(CNN) – McCain senior domestic policy adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin said Tuesday the BlackBerry mobile e-mail device was a “miracle that John McCain helped create.”
Addressing the nation’s economic crisis, Holtz-Eakin told reporters traveling with the campaign “there’s no magic solution. And I don’t think that it’s at this moment imperative to write down exactly what the plan has to be.” He also said a president isn’t someone who needs to be heavily involved in policy specifics, which should be handled by “quality” advisers, and echoed McCain’s assessment that there might be a need for a “9/11-style commission” to determine what went wrong with the nation's economy, and to issue recommendations.
He added, though, that McCain — who has struggled to stress his economic credentials this cycle - did have experience dealing with the economy, pointing to his time on the Senate Commerce Committee. Pressed to provide an example of what McCain had accomplished on that committee, Holtz-Eakin said the senator did not have jurisdiction over financial markets - then held up his Blackberry, telling reporters: “He did this.”
“Telecommunications of the United States, the premiere innovation in the past 15 years, comes right through the Commerce Committee. So you’re looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create,” said Holtz-Eakin. “And that’s what he did. He both regulated and de-regulated the industry.”
During the 2000 presidential campaign, Al Gore drew controversy when he said that during his time in Congress, he “took the initiative in creating the Internet” – based on his work promoting funding and early research in that area.
UPDATE: The Obama campaign responded to the comments minutes after they were reported. “If John McCain hadn’t said that ‘the fundamentals of our economy are strong’ on the day of one of our nation’s worst financial crises, the claim that he invented the BlackBerry would have been the most preposterous thing said all week,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.
Meanwhile, McCain senior aide Matt McDonald said that the senator "laughed" when he heard the comment.
"He would not claim to be the inventor of anything, much less the BlackBerry. This was obviously a boneheaded joke by a staffer," McDonald said.