McCain’s comments on pork barrel spending came in response to a question about the safety of the nation’s infrastructure in the wake of last week’s Minnesota bridge collapse. He responded: “We passed a $50 billion transportation bill that had $2 billion in pork barrel earmarked projects: $233 million for a bridge to nowhere in Alaska, to an island with 50 people on it. Not one dime in those pork barrel projects was for inspection or repair of bridges.”
“As he has throughout these debates, McCain looked somewhat uncomfortable on stage and often reverted to the same bits of his stump speech over and over again,” Cillizza wrote. “Even his answer on why the surge in Iraq was working was delivered without any real sense of emotion.”
Spending and earmark reform were themes of the campaign last week. McCain discussed the need to end earmarks in an interview with WBZ Radio:
And after the Senate passed an ethics reform bill, campaign manager Rick Davis sent an e-mail to McCain supporters asking them to sign a petition calling for further earmark reform.
“The Senate passed a Trojan horse bill that does too little to rein in wasteful spending - and to make matters worse, it weakens the important reforms the Senate had already passed,” Davis wrote. “You cannot address serious ethics reform without addressing the abuse of earmarks that are the source of many of the problems we face.”
In another campaign e-mail sent last week, the senator made a plea to supporters for donations. He said his recent visits to early primary states had given him confidence that he can win and he addressed the foreign policy fight between Democratic candidates Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill.
“The recent squabbles between the Democratic candidates are just another example of why many people are fed up with petty political bickering and why I believe the voters of this country are ready for a leader who will bring this country together and is ready to lead from day one,” McCain wrote.
Following Sunday’s debate, McCain remained in Iowa to give a speech to the Cedar Rapids Rotary Club. His speech focused on private property and his views of the controversial 2005 Supreme Court decision on eminent domain. In his remarks he said that the decision “gives any government entity the ability to take a person’s property and give it to a developer. It represents one of the most alarming reductions of freedom in our lifetimes.”
“He is learning the hard way that if one wants to stand on the Bill of Rights, one has got to do it all the way through,” the editorial board wrote. “One can’t traduce the First Amendment one season and then come rushing in brandishing the Fifth Amendment, even if one is a senator.”
Looking ahead, McCain plans to attend a fund-raising barbeque in Highland, Mich., on Tuesday and another fund raiser in West Islip, N.Y., on Wednesday. And on Thursday, the campaign has scheduled a town hall meeting in Merrimack, N.H.