Stevens in Alaska to mount challenging re-election bid

Sen. Ted Stevens returned to Alaska on Wednesday for the first time since his conviction, telling a crowd of supporters he made a mistake but is not a criminal and needs their help to save his re-election.

"Like most people, I'm not perfect. I naively trusted someone I thought was an honest friend. When he was neither honest nor a friend," Stevens said.

Stevens was talking about Bill Allen, former chief executive of the oilfield services company Veco Corp. and the prosecution's star witness against him. A Washington, D.C., jury on Monday convicted Stevens of seven felony counts of lying on financial disclosure forms about thousands of dollars of gifts and home renovations from Veco.

"My future is in God's hands," the Republican told the crowd of roughly 500 gathered in the PenAir hangar at Ted Stevens International Airport. "Alaska's future is in your hands."

Stevens' return marks the beginning of what his campaign says will be an aggressive, whirlwind, effort to persuade Alaskans to re-elect the 84-year-old senator. With the election just five days away, Stevens has little time and a big challenge.

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