John McCain has long characterized Alaska's so-called "Bridge To Nowhere" as an example of the sort of wasteful government spending that must be eliminated, suggesting that money designated for "a bridge in Alaska to an island with 50 people on it" could have been better spent elsewhere. And he has cast his new running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, as a like-minded champion of fiscal restraint.
"I told Congress, thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere," Palin said Friday as she made her first appearance with McCain.
As it turns out, however, Palin did back the bridge during her campaign for governor. The Anchorage Daily News reports that "[t]he Alaska governor campaigned in 2006 on a build-the-bridge platform, telling Ketchikan residents she felt their pain when politicians called them 'nowhere.'" Palin later designated money earmarked for the bridge to other projects.
As the Daily News points out, "the state is continuing to build a road on Gravina Island to an empty beach where the bridge would have gone -- because federal money for the access road, unlike the bridge money, would have otherwise been returned to the federal government."