(ROANOKE, VA.) - Just before boarding her campaign plane to take off from Richmond, Sarah Palin stood behind a hastily prepared podium on the tarmac to deliver a statement on Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who was convicted on seven counts of making false statements about free home renovations and other gifts received from an oil contractor.
"It's a sad day for Alaska and a sad day for Senator Stevens and his family," Palin said as an aide held an umbrella over her head. "The verdict shines a light though on the corrupting influence of the big oil service company up there in Alaska that was allowed to control too much of our state. And that control was part of the culture of corruption that I was elected to fight. And that fight must always move forward regardless of party affiliation or seniority or even past service. And as governor of the state of Alaska, I'll carefully monitor now the situation and I'll take any appropriate action as needed. In the meantime I do ask that the people of Alaska join me in respecting the workings of our judicial system, and I'm confident that Senator Stevens, from this point on, will do the right thing for the state of Alaska."
A reporter asked Palin whether she intended to vote for Stevens - whose name must remain on the ballot - but the Alaska governor turned and boarded the campaign plane without answering the question.
Stevens was already in a tough reelection fight before his conviction. If he manages to win the race, he could be forced out of the Senate by a 2/3 majority vote of his colleagues. In that case, Palin would call a special election to replace Stevens.