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. JIM...TX

    Gramm and his sidekick Kay Bailey were/are out of touch with us Texans too. Amazing we little people always don't understand what these slime politicians are saying.....

    July 10, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. 51% is actually the Majority

    In his original quote he said "nation of whiners" nation... that is synonymous for "leaders" right? Oh! And all of you on the ticker with "Obama said this, Obama said that" This article says nothing about Obama... so what are you talking about?! We're talking about a man who is the top economic adviser for possibly the next President saying WE ARE IN A MENTAL RECESSION". Then has the gonads to sit there and tell us what he said was misinterpreted? What the hell? I feel like I'm living in a bad zombie movie with these people! Get a grip.

    PUMA/Hillary or McCain people, we're not going to be held hostage by you. Either move on or move out of our way

    Common Sense 08.

    July 10, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. ron, NY,NY

    When Michelle Obama had a slip of the tongue and said something about being proud of America, the media and the right wing hate mongers pounced on her and are still talking about that comment to this day. John McCain had said that he never loved America until he became a POW. Neither the so called "mainstream" media nor the right wing nut jobs are saying anything about it. McCain had earlier said that we just have to feel good about the economy and things will be fine. Today comes Phil Gramm, McCain's senior adviser. Yes, we Americans are just whining and the economic woes are just a symptom of our mental instability. I don't think anyone else would get away with such a comment except for the rich and powerful of the republican party who have a stranglehold on the media and the corporations that fund it. When I pay $4.50 for a gallon of gas, the pain is real, not just imagined or mental. The republican party continuously shows disdain and disrespect for the American people, and get their media buddies to convince these same .Americans that the republicans stand for their values and are more patriotic. Somehow, the electorate buys this crap over and over again. This is truly sad.

    July 10, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. TexMex

    Americans are a bunch of wimps and cry babies. Willing to jump on any bandwagon even though it may take them to the ends of Hell.

    How can you idiots support this neophyte politician from Chicago.
    Has no proven track record. The connections are questionable to say the least and his loyalty to America is also in doubt.

    If Obama wins he will destroy the America of my father's. Already we are almost a Socialists country and do not value individual rights.
    this trend will accelerate if Obama becomes President.

    American Patriotsllllll STOP THE OBAMA TRAIN.

    July 10, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  5. pb

    Who is the ELITIST now? On several occasions, McCain and his surrogates have called Obama an eliitist. (I never could understand how Obama of all people could be branded an elitist). Yet when Senator McCain's economic advisor calls Americans a Nation of Whiners, who is the real elitist? McCain and his Real Deal thugs have no idea the many millions of Americans who sit at the kitchen table every night trying to prioritize gas, food, mortgage payment, etc. How out of touch are they? As the old adage says, " just because your stomach is full, doesn't mean everybody else's stomach is full." I am not surprised that Grahamm stated this. My surprise and unbelief would be how could Americans still consider McCain for president. What would McCain have to do to reveal the true McCain, sell his soul to the devil?

    July 10, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  6. The truth hurts!

    Love how 99% of these comments are all one-sided, clearly very "balanced" people. Obama and the Democrats have been screaming the economy is tanking all year! The Congressional "Do Nothing about Anything" Democrats chirp constantly that everything is Bush's fault (so why is their approval rating at 9%?). Get over it people! The credit crisis was caused by banks lending to people they had no business lending to and the gas "crisis" is caused by 20+ years of the environmental lobbies blocking every kind of affordable solutions to our energy usage. If the Republican Congress had been true to their principles and effective legislators we wouldn't be in this mess of having complete incompetents running the government! The American people got fed up and threw the baby out with the dirty bath water and now all we have left are the bath toys! We need real leaders not mealy-mouthed whiners!

    July 10, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. Ken

    Sounds like Phil is whining a bit himself: "whaaaa!.... the big bad media is too negative and has brain washed people into thinking that they are paying $4 a gallon for gasoline, and that the equity markets are slumping badly, and that the dollar is in the trash, and that home prices are way down, and that the foreclosure rate is way up..... Bad, bad media for reporting such negative stories without basis."

    Thank you Phil. When I go to the gas station today and hand over $4 per gallon I'll remember that I'm really paying say $2 a gallon. And when I look at my 401K statement, I'll ignore the false bottom line and tell my wife that we really have 30% more in there. And I'll start whining like you: "if only the media would sign up to my fairytale view of the world, life would be grand".

    And by the way Phil, and all you neo-nuggets that drink his kool-aid, when I go to the polls in Nov., I'll continue to live in your fantasy world of up is down, stupid is smart, bad is good, high prices are low prices....and when I vote for OBAMA, I'll just tell myself I really voted for MCCAIN.

    July 10, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  8. Mike, FL

    When things go wrong because of the Rep incompetency, they'll always blame us the people. Very sad!!

    July 10, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  9. Reality Check Richmond Virginia

    Gramm ia a complete loon, but I don't think he was talking about the American people..............but then again, I don't see our leaders(Bush Admin) whinning about the mess they helped this country get into.

    July 10, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  10. bill from pa

    So much for blue collar workers voting McCain. Calling them whiners is worse than Obama calling them bitter.

    July 10, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. Mb


    July 10, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  12. Doris,Memphis,TN

    The race is over!

    Let's vote the Republicans out today!

    The equation is:

    Phil Gramm+McCain+Bush= STUPID

    July 10, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. adm

    Jan From Boca Raton, Fl

    You need some help. This article has nothing to do with Obama, but she still find it necessary to bash him. Grow up and talk about real issues, like this article and about the economy.

    July 10, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  14. Timothy

    Mccain's top ecomomy Adiviors SLAM THE AMERICAN PEOPLE while the american people are going through a tough time because of the way the Bush administration lead this country. and for John Mccain's adviser to say that we the american people are "A Nation Of Whiners" is shameful and this tell us how and what John Mccain thinks about the American people. SLAM ON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

    July 10, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. Tracy, Chicago, IL

    Let me get this straight; Obama’s “bitter” comment gets blown up in the news 24/7, every conservative is outraged & he’s labeled an elitist & publicly apologized. Dick Cheney jokes about inbreeding in WV-no outrage from the conservatives or public apology from Cheney. This republican Gramm calls people who have lost their jobs & homes whiners—no outrage from the conservatives. I’m waiting for Glen Beck, Hannity, & O’Reilly to cover his elitist comments daily just like I did with the inbreeding comments made by Cheney; the results will be the same I’m sure and they will barely mention it.

    July 10, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  16. Ilona,PA

    When was the last time you paid your medical bills out of your own pocket senator Gramm? YOU have secure pension and benefits for life and you dare to call us people who are losing jobs, pensions and benefits whiners?!!! You are a true elitist arrogant politician and your brain is in recession, no wait depression is the better word.

    July 10, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  17. ANGIE

    love the link to mccain veterens voting that man ought to be ashamed of himself pow prior military he dont even support them or want to help them what makes you think he wants to help us i swear mccain is THE DEVIL!!!!!!

    July 10, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  18. Bulldog

    This is the same Phil Gramm that pushed hard for the Enron Loophole as he was being paid by Enron lobbysists and his wife was on the board of Enron and made almost $1million dollars for a part time job. McCain put him in as his top economic advisor and now McCON wants to claim Gramm speaks only for himself. So what is the definition of advisor? Gramm is your advisor McCON, he gives you advise. Are you paying him just to talk to himself or this another one of those senile moments?

    July 10, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  19. Alkar

    You liberals are a bunch of whiners! You expect somebody (the federal government / the tax payer) to hold your hands from craddle to grave. I love $4 gallon gas. I love it so much! One of my retirement portfolios is invested heavily in oil stocks and petro related industries. If you are a liberal democrat and are suffering from $4 gas then you deserve it. I have no sympathy for you. This is what you wanted. You wanted no domestic drilling. You wanted high gas prices so the evil Americans in their evil SUVs would suffer. The great thing is, if there is a new trend in Americans buying smaller cars in order to get better gas milage, then that means demand will go down. When demand goes down then the price of gas will go down. And that means I can STILL drive my evil SUV and buy cheap gas.

    July 10, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. Esther

    CNN! You baffle me! I trusted you! Can you imagine your cover story is about McSame battling for blue-collar votes with Obama when he's so out of touch with the americans that his top economic adviser said we are whiners! Why are you becoming so BIASED? Why oh Why?! If it was Obama that his adviser did the same thing, the whole world will hear about it! This is a very grave cover story issue and yet the same elitist McShame is battling for blue-collar votes?! Well, I dont blame you CNN. Americans really are very stupid and the street-smart Bushes and MsSames and Dr. Phils will continue to take them for a ride. How can any reasonable american in their right senses vote for this haggard old elitist McSame? Dr Phil is right and he maintains that point: americans are in a mental recession for them to be voting for McShame! Definitely! But not this american – ME.

    July 10, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. Bulldog

    Didn't John McCain just recently say Obama should get rid of General Clark whose not even an official campaignee? And now Gramm, the paid official economic advisor for McCON, is speaking for himself according to McCain. So is Gramm fired like you said Clark should be or are you a hypocrite McCON?

    July 10, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  22. Tennessee Mike

    Phil Gramm: Another good reason why to not vote for John McCain!

    Barr / Root '08

    July 10, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  23. John Wilderness

    Based on the replies, this country is in a mental recession! Truth is, with all our problems we are STILL luckier than most of the world, yet we still complain! Go out into the big wide world, see how they live and then come back and tell me how bad it is here. Also, how come illegals who can't speak english can come up here find work and supprt their family? Answer: they'll sacrfice, not whine and they don't need high paying jobs because they don't try to live beyond their means which is what most of you do, which is why one hiccup in the economy hurts you sooo much!

    July 10, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  24. Jimmy P - Chicago

    He's absolutely correct, this is also enhanced by the leftist media (CNN, NBC, etc.). Public perception goes a long way. Whine, whine, whine = more socialist agenda handouts to deadbeats who cannot compete in today's market. You lost your home, tough stuff. You probably couldn't afford it in the first place. News flash for all you progressive fools, we are not all equal in socio-economic terms, and never will be. We are all born equal, then it's up to you!

    July 10, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  25. Early Man

    Pain at the pump? Stop your whining and pay up! How else are Gramm's energy speculators going to create some 'real weath' in the economy?

    July 10, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
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