Murkowski: DeMint 'has made people uncomfortable' with cage-rattling

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) brushed off attacks by fellow GOP Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) over her write-in bid to defeat the nominee and Tea Party favorite Joe Miller, saying that her fellow senator was making people "uncomfortable."

"Murkowski's betrayal provides more proof that big-tent hypocrites don't really care about winning a majority for Republicans," DeMint wrote in a scathing fundraising e-mail for Miller on Sunday, adding "principles have never been that important to Murkowski."

Murkowski said on CNN's "State of the Union" that it wasn't up to DeMint or the California-based Tea Party Express to decide if Alaska's senator was conservative enough.

"Jim can say what he's going to say," she said. "That's fine. I'm going to listen to what the people of Alaska want."

She said the slim percentage of victory for Miller and the Democratic nominee, Scott McAdams, showed that there's plenty of middle ground that she can capture in a write-in effort. She accused the Tea Party of coming into the state and dropping $600,000 on "mudslinging smears, terrible, terrible campaign... they absolutely, clearly influenced the outcome of that election."

Murkowski said her campaign was not about undermining the Republican Party, but "a write in process is absolutely a part of that electoral process."

She demurred on whether there is a civil war brewing in the GOP. "I don't think that's it's particularly helpful to undercut fellow Republicans," she said of DeMint.

"I think that he has made people uncomfortable," she said, adding that he had "rattled cages."

"I'm not going to define people by labels, who's a real Republican," Murkowski said, adding that Miller "is suggesting to us... some pretty radical things."

She also defended her write-in bid as a winnable effort.

Winning a write-in campaign is going to be tough. But don't you tell Alaskans that we can't do tough things. You don't think we can fill in an oval and learn to spell Lisa Murkowski? We can figure this out.