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John McCain calls for Ted Stevens to quit; Sarah Palin doesn't go quite that far

October 28, 2008 |  9:23 am

(UPDATE: See here)

Sens. Ted Stevens and John McCain caucused together as Republicans, but as lawmakers they marched to very different beats.

Stevens specialized in funneling every federal dollar he could find to his home state of Alaska (most notoriously the "bridge to nowhere"); McCain, of course, battled "pork-barrel spending" whenever and wherever.

So it's no surprise that following Stevens' conviction Monday on corruption-related charges, McCain would call for his colleague to resign his office. What's intriguing is that Sarah Palin, who as governor of Alaska could be part of a potentially tangled scenario involving Stevens, issued a more cautious comment.

McCain, in a statement today, called the verdict against Stevens "a sign of the health of our democracy that the people continue to hold their representatives to account for improper or illegal conduct." He added:

It is clear that Senator Stevens has broken his trust with the people and that he should now step down. I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will be spurred by these events to redouble their efforts to end this kind of corruption once and for all.

Here's the statement released by Palin on Monday evening:

It's a sad day for Alaska, and a sad day for Senator Stevens and his family. The verdict shines a light though on the corrupting influence of the big oil service company up there in Alaska that was allowed to control too much of our state.

And that control was part of the culture of corruption that I was elected to fight. And that fight must always move forward regardless of party affiliation or seniority or even past service. And as governor of the state of Alaska, I'll carefully monitor now the situation and I'll take any appropriate action as needed.

In the meantime I do ask that the people of Alaska join me in respecting the workings of our judicial system, and I'm confident that Senator Stevens, from this point on, will do the right thing for the state of Alaska.

The right thing, in Stevens' view, is not only to keep his job while he appeals his conviction, but to soldier on with his bid to win another term next week. The odds may be against him, but stranger outcomes have occurred in U.S. politics.

Were Stevens to win reelection, both federal law and Alaska's statutes leave what would happen after that very much up in the air, as spelled out here.

Also unknown is who Palin, as an Alaska resident, plans to vote for in the Senate race.

-- Don Frederick

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