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Phil Gramm: Back From Belarus?

The Wall Street Journal reports a familiar face is back on the campaign trail with Sen. John McCain at a stop in Aspen, Colo.:

Ousted **John McCain **campaign co-chairman **Phil Gramm **is back with the campaign’s top advisers this weekend, as the campaign gathers top supporters for a series of briefings in scenic Aspen, Colo.

The former Texas senator **stepped down **from his position after he said in an interview last month that the country is in a “mental recession” and that we had become a “nation of whiners.”

Gramm was seated in the front row, with other top supporters, this afternoon as McCain addressed the Aspen Institute in a “conversation” with Walter Isaacson, president of the institute and a former editor of Time magazine.

Asked what his role in the campaign is now, Gramm said in an interview, “I’m a supporter.” As for whether he continues to advise McCain, he said, “We’re friends. I haven’t stopped being his friend. If he asks me, I’d give it to him.” He added, “I’m not an official adviser.”

Gramm also defended his controversial statements — reframing them to cast the leaders as the whiners.

He also defended the comments that got his friend into trouble in the first place, saying there is a technical definition of a recession and the economy does not meet it. “We have leaders who are doing too much whining and not enough leading,” he said. “I never apologize for telling the truth.”

After the "whiners" debacle, McCain joked that, if elected, he would consider appointing Gramm ambassador to Belarus, a former Soviet bloc country, though he was "not sure the citizens of Minsk would welcome that." (Interesting that he would randomly talk about the Soviet "near abroad" — which he has been talking about a good deal since Russia invaded Georgia.)

Still no word from the Minskovites on how they feel about their home being the worst place McCain could think of off the top of his head.

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