McCain clarifies bridge collapse comment

May 1, 2008 6:17:40 PM PDT
Republican John McCain on Thursday backed off his assertion that pork-barrel spending led to last year's deadly bridge collapse in Minneapolis. With Democrats criticizing him for citing wasteful spending as the cause of the disaster, McCain told reporters in Cleveland, "No, I said it would have received a higher priority, which it deserved."

That statement was in contrast to McCain's remarks to reporters aboard his campaign bus as it rolled through Pennsylvania on Wednesday: "The bridge in Minneapolis didn't collapse because there wasn't enough money. The bridge in Minneapolis collapsed because so much money was spent on wasteful, unnecessary pork-barrel projects."

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board suspect a design flaw - undersize steel plates - and heavy loads of construction materials as the cause of the disaster Aug. 1, according to preliminary findings.

Democrats accused McCain of using a tragedy that killed 13 people and injured 145 others to make a political point.

Even Republican Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota said McCain was wrong.