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

    when a President chooses an Ecomonic Adviser they believe what that Advisor advises, That's the point, So Yes John McCain Gramm does speak for you and you potential cabinet, everything from June 13 – November 4 is meant to be political, every move, every advise, if McCain doesn't agree with Gramm than Gramm shoudn't be allowed to have these kinds of interviews.

    Obama/Biden 08

    July 10, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Lindsay

    Nice try, Magoo. If Obama has to answer for all the people who don't speak for him, you have to do the same.

    July 10, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. TONY

    CNN, FoxNews = hypocrites and liars and extremely biased and inaccurate reporting.

    Republicans. It figures!

    July 10, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  4. Herman in LA

    McCain is the biggest joke this side of the Mississippi river...

    July 10, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. Cynthia


    He has been speaking for him for months and now he wants to say that he doesn't speak for him. I guess he wants him off the Straight Talk Express until this cools down – what will he now be speaking for McCain on the DL from now on.

    July 10, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  6. Bill

    He holds a high position in your campaign, moron. When someone employed by your campaign speaks, it is a reflection on YOUR campaign.

    July 10, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  7. What if?

    “I don’t agree with Sen. Gramm,” McCain said. This is the same McCain who stated he would be distancing himself from Bush because of his low ratings and his disagreement with a lot of Bush policies earlier in the year? Then just weeks ago he was pictured with Bush exiting a plane that they both were on, articles of how he was side by side attending campaign functions that refuse to include the press?


    Obama 08

    July 10, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. Carlos Averhoff

    This IS the Republican attitude. I you are hurting because of high oil prices, the unemployment situation and or the housing crisis...is ALL in your MIND. None of that is real, according to neo cons like Phil Gramm. Is funny how this is what they say in public, can you imagine what they MUST say in private!!! We need to elect responsive politicians not these conservative ideologs...which McCain has been posturing to,,,,,,,,,

    July 10, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  9. R.I.F.

    He doesn't speak for you but he help write the economic policies that you've been rolling out the past few months? C'mon!!!!! If the media lets him get away with this one then I really know that they are in the tank for McCain. Every person that Obama has had a least one conversation with in the past's comments are always put on Obama. Wright, Phlagher, Jim Johnson, Clark, etc. None..zero of these guys ahas written one policy that Obama's proposing as president yet there have been all of these firestorms. I've been complaining for weeks that the media has not pressed the fact that Gramm was lobbying against steps that could have been taken to avoid the mortgage meltdown. THIS GUY SPEAKS FOR MCCAIN 1000 TIMES MORE THAN ANY OF THE OBAMA PEOPLE THAT YOU HAVE CREATED FIRESTORMS OVER BECUASE GRAMM IS HELPING WRITE MCCAIN'S POLICIES THAT WE ALL WILL BE STUCK WITH IF HE'S PRESIDENT.

    July 10, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  10. Lisa

    I got it, let some loose screw come out and say something stupid like that and see if people like it, if they don't then he comes out and says he does not agree with it. Nice trick John McCain, but how many times do you plan to get away with that?

    July 10, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  11. Peter E

    Obama's plan for solving the economy: whine, whine, whine and blame the republicans!

    July 10, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. TONY

    Phil Gramm, if he weren't so pathetic he'd be amusing.

    Another old senile Republican.

    July 10, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. jamaal kansas

    he is your economist he does speak for you and it show how ugly the Republicans are they don't want to help working everday people all they care about is making there salries even bigger Obama 08

    July 10, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. Helene

    Who speaks for McCain really ? The poor old man seems a bit lost these days.

    July 10, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. Melissa

    If you hire him to be your economic consultant, then yes, he does speak for you. there's no way around that.

    If you want people to REALLY believe he doesn't speak for you, then get rid of him. As long as you keep him....he speaks for you.

    July 10, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. Mikey

    Yes, and McCain himself said the economy was in great shape just a couple of months ago, when the writing on the wall was so large only a person who either completely doesn't understand economics or is totally out of touch could not see it. And you, John McCain, qualify on both counts.

    McCain = economics challenged
    McCain = short sighted energy policy
    McCain = shoot first, ask questions later foreign policy
    McCain = out of touch with the American people

    Do we really want to elect someone in this modern technological world who isn't smart enough to learn how to operate a computer???

    July 10, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. A Fernando

    Why can't the surrogates keep their mouths shut or at least think about what their saying before they say it. Senator Gramm lives in a different America than most Americans giving the fact he had a long career in the US Senate; if I was receiving a Senator's retirement pay, I might feel the same way. There is no such thing as a recession going on now; its all in our heads. I suppose $4.00+ gasoline and $5.00 for a gallon milk is nothing to whine about. Are there any working people left in America or is it just me.

    July 10, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. Ula Nejad- Sacramento Ca

    Obama's a spendthrift. He spends on lavish conventions, goes beyond his means. Why don't he try selling his 5bathroom house? He has not come up with a new solution. He has not addressed it and the people have not questioned him on this. Why? All his down is muddy the water by attacking the other candidate. He succeeded with Clinton and he hopes it will succeed with McCain. Avoid talking solutions.

    July 10, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. Jim Schimmer


    July 10, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  20. Peter E

    Oh, Obama is not Dr. No on everything... just yesterday he voted YES with republicans to retroactively legalize Bush's illegal domestic spying program. You can check the US Senate website if you want proof!

    July 10, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  21. Franky

    Unfortunately, that's his National Campiagn Co-Chair and his economic adviser. So much for someone who is a "Straight Talker".......

    July 10, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  22. California Gold

    McCain has absolutely zero-zip-zilch-nada originality.

    By the end of the weekend Gramm will have been thrown under McCain's Straight Talk Express bus and blame projected. Some of that "whining" eh?

    Each day McCain and his motley crew get more pathetic.

    July 10, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  23. 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! geez

    July 10, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  24. 51% is actually the Majority

    WAIT A MINUTE! Gramm is an actual adviser, just like Black, correct? So he is a PAID MEMBER of your campaign, correct? So why is it you and rest of your goons tried to say after Clark's comments that "its a pattern from the Obama campaign and their surrogates?" Isn't this a pattern coming from people who are actually IN your campaign to say things (actually very awful things) that you repudiate, then turn around and say they don't speak for me? Clark and others (who are NOT members of his official campaign) have commented get stapled to Obama no matter how many times he rejects the comments and the one member of his campaign that actually said something he didn't agree with he FIRED her? Just wondering how that works McHypocrite.

    Common Sense in 08

    July 10, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  25. Steve J61

    Phil Gramm has consistantly blown his mouth off and said many insanely stupid things over the years, but this one most certainly takes the cake. mental recession, indeed. there's only one person who's having a mental recession and it isn't the american public. and for mccain to sit there and allow such rubbish on his team is even more of a reason not to vote him in come november. BUT who in the he11 do we vote for? the democrates don't have anyone worthwhile! maybe nader will actaully make it this time. where's nixon when you need him? we could use a good dose of tricky dicky.

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