Jonathan Cohn

As the Polls Close In Alaska, Joe Miller Simultaneously Attacks / Bear Hugs the Media

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The polls just closed in Alaska, but before they did, Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller managed to sneak in one last dig at Murkowski and the media. Over the past few days, he's been blasting media outlets for colluding against him: Accusing the Murkowski camp of successfully intimidating radio outlets into pulling Miller ads; lumping that incident in with the removal of a right-wing radio host who had urged Miller supporters to sign up as write-ins to make Murkowski’s name harder to find on candidate list; and accusing an Anchorage CBS affiliate of fabricating stories after receiving a sketchy voice-mail recording that had KTVA producers referring to Miller supporters as potential sex offenders and liberal stompers (no unfair coverage by KTVA has been uncovered, but the producers recorded were let go).

At the same time, he's launched a media charm offensive. During the past ten days, Miller has emerged from his cone of isolation to talk with local radio stations, especially ones in hard-to-reach rural communities. His campaign schedule in the last days has more talk-show stops than rallies. On Sunday, he attended the “Candidates Sunday” service at the Anchorage Baptist Temple (ABT), the state’s premier megachurch, and talked to a half dozen reporters in the lobby. There was no security present.

All of this is clearly an effort to make Miller seem more accessible to voters who might still be on the fence. Miller clearly has the pro-life and state’s-rights votes locked down; now, his conservative base is hoping that Miller has sufficiently softened his imagethat he looks like a redeemed sinner who’s been victimized by the media and political establishmentto appeal to more moderate Republicans. We'll soon find out if that's the case.

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