November 14th, 2008
10:46 AM ET
5 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. Anonymous

    The so called 'blame game' is outdated and worthless.

    November 15, 2008 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  2. proud voter

    The Republican party talks about keeping taxes low and less government. I never hear them talk about the people who support the party. The is no inclusion, only exclusion. What does the party stand for? Who does the party stand for? Do they realize the state this counrty is in after 8 years of Bush rule? I never hear them talk about what they will do for the counrty, not just republicans, but all Americans.They need to revamp, try in include everyone one in the party, not just rich people. They gave me absolutely no reason to vote for Mccain. I listened, I read the papers, I read the blogs and found no reason I, as 61 yr. old black women should support them. They have a lot of work to do to reverse the divide they present to average Americans. I'm humbly proud of our new president-elect Obama, because I felt welcomed into the democratic fold. Hope Lives!!!

    November 15, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  3. DONT YOU DO IT

    Sen. DeMint of S.C.

    Dont you Besmirch Sen.McCain!

    You punks had nothing NOTHING!

    Sen . McCain had the integrity to give an exemplary showing!

    Put in an admirable energy and effort for your broken party joke!

    If anything you shoud thank John McCain publicly for not letting you sink at the dock!

    Dont you forget it

    In Fact This citizen demands that you retract your statements about Sen. McCain immediatley. Show the respect of a soldier to a soldier, if you cant do that.....then the gratitude of citizen, if you are still unable.... then be silent ....be silent.....shut your ignorant piehole...Sen. DeMint of South Carolina.

    November 15, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  4. eric

    Oh let us hope and pray the GOP listens to this No-Name DeMint and lurches to the far-right. Now, that's what you call a permanent Democratic majority Karl Rove!!

    November 15, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  5. penelope in s.c.

    Libertarian in GOPher clothing Deminted is in SOUTH CAROLINA? Gee whiz, what a day!

    Our state is in disarray, unemployment is at an all time high and children and the elderly are suffering in terms of health care, and Deminted is advising the GOP about what is WRONG?

    What is wrong is that Deminted and the other GOPher millionaires and billionaires have almost destroyed our country and we want it back!

    November 15, 2008 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  6. Kevin

    Please oh please as a Democrat let the neocons like DeMint win the soul of the Republican Party such as it is.

    "Freedom" and "Religious-Based Values" are mutually exclusive concepts.

    November 15, 2008 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  7. Bob Reynolds

    Ironicly, McCain said the very same thing about government spending over the last eight years. I heard him say that at Republican GA. Senator Saxby Chambliss's Run-Off Rally yesturday here in Georgia. If any special prosecutor is proposed by Hateful Harry Reid or Nancy turn off the lights and microphones Pelosi to investigate the Bush administration, then lets investigate the Billion dollar Obama campagn that George Soros obviously had something to do with. I agree with DeMint about that, but I also want to know how many right wing Republicans like DeMint came out and supported McCain during the campagn.

    November 15, 2008 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  8. lucy2008

    Well, I hope Jim DeMint doesn't really believe this blather. Most Americans aren't like the Republican base. Some of these Republicans will need to stay in the wilderness for awhile until they can read the stars again. DeMint is just showing the audacity of hope for a Reagan era reincarnation. In the meantime, the world has moved on and we are in the 21st century. A new trend of demographics and demanding global changes. A stronger demand for higher education. And on and on.

    November 15, 2008 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  9. GuerillaJGal

    Republicans eat their own.

    November 15, 2008 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  10. Ed

    John McCain is not to blame for losing sight of the Republican dream of "bigger government" is better! We the people in order to form a more perfect union created the political monster we are saddled with today. The answer to the question of how this happened is to look in the mirror and realize you did it to your self and you just got beat at your own game!

    Why the glory grabber Demint is focused on shifting responsibility could instead find a solution for the economy, lower taxes, homeless, jobless, and uneducated? Thats why Americans choose what they were sold as the better brand image! Now, go look in the mirror and fix the problem DeMint!

    November 15, 2008 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  11. particles

    What amazes me is that Mccain got as many votes as he did. 8 years of accumulating mess, departure from due process, loss of respect and standing internationally, debt and defiict battered economy, intolerably stretched military engaged in 2 wars neither of which really have an end in sight, a galore of corruption scandals at home attributed for the most part to republican politicians, the entire train wreck climaxing with a financial fiasco requiring semi-nationalization of institutions, and a 700 B+ bailout package which I suspect is only the beginning, and if that wasn't enough ..... the brilliant vp pick. I really am amazed Mccain did as well as he did. I must say I have underestimated the ability of a whole lot of people to live in denial. And all our good senator from SC can think of is this? I am baffled. I think he overlooked Cheney's endorsement of Mccain. If Jim must find an explanation without having to consider the abundance of other more viable reasons for this failure, Cheney's endorsement makes a better argument than Mccain not being conservative enough. I recall a remarkable comment made by another republican Senator Phil Graham years ago as he was about to withdraw from a race after being slapped in the face by cold hard facts over an extended period of time. The comment was "I may be slow, but I am not stupid". SC Senator Jim can perhaps learn a thing or two from the former Senator fromTexas who as recently as 3 months ago gave us such pearls of wisdom as "recession is mental", and proved that he is not just slow.

    November 15, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  12. Bob Reynolds

    At yesturday's Rally for GOP Saxby Chambliss's Run-Off with DNC Jim Martin, I heard McCain say the very same thing about the GOP's wasteful spending over the last eight years. DeMint's colligue in S.C. GOP Senator Linsey Graham, and Saxby Chambliss are in the group of ten bipartisan Senators, and along with John McCain who will hopefully make sure that all the other Senators will play nice, and share with each other. Perhaps, Maybe then Obama can be the President of the USA instead of the DNC and get a few things done by working with Republicans instead of against them. All of George Soros's money or the media will be able to help Obama if he fails the American people's trust.

    November 15, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  13. Voice of reason

    what republican principles?

    November 15, 2008 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  14. G.R.I.T - Girl Raised in the South

    Sorry, CNN, I just have a few comments to add:

    This guy says that McCain was a proponent of campaign finance reform that weakened party organizations, but campaign finance reform is essential so that only individuals are represented, not lobbyists and corporate fat cats. McCain's campaign finance reform was one of his greatest accomplishments and to take that away from him is cruel. President-Elect Obama managed to run and win with the support of the American people and the reforms did not hurt his party organization one bit.

    In addition, to say that the Republican Party represents freedom, religious-based values and limited government is oxymoronic. Freedom does not come from religious-based values and legislating morality of one kind only is not limited government. Why don't the powers that be in this organization understand that we do not want the government to tell us what to do in our own homes and families. I want to raise my children with good Christian values, but my values are not necessarily the values of other people and are certainly no where similar to the ones the GOP professes to follow.

    November 15, 2008 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  15. Michael G Ventura,CA

    The gop – they just can't seem to stop themselves- They are the minority party because they can't even get along with themselves-
    They have lost touch with America, and they deserve all that they are getting.
    Why would anyone with a brain choose to belong to that hate group?

    November 15, 2008 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  16. MizLiz

    Religious-based values? Whose religion? I suppose it won't be the Unitarian-Universalist variety...oh no, it's the bible-waving, money-grabbing televangelist kind. Go ahead repubs...stick our noses in that nonsense and see where you'll be in 2010. We can always throw more of you out, you know.

    November 15, 2008 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  17. Adam

    GOP Principles

    1. Spend like drunken sailors whenever _your_ priorities, wars, and corporate contributors stand to be implemented, waged, and rewarded. (Don't worry about tax revenue–this can all be done on credit.)

    When the jig is up and the Democrats take over, conveniently remember you are 'fiscal conservatives' just in time to prevent the majority from funding projects people actually want (health care, education, infrastructure, domestic security, etc etc etc). Let them clean up your mess and dig the country out of the debt hole, then blame them for raising taxes.

    2. Don't just TELL people government sucks. Instead, fill critical agencies like FEMA and DoJ with ideological hacks and frat-house cronies, and SHOW everyone just how incompetent the public sector can be when it's run by people who don't believe in it.

    For bonus points, run for re-election on the outrage you've generated.

    3. Appeal to the lowest common denominator in everything. The exact approach will vary with the topic, but will almost always include xenophobic fear, anti-intellectualism, short-term avarice, and racial innuendo. Obfuscate inconvenient facts in the most cynical way possible. Take pride in ignorance. Pick your weakest point and loudly accuse your opponent of the same failing.

    4. When all else fails: BLAME THE LIBERAL MEDIA

    November 15, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  18. Jane

    Whatever "Republicans eat their own" means, one thing for sure, a Democrat never saw a crook they didn't like as long as they were Democrats.

    November 15, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  19. Anothern Ex-Replublican

    I used to be a Republican. When they started making a special effort to impose their religious-based values on us all, I became a Democrat. They want to turn this country into a Christian version of Iran, but don't see anything wrong with that.

    November 15, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  20. wethepeople

    I get my 'religious values' at church and they don't include discriminating against people because of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Separation of church and state!

    And 'drill baby drill' is NOT an energy policy!

    November 15, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  21. Bee

    One word: DENIAL! Somehow, this guy has convinced himself that the 53% of this country that voted for President-elect Obama are just closeted conservatives. Does the Republican leadership actually propose to move even further right in order to attract voters? Really? Because if they are, they can look forward to losing A LOT more elections. The more educated Americans become the more evident it is that the very idea of "religious values" is a slap in the faces of our founding fathers who established the separation of church and state in the FIRST AMENDMENT. Good luck with trashing the Constitution.

    November 15, 2008 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  22. Moe, NY

    Mr. DeMint....wrong! In my opinion, the American people (the majority anyway) are sick and tired of the Republican/NeoCon BS that we have had to swallow for almost eight years...get a clue!

    November 15, 2008 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  23. grahame

    I have just read most of this blog and I would suggest that Jim DeMint and the other Republicans do the same thing. They just might get it. Of course they wont because they have never listened to the American people anyway. To bad. If they read some of these comments they might learn something

    November 15, 2008 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  24. Jane

    It is rather funny to see people so piously posting tripe against the values of the Republican Party supporters when many supporters of their own party are acting like wild-eyed maniacs ranting and raving all over the country and getting worse by the day because they can't get their way. I think they need to have a country all by themselves, then, possibly, these "adults" would grow up and act like responsible citizens because they wouldn't have a whole nation of millions to witness their tantrums. If they are so positive that their way of life is right, why do they need the validation of anyone else? Why does it even matter?

    November 15, 2008 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  25. Rob A

    Sen. DeMint offers obfuscating reasons for McCain's defeat. McCain lost because with near daily regularity he failed to project presidential demeanor.

    November 15, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6