Robert Novak reports that all is well between John McCain and Phil Gramm once again:
After Sen. John McCain publicly repudiated his close friend and adviser Phil Gramm's comments about a "nation of whiners" and a "mental recession," the two old political comrades patched up their relationship.
Gramm apologized to McCain for his remarks that gave Democrats an opening against the Republican presidential candidate and provided several days of ammunition for blogs, cable television and radio talk shows. McCain told Gramm not to worry about the expected pitfalls of a campaign surrogate. Gramm will continue as an adviser and surrogate.
Gramm remained a steadfast supporter last year when it appeared that McCain's campaign had collapsed. McCain was a loyal backer of Gramm's failed 1988 campaign for president and did not leave until the candidate dropped out of the race.
Republican Sen. Phil Gramm late Friday stepped down as co-chair of Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) presidential campaign.
“It is clear to me that Democrats want to attack me rather than debate Sen. McCain on important economic issues facing the country,” Gramm said.
The former senator had been criticized for a remark in which he said that the economic slowdown was a “mental recession,” and that the U.S. was a nation of “whiners.” The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) had seized on the remark and used it for a barrage of attacks on Gramm and McCain.
“That kind of distraction hurts not only Sen. McCain's ability to present concrete programs to deal with the country's problems, it hurts the country,” Gramm said. “To end this distraction and get on with the real debate, I hereby step down as co-chair of the McCain campaign and join the growing number of rank-and-file McCain supporters.”