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. nitro

    Its amaysn how what good for the goose is not good for the gander. If he does not speak for you then cut him loose. That has to be the most out of touch statement a politician could have ever made. When I go to the pump and pay 4.39 a gallon for gas it must be my imagination. When I drive through my neighborhood and see empty houses from foreclosures it must be my imagination. When I see people I know not at work because they lost their job it must be my imagination. If the doctor examine my head I guess they could say I have a wild imagination.

    July 10, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. Johnny Mac is bad cheese gone worse

    O.K. Grampy, from what I've been hearing everyone speaks for you – Liberman, Graham and Gramm – since you are as, if not more, incapable of speaking a coherent sentence than George Bush himself, you doddering old idiot!

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

    We're in trouble with energy now (just read any newspaper or CNN if you have trouble understanding this comment). Obama has no plan to deal with it. Merely conserving or planning for the day when wind, solar and wave generated energy can sustain America is ludicrous. Conserving, in a best case world, may save 25% of our current usage – but I doubt we'll ever reduce by more than 5% realistically. 25% is close to science fiction. Wind, solar and wave generation is not efficient enough to produce that much energy using today's known technologies (wave is getting more promising though and geothermal can be used in volcanic areas to some extent). But none of these will be a big player for decades to come – and maybe never. Also arrays of these generators take up a lot of space and cause some pollutions of their own – and affect the local ecology of course. Hardly completely green solutions. Who's going to supply all that land. Are you ok with yet more power lines traversing all over the ecology? What about the animals displaced by the generators, the power lines and access roads and so forth? Is this all ok? These are the same issues against drilling in ANWR. And, honestly, they don't generate much bang for the buck so you'd need enormous installations. Enormous! I'm sorry, but Obama's plan is in dreamland and we're undergoing the start of profound energy problems that will affect the cost of nearly everything we use.

    I can't believe that actual grown ups are not asking Obama some hard questions about what the plan is if it's not drilling for oil or developing nuclear energy!

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

    mccain i applaud that he disavowed gramms commnet, we are judge by the company we keep. mr. gramm does not have to worry about his next meal, the house payments, his childrens education, if anyone in his family should all sick and you don't have medical insurance, and host of other problems that the average working person worries about. ( MR. REPUBLICAN YOUR ARROGAANCE OVER WHELMS ME , GOD FORBID YOU SHOULD FALL DOWN ON YOUR LUCK, IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE , AT ANY TIME BE CAREFUL OF WHAT YOU SAY.

    July 10, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. Teddy in TX

    Don't you all know that these are the booming 2000's! I made a ton of cash investing in oil,military stocks, and the European Markets.
    Graham is the Man, it's all in your minds. He should be Secretary of State!
    McCain/Dole 08

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

    Obama voted YES to continue funding the Iraq war. (Obama voted NO to set a timetable for withdrawal.) Obama voted YES to reauthorize the Patriot Act. Obama voted YES to legalize Bush's domestic spying program.
    You can find this, and more information on the government's Senate website!

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


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

    McCain hasn't rejected the comments yet...

    McCain demanded Obama fire Wesley Clark for his comments last week...


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

    McCain your an idiot. He is your TOP economic adviser .. Wont even write any more because of how idiotic McCain and his cronies are ..

    Obama 08

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  10. jamaal kansas

    These Republicans think we are dumb this year we will not Scared in to voting for a Republican and we will hold all Politicans accountable Mcshame want to continue the same policies as Bush. The people that got caught in the devastating Katrina Hurricane are just whiners too let MCcain and Bush tell Democrats 08

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  11. Karen Toler

    You can bet that Gramm has money and he is not a whiner. You can bet he never lost his job because it was sent to another country. How dare he say Americans are whiners. He should be proud of Americans instead of trying to degrade them. Shame on him. Maybe he should have his job taken to another country or lose his home or wonder how he is going to pay his bills then maybe he will know how it feels.

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  12. Marie in California

    Gramm was right.....there are a LOT of whiners in this country, with the biggest squeals coming from those with a huge entitlement mentality, like those who live on government handouts, refuse to acquire marketable skills, and then complain about being poor.

    However, it also includes those who whine because they can't afford high priced sneakers or designer jeans, don't have money to eat at restaurants or get their nails done, can't afford a new SUV, etc. These whining people are also among those with an entitlement mentality. They believe they are entitled to all those fancy things, simply because they want them. That's pretty much how teen-agers think!

    As for Obama's change....probably the only change I would see from him is what little I have left in my pocket after he's through with me.

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  13. Dennis

    I'd hope Senator McCain would disavow those comments. He'd be a fool not too. However, it begs the question...if Senator Obama's economic advisor's words regarding NAFTA are to be attributed to Senator Obama, then why shouldn't we attribute Senator Gramm's words, as McCain's economic advisor, to Senator McCain? If Senator McCain disagrees with Senator Gramm over the state of the U.S. economy, why does he have Senator Gramm as an economic advisor in the first place?

    I'm an Obama supporter, but I don't believe Senator McCain believes that America has become a Nation of whiners like Mr. Gramm suggested. However, I do believe Senator McCain should be careful in guiding his campaign and how they react to things those in the Obama campaign say. If not, then he sets himself up to take ownership of these comments.

    In some ways, Senator Gramm did the Obama campaign a favor. This rivals "Bittergate" and the comments made by Obama's economic advisor regarding NAFTA.

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  14. Not fooled by distractions

    WRONG!! Your campaign, your surrogate, your words. You played it that way for Obama, and it's the same rules for you war hero.

    I'd hang those words around mccains neck like a cheap wh*re.

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. Nicole in NE

    Wasn't McCain the one who said Obama couldn't KEEP HIS SURROGATES IN LINE?

    Sorry, but all of this is pretty comical now!

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. Obama Supporter from FL

    This is brilliant – McCain gets to say, Phil Gramm, one of my advisors, doesn't speak for me. Meanwhile, we have to hear about Obama's ex-pastor, the guest pastor in Obama's ex-church, and some guy Obama was a professor with in Chicago that used to be a Weatherman.

    I just LOVE how they can insist that what Obama's cousin's dog did reflects on the Obama campaign, but McCain's own advisors don't even speak for him...

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  17. Chris

    If so funny if a surogate of Obama does something like this, McCain says they are speaking for Obama. Yet when one of his do the same thing they are not!!!
    flip/flopper!!! LOL

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  18. HyperD

    McCain should take responsibility for Gramm's opinion... he went to Obama's throat after Gen. Clark (absolutely right) remarks on being under-qualified for being president... now, he should take it like man and stop whining (!) about his advisor's comments. By the way, McCain is always so contradictory and clueless went it comes to issues like the economy... this guy is a parody of a presidential candidate, he makes so easy for the guys in SNL! For real, good change: OBAMA '08!

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  19. Timothy

    Whatever, right he speaks for and represents McCane views; he is like others whom have said what is in their hearts. Now Mr. McCain is saying he does not speak for him...dido

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  20. Stephen H

    Gramm's comments had better get the same level of coverage that Obama's "bitter" comments. I had to endure two weeks of critical coverage back then and what Gramm said is even worse. Somehow suggesting that the economic hardships are psychological is idiotic at best. McCain actually has the audacity to try to distance himself from the remarks but thats not going to work this time. The comments came from his top Economic Advisor and friend. If McCain is serious about distancing himself from the comments, he would renounce Gramm and cut any ties with him. And even then the public still will wonder just how much of this viewpoint that Gramm and McCain share.

    July 10, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  21. William,from Cali!

    America, we are in a "mental recession"; brought on by this bitter, Election's "political process", and the way; the "News Media' is reporting on it.

    July 10, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    not speak for you, but touts his expertise and role as your advisor. you should listen to yourself sir. during the primary, every time the economy came up you made it clear that this man was your top crutch.

    and then to hear your "belarus" comment...wow. we are not like your media friends and will not just chuckle and forget that you failed to answer the question. how much of a role did this man and his opinion's play in formulating your economy policy?

    July 10, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Peter E

    Notice Obama isn't talking about any of his plans/solutions to the economy. All he ever does is attack republicans for breaking the economy... while not mentioning that the democrats, having had a year and a half in the congress also did NOTHING!

    July 10, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. Ian

    McCain knows this guy is his economic advisor, right?

    July 10, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  25. Joe in NJ

    To some extent Gramm speaks the truth. Too many people spend and spend, getting over their heads in credit cards to buy items they don't need, taking out mortgages on houses they can't afford, etc., and then complain how bad off they are. It's all a part of the new American mentality – "Gimmee! Gimmee! Gimmee! I must have the latest and greatest." I wonder how many people are going to buy the new iPhone tomorrow even though they can't really afford it.

    July 10, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
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