MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina (CNN) – South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint on Friday became one of the first high-profile Republicans to publicly criticize John McCain following his electoral defeat, blaming the Arizona senator for betraying conservative principles in his quest for the White House.
The conservative senator, speaking to a group of GOP officials gathered in Myrtle Beach at a conference on the future of the Republican Party, described how the party had strayed from its own "brand," which, according to DeMint, should represent freedom, religious-based values and limited government.
"We have to be honest, and there's a lot of blame to go around, but I have to mention George Bush, and I have to mention Ted Stevens, and I'm afraid I even have to mention John McCain," he said.
DeMint offered a long list of complaints about McCain's record in the Senate and on the campaign trail.
"McCain, who is proponent of campaign finance reform that weakened party organizations and basically put George Soros in the driver's seat," DeMint said. "His proposal for amnesty for illegals. His support of global warming, cap-and-trade programs that will put another burden on our economy. And of course, his embrace of the bailout right before the election was probably the nail in our coffin this last election. And he has been an opponent of drilling in ANWR, at a time when energy is so important. It really didn't fit the label, but he was our package."
Bush and Stevens, he said, had corrupted the party brand by expanding the size of government and engaging in wasteful government spending. Had Republicans not strayed from their core beliefs in recent years, DeMint argued, the election results might have been different.
(CNN) - Republican Sen. Ted Stevens has fallen 814 votes behind Democratic challenger Mark Begich as vote counting continues in Alaska.
The Anchorage mayor was trailing Stevens in the initial count, which did not include at least 90,000 absentee, early and provisional ballots.
With nearly two-thirds of those votes now tallied, Begich has taken the lead. An estimated 40,000 ballots have yet to be counted – a majority of them from the area of the state that includes Anchorage, according to state elections officials.
Updated Wednesday evening with latest count.
(CNN) - Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ lead over Democratic challenger Mark Begich disappeared late Wednesday, with thousands of votes yet to be counted.
Stevens began the day with a lead of more than 3,200 votes, but as the state continued its count of at least 90,000 outstanding votes -– a total that includes early votes, absentee votes and disputed ballots - the state’s Division of Elections reported that the incumbent Republican had 125,016 votes, and Begich had 125,019.
Around a third of those ballots had yet to be counted, in a process that is expected to continue into next week.
Alaska has no provision for a runoff if no candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote; whoever gets the most votes wins.
Defeated candidates may ask for recounts.
(CNN) - The roller coaster Alaska Senate race could take another turn Wednesday when election officials there plan to count some 50,000 absentee and early ballots which previously have not been totalled.
Alaska's unofficial tally currently shows incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Stevens leading Democratic opponent Mark Begich 48 percent to 46.6 percent. Stevens, a political juggernaut in Washington, is clutching that narrow lead even after a jury found him guilty of seven felony corruption counts last month. The 40-year senator insists he is innocent.
Stevens and Begich are currently separated by just 3,257 votes, according to the Alaska Division of Elections Web site.
But those numbers primarily reflect votes cast on Election Day. In a statement, Alaska elections officials said that no absentee or early votes have been counted yet because the state wanted to check each one against precinct voter lists.
The officials estimate some 50,000 of the uncounted votes have now been cross-checked and will be counted Wednesday.
That could provide a big bounce for either candidate, but it may not end things. State figures indicate another 20,000 early and absentee votes are still being authenticated and will not be tallied yet.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) - Sen. Ted Stevens, convicted last month on seven federal corruption charges, held a slight lead Wednesday in his race for re-election, with the outcome still to be determined.
Stevens, who has represented Alaska almost 40 years and is the Senate's longest-serving Republican, was leading with 48 percent of the vote. His opponent, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, had almost 47 percent of the vote.
With 435 of 438 precincts reporting Tuesday night, Stevens led Begich by more than 3,300 votes, 106,351 to 102,998.
But, "there's still a lot to be counted," said Gail Fenumiai, director of Alaska's Division of Elections.
She said more than 40,000 absentee ballots, 9,000 early ballots, and many provisional ballots are yet to be tallied. Officials will try to count them over the next 10 days, she said.
Gov. Sarah Palin cast her vote in Alaska and spoke to reporters.
WASILLA, Alaska (CNN) – The legal woes of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who was convicted of seven felonies last week, have posed a special dilemma for the state’s governor, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, this the campaign season. Should she endorse the state’s seven-term senator, who has spent the past few months on trial for failing to report gifts on Senate forms, as required by law? Or signal her disapproval of the incumbent, and potentially give a boost to Democrat Mark Begich, whose party stands poised on the edge of a filibuster-proof Senate majority?
Democratic and Republican leadership in the Senate has made it clear Stevens won’t be welcomed back – but both Palin and Republican presidential nominee John McCain have been a bit more circumspect. Asked by reporters whether she cast her ballot for Stevens – who faces expulsion from the Senate if he is re-elected – Palin said she’d exercise her “right to privacy” and keep her vote to herself.
If Stevens claims victory Tuesday, and the Senate expels him as expected, the Alaska governor could be free to appoint any Republican she chose – including herself, if the GOP presidential ticket falls short – as a temporary replacement until a special election can be held.
Senator Ted Stevens has never been known as a big fan of the news media. So we knew getting him to talk to us on camera following seven felony guilty verdicts against him would be a bit challenging. He hadn’t done a TV interview since the verdicts. Ultimately, he did do an interview with us. But making that happen took us on an unusual journey.
On Sunday, we went to interview his Democratic opponent in the Senate race, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. The mayor was at a candidate forum in the entry way of a large Baptist church that was full of candidate posters, pamphlets, and balloons. As we were getting ready to greet Begich, we saw to our surprise that Senator Stevens was also shaking hands about 30 feet away from his opponent.
I came up to the 40-year Senate veteran, introduced myself, and asked him on camera if he was angry about the guilty verdicts. He told me “not that angry. I’m angry at you guys ’cause I’m trying to visit with friends; I just see them once or twice a year.” I then mentioned because he was campaigning we wanted to see if he would talk, and he objected since we were doing this in a church. I mentioned to him that there was some lively campaigning going on in this entry way, but that didn’t seem to matter to him.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) – A woman who had been a juror in the criminal trial of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens told a judge Monday she made up a story about her father dying, so she could go to California for a horse race.
The judge last week initially accepted her story about a family emergency, but was later unable to reach her to learn when she would return.
He then was forced to recall an alternate juror so the panel could resume deliberations on October 27 and possibly render a verdict. Six hours later, the verdict against Stevens was unanimously guilty on all seven counts of making false statements on Senate financial documents.
The fate of the missing juror was in doubt through the middle of last week, when U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan issued an order calling her to a hearing Monday morning.
At the hearing, she was publicly identified as Marian Hinnant, known during the trial as Juror No. 4. Hinnant's attorney, public defender A.J. Kramer, told CNN the story about her father's death was a lie.
Kramer said he told the judge that "she was okay, that her father had not died, and that she was in a state of mind where she had to go out of town on that Friday and couldn't deliberate."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, while campaigning in his home state of Kentucky Tuesday, told a reporter that convicted Sen. Ted Stevens should resign, McConnell's spokesman Dom Stewart told CNN.