Interview with Alaska Senate Candidate Joe Miller

Interview with Alaska Senate Candidate Joe Miller

By John King, USA - September 20, 2010

KING: It's been an interesting few days to say the least for U.S. Senate-nominee Joe Miller in Alaska. All of a sudden he's just one of two Republicans in Alaska's three-way Senate race. He joins us now to go "One-on-One".

Mr. Miller, let's start with that, the new development. The woman you defeated in the primary, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is still in the United States Senate, has decided now to mount a write-in campaign and she acknowledges that is a very tough sledding. But, I want to you listen to her on CNN "STATE OF THE UNION" over the weekend where she said she believes she is in the mainstream of what Alaska wants and you are not. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: Joe Miller simply does not represent that. He is suggesting to us, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many, many Alaskans some pretty radical things. You know we dump Social Security, no more Medicare. Let's get rid of the Department of Education, elimination of all earmarks. You know he is -- he has taken an approach that is just plain and simple more radical than where the people of the state of Alaska are.


KING: How would you answer that, sir? Do you consider yourself more radical than the people of the state of Alaska?

JOE MILLER (R), ALASKA SENATE CANDIDATE: Well let's see, I won the Republican primary with the largest Republican voter turnout in the history of this state. And we've had an extraordinary number come behind this campaign in the days following that and even more come behind this campaign after she announced her write-in campaign, which of course contradicted the word that she gave just a few days before the primary that she would support the victor of the Republican primary.

But you know what, what we reflect in our message is something that all Alaskans are embracing. This is something much broader than the Republican Party. It is basically common sense Americans and Alaskans recognizing that the system is broken and in fact, you know Senator Murkowski represents why it's broke. It's that type of thinking that, you know put your head in the sand, ignore all these problems. Things are just going to continue the way they've always been. It's going to drive this country into bankruptcy.

KING: We talked about this last time you were on the program and my job is just to let you air it out and let the people of Alaska decide, so I want to go through some of the issues she just mentioned and have you briefly address what she said. She said, quote, "no more Medicare". Is she right?

MILLER: Well I mean you know this is just yet another misconstruction of our position. She tried to do that from the beginning of the campaign. People in Alaska know better. They recognize that in fact that was a misinterpretation. What we said consistently throughout our campaign, my parents are on Social Security -- I think I told you the last time I was on your program that they're dependent on those dollars that come in.

They're dependent on Medicare. It is absolutely critical that we regain some fiscal sanity in this nation so we don't go broke and we can continue to pay the benefits of the elderly that are so dependent on those benefits. But longer term there is no question there has to be a transition, so we can either be irresponsible like the Senator and just pretend like all the problems that she helped create are never going to go away or we can be neutral looking and say look, we've got to do something about this problem where I, Joe Miller, when I put money into Social Security, when you John, you put money into Social Security, the government just takes that money and steals it for something else.

That's just not the right way to go and it's also ignoring the fact that the system is broken. So we've got to come up with new solutions. Saying anything else is just lying to the people of Alaska and the people of this nation.

KING: And one of the questions a lot of people have for the -- some of the Tea Party candidates like yourself who have taken provocative positions in the campaign is what happens when you're one of a hundred if you win this election?

What if Joe Miller comes to Washington and says, I would like to eliminate the Department of Education? I think that money should go back to the states and they should spend it, we don't need a big federal bureaucracy in Washington.

What happens if you're in just the Republican caucus, and there are 48 or maybe 52 of you, and your Republican colleagues say, sorry, we don't want to do that?

MILLER: Well, I don't think they're going to say sorry, we don't want to do that because they're saying, just like you are -- just like we're saying across the state of Alaska, a real concern about where we're at as a nation. And that concern is expressed in the idea that, look, the states are better to do these things than the nation.

It's not an issue of, like, with the Department of Education with getting rid of education. It's an issue as to who spends the money and who controls how that money is spent. And our answer is the states are in a much better position to do that.

I mean historically education has been controlled at the local and state level. The feds have, of course, caused this to be a national thing where these special interests get entrenched and they decide to spend money in a way they see fit. They just keep those special interests going and really doesn't educate our children.

And so it's a question of power. You know, Murkowski wants power at the federal level. I want power at the state level.

KING: You just used the term special interests. One of her criticisms of your campaign is she says that you came from out of nowhere and beat her with the help of what she would consider to be an outside special interest, the Tea Party express, which is a political organization.

It is based in California. It is run and heavily influenced by a veteran Republican strategist Sal Russo. They gave $600,000 up there to your campaign and they've said if it gets close they are more than willing to come back in and spend more to help you.

Do you welcome that or do you want people whose money is outside the state to stay outside the state?

MILLER: Well, first, I want to just state to you how hypocritical that statement is. Senator Murkowski received 88 percent of her funding in the last year from out of state. And then after she breaks her word and decides to write the writing or do the write-in candidacy on the Saturday following -- just this past Saturday, she goes to D.C. and she meets with a bunch of lobbyists to try to bring more out-of-state money into her campaign.

So if anybody thinks this is Joe Miller, the out-of-state guy against Murkowski, the in-state gal, think again. Because there's a way lopsided amount of money coming into her campaign from lobbyists and special interests.

Now we do have some out-of-state money coming in. But the thing that you've got to realize, the people that are supporting this campaign, they have no vested interest except to see this nation saved.

This is not about, you know, some sort of industry or some sort of teachers group or some sort of labor union. They're saying, I want to give you money so you vote my way. This is the American people saying the system is broken. We want it changed and we see that Joe Mill is moving things in that right direction.

And Alaska's Joe Miller is moving the state in the correct direction of resource development, getting the federal government out of our backyard so that we can have an economy here that's not dependent on a government that's going broke.

KING: You're in a debate now with Lisa Murkowski, Republican. But you're getting attention all across the country including from many Democrats.

I want to you listen here to the take of the former Democratic president, Bill Clinton.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: The gentleman who beat Senator Murkowski in Alaska, as I understand it, said that he thought unemployment compensation was unconstitutional. Well, putting 10 million more people in bread lines is not my idea of how to bring the economy back or balance the budget.


KING: Answer President Clinton. Now you have said you believe extending unemployment benefits and federal unemployment benefits are unconstitutional.

MILLER: Let me tell you why. The Democratic Party and even the votes that many of which Murkowski voted in support of the Democratic Party is not the answer to putting people back to work.

And as long as the federal government stays on the back of the American worker by too much regulation, by creating an anti- competitive atmosphere, by taxation, we absolutely are going to maintain the unemployment benefits so that workers can continue to be where they need to be but long term there has to be a transition there, too.

We have to transition that control. Again, who spends the money? The state as opposed to the federal government. That is a state function. It's a better function for the states to maintain than at the federal level.

But you've got to remember, why are we at this point anyway? Why we're talking about expanding unemployment compensation for a much longer period than what had been done in the past?

The reason why is because this federal government has kept down the American worker, has kept down the American economy, whether it's by Obama care, whether it's that 1099 requirement, whether it's by taxation.

The party of Bill Clinton is the problem. And of course it's wider than that as well, but they are a major problem in keeping us in a position where we're entering into a double-dip recession rather than growing our way out of this economy that is very much in a downturn right now.

KING: Joe Miller is the Republican nominee for Senate in Alaska now facing a write-in candidacy from the incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski. The Democrat in that race, too. One of the many fascinating ones.

Sir, we appreciate your time. We'll check back in in the days ahead.

MILLER: Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you.


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