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Washington — Joe Miller is on the Hill, and he doesn’t look too happy about it. As he enters National Review’s office to meet with the staff, his face is glacial, his red-and-white-striped tie an inch askew. His weary blue eyes complete the picture: This is somebody begrudgingly making the Washington rounds. Indeed, he’s just come from an interview with a national television network down the block, and all he has to show for it is a half-empty cup of soda from We, the Pizza — a hip eatery that peddles gourmet pies and “organic” values. As Miller finds a spot at the conference table, his wife, Kathleen, an easygoing schoolteacher and mother of eight, settles into a nearby chair.
Miller, who bears a striking resemblance to Chuck Norris, with his casually slicked-black hair, light beard, and Yoda-like seriousness, shrugs off inquiries about his visit to the hipster slice shop. Heavier things are on his mind. The 43-year-old West Point grad, who won a Bronze Star in the Persian Gulf War, is in the midst of a heated three-way battle for the U.S. Senate in Alaska — he’s facing not only Democrat Scott McAdams, but also current Republican senator Lisa Murkowski, who decided to pursue a write-in candidacy when Miller won the GOP primary — and in the campaign’s final days, he has no time for small talk.
In the interview, Miller lays out his plan to change Washington:
Should he win the seat, Miller pledges to be a different kind of Republican. “I’m not going to be a co-opted senator, I can tell you that much,” he begins. “That’s the mandate of Alaskans: to get things done and to change the direction of D.C.”
Nonetheless, he says he’s impressed by the party’s leadership and its potential incoming freshman class. “I think there’s an understanding that the mood of the nation has changed in such a way that there is not going to be toleration of business as usual. If that means shutting down the government, so be it. I mean, we’ll do what it takes,” he says. “I think that we will have enough like-minded people coming into D.C. that we’re actually going to be able to accomplish something.”
But is Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate GOP leader, open to the possibility of shutting down the federal government? “There was a comment made at breakfast this morning about shutting down the government, and he reacted in a positive way,” Miller says. “I’m not going to quote him, but I think that he recognizes that that’s on the table.”