Donald Trump wrote Thursday that he would campaign against Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski over her praise of comments made by Gen. James Mattis, who the previous day lashed out at the president over threats to use the U.S. military to put down nationwide protests over the death of African-American George Floyd.
Posting to his Twitter account, Trump vented over Murkowski’s public rebuke and vowed to head to her home state of Alaska and campaign on behalf of her as-yet-unnamed opponent in 2022.
Earlier in the day Thursday, Murkowski told reporters on Capitol Hill that she agreed with the remarks made by Mattis, Trump’s former defense secretary, who said he was “angry and appalled” by Trump’s response to the protests over Floyd’s killing.
“When I saw Gen. Mattis’s comments yesterday I felt like perhaps we are getting to a point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up,” Murkowski said.
Murkowski, a political moderate who sometimes sides against her party, lost her Republican primary in 2010 but successfully won the general election as a write-in candidate against the Democratic and Republican nominees.
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah called Mattis’s statements on Trump “stunning and powerful.” While, unlike Romney, Murkowski did not vote to convict Trump at the conclusion of the Senate impeachment trial, she called his actions “shameful and wrong.”
Murkowski also said she was “struggling” with the decision of whether she would vote for Trump in 2020.
“I am struggling with it. I have struggled with it for a long time, I think you know that,” Murkowski added. “I didn’t support the president in the initial election, and I work hard to try to make sure that I’m able to represent my state well, that I’m able to work with this administration, but I think right now, as we are all struggling to find ways to express the words that need to be expressed appropriately, questions about who I’m going to vote for or not going to vote for, I think are distracting at the moment.”
Trump’s November reelection is itself in question. In recent weeks, as the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 100,000, and protests have erupted across the country in response to Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, the president’s polling numbers have fallen.