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. Griff

    Maybe he was meaning a recession, is only in the mind, of those who have little to look forward too. Too narrow a vision! Get some wide angled Spectacles, look around some more.... Take a walk in a different direction Maybe..

    July 10, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. JohnInOhio

    It is obvious that Graham is out of touch with the American public. As the economic advisor of the McCain campaign, this is downright frightening. As McCain has rapidly distanced himself from Graham's comments, it make me wonder if McCain's distancing is only a political gimmick to garner the support of the electorate and if McCain should actually achieve the office of the President, he will quickly forget about the real economic suffering of Americans and embrace Bush's failed policies.

    July 10, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. Eric in Ca

    Yeah, I must be crazy, seeing and reading about unemployment, high gas prices, home foreclosures, health care, war, environment, and weak dollar are all the delusions of us insane Americans.

    You gave Bush 8 years of this crap and now you want to give McCain 4 more years?? We owe it to ourselves and future generations to change the course! That's why I support Obama! Period.Full Stop.

    And regarding you single faux- single issue pro-lifers, please – McCain is an adulterer and war monger, what about those lives. Pro-choice means just that! CHOICE! It doesn't advocate to use abortion as a means to birth control! Compromise the issue! Advocate birth control and abstinence, adoption. Whether legal or illegal won't stop abortions!

    July 10, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  4. Ian

    Didn't the McCain camp just go through a major overhaul to avoid things like this? How's that working out for you, John?

    July 10, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. Lesley

    A nation of whiners? Is that the same thing as being "bitter"? I wonder what the news media will do with this article. Probably ignore it while they continue to support McCain through biased reporting.

    July 10, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. DM, Let talk about the truth!!

    Senior Senator John McCain. memory laps and time in prison camp has brought on this thought of War, War, War and more war however, dealth and distruction does not bring jobs to our economy it just takes money way.

    July 10, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. Charles

    That's easy for someone way up there on his high horse to say when he doesn't have to worry about $4.00 gas. Nobody is coming to take his home away from him either. That's exactly what's wrong with people in power – out of touch with the avergae American

    July 10, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  8. Saad from NJ

    Duh... of course we are.... but it didn't just pop up in our heads. It is because of bad economic policy for 8 years now and has resulted in factors where people are having a tough time making ends meet.

    Take his extra millions away, put him in a state of an average American and then see him going through the same mental recession.... seriously!

    July 10, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  9. EMJ

    Graham was a joke years ago and still is today. McCain only picked him because he is a darling of the neo-conservative groups.

    July 10, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. Robert in Seattle

    No flag pins! Not Patriots!

    July 10, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  11. Peter (CA)

    Easy to say if you made millions as a Senator and a lobbyist.

    Maybe Mr. Gramm should spend some time in the poorer parts of Houston or Dallas and meet some of the people he supposedly represented.

    Get out and look around, Mr. Gramm. People are losing their jobs, losing their homes, have no health insurance.

    I am at the point in my life where I am supposed to be a Republican. It is idiots like this guy who keep me from doing so.

    July 10, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  12. Trish - PA

    Wow. Ummm... Wow. So I guess it's all in my head that I am behind in all of my utilities and can't afford to put gas in my car even though I work about 50 hours a week? WOW! For God's sakes people! Vote Obama! That old man has lost what's left of his mind!

    July 10, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. Guy

    Obviously they're not feeling the recession... it's nice to be rich.

    July 10, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. Doris,Memphis,TN

    A letter to the Haves from the Havenots

    Dear Senator Graham:

    Please pay my mortage and my bills.
    Also, give me a gas card.

    Get Real

    July 10, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. Ray in NY

    It's all a hoax. All those foreclosures, the GM plants shutting down, and House Still For Sale signs are all in your minds. I have a portfolio that is rich in European equities and I cannot begin to tell you how well my oil stocks are doing right now. Democratic Lies!
    Stop being a Cry Baby and vote Republican
    McCain/Dole in 08

    July 10, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. Ron L

    You know what I would like to see. The next time one of these knuckle heads try to tell the American people say times are not that hard. A news reporter needs to ask them two simply questions...
    1) How much do they earn a year?
    2) If they only made $35,000 per year and had only $3,000 in the bank at 45 years old and their place of employment was thinking of closing . WOULD THEY STILL THINK THINGS WEREN'T THAT BAD??? People like Mr Gramm are an insult to all of us.
    CNN there is somthing else I would like you to look into regarding Sen. McCain.
    I saw yesterday ( on another News Station) at a town hall meeting Senator McCain was challenged by a Vietnam Veteran on his voting record supporting veteran benefits. It appears ONCE AGAIN the media is allowing Senator McCain to get away with misquoting his record.

    CNN I would like you to turn your vast resources on this and find out the TRUTH when it comes to Senator McCains support on this issue. The veteran stated that Senator McCains record is horrendous in this area and he has voted AGAINST many of the bills that would increase veteran benefits. Of course the Senator told the person he was incorrect. IF the Veteran was correct...the PUBLIC needs to know this since he tends to portray himself as a champion of those who have served this country.

    CNN....PLEASE....BE EQUALLY TOUGH on both candidates...This election is VERY important and there are plenty of REAL ISSUES that need to be addressed objectively.

    July 10, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. Maria

    Yes, you know us American...we're so cranky when we spend $4.67 a gallon for gas. But according to John, "we're making progress".

    Obama 08

    July 10, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. Mike

    Ummmm.....you mean this is all in our heads?

    Hopefully the past 8 years were a bad dream too.

    July 10, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  19. Belle2

    Let's take a closer look at this article. This reporter is out of touch. How dare anyone write something this biased and say it is objective. Who said Gramm and McCain are BFF. That is in this reporter's mind and that is subjective (not objective) reporting. There is no excuse for the bias of the media and no article written with such subjectivity deserves further comment.

    July 10, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. warren thompson

    graham's comments–registered GOP but now independent/democrat–they just don't get it–whiners??-rich white old men with pensions and all the success in the world–try raising a family and sending them to college and pay for medical-all on $50,000 plus–tax breaks and self directed IRA's-competition-all work well for the top 10%-republican party has gone so far right it is really scarey-–look at the republican primary-all white older men-and I am one–running for office-no women or anyone not older and rich–you are seeing a permanent shift thanks to Bush–with 100 million plus-does one really think he 'get's it"–last comment-when you spend 300 million that you don't have-should anyone be surprised we are going down-don't blame washington-blame us-the people who don't care about deficits–warren

    July 10, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. Shelby Y.

    The economy isn't as bad as we think? Thanks for telling me, I never would have figured that out with the cost of food and gas added on to the fact that I won't recieve a pay increase because of budget cuts.
    Maybe if I didn't pay my taxes like the McCain family or if I had $750,000 to spend in ONE month, I wouldn't feel the pinch either.

    Who's the elitist again?

    July 10, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  22. Vickie, Maryland

    I'm so scared for me and my family and the so many other families that are struggling in the country if McCain gets into the White House. With advisors like this what can we expect accept the "Your on your own" mentality from our government. All while they get paid THOUSANDS of dollars and don't have to worry about paying for gas, food, and all the other things the average American does because we pay for it for them with our tax dollars.

    July 10, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. rexx

    Graham would make a solid choice for the next treasury sec. But this comment is a little strange. In a way all recessions are "mental" since consumer attitude can play such a big role in any economy. But he should not have said something like this to a reporter. The press will never give clear context on anything.

    July 10, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  24. Phil Please Chill

    Phil go take your meds and lie down. While you're resting we will vote for Barack Obama to stop us from "whining" so much.

    July 10, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. Venus

    I guess for most of us who are not born with millions we are whiners!

    But considering how many people have lost their jobs and homes... McSame and his thugs are really out of touch!

    Go Obama!

    July 10, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
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