Phil Gramm Returns to McCain Campaign Fold

By Jennifer Parker

Aug 15, 2008 9:41am

ABC News’ Bret Hovell reports: Former Sen. Phil Gramm, formerly a national co-chair of the McCain campaign, made his first appearance back with the candidate Thursday in Aspen, Colorado.

Gramm removed himself from the campaign after making controversial statements at the beginning of July. Speaking at the time as McCain’s economics adviser, Gramm said that the U.S. recession was not as bad as people were saying, and that Americans were whining about it.

“We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline," Phil Gramm told the Washington Times in an interview last month. "You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession."

The Obama campaign pounced on the comments arguing McCain’s senior economics adviser had belittled the economic struggles of American families.

Originally McCain came out and said that he disagreed with Gramm, that Gramm did not speak for him. But as Gramm stuck by his basic premise (modifying his remarks only to say that the politicians in Washington were the whiners), McCain asked Gramm to leave.

Gramm and his wife, Wendy, were in the front row of the audience Thursday at an Aspen Institute forum moderated by Walter Isaacson. It was the first time reporters have seen Gramm at a McCain event since McCain publicly distanced himself from his former adviser. Gramm did not appear on stage with McCain, or speak at the event.

For more dispatches from the campaign, click on ABC News’ Political Radar blog.

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