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In Alaska, Praise for Sen. Stevens

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Last week, President Bush's Justice Department announced that Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska had been indicted on federal corruption charges. Yesterday, the two men came together at a military base in Stevens's state, where Bush warmly praised the Senate's longest-serving Republican.

"The United States military has had no better supporter and stronger friend than Senator Ted Stevens. Thank you for coming, Senator," Bush said, addressing a crowd of military personnel and their families at Eielson Air Force Base as Air Force One refueled en route to Asia.

The president made no mention of the criminal charges alleging that Stevens made false statements about pricey renovations to his home near Anchorage. The two men did not talk to each other at the base, although Stevens, who has pleaded not guilty to all counts, was seen chatting with White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten.

White House officials said Stevens was invited as a matter of protocol. Press secretary Dana Perino told reporters that Stevens's attendance was "absolutely appropriate."

Perino said she did not think Bush had spoken to Stevens since the indictment was announced last Tuesday.

Yesterday in Washington, Stevens's attorneys filed papers seeking to have his trial moved to federal court in Alaska.

-- Dan Eggen

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