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Lt_Ripley

Fact Check: Palin and the Bridge to Nowhere

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Fact Check: Palin and the Bridge to Nowhere

10 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new ad from John McCain's presidential campaign contends his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, "stopped the Bridge to Nowhere." In fact, Palin was for the infamous bridge before she was against it

THE SPIN: Called "Original Mavericks," the ad asserts the Republican senator has fought pork-barrel spending, the drug industry and fellow Republicans, reforming Washington in the process, and credits Palin with similarly changing Alaska by taking on the oil industry, challenging her own party and ditching the bridge project that became a national symbol of wasteful spending.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton came back with fighting words. "Despite being discredited over and over again by numerous news organizations, the McCain campaign continues to repeat the lie that Sarah Palin stopped the Bridge to Nowhere," he said.

Burton said McCain would merely carry on supporting President Bush's economic, health, education, energy and foreign policies, and that means "anything but change."

THE FACTS: Palin did abandon plans to build the nearly $400 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport. But she made her decision after the project had become an embarrassment to the state, after federal dollars for the project were pulled back and diverted to other uses in Alaska, and after she had appeared to support the bridge during her campaign for governor.

McCain and Palin together have told a broader story about the bridge that is misleading. She is portrayed as a crusader for the thrifty use of tax dollars who turned down an offer from Washington to build an expensive bridge of little value to the state.

"I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere," she said in her convention speech last week.

That's not what she told Alaskans when she announced a year ago that she was ordering state transportation officials to ditch the project. Her explanation then was that it would be fruitless to try to persuade Congress to come up with the money.

"It's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island," Palin said then.

Palin indicated during her 2006 campaign for governor that she supported the bridge, but was wishy-washy about it. She told local officials that money appropriated for the bridge "should remain available for a link, an access process as we continue to evaluate the scope and just how best to just get this done."

She vowed to defend Southeast Alaska "when proposals are on the table like the bridge and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that's so negative" — something that McCain was busy doing at the time, as a fierce critic of the bridge.

Even so, she called the bridge design "grandiose" during her campaign and said something more modest might be appropriate.

Palin's reputation for standing up to entrenched interests in Alaska is genuine. Her self-description as a leader who "championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress" is harder to square with the facts.

The governor has cut back on pork-barrel project requests, but in her two years in office, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. And as mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million.

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5ici5RhM...Ejzf6QD932MU100

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Published: September 21, 2007

Last Modified: September 22, 2007 at 01:38 AM

JUNEAU -- The state of Alaska on Friday officially abandoned the controversial "bridge to nowhere" project in Ketchikan that became a symbol of federal pork-barrel spending.

The $398 million bridge would have connected Ketchikan to its airport on a nearby island.

"Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer," Gov. Sarah Palin said in a prepared statement.

She directed the state transportation department to find the most "fiscally responsible" alternative for access to the airport.

Republicans U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and U.S. Rep. Don Young championed the project through Congress two years ago, securing more than $200 million in funds for the bridge between Ketchikan, on Revillagigedo Island, and Gravina Island.

Under mounting political pressure over pork projects, Congress stripped the earmark - or stipulation - that the money be used for the airport, but still sent the money to the state for any use it deemed appropriate.

The state took much of that for other projects around the state.

Palin on Friday said the Ketchikan project was $329 million short of full funding.

"It's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island," Palin said.

"Much of the public's attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened," she said.

The DOT will prepare a list of projects across the state where the $36 million in federal funds that was set aside for Gravina Island could be used.

The DOT also will look for a more affordable answer for Gravina Island access, she said.

"The original purpose of this project was to improve access to Gravina Island, and we will continue to work with the community to help them attain that goal," DOT Commissioner Leo von Scheben said.

Von Scheben indicated the excess bridge money could be used to build roads in Alaska, where many communities are off the road system.

"There is no question we desperately need to construct new roads in this state, including in southeast Alaska, where skyrocketing costs for the Alaska Marine Highway System present an impediment to the state's budget and the region's economy," said von Scheben.

http://dwb.adn.com/news/alaska/story/9320482p-9235189c.html

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Palin did abandon plans to build the nearly $400 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport. But she made her decision after the project had become an embarrassment to the state, after federal dollars for the project were pulled back and diverted to other uses in Alaska, and after she had appeared to support the bridge during her campaign for governor.

Published: September 21, 2007

Last Modified: September 22, 2007 at 01:38 AM

An excellent way to prove someone's point. Well done.

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An excellent way to prove someone's point. Well done.

In the interest of fairness (perhaps you're not really interested in that?), the "Last Modified: September 22, 2007 at 01:38 AM" line is directly from the source link, the Anchorage Daily News. Your issue seems to be with them, bucko.

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I think you're misunderstanding this. While running for governor in 2006, Palin very much supported the Bridge to Nowhere.

Republican candidate for governor Sarah Palin supports the airport bridge project, her spokesman says. Ms. Palin told KTUU-TV last week that she would look to the federal government to write more checks for the project.

--Anchorage Daily News, October 25, 2006

Thanks but no thanks!

She backed away the following year after a political firestorm erupted over the issue. That's where your news story comes in (September 21, 2007). You prove the original poster's point in highlighting Palin's flip flop once the eyes of the nation turned to Alaska and caught her with her hand in the cookie jar.

Bucko.

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