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CBS: Lisa Murkowski 'Not Beholden' to GOP 'Who Turned Their Backs on Her'

On Thursday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes reported on Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski declaring victory in her write-in bid for reelection and portrayed her as a victim of the GOP: "[She's] in a very unique position, not beholden to the Republican leaders who turned their backs on her when she decided to run and not beholden to the tea party, which did everything it could to defeat her."

In reality, it was Murkowski who turned her back on the Republican Party after losing the primary and continuing to run against GOP nominee Joe Miller. Cordes sympathetically declared: "This was a huge uphill battle for Lisa Murkowski, who was urged by Republican leaders not to wage this campaign after she lost her primary bid....It was a risky bid and the risk paid off."

In addition, Murkowski's win was portrayed as a major defeat for Sarah Palin, as Cordes proclaimed: "It's a big blow for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who backed Miller from the start." At the top of the show, co-host Harry Smith touted how Murkowski "beats Palin's tea party candidate" and later described how it "would be a significant loss for Sarah Palin, who tried to knock out her opponent and failed."

Following Cordes's report, Smith interviewed Murkowski and highlighted the Senator's attacks on Palin in a recent Evening News interview with Katie Couric: "...one of the things you said was you thought Sarah Palin lacked the intellectual curiosity to be a good presidential candidate and turns out Sarah Palin had a conversation with Barbara Walters yesterday and she said she thinks she can beat Barack Obama in 2012. Would you vote for her?" Murkowski replied: "I've already said that I would not."

Here is a full transcript of the November 18 segment:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

HARRY SMITH: Alaska showdown. In a new interview Sarah Palin says she can beat President Obama in 2012. While her former nemesis, Lisa Murkowski, beats Palin's tea party candidate to become the Senate's first write-in winner in more than 50 years. We'll talk with Murkowski about her surprising win and her words for Palin.

7:03AM ET SEGMENT:

SMITH: Now to Alaska's historic Senate race, with just a handful of votes left to be counted, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski says she has won a new term. That would be a significant loss for Sarah Palin, who tried to knock out her opponent and failed. Before we speak with the Senator, let's get to the story from Capitol Hill, CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes there with the latest. Nancy, good morning.

NANCY CORDES: Good morning, Harry. This was a huge uphill battle for Lisa Murkowski, who was urged by Republican leaders not to wage this campaign after she lost her primary bid. She had to convince Alaska voters to write in her name, in huge numbers. And it appears she was successful.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Alaska Showdown; Murkowski Declares Win; Palin Says She Could Beat Obama]

LISA MURKOWSKI: And so, today, my friends, my campaign for Alaska's future begins.

CORDES: It was a risky bid and the risk paid off. The last successful Senate write-in campaign was more than 50 years ago. But Wednesday, Senator Lisa Murkowski announced she'd done it.

MURKOWSKI: We did it, we made history. Alaskans made history.

CORDES: With just 750 ballots left to count, Murkowski is leading her GOP rival, tea party enthusiast Joe Miller, by more than 10,000 votes. Miller is challenging more than 8,000 of those votes, especially ones that are misspelled, but that still gives Murkowski a 2000-vote lead. He may be trailing, but Miller isn't conceding.

JOE MILLER: It's not a question as to how I feel. It's a question as to whether or not the voters of the state of Alaska deserve to have a consistent standard applied in the future, whether or not they deserve integrity in the vote and those are questions that aren't answered yet.

CORDES: It's a big blow for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who backed Miller from the start. In a new interview with Barbara Walters, Palin wouldn't say whether she'll run for president in 2012. But, she did predict what the outcome would be if she did.

BARBARA WALTERS: If you ran for president, could you beat Barack Obama?

SARAH PALIN: I believe so.

CORDES: Murkowski told Katie Couric this week how she feels about her fellow Alaska Republican.

MURKOWSKI: I just do not think that she has those leadership qualities, that intellectual curiosity that allows for building good and great policies.

CORDES: Murkowski will return to Capitol Hill in a very unique position, not beholden to the Republican leaders who turned their backs on her when she decided to run and not beholden to the tea party, which did everything it could to defeat her. Harry.

SMITH: Nancy Cordes on Capitol Hill, thank you. And Senator Murkowski joins us now from Anchorage. Good morning, Senator.

LISA MURKOWSKI: Good morning, nice to be with you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Senate Shake-Up; Murkowski Declares Victory With Alaska Write-In]

SMITH: Talk about how important it is that people in Alaska knew how to spell M-u-r-k-o-w-s-k-i.

MURKOWSKI: We did the unprecedented, we made history. Over 100,000 Alaskans affirmatively said it's important to me and to this election to fill in the oval and spell out my name correctly. To see that recorded as part of the write-in and not know, 'Well, who did they fill in?' We've now learned - we've now learned that Alaskans have spoken and they've written it out, as well, it's pretty historic.

SMITH: Joe Miller is threatening to demand a recount. The Republican Party on the other hand is saying, 'You ought to concede.' Should he concede?

MURKOWSKI: Well, the numbers are just not there for him. And I think - I think that Mr. Miller recognizes that, as well. Right now, with all of the ballots that are in, we are significantly up, well over 10,000 votes, even if every ballot that the Miller camp had challenged throughout this write-in campaign, even if every one of them were tossed out, we would still be winning this campaign. And so, it just doesn't add up for him.

SMITH: Let's talk about things that add up come the new term in Washington in January. You are an old-fashioned Alaskan Republican, certainly a fan of earmarks. Earmarks have gone out of fashion just in the last couple of weeks. How are you going to fit in?

MURKOWSKI: Well, it's not all about earmarks. It is all about making sure that you do the best job that you possibly can to represent your state. It's going to be a different landscape as it relates to earmarks. I think we all recognize that. But, I will be insistent that as a legislator, as one who represents the interests of the state of Alaska, I'm going to make sure that Alaska's voices are heard.

SMITH: You talked to Katie Couric earlier this week and one of the things you said was you thought Sarah Palin lacked the intellectual curiosity to be a good presidential candidate and turns out Sarah Palin had a conversation with Barbara Walters yesterday and she said she thinks she can beat Barack Obama in 2012. Would you vote for her?

MURKOWSKI: I've already said that I would not. Obviously, 2012 seems like a long way for most of us, although those that are engaged in politics were gearing up yesterday. That's clearly the direction that things are taking. I think it remains to be seen who will step forward on the Republican side, but it sounds like things are getting - getting heated already.

SMITH: Senator Lisa Murkowski, we thank you very, very much for taking the time to be with us today. Thank you.

MURKOWSKI: Thank you. Good to be with you.

-Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.