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Young hopes Alaska directs funds to bridges
Anchorage Daily News


February 25, 2006

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - At a rare Anchorage news conference Thursday, Rep. Don Young urged state lawmakers to help pay for the big bridges in Anchorage and Ketchikan and blamed Sen. John McCain for spoiling public opinion of the embattled projects.

Speaking to reporters and, later, the Palmer Rotary Club, Young riffed on the highs and lows of the previous year in Washington - from the war in Iraq to Dick Cheney's shooting accident to his ever-changing beard.



And yes, "I am running for re-election," said Young, who will be seeking his 18th term as Alaska's sole congressman. "Surprise, surprise."

Young said he'll take a wait-and-see approach on the flap over a United Arab Emirates company that is poised to take over operations at six U.S. ports. He said he plans to hold a hearing on the issue but that Congress may not have the authority to stop the sale.

As for the war in Iraq, Young compared Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler and said shutting Hussein down prevented a third world war. As sad as it's been to lose more than 2,000 troops in Iraq, he said, those numbers pale in comparison to the death toll of World War II.

After Hurricane Katrina leveled New Orleans in the fall, Young became a fixture in national media as critics asked why Congress was spending hundreds of millions of dollars for bridges in Alaska instead of to rebuild Louisiana.

Young and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, fought to keep federal earmarks for $223 million for a Ketchikan-Gravina Island bridge and $229 million for the Knik bridge proposal. Alaska got the $452 million, but the earmarks are gone, meaning state lawmakers can use the money for other projects.

In retrospect, Young said he wouldn't have pursued the projects any differently. He said he was a victim of circumstance. And U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona..

A potential contender in the next presidential race, McCain's criticism of the bridges helped the project become a national joke for comedians and personalities like Jay Leno, David Letterman and Rush Limbaugh, Young said.

"I will never work for John McCain. Ever. I may support Hillary Clinton if he gets the nomination," Young told an audience at the Palmer Rotary.


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