WASHINGTON — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has crafted a corruption-busting image as part of her Republican vice presidential campaign, wasn't talking tough Monday after Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted in a corruption case.
Palin did not call on Stevens to resign or drop out of his tight re-election race.
"I'm confident Senator Stevens will do what's right for the people of Alaska," Palin said in a statement.
Just weeks ago, when John McCain tapped her to be his running mate, Republicans trumpeted her ability to stand up to her own party. They said that proved she could stand up in the face of crisis.
"If you can take on Ted Stevens and that crowd in Alaska, you can handle the Russians," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C, told ABC News.
But Monday, Palin wasn't taking on Stevens. She said it was a sad day for Alaska and said it highlighted the corrupting influence of Big Oil in Alaska.
Stevens was convicted of seven counts of lying about $250,000 in home improvements and other gifts from oil contractor Bill Allen.
"I will carefully monitor this situation and take any appropriate action as needed," Palin said. "In the meantime, I ask the people of Alaska to join me in respecting the workings of our judicial system."
Stevens has not said what he plans to do and Palin's reluctance to call on him to step down may reflect just how powerful the Alaska senator remains. He is still popular and could win re-election.