(AFP) – Sep 16, 2008
MIAMI (AFP) — A top advisor to John McCain Tuesday said his boss was partly responsible for the "miracle" of the BlackBerry, stirring a flurry reminiscent of Al Gore's claims to have helped develop the Internet.
"You're looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create," said Doug Holtz-Eakin, an economic aide to Republican White House hopeful McCain, as he held up his BlackBerry wireless e-mail device.
Holtz-Eakin's point was that attempts to overhaul the telecommunications industry pushed by McCain through his role on the US Senate's Commerce committee had helped usher in developments like the BlackBerry.
But Democrat Barack Obama's campaign immediately pounced -- seeking to replicate the political storm gleefully whipped up by Republicans who mangled Gore's notorious comment ahead of the 2000 election.
"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 he said all week," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton.
Senior McCain aide Matt McDonald, seeking to downplay the controversy, said the Arizona Senator "laughed" when he heard his advisor's comment.
"He would not claim to be the inventor or anything, much less the BlackBerry. This was obviously a boneheaded joke by a staffer," McDonald said.
The BlackBerry comment was especially ironic because the Obama campaign has pilloried McCain as out of touch, after he admitted he could not use a computer and did not send e-mail.
Former Democratic vice president and White House nominee Gore once credited himself with taking "the initiative in creating the Internet" through support for various technology and economic policies while he served as a senator.
He was relentlessly mocked by Republicans who accused him of claiming credit for inventing the Web -- a claim he never made -- but the charge played into a narrative that Gore was a serial exaggerator, which damaged him politically.
The BlackBerry, manufactured by Canada's Research in Motion is ubiquitous in the worlds of politics and business in the United States, and has been dubbed the "CrackBerry" for its addictive qualities.
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