Sarah Palin Stumps for Joe Miller in Alaska

Sarah Palin Stumps for Joe Miller in Alaska

By Scott Conroy - October 29, 2010

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin appeared at a campaign rally on behalf of Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller on Thursday night, telling the Anchorage crowd, "Let's send Joe Miller to the United States Senate to shake it up."

Palin's endorsement of Miller was critical to his surprising defeat of incumbent GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski in August, but Thursday's appearance was the first rally she has attended on Miller's behalf.

"I read his resume, I read his accomplishments, I read his passion for America, and I think, ‘Are we even fit to tie his combat boots?'" Palin said to the receptive crowd.

Palin avoided using Murkowski's name but referred to the Republican senator, who is running as a write-in candidate, as an "out of touch liberal" and "establishment candidate."

Palin was the main draw at the Miller event, but other notable national conservatives appeared via video to offer their support for the GOP Senate candidate, including South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

During the rally, the Miller campaign unveiled a new TV ad that compares Murkowski to President Obama. The ad juxtaposes clips of Obama repeating his "Yes, we can," mantra from the 2008 campaign with video of Murkowski using the same catchphrase in announcing her write-in bid against Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams.

In a statement emailed to reporters, Murkowski responded critically to Miller's rally and referred directly to Palin, with whom she has had a longstanding rivalry.

"While he claims that this election is not just about Alaska, I insist it is ALL about Alaska," Murkowski said in the statement. "Joe Miller, Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin can criticize me for not toeing the party line, but I will never quit putting Alaska first."

The Murkowski campaign launched its own new TV ad on Thursday that highlights a recent incident in which Miller's private security guards handcuffed a reporter who was trying to question the candidate.

"Joe Miller's answer to freedom of the press? Arrest the journalists," the ad's narrator says, asking later in the spot, "Exactly what kind of America does Joe Miller live in?"

The new Murkowski ad also features footage of Miller supporters carrying assault rifles while marching in a campaign parade, as martial music plays in the background. The narrator in the Murkowski spot concludes, "It's time for a return to common sense - time to return Lisa Murkowski to Washington."

Palin's appearance on Miller's behalf came a day after the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that polling stations would be allowed to provide a list of write-in candidates to voters who asked for one - a decision which both the state Republican and Democratic parties fought that could benefit Murkowski's bid.

Supporters of Miller quickly launched a campaign to encourage Alaska voters to register as write-in candidates, in order to make Murkowski's name more difficult to find on the list. The Anchorage Daily News reported that at least 100 people had registered as write-in candidates on Thursday.

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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