The Wall Street Journal fact-checks the “Bridge to Nowhere” story being peddled by the McCain campaign.
The Bridge to Nowhere argument isn’t going much of anywhere.
Despite significant evidence to the contrary, the McCain campaign continues to assert that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told the federal government “thanks but no thanks” to the now-famous bridge to an island in her home state.
The McCain campaign released a television advertisement1 Monday morning titled “Original Mavericks.” The narrator of the 30-second spot boasts about the pair: “He fights pork-barrel spending. She stopped the Bridge to Nowhere.”
Gov. Palin, who John McCain named as his running mate less than two weeks ago, quickly adopted a stump line bragging about her opposition to the pork-barrel project Sen. McCain routinely decries.
But Gov. Palin’s claim comes with a serious caveat. She endorsed the multimillion dollar project during her gubernatorial race in 2006. And while she did take part in stopping the project after it became a national scandal, she did not return the federal money. She just allocated it elsewhere.
“We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge,” Gov. Palin said in August 2006, according to the local newspaper, “and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that’s so negative.” The bridge would have linked Ketchikan to the airport on Gravina Island. Travelers from Ketchikan (pop. 7,500) now rely on ferries.
A year ago, the governor issued a press release2 that the money for the project was being “redirected.”
“Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer,” she said. “Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island. 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.”
On Monday in Missouri, Gov. Palin put it this way: “I told Congress thanks but no thanks for that bridge to nowhere. If the state wanted to build a bridge we would built [sic] it ourselves.”
Sure, they could build it themselves…with federal money, of course.