July 10th, 2008
01:50 PM ET
15 years ago

Gramm: 'What we need is more leadership and less whining'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/10/art.gramm.gi.jpg caption="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. Peter E

    McCain, McCain, McCain... and exactly what is Obama's plan? Other than whine, whine, whine? He never talks about his plans... oh wait, he doesn't have any!

    July 10, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  2. john williams san diego, ca.

    with these 2 presumptive presidential candidates, all of America should be scared and we will be whining for years to come.

    July 10, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. Tired of W, OH

    Hold on a second....Gramm said “Thank God the economy is not as bad as you read in the newspaper every day." But I just saw a McCain commercial that says "The economy is in shambles." Which is it, McSame? You can't have it both ways! Why is the media not jumping at this?!?

    July 10, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  4. Not fooled by distractions

    What we need...is for Phil Gramm to take a hike. Hey, how about UBS and the mortgage meltdown...how 'bout your role in that Mr. Gramm. On second thought, let's run old Phil through the wringer – there's enough dirt on him to float the media for at least a few days. Human trash, mccain and gramm both.

    July 10, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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