In Indiana today, a state known for its pork cutlets, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, attacked the GOP ticket as less than sincere about combatting wasteful pork barrel projects.
"I know the governor of Alaska has been, you know, saying she is change," Obama said of Gov. Sarah Palin. "And that is great. She is a skillful politician.
"But when you’ve been taking all these earmarks when it is convenient and then suddenly you are the champion anti-earmark person, that is not change, come on!" Obama said. "I mean, words mean something. You can’t just make stuff up. You can’t just make stuff up. We have a choice to make and the choice is clear."
Obama was referring quite factually to the fact that despite her self-styled anti-pork image, Palin was quite active in seeking pork in the past.
In two years as governor, Palin sought 83 federal earmarks at a cost of $453 million, according to the Anchorage Daily News. "The federal budget, in its various manifestations, is incredibly important to us, and congressional earmarks are one aspect of this relationship," Palin wrote in a newspaper column, according to the Los Angeles Times.
As the mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired lobbyist Steve Silver, a former aide to Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, to secure earmarks for the town.
In fact, the Los Angeles Times reports today that three times in recent years, McCain himself listed Palin-requested projects for Wasilla as "objectionable" spending.
"While Sen. McCain was going after cutting earmarks in Washington, Gov. Palin was going after getting earmarks," Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense told the Times.
McCain’s 2001 list included Wasilla’s $500,000 earmark for a public transportation project; his 2002 list included Wasilla’s $1 million for what law enforcement called a redundant emergency communications center and a$450,000 agricultural processing facility.
McCain campaign spokesman Taylor Griffin told the LA Times that as mayor, Palin "faced a system that was broken. Small towns like Wasilla in Alaska depended on earmarks to take care of basic needs. . . . That was something that Gov. Palin was alarmed about and was one of the formative experiences that led her toward the reform-oriented stance that she has taken as her career has progressed."
When it comes to pork, Obama, it should be noted, is hardly kosher.
Since joining the Senate in January 2005 he has requested 330 projects totaling $931.3 million, according to his Senate website where he discloses all his requests.
"Barack Obama has requested the equivalent of one million dollars in new pork barrel spending for every working day he’s been in the U.S Senate," said McCain spox Tucker Bounds, "while John McCain has never once asked for an earmark, and Governor Palin has vetoed hundreds of millions in government spending including killing the infamous ‘bridge to nowhere’. Just like so many other issues Barack Obama is all talk, has no record to back it up and isn’t ready to make change."
Palin originally had supported the "Bridge to Nowhere," though she ultimately came to oppose it.