Posts Tagged ‘October Surprise’

McCain says it’s time for Ted Stevens to go, but his running mate does not.

The Republican presidential ticket appears to be of two minds on whether or not convicted Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens should resign from the Senate. John McCain called on the longest serving Republican senator to step down today in a statement.

“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,” McCain said.

His running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has not called on her home state colleague to resign. While the statement released by the campaign today had the McCain-Palin logo on it, it was a statement only from the Arizona senator. CNN reported Monday that Palin called the conviction a “sad day” for Alaska and said she was confident that Stevens “from this point on will do the right thing for the people of Alaska.” She did not respond when asked if she would vote for Stevens on Nov. 4.

Mixed messages during the last days of the campaign? Not a good idea.

Update: Looks like Sarah Palin figured out it wasn’t a good idea to be seen as potentially aligning herself with a convicted felon. She got with the program and called for Stevens to go.

This time, it’s the McCain campaign vs. the RNC over the Palin wardrobe shopping spree.  The story is so politically toxic, nobody wants to claim responsibility.

Update: This is absolutely stunning. Sen. John Ensign, the man responsible for getting Republican candidates elected to the U.S. Senate, is saying it’s a “fair possibility” that Democrats will get a 60-seat supermajority and points the finger at John McCain, saying during an MSNBC interview that, “There’s no question the top of the ticket is affecting our Senate races and it’s making it a lot more difficult.”

The feds got a clean sweep in their case against Sen. Ted Stevens, with the jury returning guilty verdicts on all seven counts.

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted today of lying on financial disclosure forms to hide tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and renovations to his Alaska home that were financed mostly by a powerful business executive and his oil services company.

The verdict was announced just after 4 p.m. in a packed courtroom in U.S. District Court in Washington. Stevens (R) sat quietly as the jury foreman said the panel had reached a unanimous decision and found Stevens guilty on all seven counts of filing false financial disclosure forms.

Jurors, who re-started their deliberations at 9:30 a.m. today when a juror was replaced by an alternate, were somber as they walked into the courtroom to deliver the verdict and did not look at Stevens. No sentencing date has been set, and Stevens’s attorneys are expected to file motions seeking to have the verdict set aside.

Despite the guilty verdict, Stevens remains on the ballot in Alaska, where he is locked in a tight race with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.

If he can pull off an upset victory, Stevens could remain in the Senate for months, if not longer, if he chose to appeal the verdict. Tradition allows him to exhaust his appeals before the ethics committee begins expulsion hearings, according to the Historical Office of the Senate.

Talking Points Memo has been all over this story since the beginning and they are a good source to explain what this mess is and how Stevens got himself into it.

Nationally, the implications are pretty simple. Stevens was in a tough reelection race to begin with after the indictment. Now that he’s been convicted a week before Election Day, the GOP can’t put a replacement on the ticket and odds are he is going to lose. If he loses, that puts the Democrats one seat closer to the 60-seat supermajority. However, sentencing is not until January of next year and a lot can happen in 3 months.

Here’s a remote scenario for you (hat tip to kos) by which Republicans might still be able to hang on to his Senate seat: If Stevens manages to win re-election, McCain loses next week, and Stevens is expelled or resigns from the Senate after exhausting the appeals process, Sarah Palin can pick a replacement to fill out his term and keep the seat in Republican hands. Correction: According to the New York Times, Palin would most likely call a special election to find someone to replace Stevens. If this happens, I think it would give the Republicans a better shot of retaining the seat.

Unlikely, but possible.

Update: According to this analysis by The Hill, Ted Stevens was his own worst enemy on the witness stand.

Update II: Now that he’s a convicted felon, Stevens can’t vote for himself next week. (Hat tip to kos)

Update III: The New York Times mentions another intriguing possibility for Stevens – getting a presidential pardon or a commutation of his sentence before George W. Bush leaves office in January.

Update IV: The Hill reports that Stevens will be allowed to vote next week.

What is it about presidential siblings that makes them get into so much trouble? Joe McCain called 911 to complain about a traffic jam. Another round of bad press for the McCain people with only 11 days to go.

Ken Vogel has this interesting story on what records or other relevant information the four major candidates (McCain, Obama, Palin and Biden) are not releasing to the public.

Sam Stein at the Huffington Post:

If Edwards had gotten one of his legendary haircuts every singe week, it would still take him 7.2 years to spend what Palin has spent. Palin has received the equivalent of $2,500 in clothes per day from places such as Saks Fifth Avenue (where RNC expenditures totaled nearly $50,000) and Neiman Marcus (where the governor had a $75,000 spree).

Indeed, the story could not come at a more inopportune time for the McCain campaign. During a week in which the Republican ticket is trying to highlight its connection to the working class — and, by extension, promoting its newest campaign tool, Joe the Plumber — it was revealed that Palin’s fashion budget for several weeks was more than four times the median salary of an American plumber ($37,514). To put it another way: Palin received more valuable clothes in one month than the average American household spends on clothes in 80 years. A Democrat put it in even blunter terms: her clothes were the cost of health care for 15 or so people.

Update: Marc Ambinder:

That’s one good week of television time in Colorado.

ABC’s Jake Tapper has a good recap of the highlights of Powell’s interview on Meet the Press.

As I said before – this will dominate the news cycle for one or two days. Pundits in the blogosphere and the major media will be aflutter talking about this. Obama clearly controlled the narrative yesterday with the carefully timed announcement of his $150 million fundraising figure and the nod from Powell.

McCain’s problem is that he is running out of time. He has about two weeks to go and not many ways to change or control the media narrative before Election Day. Barring a drastic change in the underlying fundamental dynamic of this election (which happened when the financial crisis hit on September 15), the political environment will continue to favor Obama.

Update: Former McCain adviser Mike Murphy weighs in at TIME’s Swampland Blog. His analysis: “Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama today is a real sledgehammer blow to the already staggering McCain campaign.” The rest of it is not pretty.