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GOP senators urge Trump to back off Murkowski threat

Top Senate Republicans are urging President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner on Hannity touts Trump: 'He was a disruptor' Ivanka Trump doubles down on vaccine push with post celebrating second shot Conservative Club for Growth PAC comes out against Stefanik to replace Cheney MORE to back off a threat to campaign against Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump muddles Republican messaging on Afghanistan Trump drama divides GOP, muddling message Moderate Republicans leery of Biden's renewed call for unity MORE (R-Alaska) if she runs for reelection in 2022.

Trump tweeted late last week that he would be campaigning in Alaska in 2022 against Murkowski and would back anyone with a "pulse" after she told reporters that she was "struggling" with whether she could support him in 2020.

But top Senate Republicans indicated on Monday that they don't support efforts to unseat Murkowski, who is one of the Senate GOP caucus's most moderate members.

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"I'd leave Lisa alone. She's a member of our conference, and we want to keep it that way," said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump muddles Republican messaging on Afghanistan The Memo: Trump's critics face wrath of GOP base GOP wrestles with role of culture wars in party's future MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Republican senator.

Asked about Trump's tweet, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCornyn is most prolific tweeter in Congress so far in 2021 Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel Trump muddles Republican messaging on Afghanistan MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Memo: The GOP's war is already over — Trump won Biden: GOP in the midst of a 'mini-revolution' Ernst defends Cheney, calls for GOP unity MORE (R-Ky.), told reporters, "I don’t support that at all."

Murkowski has found herself once again a target for Trump after she told reporters she was struggling with whether she could back Trump, even as she said she would continue to work with him and the administration.

"I am struggling with it. I have struggled with it for a long time," said Murkowski, who did not vote for Trump in 2016.

Trump quickly fired back that in 2022 he will be "in the Great State of Alaska (which I love) campaigning against Senator Lisa Murkowski."

"Get any candidate ready, good or bad, I don't care, I'm endorsing. If you have a pulse, I'm with you!" he added.

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Murkowski on Monday said she stood by her comments despite the president's reaction.

"I think it's important that we have a president that's working to bring people together," she said. "Tone and words matter."

Asked if his tweet made it less likely she would support him, Murkowski recounted how she told a reporter during the debate over repealing ObamaCare that she "cannot live in fear of a tweet."

"That's where I am now," she said.

It's not the first time Trump has signaled frustration with the GOP senator. After she came out in opposition to then-Supreme Court nominee Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughConservative justices split in ruling for immigrant fighting deportation Supreme Court weighs whether to limit issuance of exemptions to biofuel blending requirements The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP makes infrastructure play; Senate passes Asian hate crimes bill MORE, Trump vowed that Murkowski would "never recover" with Alaska voters.

Murkowski was appointed to her Senate seat in 2002, before winning her first full term in 2004.

In 2010, she became the second Senate candidate to win a write-in campaign, which she launched after losing the battle for her party's nomination.

On Monday, two members of GOP leadership — Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntRepublicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate GOP attorneys general group in turmoil after Jan. 6 Trump rally Senate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban MORE (R-Mo.) and John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoRepublican seeks to use Obama energy policies to criticize Biden  EPA proposes major rule to reduce certain greenhouse gases Republicans hammer Biden on infrastructure while administration defends plan MORE (R-Wyo.) — pointed to Murkowski's write-in campaign, signaling that she would likely be hard to beat in Alaska.

"She won a ... write-in in her race. The last time that had happened was 1954," Barrasso said. "She knows her state."