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Adviser calls BlackBerry 'miracle' McCain 'helped create'

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  • John McCain adviser pushes senator's economic credentials
  • Adviser calls BlackBerry a "miracle that John McCain helped create"
  • Obama camp labels BlackBerry comment "preposterous"
  • McCain camp: "Obviously a boneheaded joke by a staffer"
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From Chris Welch and Rebecca Sinderbrand
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(CNN) -- Sen. John McCain's senior domestic policy adviser said Tuesday that the BlackBerry mobile e-mail device was a "miracle that John McCain helped create."

The adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, discussing the nation's economic woes with reporters, said that McCain -- who has struggled to stress his economic credentials -- 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 he 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," Holtz-Eakin said. "And that's what he did. He both regulated and deregulated the industry."

During the 2000 presidential campaign, Vice President 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.

The Obama campaign responded to the McCain adviser's comments Tuesday shortly 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.

The Obama campaign debuted an ad last week that attacked McCain's skills with technology, including computers.

The ad refers to the number of years McCain has been in Washington to paint him as out of touch: "1982. John McCain goes to Washington," the announcer says. "Things have changed in the last 26 years. But McCain hasn't.

"He admits he still doesn't know how to use a computer, can't send an e-mail. Still doesn't understand the economy. And favors $200 billion in new tax cuts for corporations but almost nothing for the middle class.

"After one president who was out of touch ... we just can't afford more of the same."

Asked whether he prefers a Mac or PC in a Yahoo News/Politico interview earlier this year, McCain admitted: "Neither. I am an illiterate that has to rely on my wife for all of the assistance that I can get." Video Watch more on McCain and computers »

While wife Cindy McCain has been spotted working her BlackBerry on the campaign trail, the senator -- in one instance that CNN cameras caught -- had to be handed the device by a staffer.


Obama, on the other hand, frequently is seen reading e-mails on his BlackBerry.

"He is a BlackBerry fiend, has a laptop on the road and sometimes uses it to talk to his daughters ... and surfs the Web when he is in need of important information such as sports scores," Linda Douglass, an Obama campaign senior aide and spokeswoman,said in June.

CNN's Ed Hornick and Jeanne Moos contributed to this report.

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