(CNN) - One day after MSNBC host Ed Schultz said Democrats had asked him to weigh a senatorial bid, Senate Republicans demanded that the network remove the liberal talker from their lineup until he ruled out a run, threatening legal action - even as Schultz himself denied any plans to launch a campaign.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee charged that his presence on the airwaves could mark a potential campaign finance violation.
"I am not running. What do you want me to say?" Schultz told listeners Thursday on his radio show, saying the GOP was just worried he would claim a win if he did: "They know I'd kick some ass."
Schultz – a former conservative who once weighed running for Congress as a Republican – told viewers Monday that he had been asked by Democratic leaders in his home state of North Dakota to consider entering the race to replace retiring Sen. Byron Dorgan, calling the prospect "intriguing."
"In discussing this matter on air, Mr. Schultz is soliciting and receiving feedback from his television audience regarding his viability as a federal candidate, raising his name recognition related to, and making a national audience aware of, his potential candidacy," NRSC chief counsel Sean Cairncross had written in a letter to network president Phil Griffin Thursday that termed Schultz's continued airtime a potential "in-kind" contribution.
"…We request that MSNBC immediately cease from continuing to provide prohibited corporate resources to underwrite Mr. Schultz's U.S. Senate candidate exploratory activities. If you do not do so, we reserve the right to take appropriate legal action."
Republican Gov. John Hoeven had been viewed as holding a major advantage in a Senate matchup against Dorgan.