July 10th, 2008
10:00 AM ET
15 years ago

McCain adviser: Nation suffering from a 'mental recession'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/10/art.phill.gi.jpg caption="Gramm is a top economic adviser to McCain."](CNN) - Democrats blasted former Senator Phil Gramm, a top McCain economic adviser and campaign co-chairman, Thursday for saying Americans who have named the economy as a top concern this campaign cycle were “a nation of whiners.”

“Senator McCain said the economic problems facing Americans are psychological - now his top economic adviser and BFF, Phil Gramm said Americans facing tough economic are ‘whiners,’” said Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse in a statement sent to reporters.

McCain's campaign moved to distance itself from Gramm's comments. “Phil Gramm’s comments are not representative of John McCain’s views. John McCain travels the country every day talking to Americans who are hurting, feeling pain at the pump and worrying about how they’ll pay their mortgage," said a McCain official. "That’s why he has a realistic plan to deliver immediate relief at the gas pump, grow our economy and put Americans back to work.”

Gramm’s comments came in a Washington Times interview published Thursday. "We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline," said the former Texas senator.

"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession."

Gramm also said the media was responsible for fostering unnecessary anxiety over the state of the economy. "Misery sells newspapers,” he said. “Thank God the economy is not as bad as you read in the newspaper every day."

Democrats have been looking to portray John McCain as out-of-touch on the economy, as he and Democrat Barack Obama battle over working-class voters, who have named the economy as their biggest worry this year.

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (365 Responses)
  1. Billy

    Why is the Jackson comment on the front page and you have to dig through the site to find this article? This is 100 times more news worthy than Jackson saying he wants to take Obama's manhood.

    July 10, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. Kelby from Houston, TX

    Men lie. Women lie. Numbers don't lie. Millions of Americans losing their homes. Millions of Americans making less money than they did before. Thousands and thousands of people losing their jobs EVERYDAY! And this moron has the audacity, the unmitigated gall to call this a mental recession.
    This is further proof positive that the GOP is out of touch.
    Maybe the people are right and you, McCain and Graham, are wrong.
    I wonder how much you will whine when you lose.


    July 10, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  3. Rick FL

    Phil Gramm is another uber lobbyist on McCain's campaign. He has some nerve saying this is a "mental" recession, considering Gramm was one of the lobbyist that helped create the subprime mortgage crisis, which has attributed to the economic downturn.

    Then, the campaign tries to say Gramm does not represent McCain's views. He's McCain's top economic advisor. Hello

    July 10, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |

    He should be forced to resign from the campaign. His TOP ECONOMIC ADVISOR is calling hurting Americans whiners?

    What kind of economic policy can we expect from McCain when he has admitted repeatedly that he doesn't know that much about the economy and his Top economic advisor calls people who are facing harsh economic times whiners when cost of housing, fuel, food, travel, power, --LIFE in all aspects is higher- and wages aren;t covering it anymore.
    People who work–hard working Americans-who still can't afford to feed their families are not whiners.


    When people can't

    July 10, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. not an obamabot, thank GOD

    part truth, we are in the middle of the "me, me, me, I, I, I." JFK would have been hammered with his "ask not what the country can do for you" speech with todays lefties. All you hear from the left is whinning about the EVIL USA, and all you hear from the right is whinning about the left. Gas prices are high and thats what is killing people right now, not much else. If you bought a $500,000 house, but you could only afford a $200,000 then it is YOUR FAULT, if you have the latest and hottest gaming and phone systems, but no health ins. then prioratize better, other than that shut up, and go to work.

    July 10, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. I got love 4 Obama

    Another stupid comment coming from the McCain campaign. Soon we will start to see the McCain's greatest misses. It's comments like this that expresses what McCain is all about. So if they are any PUMA supporters out there...here is your guy. He said people need to stop whining for losing their home. Amazing.

    July 10, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  7. paula

    Mental recession is what is happening inside McCain's head. And Jan from Boca Raton must be as out to lunch as the senator and Graham. You can call it whinning...I don't care. The economy is in shambles, and McCain's plan is some vague strategy with no meat and bones. He and his staff scare me every time I hear their comments. They are so far out of touch with the average American!

    July 10, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  8. Mike - Texas

    Former Senator Gramm is absolutely correct.

    I told some friends in the fall of 2007 that with all of the negativity about the economy being broadcast by the media stating that we were in a recession ( we weren't at that time and still aren't ) that it would become a self fullfilling prophecy and it has to a point.

    People actually believe that we are in a recession, but we aren't. The economy actually continued to GROW last quarter, albeit at a slower rate.

    All too soon the people have forgotten that we have experienced UNPRECEDENTED GROW during this president's term, even exceeding the growth of the 1950's, for more that 52 consecutive months of growth. Bush inherited a Clinton recession ( a true recession ) and then had 9/11 happen.

    Am I better off now that under the Clinton administration? YES I AM!!

    July 10, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  9. Charles

    McCain and Gramm are like two blind men attempting to lead the sighted on a tour across America. Just imagine them walking thru a neighborhood full of foreclosed homes, the dialog would be something like this
    McCain – "My friends”, “look at the all the opportunities you can have if you only remain positive,”
    Gramm –“That’s right John” “We threw all the negative whimps out.
    McCain – “That’s right Phil” “My fellow Americans, the banks have been positive while over 300,000 unpatriotic Americans have chosen to cut and run. “That’s not change you can believe in”

    Go OBAMA

    July 10, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  10. This is ridiculous....

    Why is this story buried in the ticker while a story about McCain and Viagra is the lead? If an Obama advisor had said this, CNN would run this story for days.

    July 10, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  11. Rise America Rise

    Wow, I thought Fiorina was the biggest loser on his campaign team, but maybe its really Gramm? I am seeing a pattern here, old rich white people totally out of touch with the american people ... no wonder Obama is slaughtering him in the polls.

    July 10, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. Ernest in MD

    Phil Gramm’s comments are exactly representative of John McCain’s views. You want to say something, don't say it yourself, let a surogate do it for you. This is the real McCain. Look at him, and his economic record. This man is a joke. Obama will beat him in a landlise...

    July 10, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  13. Edward Ocran

    If my wife was worth a quarter of a billion dollars and i am running for president, i guess i will call the single mom making $25,000 a yr and can't afford rent, food and gas a whiner too.

    July 10, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. Much Respect Mrs. Clinton

    Jan....sounds like you make over 250K per year – still pissed about that tax thing, huh?

    What about those 'hard working' white americans in WV or PA? They are in freaking recession!!!

    And the McCain camp calls Obama an Elitist?

    Now we truly know the gas tax holiday is gimmick.....

    July 10, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Chris, from WI

    Jan from Boca Raton, FL...

    I'm sure you're doing just fine in hoity toity Boca Raton, but you know what, there are many Americans out there who are struggling.

    July 10, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  16. Dave, PA

    I can understand now what kind of people John McCain is surrounded with. I guess it gives a real sense of Elitism in his circle.

    July 10, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  17. Xavier

    Mental reccesion? Is that his way of calling us stupid? How much money does Graham have in his bank account? I'll trade bank accounts with him if he wants too.

    July 10, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. Jennifer

    This would depend of course on perspective. I would be whining if I lost my job and couldn't feed my family or put gas in the car to get to work.......you have to be in it to know it.

    July 10, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. charles

    whoever says this man is right needs both his head and McCain examined.

    July 10, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. Matt in Cleveland

    your right jan i am a whiner because gas is higher groceries are higher across the board unemployment is up, consumer confidence is rock bottom, families across the country are losing their homes

    but ya i guess im just whining

    This quote and issue is going to kill McSames chances-thats what americans who cant afford gas or their mortages wanna hear,,,you are just a whiner

    July 10, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  21. Shawna

    So McCain believes the financial problems and economic struggles of Americans are all in their heads.. This must be why he has been traveling to Mexico and Colombia...This is why he says Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will not fail. The republican candidate is clearly out of touch with reality, and this comment reminds me of Bush not realizing that gas was 4 dollars a gallon, and that Saddam had no WMD.

    July 10, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  22. Mai

    If voters believe that Senator Obama has a viable solution to our ecomony, they should go back and look at Obama's state senate district and how it faired during good economic times. One report stated it lost 11% of the jobs in 8 years. Good show, Obama. And of course, crime, drugs and proverty increased during the same time. Neither candidate has a excellent or viable solution to the problems we face but McCain's are a bit better. He has more experiernce dealing with both foreign and domestic issues.
    Bad news makes the headlines and our ecomony is bad news.

    July 10, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  23. Phil

    Let's see...one top McCain adviser says a terrorist attack would help McCain. Another says being anxious about the economy is whining. These guys are near the top of the Republican food chain, and it's clear that they can't see past their own interests on the two biggest issues in this election. Talk about "elitist."

    July 10, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  24. Dave in MN

    That's got to be right up there with the bitter comments...
    Generally referring to us as "a nation of whiners" and implying its all in our heads. I think this sticks to McCain big time

    I must be imagining $4 gas, a weak dollar, poor stocks and never ending forclosures.

    July 10, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. Richard, FL

    McCain's economic guru Gramm apparently was in "mental recession" when he ceaselessly fought against regulations that many experts believe would have prevented the mortgage crisis.

    July 10, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
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