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The Chase for 60: Stevens' s "Toast" Ad

Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, fighting a federal indictment and a strong Democratic challenger, has adopted an intriguing strategic message as he campaign for reelection: You need me.

Stevens launched a trio of ads late last week aimed at reminding Alaska voters how much he has done for the state and how much more he could do.

Our personal favorite? This one:

The ad, which features a series of testimonials from everyday Alaskans, includes these two gems:

* "We cannot afford to be without his presence in the Senate."


* "Without Ted, we're toast."

This strategy bears an eerie resemblance to the tack taken by former (emphasis on "former") GOP governor Frank Murkowski during his reelection campaign in 2006. Murkowski openly acknowledged his difficult personality but added that "sometimes it takes a strong will to get things done" -- pointing to his ongoing work for the state as evidence.

Murkowski got 19 percent in the primary, a stunningly bad showing for someone who had represented Alaska at the statewide level since 1980 and who had won election as governor by 15 points in 2002.

As Murkowski's loss -- and the election of reform minded Gov. Sarah Palin (R) -- demonstrated, the mindset of Alaska voters is changing rapidly. Gone are the days when a simple appeal of "I bring back pork for our small state" could guarantee an incumbent's reelection. In its place is a reform movement -- led by Palin -- that is the direct result of the ongoing pay-to-play scandal involving an energy company named Veco in which Stevens is currently enmeshed.

A poll conducted for the Club for Growth in April among Republicans and Independents, who can participate in the GOP primary, in Alaska suggested the tide is turning in Alaska.

Asked whether they approved or disapproved of spending $223 million of "federal tax money to build a bridge from Ketchikan to Gravina Island, which is sometimes referred to as the 'Bridge to Nowhere'", just 30 percent approved while nearly 62 percent disapproved. In the same poll, the sample was asked whether -- all other things being equal -- they would prefer a "candidate who wants to cut overall federal spending even if that includes cutting some money that would come to Alaska" or "a candidate who is willing to increase overall spending on federal programs as long as more federal spending and projects come to Alaska." The "cut spending" candidate was favored by 64 percent; the "more federal projects" candidate by just 29 percent.

Given those changes, Stevens' message -- and, for that matter, the message of embattled Rep. Don Young (R) -- may well be past its expiration date, especially given the dark cloud of Veco hanging over the incumbents' heads. As one Republican consultant closely following Senate races put it: "How many Republicans under the cloud of scandal held their seats in 2006? That would be none."

Stevens seems likely to win his primary on Aug. 26 thanks to the fact that the anti-incumbent vote will be splintered among several candidates. But, unless something drastic happens (a Stevens acquittal perhaps), it's hard to imagine the incumbent winning a seventh full term in the fall.

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 20, 2008; 8:56 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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ralph reed: i'm sure karl rove will get fresh donuts in the basement of the capitol...

Posted by: jeff | August 21, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

ralph reed: i'm sure chairman conyers will make sure karl rove gets fresh donuts in the basement of the capitol...

Posted by: jeff | August 21, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

ralph reed: since you were the former director of the christian coalition, how did pat robertson's and jay sekulow's aclj win its rico case in the supreme court in feb. of 03 that n.o.w. brought against operation rescue and other consolidated anti-abortion groups in 1986?

Posted by: jeff | August 21, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

ralph reed: i guess if one was a crook, ALL obstacles could be easily overcome....

Posted by: jeff | August 21, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

ralph: YOU knew college republican jack, just as well as you knew college republican karl.....

Posted by: jeff | August 21, 2008 5:23 AM | Report abuse

think ralph reed knows:"whatever happened to tom delay?"

we know what happened to the guy you humped corporate accounts of the college republicans who invented the politics of personal destruction..

Posted by: jeff | August 21, 2008 1:47 AM | Report abuse

"He's been changing Alaska for over 40 years." Who writes this stuff?

Posted by: Ben | August 20, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

"How many Republicans under the cloud of scandal held their seats in 2006?"

The answer is one not none. John Doolittle.

Posted by: Dave | August 20, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

There used to be a disparaging joke about Nebraska which went which state had a dumber Senator than Roman Hruska--the answer being Nebraska and a reference to the out of Omaha Senator, Carl Curtis. In the 70s in Indiana there were rumors about Vance Hartke being a little too close to contributors on deal making so the joke was that Indiana had two senators Bayh (Birch, Evan's Dad) and Bought (meaning Hartke). When the present and former Republican congressional representation of Alaska of Stevens, Frank Murkoski and Don Young is considered the question to be answered is which one will be quickest in denying he is a crook (a reminder of Nixon) or who is fastest on the lie. The whole mess is one more reason for term limits along with other abuses by the ruling class and puppet masters on Jenkins Hill.( Capitol Hill's original name).

Posted by: ejgallagher1 | August 20, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that in that whole ad, there is one woman. Just one. A whole lot of men, and one woman delivering the punchline.

Posted by: DC Mike | August 20, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

with the media being owned by three interlinked

groups, and Rupert Murdoch on their boards

says a lot about what's going on.


clearly says that to use propaganda effectively having the media have one voice when

selling is essential.

Pravda has more in common with the Washington Post two years ago than it does today....

but obviously,

there is no "war," in IRAQ

there is an invasion and an attempt to sell colonization as a

"protection against terrorists"

when the bush administration are the terrorists responsible for killing 1.3 MILLION IRAQI CIVILIANS...

and destroying the IRAQI infrastructure so that they couldn't fight back or recover enough to form a resistance group...

$12 BILLION DOLLARS IN CASH BRIBES paid out by Paul Bremer didn't hurt either...

how do you rectify the situation and still have access to IRAQ?????

blame it on the bush administration publically and grind them to dust....

let them take the fall for it, imprision and execute a few of them...after a fair trial...

then make a deal for the oil.


Posted by: obviously | August 20, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"It's like the run-up to the Iraq war, where you had to go to off-beat news sites, regional papers, and data sites to get real news. All the stuff about how the Italians debunked the "yellowcake uranium" story, and other fake accusations against Saddam Hussein that were being hyped by the neocons, was out there."

Hillary should have had you around to explain why she voted for the war.

Just kidding. Your fantasy that there are only a few genuine crusaders out there with the "real" news is absolutely laughable.

Posted by: bondjedi | August 20, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

want to fix the United States gas prices....

do what the bush administration should have done to begin with,

treat oil as a dwindling resource, start making changes to city infrastructure and planning the economy to take advantage of what we have and protecting what we have....

urban living as a focus.

require customer service jobs to come back in_country, to cut down on commuting times.

start requiring government workers who do paperwork, and computerwork to work from home....

charge people more for gas than truckers.

and make a few of these kit cars....

price of gas? someone's trying to sell you that "we need gas!"

really? is that true???? you're a liar.

Burn's Biodiesel Sexpot
By Bill Moore

What do you get when you add a 1.2L TDi diesel to a 200 HP electric drive and 100% soybean oil? You get the world's sexiest diesel-hybrid sports car.

PHOTO CAPTION: Dr. Jim Burns, seated in L3 Enigma, with San Diego State University team members. The L3 is powered by a 200 HP AC Propulsion electric drive and VW 1.2L TDi diesel engine burning 100% soybeam oil. It can do zero-to-sixty in under five seconds and has a 20 mile electric only range. Burn's goal is to drive the car coast-to-coast on just 33 gallons of B100 fuel.

Open Access Article Originally Published: February 21, 2005

The combination of lots of electrochemical storage and high power electric drive translates into blistering performance. Burns calculates the L3 is approaching 4 second, zero-to-sixty acceleration. It's already under 5 seconds, despite weighing 2,900 pounds with its full complement of lead-acid batteries.

All that battery capacity isn't just for the drag strip. The L3 is one of a tiny handful of plug-in hybrids, meaning that it can operate for twenty miles at highway speeds on battery power only; the diesel engine doesn't fire up until the car's batteries reach a predetermined state of charge. And unlike some battery electric cars of the late 1990s, the L3 has its charger built in, meaning it can be plugged in anywhere without need for specialized charging equipment. If a grid connection isn't available, the diesel engine will recharge the battery pack automatically.

The L3 team, made up of scores of SDSU engineering students over the last three years, have made significant modifications to the original AC Propulsion drive, converting it from a single drive shaft to the through saft, which allows for different drivetrain configurations. They also improved the electric drive cooling system, which translates into higher peak power output and improved efficiency. Burns sees the spin-off of this effort as not only making the coast-to-coast-on-a-tank-of-fuel drive possible, it also means that the technology can be applied to larger, heavier vehicles. SDSU students have a "Humvee" design being developed on their automotive CAD system. There are also plans afoot to build a 200 mph super car hybrid.

Like most high-performance sports cars, the drive system, both the electric and diesel, are mounted in a "mid-engine" configuration with the rear-wheels being driven. Burns acknowledged that the tubural steel frame and graphite body technology utilized in the L3 isn't particularly well-suited for stamped steel, unibody mass-production, something carmakers are very good at doing. But the L3s approach lets it carry more batteries, which are the heart of the design. Specifics on the layout of the design can be found at

Burns pointed out to me that, "we have an aerospace-grade center section of the vehicle that forms a wonderful torque structure, much like a Formula One car, and that section contains the fuel and high-voltage energy sources -- in this case, biofuel, which is very safe anyway -- and also the high-power electronic components are located there under normal operations. That whole section drops out and rolls away for maintainability, but also give the vehicle incredible torsional stiffness for handling. In addition, there's a tubural chassis construction in the back to house the actual propulsion unit".

and so on.....don't let IDIOTS with no fxxing brains tell you who you need to vote for....

they're voting for _T_H_E_I_R_ financial future....

they're trying to sell you the brooklyn bridge while crying wolf....arrest them and sue them into oblivion.


Posted by: hello idiots... | August 20, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Alaska is a collection of small communities, and many people's occupations are inherently dangerous. The money is still largely made in blue-collar ways (oil, skilled trades, fishing, tourism). These factors combine to make people there more concerned than usual about the importance of individual character and integrity. The Veco scandal probably has more sticking power in Alaska than it would in any other state, red or blue.

Posted by: Scott | August 20, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

let's face it,

anyone that is stoopid enough to vote for a team as deciding factor shouldn't have the right to vote...

we're hiring people to run the country for gawd's sake...

the fact that the republicans have used the CIA against the country and asked nazis to help them with their propaganda does sort of indicate that reprehensibility is a "got to have," as part of the emotional background of a republican...

but still it has to be a case by case basis...

the behoomes fellow is obviously sub par in his intellect and selling rather than observing.

propagandist disguised as an opinion.


Posted by: bhoomes mother | August 20, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

think when the military talks about the pucker factor...

that's what George W. means when he says "pucker up"


Posted by: I | August 20, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

If Stevens did what ge is accused of, he should lose and go to jail to boot. But even that pick up will not give the dems the 60 they need because American people are smart enough to know it's the dems who bought us the high gas prices by being in bed and taking the money from the Sierra club and other left wing kooks. Dems don't want to build more refineries, or drill for oil or builld nuclear power plants. You do not need to be a genius to realize that's a sure fire preccription for higher gas prices.

Posted by: bhoomes | August 20, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

>>snObama wrote: "A mind is a terrible thing to have to make up. My VP choice is probably the first decision I have ever made that can't be finessed later when it is time for change. this is hard! It is above my pay grade. pretty much everything is."


Obama's trying to find a way to name a VP pick by coming down on all sides of the choices, prevaricating and avoiding taking a clear stand on this.

After all, he can prevaricate on all issues dear to the left-wing, including, even, the ones that defined him as a primary candidate. And he prevaricated his answers to non-policy questions at Saddleback, even the ones about who he is as a man, a leaders and his defining life experiences.

Why would he not come up with some waffling, unspecific way to name a VP?

He will probably name a VP after his campaign is done coming up with conspiracy theories about how The Man robbed him of his win at Saddleback.

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 20, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

What bad economy? Who'd wear $500 shoes if the economy were tanking? In my administration, Alan Greenspan will be propped up to keep this boom going - dead or alive. And, my friends, can we move on to something refreshing? Perhaps I can interest you in a Stella Artois!

Posted by: McCainiac | August 20, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

would be managing the economy for the

1/3 of 1 Percent running CONGRESS FOR THEMSELVES...

Mc Cain is a panderer to the right and a known "taker of monies"

as in the Keating 5.

He has also shown that he's willing to say whatever it takes to get the sheeple on his side....


been George W. "LIPS" Bushes side....

and apparently, his front at waist level and possibly his redeye level...

you'd have to ask John about that, he's a people pleaser, and he's willing to make the moves that please....

O ba ba man?

w/o some strong backing from a strong understanding of foreign policy...

the russia thingy could alarm the rednecks...maybe

I'm betting that no money is a lot more alarming.

that is what John McCain means, bush policies become McCain policies....the new man at the front of the machine as AMERICA slides into the ocean as the sun sinks...


Posted by: McCain | August 20, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Give "Scrivener" the figurative tee-shirt for "Northern Exposure", please.

Spec, as strongly as you disapprove of McC as a candidate, I suggest it was a cheap shot to name him in the same breath as Vitter, Craig, and Stevens. McC has done more to expose corrupt practices, especially in his own party, than any other sitting Senator. Yes, I know about the "Keating 5", but I know that the evidence since has shown how active McC has been in trying to rectify the unhealthy situation that nourished the S&L debacle of the late 80s.

HAving defended McC the Senator, I hasten to add that McC the presidential candidate seems to have bought into the neocon foreign policy and the endless deficits of tax cuts for the rich, while running a relatively negative campaign.

Posted by: MarkInAustin | August 20, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

A mind is a terrible thing to have to make up. My VP choice is probably the first decision I have ever made that can't be finessed later when it is time for change.

this is hard! It is above my pay grade. pretty much everything is.

Posted by: snObama | August 20, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse


‘Pay grade’ unartful dodge
Smart money shouldn’t be on Obama

By Michael Graham, Boston Herald

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 -

“Well, uh, you know, I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or, uh, a scientific perspective, uh, answering that question with specificity, uh, you know, is, is, uh, above my pay grade.”

- Sen. Barack Obama, on “When does a baby get human rights?”

In 1948, they had Harry Truman and “The buck stops here!”

In 2008, they’ve got Barack Obama and it’s “above my pay grade.”

Posted by: Outside the Box | August 20, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Alaska - the State version of the U.S. Congress for political corruption.

Posted by: Patriot3 | August 20, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a sharp turnaround, Republican John McCain has opened a 5-point lead on Democrat Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential race and is seen as a stronger manager of the economy, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

Posted by: Outside the Box | August 20, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

>>bondjedi wrote: "Aspergirl wrote:And why are the major media outlets not covering McCain's rise in polls and Obama's declining support?"
--"If you know about it, why are you complaining that no one is telling you?"

It's like the run-up to the Iraq war, where you had to go to off-beat news sites, regional papers, and data sites to get real news. All the stuff about how the Italians debunked the "yellowcake uranium" story, and other fake accusations against Saddam Hussein that were being hyped by the neocons, was out there.

It just didn't appear in mainstream news outlets, like WaPo.

To get real election contest news that give a more accurate portrayal of both sides of issues and news, you have to go off-mainstream, and use and news link aggregators like

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 20, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

First of all, it's hilarious that someone in Stevens' (self made) position is running an ad called "Toast."

Second, even if he really is Alaska's messiah, well the Romans crucified Jesus too and yet he still loved and saved them.

Posted by: Aleks | August 20, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse


All you can point to is Obama's "apparent" decline in support. In the meantime, we'll all wait for the day when the McCain train lies its way off the rails.

The disinformation scheme of the GOP is well on its way to being laid bare, including reports of a high-placed source, formerly inside the McCain campaign, who has documented evidence that the GOP has been falsifying election results since 2000.

That, and McCain's plagiarism at Saddleback ought to do the trick.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 20, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"And why are the major media outlets not covering McCain's rise in polls and Obama's declining support?"

If you know about it, why are you complaining that no one is telling you?

I know why - because you're bitter. Since you won't open your heart to Obama, why don't you open your checkbook to Hillary, so she will go away and not ruin the upcoming convention with her begging?

If every one of Hillary's 18 million so-called supporters gave just one dollar ...

Posted by: bondjedi | August 20, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

This is the same message used by scandal-ridden Conrad Burns in Montana in 2006. It didn't work.

Posted by: TheTouch | August 20, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Actually, Stevens is in a campaign now and is under indictment. It remains to be seen if Edwards will be indicted for misuse of campaign funds but the attention paid to Stevens at the moment seems appropriate.

Posted by: dch | August 20, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Stevens should retire with what little dignity he has left. This is another reason for people to start looking into mainstream third parties.
The Modern Whig Party -- For the rest of us

Posted by: Modern Whig fan | August 20, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

And why are the major media outlets not covering McCain's rise in polls and Obama's declining support?

Except, that is, for all the articles explaining and discussing the ways in which Obama can shift and strategize to win the election.

Reading the Post's election year coverage is like being inside the Obama campaign HQ spin room, a spin room that dysfunctionally denies any news that doesn't favor him while arguing in deluded corners of self-interested cheerleaders.

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 20, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Why is it relevant for The Fix to cover Stevens' collapse and not the deepening, election-year, campaign-funded affair scandal of Edwards?

Stevens is a politician, but wasn't an election year candidate and certainly not involved in presidential campaign irregularities, like Edwards.

The politics blog should also cover the grandstanding and posturing over energy policy happening in Congress between the pseudo-bipartisan "Gang of 10" phonies and Nancy Pelosi.

If any single Congressional event is going to help the Dems lose the election this year, that's it.

Posted by: AsperGirl | August 20, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

So his legal problems could be described as "Northern Exposure"?

Posted by: scrivener | August 20, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Ted Stevens got reelected to his senior position in the Senate precisely because of what he was caught red-handed doing. He was simply bringing home the bacon and of course the voters always go for the one who brings in the most. I wonder what would happen if there really were no pork-barrel for Ted to dip into? Gosh, he and his colleagues in the Senate would have to run on their VOTING records! Egad!

Posted by: DCH | August 20, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

What b@lls this man Stevens has. Caught red-handed in a tawdry corruption scandal, and he's wasting money on an ego tripping reelection bid.

On Earth he backed a bridge to nowhere, while in the afterlife he'll be taking the road to hell. Here's hoping the good people of Alaska send this thief and racketeer into political oblivion.

Posted by: bondjedi | August 20, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

He should release an ad that just says "Wanna keep your gov't funded job? Re-elect Ted Stevens. Ethics is overrated."

Posted by: Jeff C | August 20, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Americans are waking up to the fact that the permanent ruling class in Congress has been playing them like a violin. Who gets that lovely money from Washington? Not the ordinary citizen. But ordinary citizens still choose, we think, who goes to and stays in Congress. You have to give right wingers credit for devising an effective marketing campaign that has kept their kind in office for decades. All the while they engage in counterproductive and corrupt practices. For example, we have had right wingers in control for a long time. They claim they are for reduced government and vastly less government spending. Seen any of that?

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | August 20, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Toast is perfect, 'cause that's what Stevens is.

Posted by: he he hee hee he he ouch | August 20, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Stevens is the poster child for corrupt politician. I hope he is toast both in terms of his election bid and his legal proceedings.

Posted by: birdman1 | August 20, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

The Republican caucus in the Senate should have a "creeps and crooks" subgroup for Craig, Vitter, Stevens, McCain, Coleman...

Posted by: Spectator2 | August 20, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

"Toast" about sums up Ted Stevens' prospects for reelection. How good of him to hand the keys to his defeat to his challenger!

Posted by: dch | August 20, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

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