Palin Drops "Bridge to Nowhere" Reference in Speech

In speech after speech to crowds in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia in recent days, Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for vice president, has made sure to mention the so-called Bridge to Nowhere, the Alaska project that has become the symbol of earmarks, and what she portrays as her "thanks but no thanks" position on it.

When she landed in Fairbanks in her home state on Wednesday night, though, the bridge was notably absent from an (otherwise mostly similar) speech she made inside an airplane hangar before her homestate crowd.

Ever since she first said it, two weeks ago, critics have questioned her claim that she "told Congress, 'thanks but no thanks on that Bridge to Nowhere.'"

Her relationship with the bridge to the tiny Alaskan island of Gravina was actually more complicated. In 2006, she expressed support for the bridge project. Later, as support for the project was vanishing in Washington, she announced she was abandoning the project. (Alaska was still able to keep the federal money once intended for the bridge and direct it to other projects.)

On Thursday, a campaign aide said Governor Palin's decision not to mention the so-called Bridge to Nowhere as she was welcomed home inside the hangar here had no broader significance. Governor Palin had changed other elements of her speech here too, the aide said, in the interest of time. Whether she returns to the theme outside Alaska remains to be seen.

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