Despite Promise To Abolish Earmarks, McCain Uses Earmark-Funded Ferry As Campaign Trail Backdrop

This week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is embarking on what he calls the “It’s Time for Action Tour,” which he says will spotlight “forgotten Americans.” “We will travel to areas of this country that in many ways have been forgotten and left behind,” McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt told USA Today.

As part of the tour, McCain will visit “the remote town of Gee’s Bend” in Alabama in order “to ride a ferry across the Alabama River from Camden”:

“The ferry he will be riding is very important to that community. It’s both a good and terrible symbol. It’s good that it now exists, but it’s terrible it took so long to build it,” said Katie Wright, regional spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

But McCain’s appearance at the ferry conflicts with his contention that he will abolish earmarks from the federal budget, considering that the Gee’s Bend ferry was funded by a federal earmark in the 2005 Transportation/Treasury Appropriations Act.

The ferry that McCain will ride today was only able to be re-opened after 44 years because of the earmark:

A federal grant allowed the ferry to reopen in 2006–44 years after county leaders closed it to keep the black residents of Gee’s Bend from crossing the river to the county seat to push for civil rights. Without the ferry, Camden was an 80-mile round trip.

On ABC’s This Week yesterday, McCain said he would “do away” with the “pork-barrel-laden bills” from the past few years, which would presumably include the bill that funded the Gee’s Bend ferry. Watch it:


This is not the first time McCain has created cognitive dissonance by speaking in a pork-produced setting while making anti-earmark campaign promises. Earlier this month, on the same day that he called earmarks “an egregious process,” McCain made a speech at an air field in Florida that had “received almost $10M in earmarked funds” between 2001 and 2005.


UPDATE: Fox News aired a segment on McCain’s trip to Gee’s Bend today, but made no mention of the earmark. Watch McCain do a little dance:



Like Fox, NBC News reported on McCain’s visit to the ferry without mentioning the earmark:

After speaking in front of the famed Edmund Pettus Bridge, he traveled to Gee’s Bend, a brutally poor community long scarred by racial tensions. The Bend, isolated for decades by the spidery twists of the Alabama River, finally became more accessible with the institution of a reliable ferry — which the senator rode today in recognition of its significance in healing the area’s strife.