July 10th, 2008
03:10 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain: 'Phil Gramm does not speak for me'

BELLEVILLE, Michigan (CNN) –- John McCain forcefully repudiated comments by his national campaign co-chair Phil Gramm Thursday, telling reporters, “Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me.”

Gramm had said in a newspaper interview that the country is merely in a “mental recession,” and called America a “nation of whiners” when it comes to the slumping economy.

Campaigning in the economically lagging state of Michigan – which suffers from has the highest unemployment rate in the nation – McCain held a press conference and quickly disavowed Gramm’s remarks.

“I don’t agree with Sen. Gramm,” McCain said. “I believe that the person here in Michigan that just lost his job isn’t suffering a mental recession. I believe the mother here in Michigan and around America who is trying to get enough money to educate their children isn’t whining.”

“Phil Gramm does not speak for me,” he said. “I speak for me.”

Democrats immediately seized on Gramm’s comments. Barack Obama, attacked both McCain and Gramm at a campaign event in Virginia, saying: “America already has one Dr. Phil. We don’t need another one when it comes to the economy.”

McCain responded to those comments with another pop culture reference which has become one of his favorite lines on the stump.

“He is Dr. No,” McCain said of Obama, before listing a series of energy policy proposals, such as expanding nuclear energy and offshore drilling, that the Illinois senator has opposed.

Filed under: John McCain • Phil Gramm
soundoff (384 Responses)
  1. Ken

    Liar, liar, pants on fire McCain!!! Yes he does speak for you and we are listening. You are not going to sweep this on under the rug you out of touch flip flopping elitist!!! We hard working Americans are not amused and you need to expain your choice of advisors and tell us why should we believe you anymore.

    July 10, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  2. People make no sense

    McCain – if you can't control the people working for you, then how can you control the situation for the American public? I think those were your words to Obama.

    A bunch of rich elitist who think nothing is wrong with the country. Didn't McCain just whine about Fannie Mae. It's all in his mind. How about we fire all the CEO's and let the managers run the company? The CEO's are the reason why the mortgage industry is a mess.

    July 10, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  3. Grow some stones, McCain

    THIS is exactly why conservatives dno't like or respect John McCain, and why so many will hold their noses when casting a ballot against Obama. (Conservatives won't vote FOR McCain, rather AGAINST Obama.)

    What Gramm said, while not politically correct, is indeed factually correct. And true to form, McCain throws him under the bus or the sake of political expediency. Be a man, John. You're a former POW, for God's sake... grow a pair and don't be afraid of offendnig the sensibilities of whining ninnies.

    When political correctness gets in the way of speaking the harsh, ugly truth, consider yourself neutered.

    July 10, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. Ex-Republican for Obama

    yea, how about energy?

    We have a BUTT TON of square miles that have been available for this 'exploration' for YEARS now, well over seven years. But what did the republicans do this whole time? They want more and aren't even doing a darn thing with what they already have. Get off your rumps and actually DO something rather then ask for more of what you already can't handle. If they had done ANYTHING starting seven years ago they wouldn't be sitting around whining about not having energy. A little too little, alot too late!

    Republicans have fouled America and should be brought to trial. November is judgement day, let America vote for conviction.

    Obama '08

    July 10, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. judy, Wisconsin

    There goes McCain again–he's always shocked about his advisors stupid comments. Unlike the "bitter" comment or Wright crap this will be forgotten in a moment by the media. I'm sure it won't be mentioned at all on Fox Noise.

    July 10, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  6. Stephen

    The last paragraph says that McCain invokes a "pop culture" reference when referring to "Dr. No." Pop culture? That just shows how old and out of touch he is. A 40 year old movie is not "Pop Culture!" LOL

    July 10, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  7. zolesh

    which off this is more offensive? Whinner Gate or Bitter Gate.

    Senator McCain does not know much about the economy so he surrounds himself with economic brains who are supposed to be doing the economic talk.

    But interestingly when they lay out the campaigns economic perceptions they are told they don't speak for Senator McCain.What irony!Much i do about straight talk.

    So it is alleged that the economic hardships the nation is facing today is nothing but a figment of imagination.And to think this tought is coming from a group that is auditioning to lead this nation for the next 4 years.What is going on here?

    July 10, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  8. jack

    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.

    "I said we are in a mental recession. We keep getting the steady drumbeat of bad news ... it's become a mental recession," said Gramm

    “I don’t agree with Sen. Gramm,” McCain said.
    “Phil Gramm does not speak for me,” “I speak for me.”

    McShame, the state of the economy is not mental to the people of this nation. We are indeed feeling the pain of this economy. If you can not understand what this economy is doing to us then why should we even consider voting for you. You will not be ale to fix the the economy when according to you you donot understand the economy. Also, if Phil does not speak for you WHY IS HE ON YOUR TEAM!!!!!!


    July 10, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  9. Lisa

    Man, this is really distrubing! How are we supposed to trust these to fix this broken economy when they don't even think there's a problem?

    July 10, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  10. Bob

    McCain speaks for himself, listen to the man. Did Wright speak for Obama, I think not. Look at the facts, vote for the right canidate. Too often votes are cast for the heart. How did we get a Democrate controlled Congress? We voted against the war and the President. The Congress controls the budget and the economy, what has the new congress done? Nothing. Lets just blame the President.

    July 10, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. mitchell martin

    those are fighting words ,this year,mcsimple!you,'my friend',are going to retirement after YOUR campaign team's remark!one guy ,on this blog supports you,and he's obsessed with hillary!so ,you kept one vote here,today.

    July 10, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. Kevin Leo (Jonesboro, GA)

    Given some of McCain's more idiotic comments such as "bomb bomb bomb Iran" and joking about killing off Iranians by means of selling cigarettes, he would do well to not speak for himself and let others talk for him. Either way, he comes off looking like he is clueless and out of touch with the rest of America.

    July 10, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. Caycee

    Well, there goes Phil Gramm under "the straight talk bus".

    July 10, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. No Bush Third Term!

    As usual, McCain is letting someone voice his thoughts on an issue, then on gaging the effects, distancing himself from the comment. He can say that it wasn't his comment, but they echo his earlier remarks about the psychological state of the American public.
    Wake up, McMillions - the misery is REAL. Pretty soon, we won't have enough money to buy Cindy's beer!

    McCain = Bush's Third Term. Come'on America, say it with me: No Bush Third Term!

    Casey in CA.

    July 10, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. Griff

    Hello, Hello, is there still a World out there???

    July 10, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  16. Susan "Hussein" from Scotts Valley, CA

    Lets get some equality here. If your economic adviser and campaign co-chair doesn't speak for you, then why did Obama get slammed for remarks by General Clark. Please.

    Obama 08

    July 10, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  17. saga4obama

    hey John, my boss just called me to tell me that my health benefits are being suspended because i have not averaged 30hrs a week. i work in the service industry...and we are hurting....who will speak for me? YOU? I THINK NOT!!!!!
    Peace America now i am off to work to try to save my benefits.

    Obama 08

    July 10, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  18. mello doug

    McCain advisers keep making comments then McCain repudiates them. What is this? I really don't mean that...wink wink. If he can't keep his advises in line how is he supposed to control an entire administration. Come on!

    July 10, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. Casey

    The shoe's on the other foot now, isn't it? How's that working for you, McCain?

    July 10, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  20. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    So if your top economic adviser doesn't speak for you on economics and your campaign co-chair doesn't speak for you, then why does what Gen. Clark have to be denounced by the Obama campaign. Lets be fair now.

    Obama 08

    July 10, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  21. FactCheck

    > So, McCain repudiates these comments and the Obamabots are
    > still attacking him.

    Do us all a favor and look up "repudiate" in the dictionary. I don't think you understand what that word means. McCain said he disagrees with Sen. Gramm.

    July 10, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. tigerakabj

    If David Axelrod of Obama's campaign had said something like this....

    I mean seriously. This is getting so ridiculous and it is only July. What is it going to take to make people wake up to see that McCain is more of the same?

    They spent a month talking about Obama's "bitter" non-controversy (which I agreed with, you bet i'm pissed about $4+ gallon) and called Obama an elitist (uh huh, grew up on food stamps and had to earn his way into college). Oh well, my mind was made up last Feb. I sure hope this turns some more people.

    Obama/Sebilius 2008/2012.

    July 10, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  23. Tully

    Phil Gramm is right. We are whiners. Look at these boards everyday. Guess what ? All these poeple making decisons in Washington, the people voted for. You want change, than start with yourself.

    July 10, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  24. jake145

    A wise man once said, "How dumb can you get and still breath?", aparently as dumb as the McCain camp!!!!

    July 10, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  25. Linda31

    I guess he only speaks for you when it suits you? Not buying it. Especially since it is similiar to comments you have made before.

    July 10, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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