From David Hulen in Anchorage --
Here's a quick rundown of Alaska politics news elsewhere:
> From The Swamp, the Chicago Tribune's politics blog:
Palin has some awesome popularity ratings with Alaskan voters, something above 80 percent.
But now Palin is also caught up in a probe of her official conduct that probably nixes whatever long-shot chance she had to be on the McCain ticket. After all, she's only been a governor for two years.
...having an Alaskan on the ticket would likely bring constant attention to the state's corruption problems which, since the state is Republican run, don't help the GOP brand.
> As a reader points out elsewhere on this blog, Palin did a longish interview last night with CNBC's Larry Kudlow (Click for the video, there's no embed). Transcript here. She talks about Congress and ANWR/offshore drilling ("...it's pretty pathetic, that action they've taken") , the Stevens indictment ("It was like an earthquake that hit up here in Alaska the other day with that indictment. Very sad. Hopefully though, this won’t be a distraction and get people’s minds off what has to be done in the grand scheme of things here."), the state of the Republican Party ("You're absolutely right on the cleansing that's needed in our party, in the Republican Party. And you know I think Senator McCain is on the right track with the earmark reform that he is so adamant about."), the Monegan/Wooten investigation ("it’s cool. I want them to ask me the questions. I don’t have anything to hide. And I didn’t do anything wrong there").
Q: ...Is this police flap, state investigation, going to disqualify you from becoming Senator McCain’s vice-presidential candidate?
Palin: Well it shouldn’t disqualify me from anything, including progressing the state’s agenda here towards more energy production so we can contribute more to the U.S. Nor should it dissuade any kind of agenda progress in any arena because again, I haven’t done anything wrong. And through an investigation of our lawmakers who are kind of looking at me as a target, we invite those questions so that we can truthfully answer the questions.
But as for that VP talk all the time, I’ll tell you, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does everyday? I’m used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we’re trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S., before I can even start addressing that question.
> McCain VP talk turns to 2 female conservatives (Washington Times)
With Mr. McCain not a favorite of social and fiscal conservatives, prominent leaders of the party's right flank say choosing a bona fide member of their class could re-energize the Republican base.
"Sarah Palin is a great choice," said Grover Norquist, a Republican activist best known for his economic conservatism.
"She's got it all, and is a remarkable leader who brings a number of good qualities to the table," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America.
> McCain Should Run Against Stevens (Real Clear Politics)
Senator Ted Stevens' seven-count indictment looks like it couldn't have come at a worse time for the Republican Party, which is already in mid-soul search.
But in every crisis there is opportunity - and for John McCain this latest congressional Republican scandal offers an opportunity to revive his reputation as an independent reformer. It has the added advantage of being brand consistent.
> The New York Times has another story from Anchorage, this one reporting "It was fist pumps all around at the campaign headquarters of Senator Ted Stevens here on Thursday."
Some legal experts interpreted Mr. Stevens’s request for a speedy trial as a show of confidence. The indictment says he deliberately did not include gifts of home renovations, furniture, a sport utility vehicle and other items on the annual financial disclosure forms he is required to file as a senator. He has said he paid all the bills he received for the renovations.
“It’s going to be a contest over whether he had the intent to conceal this,” said Stanley Brand, a prominent Washington defense lawyer. “Given that he paid for some of it, I don’t think that’s in dispute. He has a defense to put forth to a jury, and to some extent, that’s going to undercut the government’s contention that he intended to conceal all this.”
Unlike with a bribery charge, Mr. Brand said, the government is not expected to try to prove that Mr. Stevens had corrupt relationships with VECO executives and employees.
“No one is going to convict him for just failing to file his financial reports,” Mr. Brand said.
> Michael Carey's column about Stevens in the ADN yesterday is getting play elsewhere. It was published in the L.A. Times this morning ("Ted Stevens out in the cold") and featured on the New York Times Opinionator blog yesterday (lots of reader comments there).
> Problems Bigger Than Bridges and Tubes This appeared Thursday, but the Washington Post's Dana Milbank's "Washington Sketch" treatment of the Stevens story is worth a read.
...As the Senate clerk called Stevens's name for a roll-call vote yesterday, the scene on the floor was one of walking wounded. In the well stood Craig, who had pleaded guilty to bad men's-room behavior. He was chatting with Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), tarnished by the favorable mortgage he got from Countrywide Financial. Standing on the other side of Craig was Vitter, whose phone number was on the late D.C. Madam's list. A few steps away was Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), another Countrywide victim. A few paces in the other direction was Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), caught up in the flap over the firing of U.S. attorneys.
When "Uncle Ted" ambled in wearing his orthopedic sneakers, his colleagues surrounded him with love -- a far different reception from the shunning they showed Vitter and Craig. He got a playful pat and an elbow bump from Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), a hug from behind from Domenici, a shared chuckle with John Thune (S.D.) and a thumbs-up from Jon Kyl (Ariz.). A dozen more Republican colleagues greeted him with warm handshakes, as did at least a couple of Democrats, including Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) and Mark Pryor (Ark.). Among the most enthusiastic was Craig, who, for once, was not the central scandal figure on the floor.