Palin, McCain contradict each other on spending
September 13, 2008
In a televised interview Friday, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin defended her request for an estimated $200 million in federal projects from Congress – even as earlier in the day her GOP running mate John McCain insisted Palin had never sought money from Congress.
In a second ABC interview with Charlie Gibson, the GOP vice presidential candidate acknowledged that she has supported millions of dollars in congressional money – including the famed “Bridge to Nowhere” – to allow Alaska “to plug into … along with every other state, a share of the federal budget in infrastructure.”
But she said she and McCain would seek to reform that system.
She also told Gibson that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama probably regrets not naming Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to be his running mate – and dismissed as an “old wives’ tale” reports that she had tried to ban books in public libraries.
McCain, for his part, faced an even tougher grilling on the usually friendly daytime show “The View,” where hosts including Barbara Walters, Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg jabbed him on issues like abortion, his “maverick” record, separation of church and state, and his campaign attack ads.
Asked by Walters about Palin’s statements that she would reform Washington, McCain insisted that she would “reform all of Washington, just like she did … in Alaska. Earmark spending, which she vetoed half a billion dollars worth,” said McCain.
When reminded by Walters that Palin took earmarks in Alaska, McCain said, “Not as governor she didn’t.”
“She took government out of the hands of the special interests,” he said.
Independent analysts and the Web site of Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, have both noted that under Palin’s leadership as governor, Alaska has requested 31 earmarks worth nearly $200 million – an amount that taxpayer groups say places Alaska as the per capita leader on such fundraising.
McCain appeared a little riled when Behar aggressively challenged him on his latest campaign ads – one accusing Obama of supporting sex education for kindergartners and another suggesting sexism in the use of the phrase “putting lipstick on a pig.”
“Those ads aren’t true. They’re lies,” said Behar, as Walters noted that McCain himself used the lipstick phrase to describe Clinton’s health care proposal.
“They’re not lies,” McCain said, adding that Obama “chooses his words very carefully … this is a tough campaign. And he shouldn’t have said it.”
The focus on the interviews by the two members of the Republican ticket comes as Obama and his campaign said it is turning a new page – and taking a tougher new tone – in confronting what it says have been lies and misrepresentations from the GOP candidates.
Obama’s campaign said the GOP team’s recent appearances show that the Arizona senator “would rather lose his integrity than lose a campaign.”
And it released two aggressive new ads – one based on a McCain interview in The Chronicle – in which it suggested that McCain is out of touch on issues like technology, and that his campaign is populated by Washington lobbyists.
But Democrats have been increasingly nervous since Palin fired up grassroots Republicans and shot energy into McCain’s campaign when she was named his vice presidential choice. New national polls show that McCain and Palin have erased leads by Obama and his running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, especially among white voters. That prompted Obama to reassure Democrats on Friday that he would ramp up aggressive efforts to challenge the Republicans.
“You know, I’m not going to be making up lies about John McCain,” Obama told voters in Dover, N.H., but reprising an old saw, said that, “If you don’t stop lying about me, I’m going to have to start telling the truth about you.”
Meanwhile, Behar appeared to get under the GOP candidate’s skin when she suggested that McCain – who has shifted his positions on offshore oil drilling, making President Bush’s tax cuts permanent and caps on greenhouse gas emissions – has lost his maverick status and is now in lockstep with Bush’s policies.
“What specific area have I, quote, ‘changed?’ ” he said. “Nobody can name it.”
Palin, meanwhile, faced off with Gibson, who noted that the millions of dollars in Alaska earmark requests constitute 22 times the per capita amount of federal earmark dollars for Obama’s home state of Illinois – and included costly projects such as studies on the mating habits of crabs and harbor seals.
“We have dramatically, drastically reduced our earmark requests since I came into office,” said Palin. She said those requests came through “our research divisions” and universities, but they should be made “in the light of day, not behind closed doors,” she said.