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. Unempressed

    This is worse than Obama's "bitter" comment (which I agree with)

    – Mortgage crises – people losing their homes daily
    – gas/food prices
    – predatory lending
    – can't qualify let alone afford healthcare
    – jobs being shipped overseas
    – trickle down "economics" – yet the rich put their $ in offshore accounts
    – removal of VA hospital benefits
    – social security and unbalanced buget (borrow from China??)

    July 10, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. 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 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. Alston

    What he meant was Democrats are whiners ...

    Vote for McBush American friends.... esp the religious vote bank. Yes you..those who's vision is narrowed and vote Republican blindly.

    July 10, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. Chris

    This is worse than Obama's "bitter" comment (which I agree with)

    July 10, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  5. Jesse, Burnsville, MN

    Gee Jan, I'm sure many of the residents of Boca Raton are doing just fine. The rest of us living in the real world, however, are struggling with deflated value of the dollar, the rocketing energy costs, and implications from the mortgage crisis.

    You just continue to sit in your little bubble, sippin on your martini, with a fat smile on your face. The rest of will change this country for the better.

    It is time for a revolution.

    Obama '08

    July 10, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  6. A Real American Votes Issues

    Right, Right, we're not in a recession, there's nothing to see behind the curtain here! I mean the fact that we're losing tens of thousands of jobs a month, the cost of living has gone up dramatically, the dollar has fallen in value, foreclosures will be in the millions by the end of the year... its all in our heads. Just because we don't have a technical "recession" going on, it doesn't mean that there isn't a problem! Every time I think about that man getting into office part of me feels ill. But why is it when McCain says that "he doesn't represent me or the campaign" we take his word but when Clark said it the McCain camp said "its a pattern"? So when Lieberman and Black said things about terrorist attacks, and your top economic adviser says that we are not in a real recession... its just a coincidence, right? BTW I hope you "PUMA/Hillary or McCain" people are paying attention because THESE are the people you're putting in office, the ones that call you whiners, and tell you that your economic problems are a mental issue. Good luck with that.

    Common Sense Will Win in 2008.

    July 10, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  7. Tasha Houston, TX

    Well, the "psychological" comment came out of McCain's mouth. Wonder where he got it from?

    July 10, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |

    CNN is too busy talking about Jessee Jackson wanting to cut Barack's "body parts" off – there's no time to report such nonsense as this on TV.

    When will they get some journalists and get rid of the talking heads that do re-runs 24/7 ?

    July 10, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. Independent Fred

    Millionaires telling americans to stop crying never goes over well especially these days.

    I think all Politicians (even Obama) are a bit out of touch with reality.

    July 10, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. Tori, Oregon

    Right so next time I fill up the gas tank I will mentally make it $1.99 or next time a factory worker loses a job they will mentally create another one right down the street....What an idiot

    July 10, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Jason

    Gramm's retraction sounds promising, it's too bad he didn't say it before the gaffe...

    we DO need leadership, along with a spirit to lift the nation out of dreary discontent and into rigorous domestic energy, ambitious trade, and strong security.

    McCain 08

    July 10, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. Luke

    Yeah, tell working families that can barely afford food, gas, mortgages etc. to "stop whining". That's the way to win an election.

    Obama 08

    July 10, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. Kate

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

    If only we could all remember that....

    July 10, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Did his "correction" slam the GOP, who have held the White House since 2001?

    July 10, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. William,from Cali!

    "Mental recession", now that's an understatement, if I ever heard one. This whole "political process"; from both sides, has been a "mental recession", from where I'm sitting. Some of the "comments" that are posted on here are on the verge of total mental recession. And all of the "Media reporting", is a "soap-opera side-show", mental recession sound-bite. Now, that's my take; on all this non-sense, we call politics.

    July 10, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. charles

    Phil Gramm said Americans facing tough economic are ‘whiners,’” lt doesn't mention leaders if these are his words they are clearly saying Americans are whiners. too late old man its out already.

    July 10, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. Cheryl (Vets for Obama)

    WOW! I am surprised that Americans cannot see through McCain and his cronies, they do not care about the cost of milk, the price of gas, the elderly, the poor, the needy in general, they only care about padding their bank accounts. STOP being so stupid America, if we allow McCain to win this election, Americans will be doomed. WAKE UP!

    July 10, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  18. Tired of W, OH

    Sure, it's all in my head that I'm paying $4 per gallon for gas. I'm just imagining that my grocery bill has gone up about 50%.

    Now, remember voters. The republicans have absolutely no sympathy for the American people. Everything's our fault, OK? Corporate greed and $50 billion per month in Iraq have nothing to do with it, OK? Maybe McCain's economic strategy will be to provide psychiatric help to all Americans, because it's all in our heads, right?

    July 10, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. What if?

    REMEMBER ALL YOU WHINERS AT THE VOTING BOOTH.....T-H-I-S-and I repeat.....T-h-i-s is the same guy that McCain stated that he would rely on for economic advise since he (McCain) said he doesn't know very much about the economy.

    Right on point hojo..................

    July 10, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. LA

    The nation is just whining? OK, now you've really gone and stepped in it! Maybe Cindy can help the good citizens out here with cash, meds-or maybe government cheese! We need something to go with this wine! You Republican creeps!

    July 10, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. Tejano

    The truth hurts. This contrived recession by the liberal media will not succeed. We the business people and loyal Americans know better.
    This is not news to me and my business partners. Business is good, but the media wants it otherwise.

    July 10, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  22. Eric

    The whining comments prove this point. America is full of whiners and people who refusse to take responsibility and blame others. This includes politicians. It will be our downfall.

    July 10, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. John

    More leadership, less whining – Amen to that. Finally someone with the ________ to say it! Get the Do Nothing Congress to start making things happen. Everyone is all to happy to sit around and point fingers meanwhile citizens are falling under.

    July 10, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. Crane

    Unbelievable. What's even worse is that I had to search for this story after reading it elsewhere. If one of Obama's advisors had said this, it would be all over every newspaper and media outlet in the entire country.

    But because one of McCain's lackeys uttered such BS, it will get little attention.

    Tell you what, if this country votes for four more years of the same, I swear I'm moving to CANADA!!!

    July 10, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. Karen - Missouri

    This guy is as out of touch with reality as McCain is. Good grief...we need younger more intelligence in Washington FOR SURE!

    And if McCain even THINKS of getting rid of social security...he's OUT!

    I can't believe people would even THINK of voting for any Republican again!!!!

    I paid in plenty of money to Social Security. If they'd quit "borrowing" from the fund, there would actually be a SURPLUS in Social Security. So take McCain's Social Security money away from he...he can survive on Cindy's money.

    July 10, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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