Looks like the level of earmark bamboozlement coming from John McCain is even deeper than we'd known.
Speaking to reporters today, McCain defended his running mate, Sarah Palin, for lying about her opposition to the Bridge to Nowhere with the following claim, as reported by the Associated Press:
"The important thing is she's vetoed a half a billion dollars in earmark projects -- far, far in excess of her predecessor and she's given money back to the taxpayers and she's cut their taxes, so I'm happy with her record."
McCain had said a similar thing on ABC's The View Friday morning: "Earmark spending; which she vetoed half a billion dollars worth in the state of Alaska."
The notion that Palin "vetoed earmarks" has become a fully-fledged GOP talking point in recent weeks. Here, for instance, is Republican congressman Jeb Hensarling repeating the claim at a news conference 12 days ago.
But governors don't "veto" federal earmarks. As Palin's own gubernatorial spokesman, Bill McAllister, told TPMmuckraker: "She can choose not to submit the request, but once Congress makes them, they're there."
The provenance of McCain's half a billion figure appears to be related to this claim, which Palin made this morning during a speech in Colorado:
"Nearly half a billion of excessive spending in our state budget, that's what vetoes are for."
It's true, as the Boston Globe reported over the weekend, that as governor, Palin vetoed over $500 million in state legislative spending requests over two fiscal years.
But generic spending requests, which Palin rejected through the use of her line-item veto power as governor, aren't remotely the same thing as earmarks. As McAllister told us: "It's called line-items, generally. [Earmarks],that's not common parlance." And the money that Palin cut didn't come from the federal government, which is the starting point for the whole earmarks debate. So that $500 million figure has nothing to do with earmarks.
In other words, McCain has taken a statistic from one issue, and applied it to defend Palin's record on a different one -- under the assumption that the press won't look closely enough at the details to call him on it.
Ironically, an ad released almost two weeks ago by the RNC makes the necessary distinction between cutting spending through line-item vetoes, and cutting earmarks. It asserts that Palin "vetoed nearly half a billion dollars in wasteful spending and cut earmark requests by hundreds of millions of dollars." That latter claim refers to requests for pork made by the state to its congressional delegation, which did go down under Palin as compared to her predecessor as governor, Republican Frank Murkowski. But note that the half a billion dollar figure clearly refers not to the reduction in earmark requests, but rather to the cuts in spending.
And yesterday, Palin seemed to suggest that she was aware of that same distinction, remaining technically truthful, if misleading, by telling a crowd in Nevada: "We reformed the abuses of earmarks in our state. I vetoed nearly half a billion dollars of wasteful spending in looking at it as an executive responsibility."
But McCain hasn't been as scrupulous, either on The View or in talking to reporters today.
CBS News has already noted McCain's dissembling, after his appearance on The View. Will anyone else?
The McCain campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Republican economy takes its toll, again. After the third quarter GDP numbers come out, we will be seeing much more of these reports.
P.S. One of McCain's top advisers, Carly Fiorina, used to run HP. She got herself a "$21 million severance package" when she was shown the door.
Greg Sargent at TPM Election Central reports on a conference call last week among Democratic operatives and donors trying to gear up the kind of independent political activities that Obama had initially discouraged.[...]
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Guest post by Pamela LeaveyThe view from above at John McCain’s rally at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena today was pretty damn bleak. In a stadium that seats 16,000, John McCain addressed a paltry "crowd of roughly 3,000 people." Sam Stein[...]
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MN-Sen: The big polling news of the day shows Al Franken and Norm Coleman locked in a tight battle.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 9/10-12. Likely voters. MoE 4.4% (5/12-15).
Coleman (R) 41 (51)
Franken (D) 37 (44)
Barkley (I) 14 (-)
Fascinating results. With Barkley in the race, Coleman drops 10 points to Franken's 7. Barkley appears to pick up the majority of the defectors, with a few going into the undecided column.
The poll confirms the conventional wisdom that the race is extremely tight, with Coleman meriting a slight edge. With Coleman and Franken going toe-to-toe on the airwaves, it will be interesting to see whether Barkley's numbers move, and to what extent, as the attacks keep flying. It's doubtful that Barkley can manage a win, but the effect his candidacy is having on the race is certainly clear.
NC-Sen: Yet another DSCC ad nailing Liddy Dole. The national committee clearly loves this race, and with good reason.
GA-Sen: Jim Martin has a new ad up in Georgia, going right after Saxby Chambliss:
I don't have to tell you the middle class is hurting in Georgia. I won't insult your intelligence. But apparently we do have to tell Saxby Chambliss.
AK-Sen: Meanwhile, the League of Conservation Voters is coming to the aid of Mark Begich in Alaska:
KY-Sen: Mitch McConnell and Bruce Lunsford debated this weekend in Kentucky, and the candidates pulled no punches:
Lunsford, who made a fortune building a health-care company, said McConnell has obstructed progress on pressing national issues and is part of the problem in Washington.
"After 24 years, I think you had an opportunity and you failed us," Lunsford said.
Lunsford said McConnell should share the blame for the country's mounting problems with the economy, health care and energy. He described McConnell as President Bush's "proxy" and the "guardian of gridlock" by spearheading a record number of Senate filibusters.
"When you talk about a do-nothing Congress, nobody stands in that way more than you do," Lunsford said.
"The Guardian of Gridlock" is a winner, and Lunsford really should keep using it.
MS-Sen: Haley Barbour's attempt to game the electoral system by moving a U.S. Senate race to the bottom of the ballot was rejected by a circuit judge, who threw out the illegal ballot.
Unfortunately, Barbour is appealing the decision to the Mississippi Supreme Court, stacked with his cronies. Any guesses on what they might decide?
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood thinks the whole situation stinks:
"If Gov. Barbour believes his legal acumen is greater than that of a legal staff with a combined 100 years of experience in election law -- including two attorneys considered the deans of election law in Mississippi -- then he is walking in a dream world," (Attorney) General Hood said in reference to the career attorneys in his office.
"And I can promise the voters of Mississippi that I will trust the knowledge and experience of these lawyers over that of a tobacco lobbyist every single day," he said.
On the campaign trail, Democratic candidate Ronnie Musgrove is attacking Republican candidate Roger Wicker on veterans' issues:
"For more than 200 years, they have defended our nation and have ensured the sacred values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for so many of us. It is our responsibility to treat them with the honor they have earned when they come home," Musgrove said in a news release that was handed out at the event.
"Interim Senator Roger Wicker has a long record of voting against issues important to veterans, including votes against increased health-care funds for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and job assistance for veterans returning from overseas," Musgrove said in the news release.
On the web:
Orange to Blue ActBlue Page
Yesterday I was on the phone with my friend Kathy Engel brainstorming about what poets can do to[...]
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Two Days, Two Separate FoxNews Anchors -Slash- Analysts Call Upon The Seņor J. Sidney McCain Campaign To Stop The Lies And Clean Up Their Campaign — Karl Rove Yesterday; FoxNews Babe Megyn Kelly TodayThat’s right, folks — when the New York wing of the White House press corp,...
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It's a bad day for a Republican when even Karl Rove says he isn't being truthful enough, but it's an even worse day when a Republican is forced to admit that the basis of one of his ads, which has already been called into question by Rove, is baloney. [...]
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This is good. It's what a lot of people have been wanting to see. This is very good.
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On the campaign trail, Sarah Palin likes to brag about how she put the Alaska state jet on eBay and fired the governor's personal chef. One item that doesn't appear in her stump speech, however, is the personal tanning bed Palin had installed in the governor's mansion.
This morning NarcoNews reported that that a tanning bed had been installed in the governor's official residence in 2007, sourcing a Department of Transportation employee familiar with renovations at the mansion. This evening, Politico's Ben Smith reported that Palin had paid for the tanning bed with her own money.
Now, Palin's own gubernatorial spokesman Bill McCallister has confirmed to TPMmuckraker that a tanning bed had been installed in the governor's official residence in 2007, and that it wasn't paid for with state funds.
"She paid for it herself," McCallister told TPMmuckraker. "It was surplus from a local athletic club."
The news of Palin's luxurious purchase -- beds can cost as much as $35,000 -- presents a sharp contrast to the blue-collar persona she projects on the campaign trail.