The Bridge to Nowhere made its return at Wednesday night’s GOP debate in Mesa, Arizona.
The Bridge to Nowhere was a highly ridiculed $400 million project in Alaska that was eventually abandoned. The proposed Gravina Island Bridge, dubbed the Bridge to Nowhere, was meant to replace a ferry that currently connects the town of Ketchikan, Alaska, approximate population 8,000, with Gravina Island. Gravina is home to 50 residents and the Ketchikan International Airport.
Not to worry, the Bridge to Nowhere project is not back on the table.
During the debates, Mitt Romney pointed out that Rick Santorum had supported seeking earmarks—spending on special projects for a home state or district—on the Bridge to Nowhere.
Rick Santorum fired back that Mitt Romney had sought earmarks to help finance the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Romney’s accusation was meant to challenge his rival’s claim to be the fiscal conservative in the race. Romney called for a ban on earmarks, while trying to distance his own spending requests from Santorum’s.
“When I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting for the Bridge to Nowhere,” Romney told Santorum.
The Bridge to Nowhere has become a symbol of government excess in recent years.
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas also pounced on Santorum’s claims to be a fiscal conservative.
“He’s a fake,” Paul said, in reference to Santorum’s vote in favor of the No Child Left Behind act, which he is now campaigning to repeal.
“I have to admit I voted for that,” Santorum said. “It was against the principles I believed in, but, you know, when you’re part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team for the leader, and I made a mistake.”
Boos came from the audience at this reply.
Each candidate was asked to describe himself in a single word. Ron Paul said “consistent,” Santorum said “courage,” Romney said “resolute,” and Gingrich said “cheerful.”
Santorum and Romney are neck-and-neck in Romney’s home state of Michigan where voters will head to the polls on Tuesday.