Move over, Al Gore. You may lay claim to the Internet, but John McCain's campaign is laying claim to the BlackBerry.
At a briefing for reporters Tuesday, top policy adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin held up his BlackBerry in an attempt to prove that his boss has the know-how to fix the nation's economy.
"He did this," Holtz-Eakin said. "Telecommunications in 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."
Another top McCain aide, Matt McDonald, said McCain "laughed" when told of Holtz-Eakin's comments about the birth of the popular device, which is produced by Canadian company Research In Motion. "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.
Holtz-Eakin's argument is similar to one advanced by Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2000. While in Congress in the 1980s and early 1990s, Gore played a role in laying the policy groundwork for the modern Internet but went a byte too far in 1999 when he told CNN: "In the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
The reception to Holtz-Eakin's comment was similar to that for Gore's 1999 claim: It was shorthanded by some to McCain's "creating" the BlackBerry.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, "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."
McCain has acknowledged that he doesn't know how to use a computer and can't send e-mail, one of the BlackBerry's prime functions. He told the New York Times on July 11: "I use the BlackBerry, but I don't e-mail. I've never felt the particular need to e-mail. I read e-mails all the time, but the communications that I have with my friends and staff are oral."
He continued: "But I do -- could I just say, really -- I understand the impact of blogs on American politics today and political campaigns. I understand that. And I understand that something appears on one blog, can ricochet all around and get into the evening news, the front page of the New York Times. So, I do pay attention to the blogs. And I am not in any way unappreciative of the impact that they have on entire campaigns and world opinion."