By Michael Cooper
BELLEVILLE, Michigan: Senator John McCain has spent the week trying to tell people that he feels their economic pain. So it was more than a little unhelpful when one of his top economic advisers was quoted as saying that the United States was only in a "mental recession" and that it had become a "nation of whiners."
The adviser, former Senator Phil Gramm, Republican of Texas, tried to clarify his remarks Thursday by saying he had been referring only to some of the nation's leaders.
But it was too late to keep from complicating things for McCain, who has been trying to strike a more empathetic tone after sometimes struggling to maintain a balance between optimism about the nation's future and an understanding of Americans' economic hardships.