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Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan February 4, 2008

McCain said it

Mitt Romney touts his business and executive experience as evidence he would deftly steer the economy as president. At the same time, he blasts rival John McCain as lacking when it comes to the economy.

"He has a number of things that are great strengths of his, but he happened to say the economy was not his strong suit," Romney said at a campaign stop in Denver. "Well, at a time like this in a country like this, I think it is important to have a president for whom the economy is his strong suit."

Did Sen. McCain say that? He denied it at a Republican debate in Boca Raton, Fla., when journalist Tim Russert questioned him about it.

Tim Russert: "Senator McCain, you have said repeatedly, 'I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.' Is it a problem for your campaign that the economy is now the most important issue, one that, by your own acknowledgement, you're not well versed on?"

McCain: "Actually, I don't know where you got that quote from. I'm very well versed in economics."

It seems that Romney and Russert are both right on this point, while McCain is contradicting his previous statements.

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McCain gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal in 2005 in which he said, "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."

He told the Boston Globe in December 2007, ""The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should."

Russert followed up a few days later in a one-on-one interview with McCain. McCain acknowledged the quotes and gave the following response:

McCain: "Okay. Let me tell you what I was trying to say and what I meant in that soundpiece. I spent 22 years in the military. I spent 20 years in the Senate Armed Services Committee. I've been involved in national security issues all my life. I attended the National War College. Of course I know more about national security than any other issue. That's been my entire life. Am I smart on economics? Yes. I was chairman of the Commerce Committee. That's why people like Phil Gramm, Tom Coburn and Warren Rudman and Carly Fiorina and the real strong economic minds, Jack Kemp, the real strong minds on the economy and conservatives on the economy are supporting me. Of course, I always have things to learn, and I continue to learn every day. But I'm very strong on the economy, and, frankly, my economic record is a lot stronger than that of the governor of Massachusetts when you look at his record as governor."

McCain's explanation doesn't change the fact that he did say that economics was not his strong suit. In this instance, Romney is accurately quoting McCain's past remarks, so we find Romney's statement True.

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