November 15th, 2008
10:22 AM ET
3 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. Vi

    These people are so out of touch with what America wants and needs. They are still waving the Ronald Reagan banner....I guess as long as they keep pretending that the know what is best and keep wrapping themselves on so-called "American Values" the Dems will keep winning.

    November 15, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. Russell schokman

    Many politicians are capable of speaking from both sides of their mouths. Lieberman is one of politicians who spews double talk and warmongering from three sides of his mouth. He belongs in the Republican party with the rest of his bretheren in the deceitful and corrupt Bush administration. Democrats need to give this country a new direction. Getting rid of Lieberman for his treatment and disloyalty to the Democratic party is a step in the right direction.

    November 15, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  3. FAYE, NV

    The Repugs have a lot to work out, you guys did not hear what the voters was concerned about. This is the 21st Century and you all are thinking 70's- 90's style. All talk and no bright ideas, lack of intellegent marketing skills. Letting the voters know exactly what you wanted to do for this country, besides war, not talking to people aboard unless they agree with you wholeheartly. Most of the speeches was about Obama, Obama, and Obama, and "My Friends"
    John could not have won with anyone and surely not Sarah.

    November 15, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  4. Norman Solow

    Sounds like the GOP lost do to their position on everything thats failed for them. Eight years later all you have to do is read or listen to the news.

    The country wants real change like national health, womens rights and a government for the people & by the people also the separation of church & state.

    Norman

    November 15, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. Floridian for Obama

    John McCain did not betray the Republican party. He abandoned his "maverick" stance towards the right-wing elements to win them over. In other words, he did just what they wanted and lost. If anything, the right-wing elements betrayed the Republican party with its extremism. John McCain's mistake was to try to lead this brand. He should have become an Independent or a Democrat.

    John McCain is an honorable man. He is a great war hero, and the right-wing extremists who preach hatred, intolerance, and war don't deserve him. Get this straight. America is not coming back to the right-wing, so-called "family values." Through its friendly support of big business policies, the right wing has helped to tear families apart: outsourcing, relaxed overtime rules, deregulation, financial meltdown, increased homelessness, increased poverty, and increased crime.

    We are evolving, and those espouse extreme right-wing views will continue to lose their political influence. We will remember those who led during Katrina. We will remember a needless war that left the real War on Terror on the sidelines. We will remember not one, but two recessions. We will remember the transition from a surplus economy to one facing the specter of a severe recession or a depression.

    George Bush couldn't have done that alone. He had to have help, and it came from those are now pointing the fingers. That is why you have lost your power. That is why you are on the sidelines. George Bush and Ted Stevens will soon join you, but you cannot blame them alone. You have to examine your own ways and accept responsibility for demanding the stances they took. If anything, John McCain had the courage to resist you, and you should have followed his example.

    November 15, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. Lee

    Does DeMint even have a clue about anything in this world? did the good people of south Carolina really elect this guy? Geez!

    November 15, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. Americans who view republicans as evil

    Once again we hear a republican politician say that government should embrace religous bases values... So much for seperation of church and state. I'll never vote republican for that reason alone.

    As more and more children are born with connectivity. (interent mutlimedia TV etc... ) there will be less and less conservatives. Why.. its pretty simple, before when there was only 3 stations on local TV before the internet, children would not have any real concept of how the rest of the world lived, but in the years ahead the iGeneration, those that have been born after the internet, will have a heluva alot more comunication with the world, and guess what.. The majority of the world leans left.

    I forsee children of strong religous belief parents defying their moms and pops the way all teenagers do. this will open up to a slew of new voters who will not want to be controlled by the religous thought police.

    In fact lets reivew right leaning societies, like extreme Islam, and Evangelicans, and confused catholic priests who will not give commuion to people who voted for Obama etc... those that want to have control over how you act.. not exactly what the young generation is going to want to be a part of IMO.

    but conservative will get despserate and they will push society over the edge. I won't stand for it, and neither will most.

    November 15, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. Vet

    Senators like DeMint is the main reason why the GOP is out of touch.
    He's agaianst protecting God's earth and God's children but has no problem saying he stands for God's values. One of these days Mr. DeMint might wake up and understand that the world is much different today than it was when Reagan was President. If he doesn't then the Republicans might win some southern states and Utah each election cycle.

    November 15, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  9. jaimito

    lol, those same outdated principles that led to GOP's defeat? Keep embracing those and GOP will longer be a national party for much longer.

    November 15, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  10. aCONSERVITIVEnotArepublican

    HERE!! HERE!! *slam fist... Bush and McCain HAVE failed but not because of the war or the economy but their refusal to stand by their free market ideals when we need them most. The new deal lengthened the great depression, we do NOT need government to make this any worse. We DO need strong men who won't abandon their principles like Obama and McCain have shown more than willing to when it benefits them.

    November 15, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  11. independent voter from Colorado

    And those comments by Mr. DeMint are EXACTLY why the republican party will continue to lose at the national level for years to come. Those comments may work in bible-belt SC but not in the country as a whole. Stick to being fiscal conservatives and many independents and democrats will cross over. Leave the religion out of it. Quit trying to tell people how to live their lives. Stop worrying so much about what gay people do and focus on the issues that matter to the other 70% of the population. Try being tolerant of other religions, or no religion at all. Recognize that this country was founded by and continues to need immigrants, and that this is a hot button issue for Latinos, so building a giant fence and calling for deportations does little to reach out to this growing group of voters. Stop insulting intelligence as "elitist" and try to do a little thinking yourselves. McCain did not lose because he strayed too far from conservative values, as Mr. DeMint alleges, but because most of what are now considered "conservative principles" deal way too much with social conservatism instead of the pocketbook issues.

    November 15, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  12. Susie

    The election wasn't even close. Conservatives need to stop the blame game and accept defeat. They are making themselves sound like a bunch of winey children.

    November 15, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  13. MN observer

    This man, Witt, represents all that is wrong with the Republican Party. Narrow minded, Narrow focused, No concern for "the people" and continually trying to insist that everyone must believe and follow those same narrow minded and narrow focused beliefs.

    Now he comes along and puts blame on the people who are trying to live in "the real world" and deal with the reality of that world instead of looking more closely at the foundation of his rants and how out of touch he and those who listen to him really are.

    November 15, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  14. Stefan

    How can "freedom" and "religious-based values" coexist within the party, especially when the "religion" they profess has everything to do with enforcing their will on others who do not share their religion?

    November 15, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. Lin

    I would be a happier individual if all REPUBLICANS jump in a large deep lake with no life preservers.

    November 15, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. tota la cubana

    ALSO, HE WAS A CHICKEN ATTACKING HUSSEIN OBAMA. HE COULD DESTROY OBAMA AT THE BEGGINING, OF THE CAMPAING, HOWEVER HE FREAK OUT WHAT THE MEDIA COULD SAY.

    November 15, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  17. Lisa

    I have to say this is exactly why the GOP is failing. All of his ideas of what they as a group should stand for are from a by-gone day. The GOP needs to look for young news relevent ideas. They need to take a leap into the 21st century and stop looking to the past with all their OLD blood.

    November 15, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  18. Jodi K

    the problem with the republicans is they keep on saying they are going too far away from their roots.

    The problem is your all forcing your religion down everyone elses throats qhile being utter hypocrites. Its the entire republican party that is corrupt. Stop sleeping with men and screaming about how evil gays are, stop telling us how you are going to reform corruption and then take money and gfts from big oil.

    Just stop. Nobody buys your lies any longer. not everyone is as ignorant as your bible and gun clinging base.

    November 15, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Northwest Washington

    I can't help but feel that there is going to be a split in the Republican Party, one a religious far right wing and one of conservative right of middle, non-secular focus.

    November 15, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. giri d

    Where were you when McCain was nominated at the Republican Convention? He was not unknown for his very views. He still would have got elected he would not have swayed from his principle to " what you call conseravtism" . The very conservative principle from southern belt and chatters on Fox noice will drive this great nation to STONE AGE.

    November 15, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. MN observer

    I apologize that I got the name wrong but the message is still the same.

    This man, DeMint, represents all that is wrong with the Republican Party. Narrow minded, Narrow focused, No concern for "the people" and continually trying to insist that everyone must believe and follow those same narrow minded and narrow focused beliefs.

    Now he comes along and puts blame on the people who are trying to live in "the real world" and deal with the reality of that world instead of looking more closely at the foundation of his rants and how out of touch he and those who listen to him really are.

    November 15, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. Denise Groves

    What principles?

    November 15, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  23. Dave F

    Jim DeMint is one of the hardest of hard core righties and unfortunately one of my states senators. This does not surprise me in the least, he is one step away from advocating a theocracy for America.

    November 15, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  24. Sandra in Kentucky

    Same old same old from the republican party. If they want to regain their momentum they must move away from wedge issues and they must realize that moderate America does not want to embrace the old core "religious based principles".

    November 15, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  25. Trying to stay on my feet

    Demint and the rest of the republican party should take an introspective look and realize that they are out of touch with average Americans.

    November 15, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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