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Lauer to Lisa Murkowski: Will You Stand Up to Republicans Who Want Obama to Fail?

NBC's Matt Lauer, on Thursday's Today show, invited on Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski to applaud her presumptive write-in ballot win over Republican candidate Joe Miller and asked if she would now "stand up against" Republicans "who may feel that the only way for them to succeed" is for Barack Obama to fail. After Lauer went through the perfunctory congratulations, he asked the candidate who failed to win her party's own primary, if she would, essentially, become a thorn in the side of Republicans as seen in the following question:

MATT LAUER: You, you talk about governance based on anger or fear. You're a moderate Republican. You've said that you do not pass the purity test that the Tea Party has set out. You said something else. You said, said "I will tell you I'm not one of those who wants Obama to fail." Will you stand up against other Republicans who may feel that the only way for them to succeed is for the President not to succeed?

Lauer also made sure to note that since Sarah Palin endorsed Joe Miller, Murkowski's victory could also be seen as a diminishment of the former Alaskan Governor's "prestige" and "power," as queried: "There are a lot of other people who are saying you defeated Sarah Palin. She backed Mr. Miller in her home state, put the prestige of her power behind that, that endorsement. How much does this say about her power and impact going forward, in your opinion?"

The following is the full interview with Murkowski as it was aired on the November 18 Today show:

MATT LAUER: Alaska Senator Lisa M-U-R-K-O-W-S-K-I joins us now from Anchorage. Senator, congratulations - apparently - is that what I should say?

LISA MURKOWSKI: Thank you. Well yes, apparently. Alaskans have learned to spell it, just as you have. Pretty good.

LAUER: Yeah the Division of Elections has not certified this.

MURKOWSKI: Right.

LAUER: They say they will not do that until the 29th of the month. NBC News has declared you the apparent winner. Are you at all concerned, based on all the twists and turns in this campaign and this race so far, that there may be another surprise down the road?

MURKOWSKI: We were waiting for the numbers, and that's what this process has been. It's taken a while, but there were, you know, a couple hundred thousand ballots that were cast and over 100,000 that chose to go the write-in route and so we made sure, here in Alaska, that those ballots were all counted fairly and openly, in a very good process. So it's taken a little bit of, of time but the fact of the matter is the numbers are what they are. And they clearly indicate that Alaskans have not only spoken, they've written it down.

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LAUER: You know there were doubters, as you well know. There were people who thought-

MURKOWSKI: Yeah.

LAUER: And I think maybe I was one of those back on September 22nd when you were last on this program and thought maybe you shouldn't do this and couldn't do this. Explain to me, briefly, how did you win?

MURKOWSKI: It was Alaskans coming together. The most phenomenal coalition of Alaskans. This was not a Republican campaign. This was Democrats and Republicans and independents all coming together saying, "This is too important for the future of our state. We're going to take that extra step. We're gonna take that affirmative act and we're going to do something that the rest of the country says we can't do it." It was a challenge for Alaskans and we clearly met it.

LAUER: You know this morning, there are already people who are saying okay you defeated Joe Miller but there are a lot of other people who are saying you defeated Sarah Palin. She backed Mr. Miller in her home state, put the prestige of her power behind that, that endorsement. How much does this say about her power and impact going forward, in your opinion?

MURKOWSKI: Well I, I think it's important to recognize that here, here in Alaska we're, we're looking at Alaska. We are looking at those issues that are important to us. So endorsements from outside, may not have as much pull, as much as stroke, as, as you in the lower 48. This was Alaskans speaking up. And I think what they, what they said was, "We want the, the consensus building" that I bring to the table. "We don't want governance based on, on, on anger or fear. We want governance that comes about when, when people reach across the table. And-

LAUER: Right.

MURKOWSKI: -and try to figure out how we build good policy.

LAUER: You, you talk about governance based on anger or fear. You're a moderate Republican. You've said that you do not pass the purity test that the Tea Party has set out. You said something else. You said, said "I will tell you I'm not one of those who wants Obama to fail." Will you stand up against other Republicans who may feel that the only way for them to succeed is for the President not to succeed?

MURKOWSKI: We have too much to do for these next two years to be focused on who's going to be president or who's going to be leading the Senate in 2012? We have got an obligation to the people of this country to govern. We've got unemployment at 9.5 percent. We have people that are continuing to lose their homes due to foreclosure. We have work to do. That's what the American people want. That's what the people of Alaska have asked for in, in this election, is get to work, whether you're working with the President, whether you're working with the, the Majority Leader-

LAUER: Right.

MURKOWSKI: -or the Speaker, figure it out, Congress.

LAUER: Senator Lisa Murkowski, the apparent winner in Alaska's write-in Senate campaign. Senator, congratulation.

MURKOWSKI: Thank you. It's, it's good to be with you, this morning. Thank you.

LAUER: Alright, nice to have you here.

-Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here