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. tom

    Dear McBush, Who does speak for you, since on the economy you admit you can't speak for yourself. Maybe Carl Rove would speak for you if he didn't have to be under oath.

    July 10, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  2. richard

    X staunch republican, a vote for Barr is a vote for McCain, you just don't get it.

    July 10, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  3. Bob

    I am a bit offended at how quickly we have seemed to move away from this issue and how we are seemingly accepting Gramm's explanation and McCain's repudiation as authentic without even the least amount of scrutiny yet there are STILL articles being written about General Clark's and Reverand Jackson's comments, two men that do NOT work as advisers to Obama's campaign. How are people supposed to make an honest choice in the election without honest coverage? Either cover the surrogates "missteps" equally and honestly, or don't cover them at all!

    July 10, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  4. Jeff D, South Bend, IN

    No, Joe Lieberman speaks for you when he stands behind you whispering corrections into your ear as you screw up over and over.

    Face it, you are too old for this job. You can't even remember what you voted for and didn't vote for, how can you possibly protect this country?

    July 10, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  5. Clark Kent

    Yes he does ... you don't know anything about the economy.

    Phil Gramm kicked to the curb ... that's cold John.

    July 10, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  6. Dave, Illinois

    You Obamites are so predictable: "senility", "alzheimer moment", the list goes on. You are a pathetic bunch of name-calling twits, led by your head-whiner. Obama only has experience in mocking and belittling the ideas of others. Yet he never offers any concrete ideas. Empty suit, empty head.

    July 10, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  7. Willard

    Obama says we don't need another Dr. Phil; many other people think we don't need another "Hussein". Making comments about people's names works both ways sometimes...

    July 10, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  8. Javone

    Wait. isn't this the same man who's campaign came out after wesley clark and blamed Obama saying that if Obama could not control his "people" then how would he control the country? Truer words have NEVER been spoken....but ihm...they should have been used to refer to Mccain. he changes every few minutes. The same thing is being done as what happened with Obama but since it's his campaign, then there should be no problem. smh Idiot!

    July 10, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  9. scotty

    And how about Obamas vote for the wiretap. these things are news not the Rev said this, gram said that. how about wheres that big economic speach Obama was going to make this week you know the 5 part thing we heard about all last week

    July 10, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  10. skunkrat The Marine

    McCain, you are a FAKE. You can't be trusted. Your friend & advisor probably misspoke, you shouldn't dismiss him so easily. Sir you are a Lie and a fraud. You will say anything & betray anyone in order to get elected. WAKE UP OLD FOOL IT AINT GONNA HAPPEN.

    July 10, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  11. KenB, MI

    Am I the only one thinking of collecting all of this material in a blooper, with circus music and a laughing Joker...? On another thing...did he not understand the viagra question or did he not want to discuss any use of viagra and decided to duck the issue?

    July 10, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  12. Steve J61

    yo "truth hurts".... gramm did two things, called us a nation of whinners, which you acknowledge that people are doing that (i agree) and then gramm discounts all that is wrong. SO people whine (which, by the way is what envronmental lobbiest's do best) and carry on because that's all these frumps understand. the value of good judgement isn't doing what is good for the people anymore, the value is in how much money somebody lines their pockets with or how loud they whine, because if you quiet a whinner, you get votes. Gramm should go away and bake cookies. McCain should step down and apologise for wasting our time. obama should bow toward mecca and we should put ANYONE but one of these two in office.

    Harrison Ford played the president pretty good in Air Force One. Let's ask him!

    July 10, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  13. Loretta from California

    I did (Previously) advise you to get rid of your ignorant surrogates, did I not? 🙂


    July 10, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  14. Winston

    Another one thrown under the bus by McCain.

    July 10, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  15. Minsk for Gramm

    ... except when he speaks for him which he clearly did when he called us all whiners.

    July 10, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  16. RB

    UNLESS he's talking about screwing homeowners so that big banks can rob them blind!

    July 10, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  17. Jon

    He's right BUSH does. Liberman Does, everyone on the right does. If you had a thought in his head that was his own oops he would be voting for Obama.

    July 10, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  18. Naomi

    McCan't and his campaign misspoke again.....The media never attacks or criticizes him like they do Barack or Hillary....Lets see how long this will stay in the media

    July 10, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  19. No McCain!

    Right, and you don't speak for Bush.

    Obama '08

    July 10, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  20. Chuck, Democrats United We Stand

    The problem is when McCain does not do a very good job of talking for him self and often when he does he ends up looking stupid. Maybe he should find someone to speak for him that has a better hand on the pulse of reality and the needs of Americans.

    July 10, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  21. Vig

    No this is not a nation of whiners, this is a nation of Oprah zombies.

    July 10, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  22. Roger from CA

    I will be distinctly angry if the press and/or the public lets this outrageous statement go, especially after the mileage Obama's opponents got out the misconstrued, out-of-context "bitter" voters remarks.


    1. This was not taken out of context as part of some hatchet job by a political opponent: this appeared in the Washington Times–perhaps the single most conservative newspaper in the country. (For this reason, Gramm's attempt to "clarify" his comments that he meant the leadership, rather than the people, is COMPLETELY BOGUS!!)

    2. Phil Gramm cannot claim to speak only for himself. He is recognized as a senior adviser on economic and other domestic advisor to McCain. He doesn't go "off the clock" during a political campaign. I will be outrageous if McCain escapes taking the full brunt of the impact of this remark.

    This is simply proof positive that the Repubs generally, and the McCain camp in particular, are completely out of touch with the public.

    I just hope that there is at least audio and, hopefully, video of this interview. If so, then (without any hyperbole) McCain is toast

    July 10, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  23. Ralph

    How much play did Obama's bitter comment get? Who is the elitist here? For all of you whiners out there that are unemployed, forclosed on, bankrupt because of medical bills, laid off due to job cuts, eat cake!

    Marie-Antoinette (1755-93)

    July 10, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  24. Christian, Tampa FL

    But Phil Gramm is his chief economic advisor!!! This is insane. Is McCain going to say that his Defense Secretary or his Secretary of State doesn't speak for him when something goes wrong? Or his Attorney General? The truth is, advisors are interpreted as speaking for the candidate!

    July 10, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  25. Scrambler


    Wow...he essentially lost the electorate with that one, and I love it...LOL. He called all AMERICANS whiners!

    People losing their houses are whiners....
    People with no health care are whiners......
    People losing their jobs are whiners........
    Poeple losing their sons and daughters in Iraq are whiners.....
    People going hungry due to high gas prices are whiners......

    And this is coming from HIS HIGHEST LEVEL ECONOMY ADVISOR.

    Okay, the WHINERS will show you why they "whine" in Novemember, you elitist, out of touch, fool.

    July 10, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
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