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. J.L.

    A break to even more conservative social values would have led to a greater defeat. Republicans need to wake up and realize few want them to be this countries moral police.

    November 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. Dan, TX

    I feel there is a real opportunity for the Libertarian party to replace the republican party. The republicans will be a strong third party, but Democratic and Libertarian parties are the two clear philosophical models. Not sure what the republican party is anymore.

    November 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. Maria Loi

    If your party represents freedom then it cannot advocate religious beliefs. The principle of all religions is to control the believers' thoughts and that is not freedom. Please don't blame John! He did it right. He went wrong with his negative advertising and speeches. He should have come up with a strong economic policies and hammered at them during this economic crisis!
    Your Republican policies have to change according to times. Please examine your founders' ideals and redo them and stop the blaming game!
    Cheers,
    Maria Loi

    November 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. M. WINNERS

    "Republican Party . . . should represent freedom, religious-based values and limited government."

    And this is going to create jobs, fix the mortgage problems and insure quality education how?

    You and your like-minded cronies in the neocon wing of the GOP just don't get it do you DeMint? Your kind of old school "branding" and hollow slogans are sure way to finish sending the GOP to the scrap heap of failed political parties.

    American are now hip to the empty, moronic sloganeering and "values" crap that your brand of GOP politics has been slinging around for years so give it up or get thrown out of offce – your choice.

    PS: Sen. DeMint meet Reps. Broun & Bachmann – fellow crackpots...

    November 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. AntonK, Seattle WA

    If those listed are Republican "principles", then no wonder they lost...

    The brand is completely out of touch with reality. The world is moving on and the Republicans are being left behind– in the dust of a wanting belief system.

    November 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. Jon

    Go ahead GOPs. Point fingers all you want. GOPs are not going anywhere until they step back, look at this in a broad spectrum view and see what they really stand for, not what you want to stand for.

    November 15, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. Tammy

    Demint still doesnt get it...all those reasons he listed regarding McCain's record are exactly what kept him strong in the presidential race.
    McCain has progressive plans but Obama had better adjenda.
    Demint values are outdated.

    November 15, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. Marv

    If you are talking about the same old tired policies you have used into the future you will lose your platform of hate racism and fear is not going to work, you guys are to beholden to drug addict rush limbaugh, hannity and the rest of the nuts spewing their racist stuff people are beyond that now.

    November 15, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. vence

    The GOP is dead. Intolerance was the cause of its death. Racism was its symptom, and religious extremism its origin. Now it's ill and weak without direction. Its leaders, as zombies, walking in circles trying to eat brains of anyone else. It was a generational mistake to spread hate, play the patriot card for self interest, disrespect the constitution, and tag people different of them as Anti-Americans or something worst. Many of this 95% white party are responsible for the racism and xenophobia now lived in this country. It remembers me Germany under NAZI leadership. Every time there is a republican in office an economic disaster occurs. They preach low expenses and leave trillions in debt

    November 15, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. Larry

    It's interesting that the religious right has claimed the party when it is, in fact, a much smaller non controlling portion. John McCain sought to bring the party back to it's center, which is what would have gotten it more support but had to do stupid things like nominate Palin to appease these religious bigots. While the Republican party runs around with it's head in the sand trying to figure out how to strengthen the party with morality and so called conservative values, they should look at how the country more appropriately rejected this for more centrist American values. When the Republican Party figures out that these things that they are criticizing McCain for is surely the nails that sealed the party's loss, maybe they will have a chance in another election, in another time. The American public has forcefully spoken!

    November 15, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. jason

    McCain would have had a chance had he actually stayed the Maverick he used to be. Which had nothing to do with a religiously conservative based government.

    I hope republicans keep swinging the bat in this direction. That way we will have a status quo or another dem net gain come 2010. And please, please, please nominate Sarah Palin to run in 2012. She represents ALL the republican principals outlined in this article and would be their perfect candidate and the Dem's perfect opponent for that matter.

    Obama 2012

    November 15, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  12. Connor

    More and more itis obvious that the GOP does not have a clue.

    November 15, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  13. AlaskaMike

    This is ridiculous. If there were any shred of truth to what Sen. DeMint said then the People wouldn't have voted for Obama in such commanding numbers, as Obama supported all of those things long before McCain. It's obvious the people want change, we're tired of the bickering, the name calling, and the generally poor attitude McCain showed his opponent. The blatant lies McPalin continued to tell even after being corrected in public were also certainly disgusting to most people. The People are sick of your BS, and there's a growing number who don't want religion forced down other's throats. I can't believe CNN is giving space to this tosh.

    November 15, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  14. lieNoMore

    Is his name spelled DeMint or is Dimwit? Perhaps the term conservative should be clarified from phony-conservative (Republican party).

    The things DeMint spells out –like ANWR and etc– are right out of the brickhead doctrine of Republican phony/failure book.

    How about getting back to small gov, lower taxes, staying out of other's affairs, and personal freedom/choice/individual responsibility for starters?

    November 15, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  15. Clinton Democrat for Obama

    Republicans disheveled.... nice to see!

    "Religious-based values"? I don't think so. That's why the Republicans have lost the last two elections so badly because "religious-based values" mean different things to people and these values are intolerant and divisive

    November 15, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  16. Anonymous

    Can someone tell me why supporting global warming is anti-republican? There is vast scientific evidence that shows a correlation between human caused carbon dioxide release and a rising temperature throughout the world. Republican ideals, as well as democratic, should be defined by a core group of values/beliefs which drive decision making in policy. I don't believe that opinions about global warming are based on any values or belief structures and thus should not be included in either of the party platforms. Rather, we need to come together and not let political consequences stop us from investigating the truth.

    -Wes H.

    November 15, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  17. Dexter in Houston TX

    Wow, I knew the Republicans were ruthless, but I didn't know they ate their own wounded.

    November 15, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  18. Kyle C.

    I'm sorry Sen. DeMint, McCain did not lose because he strayed from the conservative principals. It was a two part failure...

    1. With the financial crisis, it would of been impossible for a Republican to win, especially since the party in power will get blamed for it, regardless of who is responsible. Voting for the bailout may have cost him some fiscal conservative votes, but 'helped' with those upset with the financial problems of America.

    2. Gov. Palin may have energized the conservative base, which I do not deny, but the GOP cannot win an election with just the conservative base. The picking of Palin helped drive the moderate Republicans/independents away from his ticket. As one of the mentioned moderate Republicans, I saw the pick as Palin as just a ploy to appease those conservatives that want more Christianity in our lives.

    As such, a moderate voter here in Missouri has a prediction for the GOP in 2012; Palin will run for the nomination, and she'll probably get it, but who will be blamed when she loses, since she is the apitimy of a conservative. I doubt that the moderates will vote for her in any more numbers than they did for the McCain/Palin ticket in 08!

    November 15, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  19. John B.

    Um, what principles, Sen. DeMint? You mean "freedom, religious-based values and limited government"? Which seems to translate to the opposite–restrictions on freedom, narrow interpretations of the worst aspects of religious texts (and only one religious text at that), and excessive government intervention in everything but the economy? Those principles?

    You don't get it, do you? Those are exactly the reasons you lost.

    November 15, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  20. Hal, Redondo Beach, CA

    Conservative values is an oxymoron, at least in regards to the current Republican Party.

    But really it is just a matter of perspective. They DO HAVE VALUES. Just ones that don't fit with the Constitution or Christianity.

    They value spying on their own citizens.
    They value corporate CEO's making a thousand times more than their workers.
    They value the rights of corporations over citizens.
    They value torture, kidnapping, war and the senseless waste of our soldiers lives.
    But, They value FEAR MOST OF ALL. . Fear of terrorists, fear of homosexuals, fear of illegal immigrants, fear of non-christians, fear of science, fear of intelligence.

    A PARTY WHOSE CENTRAL THEME IS COWARDICE SHOULD BE DUMPED UNTIL THEY RE-WRITE THEIR BRAND!!

    November 15, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  21. Was republican

    DeMint forgot to mention one reason why so many defected.....the nomination of Sarah Palin. To many lifelong republicans, that wasthe final straw.

    November 15, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  22. Sanity Has Returned

    Awww..I just wonder why during the GOP primaries, none of this came out on stage about McCain being more liberal than conservative? I'm enjoying this meltdown and finger pointing of the GOP. While McCain is still a bit too conservative to have ever gotten my vote, he was only trying to appeal more to the middle which is where most americans are right now and is probably a decent person. GOP owns and lives religious values? ROFL. Yes, all those nice folks who go to church and pray to Jesus and then go to hate rallys screaming kill him and proclaiming to the world they could never vote for a person of color. Nice values? Thanks but no thanks..I'll stay a liberal democrat and pray at home, pray that Jesus brings them some peace and love into their hearts for our fellow citizens. We're going to need each other folks, it's going to be a rough few years getting out of this mess.

    November 15, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  23. Dave

    Boy, I HOPE this becomes the face of the Republican Party. MORE conservative socially, MORE religiously based, MORE ignoring of real people...yep, that was pretty much what the people who voted in this election indicated that they wanted. across the board..MORE control of their lives by Religion and by Social Conservatives...yep...yep. Keep talking Jim...you're sounding better and better to me to lead that Party...help guarantee 8 years of you guys not being in control. Maybe...just maybe that will be enough time for us to reclaim our country.

    November 15, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  24. Pat

    With a crook like Rick Davis and an idot like Palin, how did you expect to win. The best man won anyway. McCain had no message. He could do nothing but bash Obama. He is to stupid to be President. No wonder he lost. Palin would harm any ticket. She is the silliest thing I ever saw. McCain had the worst advisors and the worst campaign managers I ever saw. Obama is going to turn this country around . So don't look to win in 2012. You might have something gor 2015. I hope the good Lord comes back and gets us all before then.
    Republicians won't have time to regroup before the end of the world.
    They might as well forget it and let the Democrats take care of things.

    November 15, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  25. vpcam

    GOP conservative base has to blame itself for being out of touch from the main street in the 21st century. The policies they embrace are out dated. I am very pleased they got the taste of what is in store for the future for these conservatives should they choose to remain ancient. Going forward, their policies must be based on the principles of fairness and toleration. Otherwise this brand of GOP will become extinct and I have no regret about it.

    November 15, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
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