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. Kevin

    I thought the Bush tax cuts were supposed to benefit the economy. When is that supposed to happen?

    July 10, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  2. Tom

    These two clowns are so out of touch with America.

    July 10, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. Will, NJ

    Please Mr. Gramm, can I have some more? I'm not quite full of your BS yet.

    July 10, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Democrat

    Gramm is an idiot.

    July 10, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. Mister Anderson

    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! That is his economic advisor.

    John McCain will be the third term of Bush and first term of Cheney.

    July 10, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  6. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    We understood you the first time–back peddling is not necessary.

    One thing is clear however–rhetoric attempting to describe our malaise as lack of hope or mental anguish beyond the reality on the ground–won't work.

    We do need our leaders to have common sense, deal with the real problems we face with realistic plans (not bigger, better, and untested programs w/ big tickets).
    We do set the expectation and demand....you respect the personal sacrifice we make contributing the trillions of tax dollars that are expended by our political leaders with reckless disrgard for our efforts.

    July 10, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  7. G

    When I paid $4.68 a gallon at the pump today, I tried to remind myself it was all in my mind. Then I went to the grocery store and saw the increased prices there, along my decreased bank balance after buying gas. Just in my mind, I remembered. When my hours got cut and my health insurance premium went up, I told myself it was all in my mind. I got my utility bill, another increase, and my auto insurance went up again. But it's all in my mind, I'm sure, because a Republican told me so. So much for the party of fiscal sense. What a sham.

    July 10, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  8. Puma=Republicans Posing as Democrat Bloggers

    Watch McCain drop Gramm like American jobs under NAFTA

    July 10, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  9. cnn junkie

    if this was from obamas camp it will be breaking news,the media bias is palpable

    July 10, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  10. jen

    CNN the John McCain Network!! You spend 5 days talking about General Clarks comments that only stated a truth, and you then give Gramm's explanation more coverage then his original statement. At least try not to be bias during this election. We all know CNN is big business and big business perfers the policies of John McSame.

    July 10, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  11. JJ

    A nation of whiners doesn't sound like he was just talking about the leaders. Just as McCain called Obama to drop Clark, McCain should immediately drop him. This comment just shows how they (the majority of the Rep) really feel and really think. Which is the exact reason why America is where we are right now...in the hole!

    But wait........this is all in my mind.

    July 10, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  12. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    I don't often agree with Gramm, but he's on the right track with this one. With one exception, Ron Paul, none of this year's batch of presidential candidates want what's best for the country as a whole. The neo-cons, including McCain, seem to want to force us all back to 1956-style manners, morals, and religion, and the Democrats seem to want to force us all into an unrealistic, idealistic, FDR-style socialism. Neither outlook is any kind of leadership, and neither deals with the country as it exists today–the neo-con outlook is an Ozzie and Harriet fiction of an era that exist only in peoples' imaginations and the Democrat outlook presupposes that we can afford all their do-gooding.

    I want solutions, not day-dreams, and no one aside from Ron Paul is offering solutions. Unfortunately, most of the country is content with either the neo-con or Democrat day-dreams and isn't interested in solutions that might, on the one hand, deprive them of their chest-thumping, America uber alles, testosterone high or, on the other hand, all those nice "free" things the government gives away at someone else's expense.

    Unfortunately, all day-dreams eventually come to an end.

    July 10, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. Clinton Fringer

    He called people whiners..............get over it.................while on the other side, Jesse Jackon wants to cut Obama's nuts off. Hmmmm.........and the whiners are all over Gramm. Go figure. If the shoe fits..........

    July 10, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  14. Jeff

    Graham is know for making ignorant remarks. Why would we expect anything different? Graham was one fo the most hateful, bigoted lawmakers on capitol hill, along with Helms and Thurmond.

    July 10, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. jamaal kansas

    Cnn is bias they post comments that are bias against mr Obama as well as there cable new any thing Mcshame say wrong or his people they don't call it on him but if somone on Obama squad mispeak or say anything it all on the news

    July 10, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. Sacto Joe

    Typical Republican clap-trap. Get a clue, dude!

    July 10, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  17. Jason

    Tim did you you really read the article and that what was you got out of it? Another reason to dislike many Obama supporters they fall into that catagory of reading retention problems our schools have been facing. These are the people who read little red riding hood and think the wolf was the victim. you have it all backwards just like your blind following of Obama.

    July 10, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  18. Louis

    NO YOU MORON–WE ARE IN AN ACTUAL RECESSION. Record gas prices, freefall in real estate, rising costs, plunging stock market, increasing unemployment. With idiotic leaders like you, no wonder our country is in its current state.

    July 10, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  19. Tjaye in LA

    So is he calling the bitter people WHINERS?

    July 10, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  20. CNN = Jerry Springer of news

    McCain's campaign needs a serious readjustment. Again, people from his camp are off message from the candidate. If I were McCain, I would fire Phil Gramm and Carly Fiorina. Two statements that contradict what John McCain says he actually believes in one day are too much. These are not remarks 'taken out of context' or remarks that hurt someone's feelings, they are much more serious as a display of disorganization/lack of communication of the campaign in general. However, as an Obama supporter, I am perfectly fine if McCain makes the decision to keep them as part of his team.

    July 10, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |

    Mental reccession, when gas prices are increasing astromonically? We are really headed there if we aren't already in the middle of it. Let's get real on this one.

    July 10, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  22. Sam

    I am so proud that they can run an article about John McCain and not mention something that has to do with age.

    I switched from FoxNews to CNN during the primary season because CNN provided better coverage, but if they keep up this thing about McCain's age, then I guess I will need to switch back. Be even-handed in your coverage... if you talk about McCain's age, talk about Obama's lack of experience.

    July 10, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  23. CNN = Jerry Springer of news

    Gramm and Fiorina have managed to turn off both women voters and blue collar workers in one day. What an accomplishment!!

    July 10, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. Maxine

    John Mccain can'nt relate to the American people and what we are going through with high gas prices and losing our homes and high food prices becasue his wife is a multimillionaire John Mccain is a Multimillionaire and if Mccain is elected President you think we have a mess with this country economy now. We the country will be sorry just like we are sorry that Bush was elected as President.

    July 10, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. David M. Buddingh in Naperville, IL

    A nation of whiners? How can he say that about this country? This angst by the people is a product of Gramm's parties failed policies of the last seven and a half years. This anger by the people is a product of ruling by 51% rather than building a democratic consensus.

    Just more proof we need leaders who are worthy of the American people's greatness.

    July 10, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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