After driving incumbent GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski to the brink of defeat in Tuesday's Alaska primary, dark horse Senate candidate Joe Miller attributed his surprise showing to the "sweat equity" of volunteers and voters' recognition that the United States already has gone bankrupt.
And he contends that the media's depiction of the race as a Murkowski-Palin family feud was a "manufactured story."
In an exclusive Newsmax interview, the staunch fiscal conservative laid out one of the key messages of his campaign: that the nation has "gone bankrupt."
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"The focal point for Alaskans is that the nation's gone bankrupt," Miller said. "And that the kind of entitlement mentality that has grown up around us — basically the federal government having all the answers and all the controls — is something that Alaskans out of their common sense know just cannot continue."
Asked to support his contention that the federal government is insolvent, Miller replied: "Well, when you have the Chinese buying less debt, when you have a Chinese bond-rating agency lowing the credit worthiness of our debt, when you have according to recent reports up to as much as $130 trillion in future unfunded obligations, and well over $13.3 trillion in absolute debt, nearing 100 percent debt-to-GDP, I don't think there's any other way to describe it but bankrupt.
"That certainly is the average American's perspective. And I think it's a common sense perspective," he said.
With 429 of Alaska's 438 precincts counted, Miller is leading Murkowski by 1,960 votes. Miller won 45,909 votes, or 51 percent, to 43,949 for Murkowski, which is 49 percent.
More than 7,600 absentee ballots remain to be counted, however.
The absentee ballot count is scheduled to begin Aug. 31. Some pundits believe those votes will benefit Murkowski, because many of them were cast prior to what appeared to be Miller's last-minute surge.
In his interview with Newsmax, Miller said it was more than just the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin that made the difference. But he conceded, "Obviously, her endorsement gave us national prominence."
Miller cited the many other endorsements his campaign received, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Alaska Lt. Gov. Loren Leman.
He added that his remarkably strong showing shows "average Alaskans of all stripes [are] embracing the idea that government needs to be limited by the Constitution, and recognizing that the era of the entitlement state is over, and that Alaskans want to get control of their destiny, control of their state. And I really believe that's what carried the day ultimately in this race."
Miller bridled at what he called the "manufactured story" that the GOP Senate primary represented a family feud between the Murkowski and Palin clans.
In 2006, Palin defeated Lisa Murkowski's father, former Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski, in the GOP gubernatorial primary for Alaska. Palin ran on a good-government platform, and went on to win the general election, which ultimately propelled her onto the national political stage.
But Miller said the media's portrayal of the primary as a Hatfield-McCoy showdown is "totally inaccurate." He attributed it to a "misperception" among the national press corps.
"They don't understand things here in Alaska, and that's not a surprise," Miller told Newsmax. "Again, this was a race that was run well by both campaigns. Both campaigns earnestly worked toward the goal.
"But I can tell you from my perspective as a candidate, from what I could see amongst volunteers, there was absolutely no personal animosity or motivation in the work that was done on the campaign. I mean it was completely about the direction we wanted to take the state and the nation in.
"So again, I think it's kind of a manufactured story, if you will," Miller said. "It's what perhaps the national media wants to see, but it's certainly is not what has motivated troops on the ground here in Alaska."
According to Miller's website, he grew up in Kansas and relocated to Alaska about 16 years ago. A Yale Law School grad, he graduated with honors from West Point and went on to serve in the First Gulf War, where he was awarded a Bronze Star. He practices law in Fairbanks.
Miller said he plans to reach out to Republicans who voted for Murkowski, and build coalitions.
Asked by Newsmax to explain how his candidacy flew under the media radar, Miller said: "I think it's a disconnect [in] the national media to events in Alaska. We knew that this race was going to turn on the volunteer network here. It's a small state population-wise, word of mouth really does have an impact . . . but the sweat equity of the volunteer network, as well as just the good, solid, common-sense ideas of Alaskans.
"It's very difficult to, shall we say, mislead Alaskans," Miller told Newsmax. "They want to get to the source, they want to get to the truth. They understand that the nation is in crisis. They understand the state has entered a new political era, that the country must do the same. So I think it's a combination of not just the size population-wise, but also the solid, common-sense approach that Alaskans have and the fact that our message resonated strongly with that."
The winner of the GOP primary will square off against Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams. Salon.com reports that McAdams had raised less than $10,000 for his campaign as of June.
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