks the American people right in the face and calls them a bunch of whiners and STILL groups like PUMA are willing to vote for McCain!

    July 10, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. Cynthia

    I did not misinterpet what he said and if it is just part of the game why did Senator McCain move so quickly to say that Gramm does not speak for him? He has been speaking for him for months.

    July 10, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. Alanna

    Nice try but we all know what you really meant.

    Go away and take McBush with you.

    July 10, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. FJ from Atlanta

    Nice try Phil, but you and McSame can't spin this one.

    July 10, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. JA Cook

    Gramm himself is a source of the problem. Gramm is largely responsible for the financial crisis. Of course he wants to divert the attention and the blame.

    CNN, where's the inclusion about Gramm's involvement in the housing and banking mess? And what about his wife's?

    How come McCain keeps Gramm around? Oh, that's right, McCain's a war hero (genuinely) so his judgement is untouchable (wrongfully).

    July 10, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. Gerald

    Let's see...McSame himself has a horrible track record when it comes to women's issues in this country and now we have his own economic advisor saying we're a bunch of whiners because of an effed up economy that Bush is mainly responsible for. This on top of the fact that McSame in his own words said the economic crisis we're in is "psychological". ARE YOU KIDDING ME!! For all you Hillary turned McSame supporters and PUMA's out there if this all doesn't add up to a serious wake-up call I don't know what will.

    Obama '08

    July 10, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  24. not important

    Phil Gramm, UBS and ENRON?

    July 10, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. David from Ohio

    I'm sure it's not a "mental" recession to someone who's lost their job or their house. Just another example of why you can't trust the Republicans and why they need to go back to what they're good at–minority party status.

    July 10, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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