Palin defends federal projects

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Friday defended the nearly $200 million in federal projects she sought as Alaska governor this year even as John McCain told a TV audience she had never requested them.

In the second part of her interview with ABC News, Palin was confronted with two claims that have been a staple of her reputation since joining the GOP ticket: that she was opposed to federal earmarks, even though her request for such special spending projects for 2009 was the highest per capita figure in the nation, and that she opposed the $398 million “Bridge to Nowhere” linking Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport.

Palin turned against the bridge project only after it became a national symbol of wasteful spending and Congress pulled money for it.

Palin told ABC's Charles Gibson that since she took office, the state had “drastically” reduced its efforts to secure earmarks and would continue to do so while she was governor.

“What I've been telling Alaskans for these years that I've been in office, is, no more,” Palin said.

When Gibson noted she had requested money to study the mating habits of crabs and harbor-seal genetic research – the kind of small-bore projects that draw McCain's ire – Palin said the specific requests had come through universities and other public entities and weren't worked out by lobbyists behind closed doors.

On the Bridge to Nowhere, Palin said she had supported a link from the mainland to the airport but not necessarily the costly bridge project.

Palin's comments came after McCain sat for a grilling on ABC's “The View,” where he claimed erroneously that his running mate hadn't sought money for such projects.

“Not as governor she didn't,” McCain said, contradicting the record.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said the remark came “in the middle of a conversation, the middle of a back and forth,” and the reference was to her record of cutting spending.