In the annals of inventor-lawmakers, Republican presidential candidate John McCain may rank even higher than Al Gore.
Gore famously said in 1999 as he was preparing to launch his presidential bid that he helped create the Internet while he was a member of the Senate.
He was roundly ridiculed for the comment, which rumor and repetition quickly converted into an urban myth that Gore claimed to be the inventor of the Internet.
McCain evidently has been busy in the Senate too. Even though he doesn’t use computers or e-mail, the Arizona senator helped create the BlackBerry. So says one of his economic advisers, Douglas Holt-Eakin.
“You’re looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create,” Holtz-Eakin told reporters while brandishing a BlackBerry wireless e-mail device during a briefing in Miami.
Holtz-Eakin’s remarks came as he was defending McCain’s knowledge of the economy while stock markets reeled from the financial crisis.
Early in the campaign, McCain said his economic understanding wasn’t all that great. He’s been trying to claw back that statement ever since.
Holtz-Eakin cited McCain’s work on the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees telecommunications and the senator chaired for a time, as evidence of his economic experience. Then followed the BlackBerry proclamation.
The Obama campaign, aware of the ridicule Gore suffered over the Internet, was quick to try to tar McCain with the BlackBerry.
“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.
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Photo credit: Reuters/Robert LeSieur (McCain in New Hampshire Sept. 14)