OBAMA CAMPAIGN MEMO: Unraveling the myth of the Straight Talk Express

To: Press Corps

From: Obama Campaign

Re: Unraveling the myth of the Straight Talk Express

Since naming Governor Palin as their Vice Presidential nominee, the McCain campaign has distorted, distracted, and outright lied to the American people about her record in a desperate attempt to hide the fact that a McCain/Palin Administration would be nothing more than a continuation of the failed Bush policies of the last eight years.

Indeed, today alone we learned that the McCain campaign’s claim that Governor Palin traveled to Iraq is a lie. In fact, she didn’t cross the Kuwait border. We learned that the McCain campaign is desperate enough to tell the press phony crowd numbers, which they falsely attributed to local elected officials and the United States Secret Service. And we learned that despite Senator McCain’s claim that Governor Palin is a fiscal conservative, spending actually increased during her brief tenure as Governor.

Here are the facts. Governor Palin supported the Bridge to Nowhere, requested hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks, never visited Iraq, increased spending as governor, increased taxes as governor, and was about as successful selling that luxury jet on eBay as the McCain campaign has been selling her reputation as a reformer. Oh yeah, and the gas pipeline she touts won’t be usable for at least a decade, if it’s completed at all.

While the media is slowly starting to call the McCain campaign on their dishonest tactics, McCain’s staff boasts that they don’t care. As a McCain spokesman told the Politico, “We’re running a campaign to win. And we’re not too concerned about what the media filter tries to say about it.”

To help you cut through their lies and spin, below are the facts you need to set the record straight.

McCain Myth: Palin Visited Troops In Iraq

FACT: Palin Did Not Venture Further Into Iraq Than It’s Border With Kuwait

“In The Second Official Revision Of Her Only Trip Outside North America,” Palin Aides Concede That Her 2007 Visit To Iraq “Consisted Of A Brief Stop At A Border Crossing.” “Sarah Palin’s visit to Iraq in 2007 consisted of a brief stop at a border crossing between Iraq and Kuwait, the vice presidential candidate’s campaign said yesterday, in the second official revision of her only trip outside North America. Following her selection last month as John McCain’s running mate, aides said Palin had traveled to Ireland, Germany, Kuwait, and Iraq to meet with members of the Alaska National Guard. During that trip she was said to have visited a ‘military outpost’ inside Iraq. The campaign has since repeated that Palin’s foreign travel included an excursion into the Iraq battle zone. But in response to queries about the details of her trip, campaign aides and National Guard officials in Alaska said by telephone yesterday that she did not venture beyond the Kuwait-Iraq border when she visited Khabari Alawazem Crossing, also known as ‘K-Crossing,’ on July 25, 2007.It was the second such clarification in as many weeks of the itinerary of what Palin has called ‘the trip of a lifetime.’ Earlier, the campaign acknowledged that Palin made only a refueling stop in Ireland.” [Boston Globe, 9/13/08 ]

McCain Myth: McCain’s Appearance Drew Crowd of 23,000 to Event

FACT: Crowd-Size Estimates Provided By Campaign Aides Not Backed By Officials.

Bloomberg: “McCain-Plain Crowd-Size Estimates Not Backed By Officials.” “Senator John McCain has drawn some of the biggest crowds of his presidential campaign since adding Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to his ticket on Aug. 29. Now officials say they can’t substantiate the figures McCain’s aides are claiming. McCain aide Kimmie Lipscomb told reporters on Sept. 10 that an outdoor rally in Fairfax City, Virginia, drew 23,000 people, attributing the crowd estimate to a fire marshal. Fairfax City Fire Marshal Andrew Wilson said his office did not supply that number to the campaign and could not confirm it. Wilson, in an interview, said the fire department does not monitor attendance at outdoor events. . The McCain campaign said 10,000 people showed up at the Consol Energy Arena in Washington, Pennsylvania, home of the Washington Wild Things baseball team. The campaign attributed that estimate, and several that followed, to U.S. Secret Service figures, based on the number of people who passed through magnetometers. ‘We didn’t provide any numbers to the campaign,’ said Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service. Wiley said he would not ‘confirm or dispute’ the numbers the McCain campaign has given to reporters.” [Bloomberg, 9/13/08 > ]

McCain Myth: Palin Is a Fiscal Conservative

FACT: Palin Has Grown Government in Her Time as Executive of Both Alaska And Wasilla

Boston Globe: “Fueled by Oil Taxes, Alaska Spending Soared Under Palin.” “Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska has also presided over a dramatic increase in state spending in the last two years. Still, she can accurately claim that her state is in good fiscal health, thanks to an explosion of revenues from state taxes on oil industry profits. Indeed, in her 20 months in office, Palin’s toughest financial decisions involved dickering with the Legislature on creative ways to spend and salt away the billions of dollars in oil revenues pouring into the state treasury.” [Boston Globe, 9/13/08 ]

· In Two Budget Cycles, Palin Only Vetoed $2.6 Million In Spending Requests For Alaska’s $8.1 Billion Operating Budget – Which Has Increased 30 Percent In Two Years. “.in two budget cycles, Palin has vetoed a total of only $2.6 million in spending requests for the state’s now $8.1 billion annual operating budget, which, according to an analysis by the legislative finance office, has increased about 30 percent in two years. The increase figure includes the one-time energy rebate checks but no increases in reserve accounts or any capital expenditures. It also doesn’t include a supplemental appropriation for additional expenditures, which is routine. Last year, the supplemental budget was more than $4 billion, mostly deposits in reserve accounts when revenues continued to pour in at high levels.” [Boston Globe, 9/13/08 ]

Wasilla’s Total Government Expenditures Increased 63 Percent Under Palin. In fiscal 2003-the last fiscal year Palin approved the budget-the total government expenditures of Wasilla, excluding capital outlays, were $7,046,325. In fiscal 1996-the year before Palin took control of the budget-the expenditures were $4,317,947. The increase was 63 percent. [Wasilla Comprehensive Annual Financial Report 2003, Table 1]

McCain Myth: Palin Has Succeeded in Signing a Deal to Build Alaska’s Long-Stalled Gas Pipeline

FACTS: High Gas Prices Have Given Alaska a Huge Windfall, Passed on to Alaskans Like Sarah Palin in Huge Dividend Checks – And Palin Has Backed Shipping Alaskan Natural Gas to Asia

Palin Touts Her Pipeline Deal, But It Has Not been Started, Would Take Years to Complete and Could Never Happen, Costing Taxpayers $500 Million for Nothing. “When Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska took center stage at the Republican convention last week, she sought to burnish her executive credentials by telling how she had engineered the deal that jump-started a long-delayed gas pipeline project. But an examination of the pipeline project also found that Ms. Palin has overstated both the progress that has been made and the certainty of success. The pipeline exists only on paper. The first section has yet to be laid, federal approvals are years away and the pipeline will not be completed for at least a decade. In fact, although it is the centerpiece of Ms. Palin’s relatively brief record as governor, the pipeline might never be built, and under a worst-case scenario, the state could lose up to $500 million it committed to defray regulatory and other costs.” [New York Times, 9/13/08 ]

· Republican Lawmaker Worried Alaska Bargained Away Too Much Leverage, Has No Agreement to “Lift One Shovel of Dirt or Lay Down One Inch of Steel.” “As Ms. Palin takes to the road to campaign with Mr. McCain, invoking the pipeline as a major victory, some Alaska lawmakers who initially endorsed her plan now believe it was a mistake. State Senator Bert Stedman, a Republican who is co-chairman of the finance committee, said that in its contract with the chosen developer, TransCanada, the state bargained away too much leverage with little guarantee of success. ‘There is no requirement to lift one shovel of dirt or lay down one inch of steel,’ he said.” [New York Times, 9/13/08 ]

McCain Myth: Palin’s Energy Experience Will Lower Gas Prices and Reduce Our Dependence on Foreign Oil

FACTS: High Gas Prices Have Given Alaska a Huge Windfall, Passed on to Alaskans Like Sarah Palin in Huge Dividend Checks – And Palin Has Backed Shipping Alaskan Natural Gas to Asia

Thanks To “Soaring Oil Prices And A Higher Windfall Oil Profits Tax,” Alaska’s State Coffers Are “Overflowing With Petrodollars.” “Soaring oil prices and a higher windfall oil profits tax – an increase pushed through by Palin, now the Republican vice presidential nominee – have state coffers overflowing with petrodollars. The Alaska oil industry calculates that its annual payments to the state doubled in a single year to $10.2 billion.” [Boston Globe, 9/13/08 ]

· Every Alaskan Receiving $1,200 From The State, Along With Annual Check From The Permanent Fund, Which Is A Record $2,069 Per Resident This Year – Palin Family Eligible For $19,000. “And Alaska residents are getting their cut. Starting this week, every Alaskan who has lived in the state more than a year will receive $1,200 from the state, a total of about $756 million in rebates to offset high energy costs in the 49th state. That’s on top of the perennial check each will receive from the state’s oil revenue-endowed Permanent Fund, this year a record $2,069 per resident. The large Palin family is eligible to receive more than $19,000 from the combined payments.” [Boston Globe, 9/13/08 ]

Palin Backed A Two-Year Extension Of The Export License To Export Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) To Japan And Other Asian Countries-Criticized Because Alaska’s Gas Reserves Are Declining. “Alaska producers can continue shipping gas to Asia after DOE last week approved an extension of the export license for the Kenai liquefied natural gas plant owned by ConocoPhillips and Marathon. The companies will be allowed to export up to 98.1 Bcf to Japan and other Pacific Rim countries over a two-year period through March 31, 2011. [.] The application came under fire from local end-users, including gas distribution companies Enstar and the Chugach Electric Association, as well as fertilizer maker Agrium, all of which claimed the exports would exacerbate the problem of declining gas reserves in south-central Alaska. Agrium permanently closed its plant near Kenai due to an inability to find enough local supply for the facility that used 53 Bcf/year. In January, ConocoPhillips and Marathon reached a deal in which they agreed to step up development in the Cook Inlet region in return for the state’s support of the export license extension. The producers also agreed to divert gas from the LNG plant as needed to meet the peak winter supply needs of the local utilities. [.] Alaska Governor Sarah Palin welcomed the DOE approval. “In these times of economic uncertainty, this is great news for the state and its residents. This extension will secure a future for the LNG operation and is another step toward ensuring energy supplies and energy security for Alaska,” the Republican governor said. [Platts Inside FERC, 6/9/08]

McCain Palin Myth: Sarah Palin Told Congress “Thanks But No Thanks” On That Bridge to Nowhere

FACT: Palin Was Before It Before She Was Against It – Kept the Money for Other Projects

Politifact: Palin’s Stance On “The Bridge To Nowhere” Is “A Full Flop.” Politfact, a service of CQ and the St. Petersburg Times wrote, “McCain said Palin has ’stopped government from wasting taxpayers’ money on things they don’t want or need. And when we in Congress decided to build a bridge in Alaska to nowhere for $233-million of yours, she said, we don’t want it. If we need it, we’ll build our own in Alaska. She’s the one that stood up to them.’ Nevermind that Alaska didn’t give the money back. It spent the money on other transportation projects. The context of Palin’s and McCain’s recent statements suggest Palin flagged the so-called Bridge to Nowhere project as wasteful spending. But that’s not the tune she was singing when she was running for governor, particularly not when she was standing before the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce asking for their vote. And so, we rate Palin’s position a Full Flop.” [Politifact ]

McCain Myth: Sarah Palin NEVER Sought Earmarks As Governor.

FACT: Palin Sought Nearly $200 Million Earmarks For The Coming Year.

AP Fact Check: McCain “Erroneously” Asserted That, As Governor, Palin Never Sought Earmarks. “John McCain continued to laud his running mate, Sarah Palin, as a budget cutter on Friday, this time erroneously asserting that as governor of Alaska she had not sought congressional earmarks for her state. In fact, while Palin has significantly reduced the state’s earmark requests, she asked for nearly $200 million in targeted spending for the 2009 fiscal year. And in an interview with ABC News aired Friday, she defended her earmark requests, emphasizing that she opposed ‘earmark abuse.’ . Appearing on the ABC television show ‘The View,’ McCain was pressed on her record of seeking such targeted money for Alaska. ‘Not as governor she didn’t,’ McCain said. McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said that McCain’s 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.” [AP, 9/12/08 ]

McCain Myth: Sarah Palin Has Taken a Tough Stance Against Earmarks

FACT: As Mayor, Palin Hired a Lobbyist Tied to Ted Stevens Who Got Wasilla $27 Million in Earmarks and as Governor, Alaska Has Sought and Received More Earmarked Spending Per Person than Any Other State

Lobbyist Hired By Palin Secured $27 Million In Federal Earmarks for 6,700-Person Town. “Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin employed a lobbying firm to secure almost $27 million in federal earmarks for a town of 6,700 residents while she was its mayor, according to an analysis by an independent government watchdog group.” [Washington Post , 9/2/08]

In 2008, Alaska Got More Earmarked Federal Funding Per Person Than Any Other State. “Arizona, the second fastest growing state in the nation, will receive just $18.70 per capita in federal earmarks this fiscal year. By comparison, Alaska – with roughly a tenth of Arizona’s population – is set to receive $506.34 per capita, the highest in the nation, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group which tracks earmarks. The state of Alaska receives about three times as much as Arizona receives in actual dollars, $346 million to $119 million.” [USA Today, 3/22/08 ]

Palin’s Requests – More Per Person Than Any Other State. “Just this year, she sent to Sen. Ted. Stevens, R-Alaska, a proposal for 31 earmarks totaling $197 million – more, per person, than any other state.” [Seattle Times, 9/2/08 ]

McCain Myth: Palin Cut Taxes

FACT: Palin Raised Wasilla’s Sales Tax

Palin Supported First-Ever Wasilla Sales Tax to Pay for Police Department. In 1992 “Palin, a political newcomer, was one of two supporters of the police-sales tax plan elected to the city council in Wasilla, Alaska.” [Anchorage Daily News (AK), 10/8/92]

Palin Supported Increasing Wasilla Sales Tax From 2 to 2.5 Percent to Build $14.7 Million Sports Center. “Wasilla residents have given the go ahead to building a new multiuse sports center in town and to raising the city sales tax to pay for it. With the final votes counted Friday, residents voted 306 to 286 in favor of a measure to raise the city sales tax from 2 percent to 2.5 percent to pay the estimated $14.7 million cost of building the center.Mayor Sarah Palin, who supported the measure, said the tight vote will motivate city officials to keep a close eye on the budget for the center.” [Anchorage Daily News, 3/9/02]

McCain Myth: Palin Is a Reformer Who Brought Ethics Back to Alaskan Politics

FACT: Palin Is Under Investigation, Faces a Separate Ethics Complaint and Signed a Weak Ethics Law

Joint Legislative Council of the Legislature Voted Unanimously to Appoint a Special Counsel to Investigate Palin Abuse of Power Claim. The Alaska State Legislature’s Legislative Council voted 12-0 to approve $100,000 for a special investigator to begin an investigation into claims Palin fired a former state official because he would not fire a state trooper who was involved in a bitter custody battle with Palin’s sister. [KTVA 11, 07/28/08 ]

Ethics Complaint Filed Against Gov. Palin Over Alleged Involvement in Hiring a Campaign Contributor. In August 2008, former state House member Andree McLeod” filed against Gov. Sarah Palin and her staff today with the Attorney General’s Office. It accuses the governor’s office of using its pull to get a Palin supporter hired to a [Department of Transportation] job in Fairbanks.” McLeod said ” ‘Executive branch employee shouldn’t be getting involved in the recruitment process unless it’s based on merit,’ said Andree McLeod, who wrote the complaint based on a series of e-mails between members of Palin’s team.The complaint accuses Palin, her acting chief of staff and others of breaking executive ethics branch and hiring rules. It centers on the hiring of surveyor Tom Lamal, who once co-hosted a Palin fundraiser, for a state right-of-way agent job in Fairbanks.” The complaint is available online. [Anchorage Daily News , 8/6/08; Anchorage Daily News , 8/7/08]

McCain Myth: Palin Traveled Abroad to Ireland

FACT: Palin Stopped In Ireland To Refuel Plane.

Palin’s Ireland Trip Was A Refueling Stop. Politico’s Ben Smith reported, “I wrote the other day that a Palin spokeswoman said trips to Germany, Kuwait and Ireland made up her foreign travel. Two details worth clarifying: The Ireland trip was a refueling stop on her trip to military installations in Germany and Kuwait, spokeswoman Maria Comella said. And she’s also visited Canada, another spokesman, Ben Porritt, says.” [Politico , 9/2/08]

McCain Myth: Palin Has Experience in Foreign Affairs Because She Was Commander-in-Chief of the Alaska National Guard

FACT: Palin Has No Role in National Guard’s National Defense Responsibilities or Overseas Deployments and Never Issued Any Orders to the Guard Since She Took Office

Adjutant General of Alaska National Guard Said Palin Plays No Role in National Defense Activities, Even When They Involve Alaska National Guard. “Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, considers Palin ‘extremely responsive and smart’ and says she is in charge when it comes to in-state services, such as emergencies and natural disasters where the National Guard is the first responder. But, in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, he said he and Palin play no role in national defense activities, even when they involve the Alaska National Guard. The entire operation is under federal control, and the governor is not briefed on situations.” [AP, 8/31/08 ]

· Palin Has Not Issued Any Orders for Guard Activity Since Becoming Their Commander in Chief. “Occasions in which Palin retains command authority over the 4,200-member Alaska National Guard are whenever the Guard responds to in-state natural disasters and civic emergencies, said Campbell, who also serves as the commissioner of the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.Some examples? ‘We’ve deployed individuals in state service all over the state under Sarah Palin,’ he said. ‘We had defense men down in Seward for the (Mount) Marathon run doing security. ‘Out west and northwest we had erosion problems, and the National Guard was involved in some of the protection out there. About three days ago, the Army National Guard picked up a lady from Little Diomede (Island) . . . at the request of state troopers.’ Did Palin directly approve each of those activities? No, Campbell said. The governor has granted him the authority to act on his own in most cases, including life-or-death emergencies – when a quick response is required – and minor day-to-day operations.” [McClatchy, 9/3/08 ]

McCain Myth: Palin Sold the State’s Jet on eBay

FACT: Palin Sold the Jet to Campaign Contributor at a Loss of $600,000 for the State

Palin Did Not Sell Murkowski’s Plane on eBay – Sold it to an Alaskan Entrepreneur at a Loss of $600,000. “One of the compelling anecdotes about Sarah Palin is that she auctioned off the Alaska governor’s jet on eBay after taking office – a swift move made by a reformer hoping to clean up the excesses of her predecessor. But in fact, the jet did not sell on eBay. It was sold to a businessman from Valdez named Larry Reynolds, who paid $2.1 million for the jet, shy of the original $2.7 million purchase price, according to contemporaneous news reports, including a story in the New York Times. What happened? It appears that, as promised during her bid for governor in 2006, Palin did try to sell the plane on eBay, but that doing so was not as easy as it might have sounded. After putting it up to auction, there was one serious bid, in December of 2006, and it fell through. Still, the Westwind II was sold about eight months later, achieving Palin’s goal of ridding the state of a luxury item.” [Washington Post Blog, 9/5/08 ]

· Larry Reynolds Made Campaign Contributions To Palin And State Rep. John Harris, Who Is Credited With Brokering The Sale, In 2006 And 2007. “Dan Spencer, the director of administrative services for Alaska’s Public Safety Department, said that the Republican speaker of the Alaska House, John L. Harris, brokered the deal. Reynolds made campaign contributions to both Palin and Harris in 2006 and 2007.” [Washington Post Blog, 9/5/08]

McCain Myth: Palin Fired the Governor’s Chef

FACT: Palin Did Not Fire the Chef, Just Reassigned Her to a Different Job – She Now Cooks for the Legislature

Contrary to Palin’s Claim, Governor’s Chef Wasn’t Fired, She Was Just Reassigned. “Remember the long-time executive chef who lost her job at the Mansion when Sarah decided to live mostly in Wasilla instead of Juneau? Stefani Marnon was first reassigned as a ‘constituent relations assistant’ in the governor’s office and later to the state museum. Earwigs report she’s finally landed where they really appreciate a good chef: the Legislative Lounge. Lawmakers were smacking their lips in anticipation, according to Sen. Kim Elton’s newsletter.” [Anchorage Daily News, 9/9/08 ]


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