On Bridge Boondoggle, Palin Having it Both Ways

Although I think Barack Obama is making a mistake attacking Sarah Palin's false claims, inconsistencies and surprises in her record, it doesn't mean they are irrelevant. While Obama should stay on the subject of John McCain's plans, proposals and record of voting with President Bush, there is plenty for surrogate Democrats or Joe Biden to chew over in Palin's past.

Just today, Palin went after Obama in her remarks in Ohio, and reiterated her now-trademark line about how she "told Congress thanks but no thanks on that Bridge to Nowhere, but if we wanted a bridge we would build it ourselves here in Alaska."

Then she said she was surprised Obama would want to raise the subject since he has requested nearly $1 billion in earmarks for Illinois in three years, which she said added up to roughly $1 million each working day he has been in office. She said Obama did so as a "senatorial privilege," as if he had been collaring funds for his own personal benefit, doing something different than she has done herself.

Don't be fooled, Palin knows the benefit of bringing home the bacon for her constituents as well and she has an impressive record of getting it. When she started her career as mayor of Wasilla, she hired a lobbyist to help secure millions of dollars of earmarks for the town. When she ran for governor she let the voters of southeast Alaska, who would be served by the controversial bridge, know that "we need to come to the defense of 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."

One of those very spinmeisters was John McCain. And once the project became unpopular as a result of such talk, Palin told Alaskans, "It is clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island." The state kept the $400 million to be spent on other projects.

So "thanks but no thanks" is not what Palin told Congress. Since then the state has made requests totaling $750 million in special federal funding, the largest per capita in the country. Palin's wish list to Sen. Ted Stevens (R) this year alone was 70 pages long. And it happens to add up to more than $1 million for each working day in her less than two years in office.

But who's counting?


WHO ARE THE VOTERS PUSHING McCAIN & PALIN AHEAD? Ask A.B. returns Monday, Sept. 15, and I want to know who you think is moving the numbers. Please join my weekly video Q & A by sending questions and comments to askab@thehill.com. Thank you.