Brzezinski and McCain adviser agree that McCain admitted lack of economic knowledge once -- but he's done so several times

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

On Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski and Carly Fiorina, an economic adviser to Sen. John McCain, suggested that McCain acknowledged his weakness on economic issues only once. But the Boston Globe has reported that "on numerous occasions over the course of the campaign, McCain has volunteered that he is unsatisfied with his lack of knowledge about aspects of economics."

Interviewing former Hewlett-Packard chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina, an economic adviser to Sen. John McCain, during the April 7 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski asked, "What about this whole -- I mean, I almost think it's been blown out of proportion, Joe -- but people are talking about the way John McCain, you know, once said, 'I don't know too much about the economy.' Is he prepared to lead this nation through a recession?" Fiorina responded: "Yes, he is prepared to lead this nation through tough times, and you know, I think that comment, which was made one time and blown totally out of proportion, is frankly more a reflection of John McCain's innate humility than anything else." However, contrary to the suggestion that McCain acknowledged his weakness on economic issues only once, The Boston Globe reported in a January 26 article that "on numerous occasions over the course of the campaign, McCain has volunteered that he is unsatisfied with his lack of knowledge about aspects of economics."

Further, while Fiorina asserted that McCain's acknowledgment of his lack of economic knowledge was "more a reflection of John McCain's innate humility than anything else," Brzezinski did not note that during the January 24 Republican presidential debate, when presented with a quote in which he claimed he knew "a lot less about economics" than "military and foreign policy issues," McCain suggested he had not said it, asserting, "I don't know where you got that quote from. I'm very well-versed in economics."

The Globe article included several quotes in which McCain mentioned his "lack of knowledge" about economics, going back as far as 2005:

"I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated," McCain told the Wall Street Journal in late November.

In December he said, "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should," as the Globe reported on its "Political Intelligence" blog at the time.

On at least one occasion, McCain has raised the matter himself. On Nov. 10, while traveling through New Hampshire on his Straight Talk Express bus, McCain was asked what he would seek in a vice presidential candidate if nominated.

After mentioning the ability of a potential running mate to replace the president, McCain said, "You also look for people who maybe have talents you don't, or experience or knowledge you don't, as well."

"What are those qualities that you don't -- that you wouldn't mind complementing?" asked David Brooks, a columnist for The New York Times.

McCain paused. "Uh, maybe I shouldn't say this, but, somebody who's really well grounded in economics," he said.

"I think I understand the fundamentals, I talk to people all the time on economics - it's obviously a vital part of America's future," McCain continued. "But I know there are some people who have literally immersed themselves on issues of economics, how Congress works on it, the tax code, that sort of thing. I would look for that kind of talent not in a vice president but in close advisers."

"They are complicated," McCain said of economic issues, "and I freely admit I am not an economist."

The Wall Street Journal article by Stephen Moore is dated November 26, 2005, and the Political Intelligence blog entry is from December 18, 2007. Both have previously been noted by Media Matters for America.

From the April 7 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

BRZEZINSKI: What about this whole -- I mean, I almost think it's been blown out of proportion, Joe -- but people are talking about the way John McCain, you know, once said, "I don't know too much about the economy." Is he prepared to lead this nation through a recession?

FIORINA: Yes, he is prepared to lead this nation through tough times, and you know, I think that comment, which was made one time and blown totally out of proportion, is frankly more a reflection of John McCain's innate humility than anything else.

Posted In
Economy, Elections
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Mika Brzezinski
Show/Publication
Morning Joe
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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