McCain's maverick ad starts shootout over earmarks

Obama and McCain spar over Palin's claim that she killed the "bridge to nowhere"

Jake Turcotte

It's high noon on the campaign trail. And both campaigns are throwin' out fightin' words.

What started it? A new ad.

Called "Original Mavericks" the McCain campaign is playing up the cowboy image. In fact, the spot sounds a heckuva lot like the "Beef, it's what's for dinner" commercial (see the ad below).

Sam Elliot didn't do the voice for it but when you hear it, you get the unmistakable feeling that you're at the OK corral.

“He fights pork barrel spending," says the Elliot-soundalike. "She stopped the Bridge to Nowhere. He took on the drug industry. She took on Big Oil.
“He battled Republicans and reformed Washington," the wannabee continued. "She battled Republicans and reformed Alaska. They’ll make history. They’ll change Washington."

I aim to disagree

The beef the Obama campaign has with the ad? It isn't true - specifically, the "bridge to nowhere" claim - so says Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

“Despite being discredited over and over again by numerous news organizations, the McCain campaign continues to repeat the lie that Sarah Palin stopped the Bridge to Nowhere,” Burton said.

And there does appear to be some John Kerry-ish "I voted for it before I voted against it," goings-on going on. She supported it while running for Governor and then abandoned it once in office.

Fight's commenced!

Barack himself criticized the new ad today while campaigning in Michigan.

"Well, how about Gov. Palin," Obama said. "She’s you know, an up and comer from Alaska. She - they’re starting to run an ad now saying she opposed the bridge to nowhere. Well now, let’s get the facts clear here. When she was mayor, she hired a Washington lobbyist to get earmarks - pork barrel spending - all the things that John McCain says is bad, she lobbied to get! And got a whole lot of it. When it came to the bridge to nowhere, she was for it until everybody started raising a fuss about it and she started running for governor and then suddenly she was against it!"

Bringing up the infamous Kerry quote, Obama continued, "You remember that? For it before you were against it? I mean you can’t just make stuff up. You can’t just recreate yourself. You can’t just reinvent yourself. The American people aren’t stupid."

Get to fightin' or get away!

Not so fast, says Palin spokesperson Ben Porritt.

"Governor Palin killed the bridge to nowhere, period," Porritt growled. "Barack Obama is attempting to distort Governor Palin's record because his record on lobbying for earmarks is atrocious including his vote in support of the bridge to nowhere. Since the day Barack Obama entered the US Senate he has requested over $931 million in earmarks which represents nearly $1 million a day in wasteful spending."

What's the truth? Well, as Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer would say, "it's a dead-dang tie!" doesn't dispute her decision but has an important caveat:

"Palin may have said 'Thanks, but no thanks' on the Bridge to Nowhere, though not until Congress had pretty much killed it already. But that was a sharp turnaround from the position she took during her gubernatorial campaign, and the town where she was mayor received lots of earmarks during her tenure."

And PolitiFact gives it a half-truth:

"Fact is, Alaska took the bridge money, and then just spent it on other projects. Palin did make the final call to kill plans for the bridge, but by the time she did it was no longer a politically viable project. We rule Palin's claim is Half True."

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.