Interview with Senate Candidate Joe Miller

Interview with Senate Candidate Joe Miller

By John King, USA - November 8, 2010

ANNOUNCER: It's time to go "One-on-One".

JOHNS: Alaska's big showdown starts this Wednesday. They will start hand-counting ballots in the U.S. Senate race and trying to figure out which names actually got written in. As things stand now, write-in presumably means Senator Lisa Murkowski who has 41 percent. Republican Joe Miller has 34 percent.

The Democrat has conceded and nobody inside or outside Alaska is saying publicly they want this thing to turn out like the nightmare in Florida a few years back. Joe Miller joins us now from Anchorage, Alaska. Thank you very much for coming in, sir.

Now, you are about 13,000 votes down by our count and presumably most of the votes that are there for the write-in are actually for the incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski. Do you still think you can pull this thing out realistically?

JOE MILLER (R), ALASKA SENATE CANDIDATE: Joe, we're cautiously optimistic. There are 37,000 absentee ballots that have not yet been counted. And we believe that those will run strongly in our favor. Not only that, in the past write-in campaign that was had here in Alaska 1998, almost eight percent of the ballots were disqualified. So when you add the numbers from the absentees, from those ballots that are going to be counted on the write-ins, we are right in there. We believe that there is a real reason for cautious optimism.

JOHNS: Now I have to talk to you a little bit about something that a lot of people have been making fun about here in Washington. After your primary win against Senator Murkowski, a volunteer with you guys actually posted some tweets, which have become controversial. Let's talk about what they said.

One of them said, "I think I will do some house hunting while I'm in D.C. I guess I should pick out some office furniture as well. Then there is a matter of a name plaque for the door." All of this sort of exudes confidence on behalf of Joe Miller. Do you think you were actually over confident even though we all know that this was a volunteer who posted these tweets?

MILLER: Right and the tweet that you missed was the tweet asking for a new volunteer tweeter. You know frankly we've always approached this race as the underdog. This is a David and Goliath battle. It's been that from the beginning.

We knew it was going to continue that way in the general election after the write-in bid was announced. Certainly it's not changed in any way. Even now we recognize how things have been kind of stacked against us. But again I think cautious optimism is really where we're at right now. We are trying to make sure that the process, the rule of law is complied with, that we get a fair shake at the level of the Division of Elections and that we have people on the ground to watch the counting of the ballots.

JOHNS: The Republican Senatorial Committee sent out a letter just about three days after the election and a lot of people suggest this may have been a bit too late. Do you think the National Republican Senatorial Committee is 100 percent behind you or would rather see Senator Murkowski back in Washington?

MILLER: You know, we are thankful for help from all quarters. Certainly there was recently some help not only with the fund-raising e-mail but also with some assistance on costs for the teams coming in to assist with the count. We are thankful for that. That reflects that obviously there is support coming from that sector. We are happy that was provided.

JOHNS: Have you talked to Sarah Palin since the election? Is she showing you support? Is she going to send you money?

MILLER: I think, in fact, Sarah probably is or has donated money to the count fund we have set up at We have been pleased with her support. Not just in the general but after the general as well.

JOHNS: Do you think she's turned her back on you a little bit? You are one of the people who wasn't able to climb the hill as we said or at least so far.

MILLER: Well, again, we're cautiously optimistic. We think at the end of the day we'll come out on top. I think there probably has been disappointment amongst some in the state that, look, the gap wasn't wider, that we did not win by a significant percentage. The only thing that matters is who is certified the winner. That's what we are working toward and I got to tell you our old friends are behind us. I'm excited about the volunteers that have actually continued to provide support. This is a monumental undertaking. We are talking about over 80,000 write-in ballots which requires us to have a significant team on the ground to assist with that. Just from all corners of the state people have come in behind the campaign and are continuing to show support.

JOHNS: Last time you were on the show you were explaining how a local supporter ended up handcuffed by people who were apparently working at least on your behalf. There were questions to answer about ethics violations allegedly involving you. Let's listen to your interview with John King just a couple weeks ago. Then we'll come back and talk about it.


MILLER: John, I'll admit I'm a man of many flaws. I'm not going to say I have conducted life perfectly.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Is this a fair statement in your view that at the time this happened you were disciplined but it had nothing to do with the reason you left the agency down the road?

MILLER: Absolutely. That's a fair statement.


JOHNS: In hindsight, do you think you handled the two issues well or do you think you should have jumped on it a little bit earlier?

MILLER: I think what it reflects is the extreme bias of the local press. You're talking about a violation of the computer use policy. Certainly it could have been handled differently. That really is what we faced here on the ground during the general election. Basically a whole host of different groups that were orchestrating basically an effort to make sure we didn't win the race because of, I think really, the level of the vested interest in Alaska. They are very concerned about whether or not the federal dollars will continue to come here. We saw that as well even on the day leading up to the election. Go ahead.

JOHNS: I wanted to jump in before we lose time with you. There are a couple very important questions. One is about the counting of the ballots.


JOHNS: How much are you going to adhere to technicalities or are you going to be the kind of candidate who tries to go with the intent of the voter, whatever it may be?

MILLER: We are going to be the kind of candidate that looks to the law and expects the rule of law to be applied in this case. The people in the state of Alaska elected a legislature that enacted a law that controls how the ballots are to be treated. That's what we are going to insist upon is that the rule of law is applied. That's all we are asking. I think that's what is going to happen in this case.

JOHNS: As far as statewide candidates go do you, at the end of the day think the tea party helped or hurt elect conservatives and Republicans this year?

MILLER: I don't think there is any doubt that the tea party helped. They activated -- and of course there is not a monolithic tea party but the tea party movement activated Americans, many of whom were not involved in politics before but are concerned about the direction of the nation. I think the movement will continue. As people see economic issues that face the nation, come into greater relief in the coming months will be all the more motivated to change the direction of the nation. It's a start of a movement I don't think we have seen the end of yet.

JOHNS: Joe Miller in Alaska, thank you very much for coming in. We'll watch closely on this count in Alaska. We'll check news headlines in a second. Later, Pete on the street looks ahead to tonight's big event on television. The impact politics will play with the new king of late night comedy.


John King, USA

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