Tea Party Favorite Joe Miller on Upset Win in Alaska

The following is a rush transcript of the September 19, 2010, edition of "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: One of the biggest tea party upsets this year was in Alaska, where newcomer Joe Miller defeated incumbent senator Lisa Murkowski.

And now another twist. Murkowski announced Friday she'll run as a write-in candidate. For reaction, we bring in the Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller live from Alaska.

Mr. Miller, let's start with Senator Murkowski's announcement that she is going to run this write-in campaign. And here's what she said about you in that.


SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI, R-ALASKA: I listened to Alaskans who said, "Lisa, please, please give us that choice because," they told me, "we can not accept the extremist views of Joe Miller, and we cannot..."



WALLACE: Your reaction to her decision, Mr. Miller?

SENATORIAL CANDIDATE JOE MILLER: Well, obviously, Chris, she's not listening very well to the Alaskan voters, because this primary we had the largest turnout of Republican voters in the history of the state. And they said resoundingly -- well, 2,000 votes; I guess that's as resoundingly as it gets -- that in fact, the views that we've expressed during this campaign are the views that the future of the state needs to embrace.

So I think that, really, she's just got a real disconnection from reality in thinking that the voters of Alaska are extreme.

WALLACE: You only beat Murkowski by 1,600 votes in the Republican primary, and you only lead your Democratic opponent by six points, Scott McAdams, in the latest poll. Turnout is going to be a lot bigger in November than it was in the primary. Mr. Miller, isn't this race now wide open?

MILLER: Well, in fact, the final number's 2,000. But still, yes, you're right. Close vote. But sure, turnout is going to be important. But again, you know, the views that we've expressed are transferring power back from the federal government to the states, giving Alaska an incredible opportunity to expand its economy, especially at a time when our federal government is coming close to bankruptcy.

So that is a broad-based appeal. It's not an extreme view. It's not an extreme view that the voters in the Republican primary here embraced, but it's one that puts this state forward and has the capacity to put all the states in this nation forward. It's an answer of hope. It's not one of the despair of the past, the one that's leading us into insolvency as a nation.

WALLACE: Well, let's pick up on your views. And as we played in that original clip, Senator Murkowski says that you're an extremist. Unemployment benefits. You say that they are unconstitutional. And I have two questions.

First of all, why are unemployment benefits unconstitutional? And secondly, the Census Bureau this week came out with new figures that indicated 44 million Americans are living in poverty. And without unemployment benefits, a lot more, millions more, would be living in poverty. What would you do for them?

MILLER: Well, I think the question is what is the role of the federal government. Right now we've grown the federal government into such a size that we have, what, I think in absolute terms now $13.4 trillion in debt.

If you look at the future unfunded obligation, which -- a lot of those are the entitlement programs -- by some estimates $130 trillion. That's unsustainable. That's just the facts. And I think Americans recognize that those are the facts.

The exciting thing is that Americans are looking for answers. Alaskans are looking for answers. Here in Alaska 40 percent -- 40 percent -- of our economy is somewhat derived from the federal government. If we continue to say that things got to continue the way they are, the expansion of the government, which is unconstitutional in many ways, is the wave of the future, it is a dead-end road, particularly for this state because of that impending bankruptcy...

WALLACE: But, Mr. Miller...


MILLER: ... the nation as a whole.

WALLACE: ... if I may...


WALLACE: ... because I'm not -- I'm not sure you answered my question, why are unemployment benefits unconstitutional? And in the time of a tough economy, a recession, and now a kind of jobless recovery, what are you going to do for the 44 million people who are living in poverty?

MILLER: I think what you need to look at is the context. We had an extension of unemployment benefits several weeks ago which is beyond what we've had in the past in this country.

What we have in this country is an entitlement mentality. It's an entitlement not just at the individual but even at the state level, that if all goes wrong, it's the federal government's role to get in there and provide for the general welfare, to basically provide for the solvency particularly of states and other entities -- what, auto companies, the banks -- everything else that fails, the government should be involved in bailing out.

And you know, the Constitution provides enumerated powers. And I guess my challenge is to anybody that ask show me the enumerated power, and then look at the Tenth Amendment that says if it's not there in the Constitution -- it's a power that belongs to the state and the people.

And I think we as a people need to stop being disingenuous about what the Constitution provides for. It does not provide for this all- encompassing power that we've seen exercised over the last several decades. It's what's gotten us into this bankrupt position.

WALLACE: As we discussed with Karl Rove, there does seem to be this sea change going on inside the Republican Party across the country. If you're elected to the Senate in November, how do you want to see your party, the GOP, do things differently in Washington?

MILLER: Well, I think that the first thing that needs to be done is, again, restricting the growth and actually reversing the growth of government and, in the process, transferring power back to the states.

For Alaska, that's extraordinary. Here in Alaska we have, by some estimates, 50 billion barrels of crude, proven reserves. We have on top of that 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. We have extraordinary resources and other minerals. We have opportunity to drive the engine of this state, the economic engine of this state, in such a way that no longer would federal funds necessarily be required.

Obviously, there's a period of transition that takes place, but we have an opportunity. And it's one that can drive, I believe, the whole economy of the United States, just because of the extraordinary resources there.

But if we continue to have that heavy hand of government put down the state of Alaska so that it can't get ahead economically, we're going to continue to have the same sort of dead-end road that has basically been what Senator Murkowski has voted for during the eight years that she's been in Senate. It is not a message of hope. It's one that has no answer for the future.

WALLACE: But I'm asking you more than just about Alaska. I think you've made that point clear. How would you like to see the GOP handle things differently in Washington on issues that affect the whole country?

MILLER: But, Chris, that is the point. What is good for Alaska is good for the country. Transferring power from the federal government to the states provides opportunity to all states, not just Alaska.

You know, we're laboratories of democracy. We're a very diverse country. Each one of these states has the opportunity to create solutions themselves, particularly when we face these significant challenges that we have as a country.

It's an opportunity for all of us as a nation to look back to what the founders envisioned. And that was lots of different people and lots of different states making decisions that are best for the residents of those states.

WALLACE: But are you saying, for instance, things like Social Security or Medicare -- that those should be handled by the states for their own citizens and not be a national responsibility with a national program?

MILLER: Chris, I'm glad that you ask about that. We've got -- and the same thing is with unemployment compensation, too. We have a contract between people and their government. Right now that contract's been broken.

Social Security, for example -- I'm 43. I've paid into the system. You know what? That money has been stolen from me. I know that my parents who are on Social Security -- they've got to continue to receive it. They're dependent on it. It is their primary source of income.

I grew up lower middle class. My parents are still challenged financially. Our seniors have got to have the trust and security that those benefits are going to be paid, even those that are getting ready to receive. Obviously, there's a contract. It's got to be upheld.

Longer term, we know that the fiscal insolvency of the nation can't justify it, and we also know, more importantly, that people like me -- we aren't going to have those funds in the future. And so we've got to look at all options. And I think the states are an option.

I think making sure that I can put my money where the government can't steal it is a very critical factor that has got to be considered. And if we look at this system and say, "Ah, don't need reform, forget about it, plug our heads in the sand, this bankruptcy's going to go away," that is entirely irresponsible.

And again, that's the failed approach of Murkowskis and other (sic) that are in the Senate right now, not giving us solutions, but basically telling the American people, "Ah, don't worry about it. Everything's going to be OK," despite the fact that we have $13.4 trillion of debt.

WALLACE: Mr. Miller, we've got about two minutes left, and I want to get into former governor Palin of your state who backed you and certainly helped you win with her backing. Do you think that Sarah Palin is qualified to be president? And would you like to see her run?

MILLER: You know, I'm running a U.S. Senate race right now in the state of Alaska. That's what I'm focused on. I'm -- you know, I've been asked about various candidates throughout the country during this race. That's not my role, to comment on those candidacies.

My role is to drive forward this campaign to rescue this state from the grip of the federal government that is causing our children not to have opportunity.

You know, I moved here 16 years ago. I want to ensure that my children and their children have opportunity and they aren't driven down this road of bankruptcy in such a way that they lose the opportunity for the American dream. And that's my focus. That's my charge. And I'm not going to get distracted by questions about other candidates.

WALLACE: Well, we can always try. Joe Miller, thank you so much for coming in today and talking with us. We -- good luck in the campaign and we'll talk to you later.

MILLER: Thank you, Chris.

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