The federal government is driving the nation into bankruptcy, and Alaska's resources should be turned out of federal hands to save the state and the nation, Alaska Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller said Sunday.
"In this state, two thirds of it is owned by the federal government," Miller said, speaking from Fairbanks, Alaska. "The government is going bankrupt. ... That means that everybody in this nation is going to have to do some belt tightening. ... It's our position that as the money is restricted, the lands are transferred."
Speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," Miller said his goal is not to pull the financial plug on his state, but to return to the constitutional principle of "transferring discretion" of states' resources from the Feds. He noted that his state has enough natural resources to be the economic engine of the country, but those resources first must be properly managed.
"I think the answer to this is to basically transfer the responsibilities and power of government back to the states and the people," Miller said. "And certainly the state with its resources could be incredibly independent and, incredibly economically powerful. But that really is the answer to the crisis that we're in right now."
Miller is on the right track if he's interested in spending less taxpayer money on his state, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said minutes later on the same show.
"The fact is the country is going to have to spend less money," Barbour said. "And if Joe Miller was trying to say that in a different way, he is right."
Miller is not the GOP Senate nominee yet. He is locked in a tight race with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who fell 1,668 seats behind Miller in last week's statewide Republican primary. The victor will be determined by absentee ballots, which state officials will begin counting on Tuesday.
If Miller, a West Point and Yale Law School graduate, emerges the victor in the primary, he still must win a general election that currently favors the generic Republican candidate over Democratic nominee and Sitka, Alaska, Mayor Scott McAdams.
But a primary victory would still ensure for the first time in 30 years that a Murkowski hasn't held a U.S. Senate seat.
Murkowski's father Frank Murkowski named his daughter to replace him when he was elected Alaska's governor in 2002. Four years later, he was ousted from the governor's seat by Sarah Palin. Lisa Murkowski was elected to a full term in the Senate in 2004.
Palin has endorsed Miller in the Senate race, a factor that Miller attributes in part to his strong race.
"Obviously Governor Palin's endorsement" was a factor, Miller said, adding that he also won backing from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and had a large volunteer base.
Miller also received $500,000 in advertising dollars from the Tea Party Express.
Tea Party backing has played a critical role in several Republican primaries, a factor that Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., predicted will hurt the GOP in the Nov. 2 midterm election.
"It seems to me that you do have kind of an exotic crew out there this time," Wasserman-Schultz said of the new crew of Republican nominees, including Miller. "I mean, Americans really are going to have a very clear choice set up in November between moderate Democrats who are centrists, where the country is, and Republicans who are really off on the right-wing fringe. And there's countless examples of that across the country."
Barbour said the Republican candidates may look extreme to some because the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress "have taken the biggest lurch to the left in policy in American history."
"There (has) been no Congress, no administration that has run this far to the left in such a small period of time. And there is a reaction to that," Barbour said.
Barbour also disagreed with the notion that the GOP "establishment" is flummoxed by the number of candidates who are not insider picks.
"When I was chairman of the (Republican National Committee) ... we never took sides in primaries. We did not endorse incumbents over challengers," said Barbour, who now heads teh Republican Governors Association.
"And here's why. The Republicans of Alaska have the right and should pick their nominee. They don't need somebody in Yazoo City, Mississippi, to tell them who ought to be the senator of Alaska," Barbour said.
Miller said if he is elected, he would butcher Washington's sacred cows -- like avoiding discussion about how to make Social Security solvent without leaving seniors in the cold.
"It would be incredibly irresponsible for us to sit back and say that this is something that shouldn't be addressed. ... It is basically part of the crisis of leadership in D.C. to not look at Social Security and understand that there has got to be a solution posed."