November 15th, 2008
10:22 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: John McCain
soundoff (711 Responses)
  1. R Scott

    Conservative is another name for a closed minded person you easily be led by the nose and unable to think for them selves. We need to let the evengicle christians that this country was founded on the rights of the people to self govern and not governed by the church thus the reason of seperation of church and state. You extremist christians are a minority trying to push your belief on the majority and now the majority has spoken and that is why McCain lost. If McCain had picked Mitt Romney he might have won but the extremist in the GOP wouldn't accept him claiming he was not a christian....

    November 15, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. Credit Card Republicans

    GOP,you can thank Carl Rove for your demise.R.I.PThe great divider won for Bush,but lost for the GOP for many years to come.He created the hate in the party,and now like a worm the hate is eating the party from within.

    November 15, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. CONSERVATIVES ARE RACIST

    WHY DONT ALL EVANGELICAL RIGHT WING SOUTHERNERS FORM THEY OWN COUNTRY AND LEAVE THE REST OF THE COUNTRY ALONE.

    November 15, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  4. Jonesey

    Sow what you reap, conservatives. You force your beliefs on everyone, ignorant to the fact that you aren't the only ones living here. No one is asking you practice what you don't believe in, but quit trying to force everyone to convert to your beliefs. That's called "dictating." Otherwise, it seems rather hypocritical we are we thousands of miles away trying to instill democracy. THAT is the problem with your party, and the results of the election underlined this.

    November 15, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. MoDem

    I find it very interesting that John McCain has remained dignified and very much the elder statesman while his party begins the cat fighting, and even more interesting that nowhere in this artical does it mention any blame being portioned to Sarah Palin.

    I am a Democrat and after 8 very long years, I am loving watching the GOP trying to figure out what went wrong – not that difficult just ask any working person trying to make ends meet in this country for the past 8 years or anyone who objects to civil liberties being infringed or fighting a war we lied about from the get go – but I digress..

    Sarah Palin was until her fellow GOP Governors put a stop to it, appearing on any TV news channel that would have her and not accepting any responsibility for her part in McCain's defeat – this from the woman who wanted to be Josephine 6-Pack ordinary working mom while spending $150,000 shopping while the rest of us tried to figure out how to survive the worsening economy or keep the bank from foreclosing on our houses.

    And while I think Palin's appointment to the ticket was a cheap attempt by Team McCain for the sole purpose of getting women fustrated Hillary did not get the DNC nomination (which women all over this country saw through thank goodness), I can atleast still respect McCain and hope that he does go back to being the Senate's maverick, the same cannot be said for Palin.

    My bottom line – John McCain would be a good addition to the cabinet of rivals being put together by our next President, or as an advisor – Palin on the other hand hopefully will go back to Alaska and stay out of an area she knows nothing about – national politics – then again I would relish seeing Obama steemroll over her in the 2012 election and/or Hillary do the same in 2016.

    Until the GOP gets how the people of this country are really feeling and becomes a party not for their base, but for the entire country, they are doomed to the sidelines – God Bless America

    November 15, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  6. Chris

    I see. McCain wasn't conservative enough, so voters instead went with "The Most Liberal Senator in the U.S. Congress." Makes sense to me.

    November 15, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  7. Tim from Maryland

    Senator DeMint ignores history and misreads the election results. The Republican party has no brand. It does not believe in smaller government, or it would have enacted smaller government in the 6 years it controlled both houses and the White House. In fact, no one believes in smaller government. We Americans like our small business loans, our disaster relief, our Medicare and Medicaid and all the other benefits we get from our government. We'd like somebody else to pay for them, but the business of leadership is to make us act like adults, even against our will.

    Similarly, Republicans have no claim on religiously based values. Many such values, such as pacifism and communal responsibility, are anathema to Republicans. But perhaps Senator DeMint really means hostility to homosexuals. Certainly many Republicans sought to display such hostility in the name of religion, as other Republicans (including, apparently, Senator DeMint himself) seek to define the party by its hostility toward immigrants, or the environment, or even those with foreign-sounding names. Senator McCain's great accomplishment, and great favor to Republicans, is that he did not allow it to become the party of hate during his campaign.

    Senator McCain is an honest, independent conservative whose views are much closer to the American mainstream than the views which Senator DeMint espouses, but has not brought into being. McCain's failure was largely due to the petulant Republican base, which should have flocked to him once it was clear he would be the nominee. This would have allowed him to seek support from independent voters throughout the campaign. Instead, he had to placate his base, and it cost him the election.

    November 15, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  8. d in fl

    Thank you mcain and palin. You have created a new wave of domestic terrorists and reenergized kkk and the like. You should be tried for inciting violence against AMERICANS. I hope your proud. This could turn more tragic than anyone can possibly realize.

    Thanks alot from all real americans.

    November 15, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  9. Justin

    John Mccain and the rupublicans betrayed us the moment he or they chose Sarah Palin as VP. How dare he insult our intelligence by choosing her!

    November 16, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  10. Scott

    Sen. Demint is critisizing the only things that made John McCain appealing at all. I think people are opening their eyes to the fact that today's Republican philosophy doesn't make the grade.

    November 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  11. Ryan

    Blood and oil, Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann, freedom and religious based values... try as hard as you care to, they aren't mixing.

    November 16, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
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