A number of Republican senators told POLITICO Tuesday that DeMint was skewing the GOP conference’s position solidly backing Miller, saying he was intensifying a rift within a party that’s trying to unite following a divisive primary season. And Republican leaders say DeMint’s decision to lay out to his supporters the debate about Murkowski in the closed-door meeting was a clear breach of protocol where senators don’t discuss private sessions between colleagues with outsiders.

“I personally think it’s very counterproductive,” said retiring Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri, scoffing at what he and other GOP senators see as DeMint’s apparent attempts to build his national profile at the expense of his colleagues.

Asked whether DeMint’s message was helpful to the Republican Party, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison simply said: “No.”