Sen. Shelby says 'Chicago politics' made difference in tanker decision

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) ratcheted up the rhetoric surrounding Thursday's announcement that Boeing won a $35 billion Air Force tanker contest, saying "Chicago politics" was the difference.

Many defense insiders and congressional aides were betting Boeing's top rival, EADS, would capture the 179-plane tender. But Air Force and Pentagon brass announced Thursday that Boeing "was a clear winner."

“I’m disappointed but not surprised," Shelby said late Thursday, according to reports. "Only Chicago politics could tip the scales in favor of Boeing’s inferior plane. EADS clearly offers the more capable aircraft. If this decision stands, our warfighters will not get the superior equipment they deserve."

Shelby's barb is a shot directly at the White House, escalating the already bitter political backdrop of the tanker fight.

The senator seems to suggest the award amounts to a dirty hometown deal.

Boeing is based in Chicago, and President Obama hails from the Windy City.

Had it won, EADS would have assembled its tankers in Alabama.