Sen. Lisa Murkowski on politics, #MeToo and her first conversation with President-elect Donald Trump

The following are excerpts from a May 31 meeting between Sen. Lisa Murkowski and the Anchorage Daily News editorial board.

On her first interaction with President-elect Donald Trump after his election:

He had not been sworn in, it was right after Thanksgiving. I wanted to weigh in on who the Secretary of the Interior should be. And so I was kind of like, "What adviser should I talk with?" And he didn't have any advisers. And so I thought, "Well, maybe I'll just call him myself." And so I got a number that somebody else had — so I called, and the president answers the phone.

It was a Saturday morning, and I call this number, and this man answers. I'm like, "Hello, this is Lisa Murkowski, I'd like to leave a message for Mr. Trump." So he says, "How are you?" And then he goes on to say, "You know, I really love Alaska, I'm just fascinated by Alaska." And I said, "And to whom am I speaking?" And he said, "Well, this is Donald Trump!"

I was on this end of the country, and I was just waking up, because I thought I was going to get a voicemail or his secretary. I then realized, "OK, this is your shot to come clean with this guy who's now going to be the president." He said, "You know, I did well in Alaska, didn't I?"

And I said, "Yes sir, you did." And I said, "So, I wasn't one of those Republicans who supported you." And he said, "Uh huh." And I said, "But here's the deal: You won; I won. You want to do good things for the country; I want to do good things for the state. I figure we can be working together to do just that." And he said, "Absolutely." And that's kind of how we have approached the issues that we've been working on.

On her father, Frank Murkowski, contemplating a run for governor:


The thing that I love about my father is that, at 85, by gosh, he is going to rattle your cage. He's going to come in, he's got great ideas, he is going to put a fire under you if you haven't done anything to help the Tongass today, and where are you on the Constantine mine, and it's all about resource development — and I love the fact that he just hasn't taken down that flag, and he gets riled up. And if he thinks you're not doing your job, well, by gosh, he might do your job for you.

On what the #MeToo movement means for her:

I have been fortunate that, throughout my professional career, I have been able to navigate without some of the overt harassment that we're seeing exposed. There have been subtle things that I can deal with, and that has been part of the reality — but not some of the levels of harassment that would have held me back, from a career perspective, or that have been so threatening or intimidating that they have altered a course.

But I know far too many women who have been in that situation — that, for me, it is like lifting a weight, to know that what was once just accepted as — "This is what's going to happen if you're going to go into that field; you just better accept it, so put on your big-girl panties and just stand up straight and push back."


You don't have to accept it.

And it's important for the women, and it's important for the men. And as the mother of two sons, it's really important for me to know they're entering their adulthood in an environment where there's a respect for one another based on who you are and what you contribute. That is important to me as a mom, personally, but also as a friend to many who have been held back.

On President Donald Trump's penchant for bombastic language and insults:

I think it's important to watch your words. You will often hear me slow my speech down, and it's because I'm really thinking about word choice, because I know that you are listening to my word choice. And so I'm reminded that when you are in a position of leadership, people look not only to what you do and what you say, but how you do it.

And sometimes I really don't like how he says things, and the manner in which he does it. And that concerns me, because there is a level of respect that comes with the office, and when it doesn't seem like you are bringing that same level of respect to the office, it makes it hard for others to be respectful to you.

And by gosh, we are the greatest nation in the world, and I want our leaders to be recognized as truly great leaders. And so when names are thrown back and forth, I think that's counterproductive to constructive dialogue.