November 14th, 2008
10:46 AM ET
4 years ago

GOP senator: McCain betrayed Republican principles

A Republican senator hammered John McCain on Friday.
A Republican senator hammered John McCain on Friday.

MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina (CNN) – South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint on Friday became one of the first high-profile Republicans to publicly criticize John McCain following his electoral defeat, blaming the Arizona senator for betraying conservative principles in his quest for the White House.

The conservative senator, speaking to a group of GOP officials gathered in Myrtle Beach at a conference on the future of the Republican Party, described how the party had strayed from its own "brand," which, according to DeMint, should represent freedom, religious-based values and limited government.

"We have to be honest, and there's a lot of blame to go around, but I have to mention George Bush, and I have to mention Ted Stevens, and I'm afraid I even have to mention John McCain," he said.

DeMint offered a long list of complaints about McCain's record in the Senate and on the campaign trail.

"McCain, who is proponent of campaign finance reform that weakened party organizations and basically put George Soros in the driver's seat," DeMint said. "His proposal for amnesty for illegals. His support of global warming, cap-and-trade programs that will put another burden on our economy. And of course, his embrace of the bailout right before the election was probably the nail in our coffin this last election. And he has been an opponent of drilling in ANWR, at a time when energy is so important. It really didn't fit the label, but he was our package."

Bush and Stevens, he said, had corrupted the party brand by expanding the size of government and engaging in wasteful government spending. Had Republicans not strayed from their core beliefs in recent years, DeMint argued, the election results might have been different.

"Americans do prefer a traditional conservative government," he said. "They just did not believe Republicans were going to give it to them."

DeMint said he would introduce a Senate resolution next week to boot Stevens out of the Republican caucus, and "force votes" on Senate seniority rules that have allowed certain members to hold onto power. However, DeMint twice confused Ted Stevens with Ted Kennedy, drawing chuckles from the audience of Republicans, who hold neither senator in particularly high regard.

"One of our principles is that power corrupts, and you need to disperse it," DeMint said. "And if our own party allows ourselves to be destroyed by this idea, and are not willing to stand up, then we have to change everyone at the top."


Filed under: Extra • Jim DeMint • John McCain • South Carolina • Ted Stevens
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. Rick K

    good luck with that evangelical christian, anti-science, global warming, petro-centric platform you're working on.

    there'll be another election – write the platform up and run on it – that's how our country works.

    November 14, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  2. Sue

    Well said Dexter.
    And funny how this guy blames McCain and Stevens for wasteful spending, but not the handout queen of Alaska. Still hoping she'll catch on huh? After the governors gave her NO position of authority or even a committee memebership in their meeting, I'd say her stock is lower than GMs is right now.

    November 14, 2008 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  3. John E Lexington KY

    It's the Reptilian Party, cold-blooded and slimy. There is no reason for it to exist, simply a source of poison and discord and corruption under claims of divine selection. They rifled the US Treasury of billions of dollars for their contributors – the last in the shell game of the bailout; destroyed most of the beneficent functions of the government – as revealed during Katrina. The only voters they have now are those who got the payoffs and idiots who fall for their 'social' issues garbage. From Nixon to Reagan through Bush they have been a disgrace to democracy, gutting the Bill of Rights and the sanctity of elections, turning the Supreme Court into a body that thwarts the public and the law. Until they are replaced either within or from outside of their banner, the US is a one-party country – and should be.

    November 14, 2008 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  4. Roger from CA

    Wow, this guy is clueless, and I hope the rest of the GOP powers-that-be remain so clueless!

    If he thinks that the reason McCain lost is because he betrayed the party values of "freedom, religious-based values and limited government", he is completely out to lunch.

    The American people are sick of the radical right's push to mix politics and religion to an absurd degree, and limited government at a time of economic collapse is about as virtuous as Marie Antoinette saying "let them eat cake"!

    Let the GOP keep up the auto-eroticism about radical right positions! Pretty soon the GOP will be a tiny sliver of what it once was. The American people are not stupid.

    November 14, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  5. Peter (CA)

    John @11:21:

    It's worse than that. Some ultra right wingers are saying the Republicans lost because they are not doing enough to stop abortion and that the whole country must now pay through an Obama administration.

    The right wing doesn't get it. Extreme views are not supported by most people. They can continue to run on that platform but the Republicans will more and more become a regional party. If Obama is able to be successful, in 2012 he will hold all of the states he won this year and add Missouri, West Virginia, Arizona, and maybe Georgia and Texas. Then what? Republicans will look worse than the Democrats did in 1984.

    November 14, 2008 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  6. Crazy Cat Lady

    And the GOP lemmings keep swarming toward the cliff of irrelevance.

    November 14, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  7. FLORIDA for Obama

    Principles? WHAT PRINCIPLES?

    The republicans LOST this election because the 'collective conscience' of the United States of America has awaken to the LIES AND FEAR-MONGERING.

    I believe WE voted to NO LONG put up with the 'threat of terrorism', the war to 'keep our freedom', you know, ALL that stuff they say to KEEP US IN STEP WITH THEIR AGENDA.

    NO MORE!!!

    McCain LOST because of the HATE, RACISM, and FEAR he AND Palin incited at their ralleys.

    November 14, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  8. Anna

    You have got to be kidding me?

    John McCain is one of the few shining beacons your party has left.

    November 14, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  9. Former GOP faithful

    DeMint is delusional, living in the bubble created by Ronald Reagan's alliance with the religious right. If this election was about anything, it was a REJECTION of the theocratic influence on the Republican party. The main reason for intellectual conservatives, moderates and independents to bolt from the GOP last week was the hypocritical, negative, arrogant, and self-righteous wing-nuts personified by Sarah Palin. Get used to it, DeMint. Your days (and mainstream influence) are OVER.

    November 14, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  10. KJL

    Religion has no place in government, especially in a diverse country like the USA..

    We should all follow the laws of our country, which should not be based on any religious beliefs. People who belong to churches can follow their rules if they fall within what is legal, if they so desire, but they should respect the choices and beliefs of others.

    I get tired of people who think god is talking to them, as if they're something special. Hate someone? God says they are evil! Want to marry a fourteen-year-old? Hey, religious freedom! It's wearing a little thin.

    November 14, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  11. Matthew

    What exactly are Republican principles these days? I think maybe that needs to be defined before first. Some get the impression you have to be a right wing conservative Christian (i.e. a nutjob) to be a true republican.

    November 14, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  12. Independent white female for Obama

    Senator Demint, what do you know? you have no clue what you are talking about. I voted for my candidate of choice and that was Senator Obama. However, I have to say that there is a reason why Mccain got the nomination, there is a reason why the American people voted for him in the primaries and that is because the American people, even republicans, want change in our country and you conservatives were not willing to offer that. Mccain did not ruin the republican party, George Bush did! Now, though Mccain has the same Bush economic policies in mind, he is not the problem of the republican party. The problem is you guys need "CHANGE" and Palin isn't it. She is as divicive as they come, we got a glimpse of her in action fo ra couple of months. She did not have what it takes to be a VP and that is a problem MCcain created for himself. I think Mccain protected and pulled towards the conservative base of the repubs by bringing in Palin and unfortunately committed suicide in doing so. Well, fortunately for me and many others, our candidate won!

    November 14, 2008 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  13. Molly in MPLS

    "Power corrupts so you have to disperse it." Is this anything like spread the wealth?

    The truth is, the GOP has evolved into this christian coalition and has alienated a lot of it's base because of this. His suggestion of forcing votes is just about as insane as Bachmann's idea of seeking out unamerican senators.

    November 14, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  14. Patriotic Liberal

    First of all, those brand values are mutually exclusive. Unless the limited government is granting people the freedom to live within the government-enforced, religious-based values.

    I'm sure the tens of thousands of recently married couples in California would love for the government to take a more limited role in their personal lives, rather than foisting their religious-based values on them to take away their freedom.

    If the GOP wants to return to true conservatism, their jettison the religious radicals who have hijacked the party and get back to limited government and fiscal conservatism. Their hypocritical holy wars are only going to run the party out of office and into the ground.

    November 14, 2008 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  15. tigerakabj

    I knew these guys were not going to change from the butt-whooping the got on Nov. 4. They still think that the America subscribes to their hate/fear-mongering, gimmick-peddling, anti-intellectual, smoke-screen religious nonsense.

    My guess is their game plan for the next 2 years is to obstuct Obama w/o looking like obstructionists so they can say "we told you so." They don't want to help. Their only goal is power at all costs.

    November 14, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  16. MW

    DeMint IS the reason republicans are doing so poorly. John McCain lost not because he is John McCain but because he is a Republican. The fundamentalism that took over the party in the 1980's is on its death bed. Americans fell for that and have learned their lessons (hopefully long term). America needs highly qualified, intelligent, and capable leaders and managers. DeMint wants a freakish theocracy, backward and uninformed ideas of the free market, as well as incoherent energy policy. He is a dinosaur, John McCain suffered because of DeMint;'s ilk, not vis a versa.

    November 14, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  17. donnakayt

    When are the Republicans going to get it that their political and ideological views do not work in this country and they are as ancient as the dinosaurs. Look at the young voter turnout in the election and the fact that the right wingers are still talking about getting back to governing like they have the past 8 years. Yet time and time again they preach over and over again less government, anti abortion, the democrats are going to tax the hell out of you, take your guns away etc..... I am so sick and tired of the old way of thinking. Please put Sarah Palin out there in 2012 so that they can lose once again. The right wingers are all about FEAR, HATE, me before them yada yada... This country is way to full of caring people who understand that the old boy network doesn't work. Spoken from a 43 year old married mother of 2 children.

    November 14, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  18. Still don't get it

    Is he for real? Do these guys even think before talking, next he's probably going to say that he was misquoted. McCain fought a legendary battle, but lost, and that clown is bashing him for his ideas on immigration and global warming, he must be kidding. The Rep party has really become a party of idiots, how in hell can this guy be talking bad about immigrants when they should be embracing and reconciling with the Hispanic community. So Global warming is a good thing, it's beyond stupid, no wonder we lost. How in hell can that guy be in office? Oh he's from SC.
    The thing is what he said is on record, and that's going to follow the party for the next four years.

    November 14, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  19. ava-GA

    Try this GOP: become more inclusive of others. Stop using God at your convenience. None of you are doing 'what thus sayeth the Lord'. If you were you would remember 'to judge not lest you be judged'. Jesus was a servant to the people. He did not treat others like he was better than they.

    Barack Obama ran a campaign of unity and inclusion. He welcomed everyone to the table. This is what the GOP needs to do. In order to show what you have to offer, you have to invite everyone to the table. Those that like what you have to offer will stay, those that don't won't.

    November 15, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  20. Young Black Florida Progressive

    This guy Demint clearly demonstrates the Gop being the party of sheer ignorance and slow wit, even in high public office. They don't believe in global warming...They believe that the earth is approximately 6000 years old...They believe the Adam and Eve tale in the literal sense (The Origin of Species version sounds a bit more convincing to me)...They oppose critical stem cell research that could potentially save numerous lives in the near future arguing that scientist shouldn't play God. I understand how important status quo and minimal change is to this party but my goodness! This isn't the 1600's! America in the 21st century needs leadership that isn't anti-science. The bible also says that the sun revolves around the earth but obviously that notion has been effectively dispelled early on by rigorous scientist like Copernicus and Gallileo. Members of the United States government, please do us all a favor and stop trying to legislate public policy from your bibles! What ever happened to seperation of church and state?

    November 15, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  21. The Surly Scholar

    DeMint may be correct in saying that McCain betrayed his principles, but he's got it all backwards. McCain betrayed the moderate leanings he displayed in the 2000 primaries, and instead buckled to the extreme borderline-fascist right wing in order to "energize the base," or whatever they call it when you get lots of people angry using pointless ideological diatribes.

    It's too bad, really. Back in the early Bush administration, when McCain espoused a moderate, reasoned, genuinely bipartisan form of Republicanism (while Bush was inarticulately sputtering his neo-conservative claptrap), I referred to him as "the only republican I would ever vote for." Not so this year, when he sold out everything he ever stood for in order to sidle up to the psychotic ultra-right.

    I only hope that now that his presidential bid is over, McCain can go back to being the person that I presume and hope he still is: a genuine moderate.

    November 15, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  22. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    LEAVE MCCAIN ALONE.

    Remember Sarah Palin?

    HASN'T HE SUFFERED ENOUGH????????

    November 15, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  23. Jeff from Jersey

    Why not?Republicans constantly betray american principles.

    BOO HOO HOO!

    November 15, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  24. Steven

    O.K. This is exactly why the GOP will be increasingly marginalized and be relegated to a minority party.
    1. before McCain sold his soul to win the nomination he actually did stand for principals that extend beyond mere republicanism.
    2. The main reason the GOP and McCain lost is that they have lost any credibility whatsoever.
    3. This would have been an entirely different election dynamically IF McCain retained his independence and therefore, his credibility.

    These ridiculous wingnuts are exactly why republicans are the minority. And they should stay there until they decide they actually can address and care about the needs of the American people. Otherwise, they should continue electing ignorant wingnuts like Palin, since that is what they actually represent.

    November 15, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  25. Mike in Ohio

    Yep, DeMint's conservative ideals should solidly lock in 25-30% of the electorate, and alienate the rest.

    November 15, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
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