Ohio crowd spared half-truths Palin told in Colorado

Maybe the ferocious response to the Blackberry story scared her off. Maybe she was just pressed for time. Or maybe Sarah Palin has decided to stop telling tall tales in her campaign speeches.

Politico’s Jonathan Martin reports the Alaska governor dropped two widely debunked chestnuts from her stump speech in Youngstown, Ohio, Tuesday night at a rally with running mate John McCain.

Rejoining John McCain for a joint rally near Youngstown, Ohio, Sarah Palin offered an abbreviated version of her stump speech that included no mention of her putting the state plane in Alaska on eBay or her opposition to the “Bridge to Nowhere.”

Both have been staples of Palin’s remarks at rallies since she became McCain’s running mate, but they’ve also been singled out for not telling the whole story. Palin did try to sell the plane online, but wound up using a broker and dumping it for a loss. And Palin did eventually oppose the controversial bridge project, but only after Congress made clear that it wouldn’t be funded.

The lines may have only been temporarily dropped to cut her remarks, as the crowd had been jammed into a cramped airplane hangar and waiting for long time. In fact, a few dozen voters left after Palin finished speaking, complaining of the heat and mass of people in the building.

Still, Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor couldn’t resist: “That line about the bridge? She sold it on eBay.”

Palin included both misrepresentations in her speech in Golden on Monday, despite both the Bridge fantasy and eBay myth having long passed their expiration date.

Former speechwriter Michael Cohen examines the McCain-Pailin habit of lying in public:

Even after the press debunked each of these lies, the McCain campaign has refused to concede the truth. Though news outlets have consistently shown that Ms. Palin’s claim about the Bridge to Nowhere is not true, she continues to repeat it to the point where MSNBC’s Hardball began to keep a running tally of how often Ms. Palin made the same false assertion on the campaign trail.

But wait. If “everyone knows” Palin is stretching the truth in her stump speech — until Youngstown! — what does it matter? After all, according to McCain’s campaign manager , “This election is not about issues.”

Cohen again:

On the campaign trail facts can be flexible things and both parties have long trafficked in occasionally unfair stereotyping or exaggerations about their rivals. But the experience of the 2008 campaign is disturbingly unique. For the first time in modern political history, a presidential campaign, its candidate and running mate have engaged in a repeated pattern of lies and misstatements — and seemingly done so without pause.

Surely, though, the reporters covering Palin’s speeches point out her fabrications.

Not in Denver. According to Colorado Media Matters , both the Denver Post and 9News amplified Palin’s misstatements, including a new whopper that’s laughable on its face. But — with wide-eyed concern and smiling, reassuring nods — the 9News team professionally refrained from laughing when Adam Schrager told Bazi Kanani:

She spoke about some of her experiences as a mayor and as a governor. It is her experience, though, overseeing roughly 20 percent of the nation’s domestic oil and gas supply that she and McCain believe make her perfectly suited to deal with energy policy if they’re elected.

Palin made the 20-percent claim about U.S. energy production last week, and then revised that to oil and gas production in her Golden speech after widespread derision of her first statement. Turns out neither is true. Alaska accounts for 3.5 percent of U.S. energy production, according to FactCheck.org, and 7.4 percent of U.S. oil and gas production, according to the Washington Post. Close enough for government work, Palin might say.

The Post repeated Palin’s eBay and Bridge to Nowhere claims without mentioning how far they fall from the truth. For a tip on how to report the statements with the truth in mind, check out the Pueblo Chieftan’s story by Chuck Ashby :

Palin said that as a mayor and governor, she helped lower taxes in her state, fought corruption and rejected federal money for the now famous “Bridge to Nowhere,” a $398 million project that has become the poster child against congressional earmarks.

Although Palin repeatedly has said she opposed the bridge project, which was to be located near her hometown of Wasilla, recent photographs and news reports show that she only did so after she initially backed its funding. And instead of returning the money to the federal government, she distributed it to Alaskans….

Palin said, to boos from the crowd, that Obama planned to raise income taxes, payroll taxes, investment taxes and business taxes. The Obama campaign, however, said none of that is true.

While Palin did work to lower the state’s already low property tax, she did increase sales taxes and taxes on oil and gas companies.

Democrats also challenged her claims of fighting government corruption, pointing to an investigative report in the New York Times on Sunday that details her time as Wasilla mayor and Alaska governor, including charges of hiring unqualified high school friends to top state jobs.

That’s a back-and-forth readers in Youngstown, at least, won’t have to read on Wednesday.

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Ernest Luning

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