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Former FCC Chairman Blasts Claim That McCain Invented The Blackberry: He Is ‘So Out Of Touch’

By Amanda Terkel on September 16, 2008 at 1:49 pm

"Former FCC Chairman Blasts Claim That McCain Invented The Blackberry: He Is ‘So Out Of Touch’"

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large_mccain.jpg Speaking to reporters today, McCain campaign adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin claimed that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is responsible for the “miracle” of PDAs. Waving around his Blackberry, Holtz-Eakin said:

He did this. … Telecommunications of the United States is a premier innovation in the past 15 years, comes right through the Commerce committee so you’re looking at the miracle John McCain helped create and that’s what he did.

ThinkProgress received a response today from former FCC chairman Reed Hundt, who sharply criticized Holtz-Eakin’s claim:

John McCain is so out of touch with America his economics adviser says he deserves credit for creating the Canadian company that invented the Blackberry. Message to Republicans: it’s American entrepreneurship our President is supposed to encourage.

ThinkProgress also spoke with Blair Levin, who is currently Managing Director at Stifel Nicolaus and served as Hundt’s chief of staff at the FCC. Levin pointed out that McCain actually voted against the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA ’93) that “authorized the spectrum auctions that created the competitive wireless market that gave rise to companies like Research in Motion [the creator of Blackberry].”

This is not the first time that McCain has tried to take credit for a technological innovation he actively opposed. In a 2000 GOP presidential debate, he took credit for E-Rate, a program designed to wire schools:

We took a major step forward when we decided to wire every school and library in America to the Internet. That’s a good program.

McCain, however, opposed E-Rate in the late ’90s, concerned about the impact it might have on the telecom industry. Groups such as the American Library Association were so outraged that they encouraged their members to contact obstinate senators, including McCain. More here on McCain’s paltry record as Senate Commerce Committee chairman.

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Update

As Matt Yglesias points out, McCain was one of just five senators to vote against the Telecommunications Act of 1996.


Update

,Devilstower has more on McCain’s tech record here.

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