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 Nowher