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John McCain has tried to bolster his reformist credentials throughout the campaign by reminding voters that he has long been a crusader against pork barrel spending – federal money for parochial projects in particular states. At the same time, he's derided Democratic nominee Barack Obama for taking no similar stand.
McCain contends that pork spending, which is typically earmarked quietly into massive federal spending bills, forces costs onto every taxpayer that should be borne only by the people who benefit from the projects.
The latest broadside by McCain against Obama came in a speech at a rally in Tampa, Fla., on Sept. 16, 2008.
“I have never asked for a single earmark, pork barrel project for my state of Arizona. Sen. Obama has asked for $932-million dollars in earmarks, literally $1-million for every day that he’s been in Congress.”
We've examined the first part of that sentence, about McCain's own record on pork requests, here. In this item, we'll focus on what he says about Obama, which is nearly identical to what McCain said in a mailer to Florida voters that has been circulating for more than a week.
The mailer says, "Obama has requested $1-million in pork barrel spending for every working day he has been in the Senate."
Obama, on his Web site, has listed every earmark he's requested – but not necessarily received – during that time. It totals $931.3-million, even though the Illinois senator earlier this year said he would eschew any pork for fiscal 2009. The key phrase in McCain's mailer, "for every working day" is missing from the remarks McCain made in his Tampa speech. Obama was elected in 2004 and took office January 3, 2005. Since then, there have been about 930 working days, as they are defined by most people, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, which would mean McCain is on solid ground in the mailer.
Technically, Obama's been "in Congress" for more than 1,350 days, if you count weekends. So how many points do you take off for McCain not saying "every working day"? Not many. We say this claim is Mostly True.
Obama presidential Web site, Obama fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2007 earmark requests
Obama Senate Web site, Obama Announces FY08 Federal Funding Requests
CNN, "Obama: No earmarks for 2009," by Drew Griffin and Scott Bronstein, April 15, 2008
Interview with McCain spokesman Brian Rogers, Sept. 9, 2008
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