So often did he repeat his mantra of praise for the Cubie committee having "widened the debate" beyond student tuition fees that even the numerate among us lost count. Nicol Stephen, his Liberal Democrat deputy, then welcomed Cubie's efforts, quickly followed by McLeish's welcome for Stephen's constructive comments.
It was then the turn of leading Labour MSP John McAllion, who had "widened the debate" in a paper setting out the crucial need to address student hardship.
George Lyon, the Liberal Democrat enterprise and lifelong learning spokesman, said the question for Cubie was not if fees were abolished but how. Strangely, neither McLeish nor Stephen found a welcome for this particular attempt to widen the debate.
Stranger still, this all dominated a press conference to publicise the Scottish University for Industry - about which there was barely a cheep. We look forward, however, to Sufi's contribution to widening the debate