Well that didn’t take long. The first brazen lie of Sarah Palin’s campaign as John McCain’s VP nominee came just moments into her speech accepting his invitation to join the ticket. From the Washington Post’s transcript of her speech:
And I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress — I told Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks,” on that bridge to nowhere.
If our state wanted a bridge, I said we’d build it ourselves.
But Brad Plumer at the New Republic blog puts the lie to that claim. He quotes her answer to a question about that “bridge to nowhere” in the Anchorage Daily News during her 2006 campaign for governor:
5. Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?
Yes. I would like to see Alaska’s infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now–while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.
She wanted it so much that she knew she had to get the federal funding for it soon because of the pending legal problems of Alaska’s two main men in Congress, Ted Stevens and Don Young. It turns out that they didn’t have the clout in Congress to get it done, due in no small part to McCain’s dogged campaigning against the project as an example of useless and expensive earmarks.
But did she really say no to those federal funds? Absolutely not. In fact, she only canceled the project because the state wasn’t getting enough money from the federal government to get it done. Here’s a Google cache of the statement the governor’s office released on this subject on September 21, 2007 when she decided to redirect the funds for the project to find a different way of building access to Gravina Island:
“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,” Governor Palin added. “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 told Washington to keep the money out of old fashioned self-reliance? Nonsense. She makes it quite clear here that they had to look for an alternative only because they couldn’t get enough federal money to get it done. And by the way, Alaska gets more earmarks than any other state in the nation.
This may be a new world record in how quickly a politician manages to get out the first lie after being introduced to the public.