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FAIRBANKS - Sen. Lisa Murkowski is criticizing the way her Republican primary opponent is running his campaign, saying Joe Miller has spent more time attacking her than offering new ideas.
Miller, who has the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, said he's not attacking Murkowski personally, but the race is a referendum on her job performance.
In a meeting this week with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner's editorial board, Murkowski said the Miller campaign has repeatedly mischaracterized her positions and votes.
She cited one of his news releases, in which he accused her of huddling with Democrats in a back room at the White House in an effort to pass sweeping climate-change legislation. She said it was a bipartisan meeting two weeks ago to discuss a cap-and-trade plan to reduce emissions, and she went to tell the president it wouldn't pass the Senate.
Murkowski supports cap-and-trade as long as it doesn't damage the economy. Miller believes that evidence of manmade climate change is inconclusive and there needs to be further analysis before any kind of legislation is enacted.
"He seems to be taking the approach that we need to tear down Lisa Murkowski, which is really quite disappointing from a candidate's perspective," she said. "He's not saying why he would be a good senator."
Miller, a Fairbanks attorney, has a tough fight. Murkowski has held the seat since 2002, but on Miller's side are Palin's endorsement and the support and money of the Tea Party Express.
On his campaign website, Miller calls himself "Alaska's true conservative choice" and prominently features an issue-by-issue comparison of himself and Murkowski.
"Sen. Murkowski is in the middle of her first real job performance review, and she apparently doesn't like it," said Miller campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto said. "She must stand up and take ownership for her votes and make the case that she has been voting (Alaskans') values."
Miller, who is pro-life, has criticized Murkowski for voting to rescind a U.S. policy requiring all nongovernment entities receiving federal funding to refrain from promoting or performing abortions in other countries.
Murkowski said her main concern is that no federal money goes toward supporting abortions and she was told that eliminating the policy would only mean more money would go toward counseling, contraception and other family planning services, but not abortions.
Miller said that vote showed Murkowski to be a "Republican in name only."