July 10th, 2008
01:50 PM ET
13 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. 'Nuff Said

    I would venture to guess that most folks posting on this thread have no clue that this guy was the Gramm (not Graham) of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act.


    July 10, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. CPJ

    Isn't this guy Gramm and his wife responsible for the ENRON LOOPHOLE – the regulation that got us our current gas price crisis?????!!!!

    July 10, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  3. Vanessa

    Is the reason why comments like this from the Republican camp aren't branded elitist because they are said in a plain sometimes southern accent? Mental recession? Oh, so job loss and decrease in wages is just a figment of our imagination. Working folks everywhere need to pay attention here. THIS bootstraps, we're all okay stance is the Republican philosophy. A philosophy that measures progress not by families or the least of us but by corporations and the richest of us. These are the people that don't care if America becomes the next Mexico. They have millionaires there too ya know.

    July 10, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  4. Rick FL

    The comments were clear the first time. Will the media hold this spin from McCain's top economic advisor to the same level of accountability as they do for the other campaign? If past allowances are any indication, I won't hold my breath unfortunately.

    July 10, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  5. Bill in San Jose

    What you need is to retire, shut up and disappear there Phil. Your rhetoric, your politics and your presence in general are all worn out and should be disposed of like harvest gold or avacado colored appliances..

    July 10, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  6. Self-actualization and manifest destiny

    if Obama had said it, most of you would pump your fist and say, "he's just keepin' it real!"

    July 10, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  7. G,Pa McWar

    And do we ever have a bunch of crooks,liars,thiefs you name it on and on in the Big White House .
    Wake up America what in --do you see in these crooks letting them tear the country apart has been going on for almost 8 years this round not counting the previous Bush years and you keep voting for this ?
    Russ,Hannity ,Beck ,Rove just to name a few of these crooks go under the bus or better yet in the Grabage truck to join Bush /Cheney that are in the the Grabage can .
    The Garbage pick-up service is on its way

    July 10, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. Ben

    Brenda – People are doing their jobs. They are just not being paid a living wage for them. By the way, you and Phil are both whining about people who whine. Irony?

    July 10, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. Shawna

    Theis is not McCain's family, this is not McCain's pastor, this man is apart of McCain's policy team...Americans should be wondering what does McCain really stand for, and how does he plan to save our economy in the future of Iran, China, and India gaining power in the west.

    July 10, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. TONY

    YES WE DO!

    Somone should tell that to the Republicans.

    Like McCain, Graham is a loud-mouthed old man with old ideas. Both should retire and get the hell out of public life. That goes for most Republicans.

    July 10, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  11. Monica B

    You know what is worse? We are in this "mental recession" and we do not even have Universal Healthcare to cure the illness. Let's face it this universal mental state we are in needs and equal potion of UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE.

    The Republicans are for universal health care, aren't they? My bad...they are not. Oh well! We are on our own just as we were for the past 7 years.

    July 10, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. Enlightened Voter

    Over 400,000 jobs lost since January, the world hates us, gas is at 4.10 and rising, over 4,200 soldiers dead in a senseless war, food is too expensive, over 1.5 million homes in foreclosure, our country is bankrupt yet we are still funding a billion dollar a month war. Your right mr. gramm, why should Americans whine????????????????????

    July 10, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  13. Rob VanWinkle

    What a crazy world we live in-

    A bunch of millionaires calling working people elitists and whiners

    And Mister War Hero Tough Guy MCCain whined about General Clark, and now he's whining about whiners

    John? You need to "cut the guy loose"

    July 10, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. An American

    We are mad as hell and we aren't going to take it anymore!

    Omama '08

    July 10, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  15. Marc from San Diego

    It's time for a change from this old thinking. Blaming the media and the public is disgusting. I wish the economic problems were just in my head but my bank account says otherwise. Mr. McCain already admits that the economy is not his strength – well neither is picking his advisors. When did Republicans dump the American people for money and power? This party is not only not the one Lincoln belonged to – one has to wonder if Reagan would recognize it. Let's get some leadership back in the White House and start making this country work for everyone.

    July 10, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  16. It's true

    We are a bunch of cry babies

    Waaa I don't have enough money to put gas in my 40K SUV Waaa
    I can't afford the mortgage in my 500K house Waaa

    Sorry it the truth hurts

    July 10, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  17. Mark

    Well Gramm let me tell you my account with this mental recession. I know things go up and sometimes never come down. The court has given me the normal visitaion rights to my son which are every other weekend and some holidays. I have struggled every other weekend to meet his mother half way for me to pick him, what used to cast me $60 to $70 to fill my tank now cost me $102 to fill up and thats twice a month I dont think thats mental every time I have to fill up. So do you think you mental capacity has dropped for you to think this way

    July 10, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. Chloe

    It would be nice it the media would stay on these outrageous comments made by McCain and the rest of his cohorts. Obama's remarks are clearly taken out of context and repeated ad nauseum but when these Republican hacks speak about how they really feel, the stories get buried. I wish CNN and the rest of these corporate cesspools would get back to reporting the news and quit worrying about their rich COE's and shareholders. We deserve truth, not partisan propaganda.

    July 10, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. Peter E

    And precisely what else does Obama do except whine? You know why CNN always harps about McCain's economic plan but not Obama's? Because Obama doesn't have a plan! He just whines!

    July 10, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  20. 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! give me a break!

    July 10, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  21. Franky

    Sorry Gramm but let's just say you already said it...

    July 10, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  22. Skott

    Gramm lives on the Congressional Retirement plan of full salary (with raises) and an excellent health care plan FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE. Not only that but he is making the big bucks as a lobbyist. McCain marrys a multi millionaire and is set for life. These guys just keep getting richer.

    Let them spend one year, hell . . . one month trying to make ends meet on a $30,000 income without health insurance and see if they don't become whiners.

    They are both McJERKS!

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  23. sonny c.

    If I had made only a fraction of the money Phil Graham & his wife & his kids mad on the ENRON scam I'd think the economy was just dandy too !

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  24. Rob

    This guy is absolutly right. hurts but it is the truth !!!

    Rob from NC

    Quote of the Century…

    " My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you will join with me as we try to change it."

    Barak Hussein Obama.

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  25. Jeremy

    Thank you Gramm. This is all we needed to dispel Obama's elitist title. Now the McCain campaign is going to be seen as a mere group of republicans: only concerned about the corporate CEOs who escaped this crisis with golden parachutes. Sen McCain, I can tell you that we Americans won't be whining that much longer because there will soon be a democrat in office.

    July 10, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
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