Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) on Monday downplayed the lack of a reelection endorsement from his state's governor, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, saying Palin's silence isn't surprising in light of his indictment.

"She's governor, why should she endorse me? We know there's a cloud around me," Stevens said. "I've known her for a very long time. We've campaigned together, in '02, '04, '06. We're great friends. There's no problem. She just can't do that until it's over, that's all."

Palin has been silent when asked whether she would endorse Stevens, who is facing multiple counts of failing to disclose gifts and services from an Alaskan oil-services company on his official financial disclosure forms.

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Stevens also defended Palin against Democratic charges that Palin has flip-flopped on her stance over the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere" project in rural Alaska. Stevens championed the project, but it came to be seen as a symbol of excessive spending.

Palin initially supported the bridge but reversed her stance.

"I don't remember her ever campaigning for it," Stevens said of Palin. "As a matter of fact, she was very critical of it at the time."

- J. Taylor Rushing