John King, USA

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September 1st, 2010
09:23 PM ET
September 1st, 2010
05:51 PM ET

Anchor notes: John King on Joe Miller

Washington (CNN) – Joe Miller calls President Obama "bad for America" and suggests he is leading the nation on a path to socialism. But the newly minted GOP Senate nominee from Alaska also has a message for the Republican Leadership. Not to mention unapologetic views on cutting federal spending and even possibly phasing out Social Security.

A few highlights from an interview taped Wednesday, the day after tea party favorite Miller clinched the GOP nomination. (Defeating incumbent GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski.)

"There is an opportunity to lead this country out of the crisis its in and I believe the Republican Party is well suited to take up that mantle," Miller said an interview for Wednesday's "John King, USA." which will air at 7pm. "The question is whether or not there's the courage and leadership in that party to seize the moment and to recognize that the only way out of this is to get out of the age of the entitlement state to return power back to the states and recognize that central government is broken and see what we can do about fixing things and getting the government focused on those areas the enumerated powers that it should be doing. And the Republican Party can do it but it does require courage."

So is Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky the right GOP Senate leader or should the party choose a new one?

"Anybody that embraces this message can move it forward so that's going to be up to the Republican party. It's going to be up to the people of this great nation," Miller said. "I believe that the party should embrace that message. I think it is the future of this nation. I think it will lead us out of this mess. But let's just wait and see what happens."

Democrats have labeled Miller an extremist who would abolish Social Security. He is quick to make some important distinctions about those currently receiving benefits, but is forceful in making the case be believes major changes are needed down the road. Consider this exchange:

Miller: "Longer term there has got to be a move outside of that system. Ultimately we want to transfer the power back to the states so that states can take up the mantle of those programs if they so desire. In, you know, the shorter term, I think there have been many plans proposed that can move the shift or shift this away from government control and into a sector where we can actually protect those funds

"I mean if its a privatized system, for example, I can ensure that I put my money into an account that the government is not going to steal from. ... I think most Americans recognize that that system is broken and they understand that there has got to be a change longer term to bring back some fiscal sanity and to ensure that you can actually have something when you do retire rather than depend on these IOUs that when we go insolvent aren't going to be worth much."

KING: "It is an issue that you well know can be easily demagogued, so I want to deliver a statement. You tell me if it's fair or not: That anybody in the system or close to the system is fine. We won't do anything significant to change your benefits. But how about an American born tomorrow or born the day after Joe Miller was sworn in in Washington? Would that person perhaps grow up in an America where there is not a federal Social Security program if you got your way?

MILLER: "Absolutely.

KING: "That's a fair statement?"

MILLER: "No demagoguery there at all."

September 1st, 2010
05:22 PM ET

Miller questions GOP 'courage and leadership'

Editor's Note: Watch CNN's "John King, USA" on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET for John King's full interview with Joe Miller.

(CNN) – A day after his opponent conceded the Republican primary for Senate in Alaska, Joe Miller took on both President Obama and the Republican political establishment Wednesday, warning that the nation is headed towards socialism and facing a dire fiscal crisis.

Incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski conceded to the Tea Party-backed candidate late Tuesday in what is considered one of the largest upsets of the 2010 midterm election cycle.

In a wide ranging interview with CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King, Miller criticized the growth of entitlement programs and corporate bailouts under the Obama administration, and described Obama as "bad for America."

"He's of the major forces moving this country towards socialism. He is expanding the entitlement state. It is the wrong direction for America," Miller said in an interview that will air on CNN's "John King, USA."

Miller has made the threat of socialism a central theme of his campaign. In a new web video on his campaign website he warns that "our nation stands at a crossroads. It's careening toward socialism and insolvency."

However, he told King that he would not seek an immediate end to entitlement programs such as social security and Medicare.

"This is not a Joe Miller comes to D.C. and Social Security is gone, Medicare is gone. But what Joe Miller does do, and what those that I think are joining in this message do is get this government aback from the fiscal brink, back from bankruptcy so that we can ensure that the contracts that we've made with our seniors, that we can honor those," he said.

Yet he conceded that he "absolutely" would like to see an eventual end to a federal Social Security program.

"We're at a deficit. The trust fund is gone. It's full of IOUs. If this were a private pension plan the custodians of that pension plan would be in jail. But our government has raided that fund and it's completely gone," Miller said.

Miller, who has sought to establish himself as a Washington outsider throughout the campaign, called the fiscal crisis a "bipartisan problem," citing a lack of leadership in the Republican establishment.

"The question is whether or not there's the courage and leadership in [the Republican] party to seize the moment, and to recognize that the only way out of this is to get out of the age of the entitlement state, to return power back to the states, and recognize that central government is broken," Miller said. "The Republican Party can do it, but it does require courage because its not the status quo."

But there was one Republican for which Miller expressed strong admiration – former Alaska governor and Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin, who endorsed the previously unknown candidate, and is largely credited with helping him pull off an upset win against the Republican party-backed Murkowski.

"[Palin] was critical to the success of this campaign," Miller said. "She is absolutely a force to be reckoned with nationally. I absolutely will support her in her endeavors."

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Filed under: Interview
September 1st, 2010
12:40 PM ET

Be in the know: Today's political bullet points

Everyday we ask influential politicos to send us their top three bullet points that are driving the day's conversation in and outside Washington:

What a great glimpse at one of this year’s major political dynamics: family feuds and frustration on both the left and right. Jane looks past the promise kept by President Obama and vents the left’s frustration that this administration is not only escalating in Afghanistan but also continuing – and on some cases expanding – secret or at least rarely discussed military and intelligence operations around the world. And Erick doesn’t hide his delight that a big win for Joe Miller in Alaska is a slap at an established Republican Party leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Telling snapshots: the left thinks President Obama has let them down on many issue, and the grassroots energy on much of the right is aimed at being a wakeup call – or slap – at their own party’s leadership as well as a challenge to the Obama agenda. – John King

RedState.Com Editor Erick-Woods Erickson:

– Joe Miller's victory in Alaska completes a near total knee-capping of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's leadership team. Gregg is retiring. Bennett got beat. Murkowski is gone. Only Kay Bailey Hutchison remains after Texas conservatives defeated her in the gubernatorial primary. Trey Grayson, Gregg's intended replacement, was beaten by Rand Paul in Kentucky.

– The DailyKos's official pollster, PPP, surveyed Ohio voters and found by a 50-44 margin, voters would rather have George W. Bush than Barack Obama. Ouch.

– Steve Jobs announces more Apple goodness today - a more important story than anything else if you ask me. I want a new Apple TV.

Firedoglake.com Blogger/Founder Jane Hamsher:

– Combat mission ends in Iraq, but Obama's 17 other secret wars rage on.

– Pampered Wall Street bankers' feelings are hurt that people blame them for tanking economy.

Chickenhawk-fueled anti-Muslim hysteria helps terrorist recruitment.


Filed under: Bullet Points
September 1st, 2010
06:31 AM ET
September 1st, 2010
06:29 AM ET