From Erika Bolstad in Washington D.C. --
He didn't use the actual word, but few who saw Joe Miller's online analogy failed to grasp exactly what he meant.
Earlier today, the Republican Senate candidate had this to say on Twitter about the rumor Sen. Lisa Murkowski might join the Libertarian Party ticket if she loses her bid against him once all the ballots are counted: "What's the difference between selling out your party's values and the oldest profession?"
The tweet was soon deleted, but it's not dying anytime soon. It was forwarded – known as retweeting – throughout cyberspace within minutes.
A spokesman for Miller, Randy DeSoto, initially blamed the tweet on a staffer. And followed up with another tweet saying the reference was to the Libertarian Party, not Murkowski herself. "Please accept my apologies," he wrote. "Staffer trying to encourage Libertarians not to sell out."
Later, in a phone interview, DeSoto said the staffer's tweeting privileges had been revoked.
UPDATE: Here's Murkowski's response: "Alaskans deserve better. This type of statement is inexcusable from someone who wants to represent our state," she said. "While I have been focused on the remaining ballots, the Miller campaign has launched yet another smear campaign against me. They lied about my record during the primary and now they have resorted to name-calling -- it’s disgusting."
"Alaskan values have never included a complete disregard for the truth or a lack of common decency,” Murkowski said. "Mr. Miller owes all Alaskans, women and my family an apology."
Before Murkowski released a statement, Sean Cockerham spoke with her campaign manager John Bitney, who had this to say:
"He just basically called Senator Murkowski a prostitute," Bitney said. "I am doing my best in a moment of extreme anger right at the moment to be measured in my remarks. The word that comes to mind is deplorable. Disgusting. The man has no place representing Alaska in the U.S. Senate with that kind of attitude."
Bitney said this is being watched nationally and Miller should be ashamed to take it to that level. "He owes Alaskans an apology."
UPDATE #2: The Miller campaign issued this statement late in the afternoon.
"A tweet went out today from Joe Miller's Twitter account, the intent of which was to encourage the Libertarians to stay true their party's values and not to allow Senator Murkowski to run under their banner. It linked to an article in the Daily Caller saying the two were in discussions.
"Miller responded to it, 'As you know, it has been extremely busy the past few days. I have a volunteer staff member who assists me in tweeting, especially when I am busy. This tweet was in poor judgment. He has been relieved of those duties. And while the comments have been misconstrued (they were directed at the Libertarian Party), I don't stand by those comments. The Libertarians are free to choose whomever they want to represent them. It's up to them to decide who best represents their values. I am a Republican Party U.S. Senate candidate, and look forward to representing that party’s message of limited government and returning power to the states and the people who live in them. I certainly apologize to Senator Murkowski for any hurt feelings caused by this poorly conceived post.'"