[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/27/art.joemillertweet.0827.joemiller.jpg caption ="This tweet was posted and then removed from Joe Miller’s Twitter account Friday afternoon."](Updated at 6:32 p.m. ET)
(CNN) - The campaign for Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller removed a tweet Friday from its Twitter page that suggested "the oldest profession" was comparable to the possibility his primary candidate, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, might "sell out" the Republican Party to run as a Libertarian Party candidate.
The apparent reference to prostitution comes as Sen. Murkowski is down 1,680 votes and thousands of absentee ballots have yet to be counted in Tuesday's surprise cliff-hanger race for the Republican nomination.
"What's the difference between selling out your party's values and the oldest profession?" the tweet read.
A link to a news article in the Daily Caller regarding the possibility that Murkowski would run as a Libertarian Party candidate followed the text of the tweet, which was removed from the candidate's twitter page minutes after it went out to his 2,600 followers.
A spokesman for Miller's campaign said a staffer had written the message, but the reference to prostitution was aimed at the Libertarian Party and not Murkowski.
"[The staffer was] not suggesting in any way that Sen. Murkowski is prostituting herself," said campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto.
DeSoto said the staffer removed the tweet after realizing it was rapidly spreading on Twitter and nearly everyone was interpreting it as an attack on Murkowski.
Murkowski responded to the tweet Friday evening, calling it a "smear campaign."
"Alaskans deserve better. This type of statement is inexcusable from someone who wants to represent our state," Murkowski said in a statement. "While I have been focused on the remaining ballots, the Miller campaign has launched yet another smear campaign against me. They lied about my record during the primary and now they have resorted to name-calling–it's disgusting."
"Mr. Miller owes all Alaskans, women and my family an apology," Murkowski added.
The Alaska Libertarian Party has indicated they would move aside their current candidate for Senate if Murkowski would join the ticket. Murkowski has previously said she's not considering her options outside the Republican Party vowing to stay in the race until every vote is counted.
Nearly 10,000 absentee ballots will not be counted until next week, but Murkowski would need to secure a hefty margin in order to claim victory
If Miller were to secure the Republican nomination and Murkowski did not want to drop her candidacy, she could either run as a write-in candidate or join an existing party–such as the Libertarian Party. The deadline to file for an independent bid in the state has passed.
(Updated at 6:32 p.m. ET with Sen. Murkowski's response)