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Gramm's Role Reduced

McCain adviser Carly Fiorina, on
McCain adviser Carly Fiorina, on "Meet the Press," said Phil Gramm no longer speaks for the candidate. (By Brendan Smialowski -- Meet The Press)
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Monday, July 14, 2008

MCCAIN'S ADVISORY TEAM

Gramm's Role Reduced

While Sen. John McCain might not be sending his friend and former Senate Republican colleague Phil Gramm off to Belarus quite yet, he is definitely done trotting him out on the campaign trail, and he is also minimizing the Texan's role among his team of advisers.

Gramm had played an important part in crafting McCain's economic plan, and he occasionally appeared at rallies or spoke to editorial boards on the presumptive GOP nominee's behalf. But no longer, according to two key McCain advisers, after Gramm told the Washington Times that the country was filled with "whiners" and the United States is merely in a "mental recession."

On Friday, McCain's domestic policy adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, told Darren Gersh, a PBS "Nightly Business Report" correspondent, that Gramm is no longer giving advice to McCain or his aides on the economy. "I haven't spoken to Senator Gramm since the comments took place, and I'm not expecting to," Holtz-Eakin said.

Yesterday, McCain economic adviser Carly Fiorina chimed in on NBC's "Meet the Press," saying, "I think John McCain has been real clear that Phil Gramm wasn't speaking for him, and in fact John McCain has said now for many months that he believes the economy is in a recession. . . . I don't think Senator Gramm will any longer be speaking for John McCain."

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said in an e-mail that the campaign has "no announcement to make on [Gramm's] role as a volunteer with the campaign, other than to say his remarks were regrettable and are completely inconsistent with the message and mission of John McCain's economic plan."

-- Juliet Eilperin

OBAMA ON JACKSON

'I Won't Back Up'

SAN DIEGO -- Sen. Barack Obama says he will continue to chastise absentee black fathers and deliver tough-love speeches to the black community, even if the Rev. Jesse Jackson doesn't like it.

Interviewed on his campaign plane Saturday night on the way to San Diego for a speech to a Latino group, the senator said Jackson had raised his concerns privately, even before the civil rights leader's caustic comments became public last week. Jackson was caught on video angrily saying that Obama was "talking down to black people."

"We had actually discussed some of the concerns that he had raised about my Father's Day speech," Obama said. "I told him that I absolutely believe we have structural inequalities in this country that have to be dealt with, which is why I have proposed making sure that health care is accessible for every American. . . . But my argument is simply that it's not an either/or proposition but a both/and proposition. The government -- and society as a whole -- has an obligation to deal with poverty. . . . Not just in the inner cities, but in rural communities all across America.

"But we also have to recognize there's a particular problem when more than half of African American children are growing up without a father in the house and oftentimes not even knowing their father."

Added the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who himself grew up without knowing his father: "That is a problem, and I won't back up one bit in asserting that that's a problem that we have to be honest about."

Asked about Jackson's response, Obama said, "Well, in my conversation, it would be hard for him to disagree with that, because many of the things I said are things that he has said in the past."

-- Perry Bacon Jr.


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