To some, the exchange was the latest example of Miller thumbing his nose at the way politics in Alaska is conducted – a decision that could cost him on Election Day.
Longtime Alaska political journalist Michael Carey quips: "Joe Miller can go on Fox News all he wants. What he has to do is convince people in Shishmaref." Yet Miller has largely done the opposite – schmoozing with Fox News and national radio talk show hosts regularly while avoiding many of Alaska's hinterland villages and many traditional voting blocs.
The late Sen. Ted Stevens became the gold standard in Alaska politics by bringing federal money back home – helping the sparsely populated state deal with enormous challenges of infrastructure, cultural survival, and basic services. Yet Miller, who moved to the state in 1995, has built his campaign on an antigovernment message and on severing Alaska from that largess.
Critics say he has run a "tea party" campaign tailored to the Lower 48, and in the process has shown a lack of understanding of the unique issues Alaska faces. To Miller's supporters, though, that is precisely his Palin-esque charm: a man on a mission to shake up Alaska politics-as-usual.
Polls show that he retains the cast-iron support of about one-third of Alaskans – the conservative wing of the Republican Party that was inspired by tea party energy and money in the Republican primary and pushed him past Senator Murkowski.