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. David

    It is interesting to note that the Republican Party, or it's predecessors, such as the Whig Party, held the office of president for about 64 years of the first century of American history.

    During the second century, the Republicans held the office 4 years more than the Democrats.

    During this third century, which we are just embarking on, the Republicans have held the office for the 1st 8 years.

    There is nothing emanating from the Republican Party, or its talking heads, that would indicate they will ever hold that office again.

    November 15, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. Thanks

    I just want to say how much I appreciate a civilized intelligent discussion on the issues I read on the Ticker, unlike the blogs on a certain other network. For the most part the posts here make points, form opinions and do not show bias. Even more so, they are not racist or bigoted and above all, most here seem to want to debate fact, not slander and rumors.

    After being told repeatedly to get my a$$ back to CNN because I dared challenge the drivel and slop being posed over there, I think I'll take their advice and stick with the grown ups from now on.

    November 15, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. JB

    This guy has either been living in cave for 20 years or, he's just d-u-m-b. John McCain has always done things he feels is right, regardless of the "party platform" (see McCain Feingold or McCain Kennedy).

    They knew what they were getting when he won the Primary. And truthfully, McCain was the only possible electable option. Any "true conservative" would have been destroyed by. . . well any liberal including a Kucinich.

    Why, because the conservative party has done nothing to address the attacks by the liberal machine (both media and party). Today, Republicans are synonymous with "bible thumper, war monger and racist".

    In order for the Republicans to come back from this, they need to address those issues head on.

    November 15, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. JAG

    "Republican values" be hanged. It's the economy, stupid. That's the main reason McCain lost.

    November 15, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. Rob

    Republicans are Coco for CocoPuffs! CWAAAZZEEE!!!! LOLOLOL!!! :)

    November 15, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. Brook Mantia

    In other words, DeMint is saying McCain is a disgrace to the Forces of Evil? I think that's a compliment.

    November 15, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. No Hillary = No Obama

    Is that what they call repressive and oppressive actions – principles? The Republicans need to get into the current century. Obama's landslide was an indictment against all things Bush. Do you really think a person with very limited experience who chants slogans would be elevated to the Presidency if it were not for George Bush and his Republican ways? Give me a break.

    November 15, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  8. keith a dewey

    I have a Republican friend that voted for McCain because he is not a religious wing nut and bases decisions on evidence (I would argue the latter). If McCain had run only to the base he would have gotten SC, Utah, and SD electorial votes and that is it. Homes of the religious nuts.

    Here is my wish. Run Palin and her platform of Adam and Eve riding around on dinosours 6000 years ago, science is evil, greed is good, drill baby drill, no regulation for business, top down economy, and big government in your bedroom. The popular vote Republicans 50 million Democrats 150 million, states 0 to 50. Hourse reps 35 to 400 and Senate 20 to 80. GO PALIN!!!

    November 15, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  9. Mark Billingsley

    DeMint and the other neanderthal leaders of the GOP just don't get it and that's why they lost. Simple as that. McCain believes in global warming? yeah Jim, look at the polar regions you idiot. You're kind see the melting ice as a new opportunity to drill and keep us on the crude juice. There wouldn't be a need for cap-and-trade programs if the energy companies would do their fair share to be better stewards of the land and air. But because it cuts into their profits they are opposed to doing what's right for everyone. Pathetic...and the American people have finally woken up. ANWR? You still pushing that idea? Another reason why you lost. OK, Jim...here's the plan. You get to drill in the ANWR but EVERY drop of oil you get from OUR land STAYS in the U.S.!!! You and your liars and thieves WILL NOT BE ALLOWED to sell OUR oil on the open market. You still want to do the deal? Didn't think so you jerk. Adapt or die Jim...that's why your Grand Old Party is on life support.

    November 15, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. Gabriel

    Branding is for cattle and cheap perfume. The public has spoken resoundingly about the by-products of neo-conservatism. Read 'em and weep: Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush, Ted Stevens, Larry Craig, and SO MUCH MORE! Call now and get your free cowardly pull-string Jim DeMint who speaks up long after the string is pulled.

    November 15, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  11. blackHat

    i find it ironic that DeMint chooses to lambast precisely those qualities that make McCain far less of an arrogant, fearmongering scumbag than his fellow Republicans. Way to denigrate the last ounce of integrity your party had, DeMint. Shame on you.

    November 15, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  12. rhoward

    Like Sharon, I too live in South Carolina. Attitudes like Sen. Demint's is what is wrong with our state and likewise with the Republican party. Their loss was not totally due to Sen. McCain – their loss was due to being so narrow-minded and preaching hate if anyone dares to believe differently from them. It seems that the Republican party cannot recognize that the majority of people are moderates and their so-called core principles refuses to recognize that fact.

    As long as the Republicans choose to live in the Ronald Reagan era instead of adjusting to the world as it is now, they will continue to turn off the moderate element of the electorate.

    November 15, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  13. lost

    wait, what ever happened to seperation of religion and state...the GOP is now the religious-based party. And I did not know that support for global warming is an anti-gop thing. Ok I am going to predict that the GOP will split into two different factions, the one that are crazy religious and the small gov't ones.

    November 15, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. Texas Teacher

    Republican Principles? I didn't know they had any! :)

    November 15, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  15. notfooled

    Some things to consider:

    1. The people in control of the GOP are not conservatives, they are right-wing radicals. They give lip service to conservative values, then follow their own agenda, usually the opposite (since when is greed "fiscal responsibility"?) When Wilsonian or other moderate conservatives speak up, the "Conservative " leadership & punditry bash them more vociferously than they do the liberals. Let's call them what they really are: Radicals.

    2. It's possible that the GOP leadership gave McCain the nod knowing they faced an unwinnable election. This allows them to now use him as a scapegoat for their failure, and by extension the failures of the Reagan/Bush excesses, the W venality & greed, and the Rovian political adventures. This also would stand as the ultimate reward to a maverick in a party that values loyalty to the exclusion of all else; a lesson to future members.

    3. Let's be thankful they are as incompetent as they are venal. Otherwise, we would all be living in a totalitarian theocracy by now.

    November 15, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. SF Serg

    You mean your party has a worse version of McCain? My God, I couldn't imagine that would be possible. Of course, there is George Bush (H & W). I hope the Republican party is nowhere near the White House or in government majority for the next 20 years.

    November 15, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. Donelliotz

    I hate to comment on anything that has to do with the republican party. I think, their campaign bus has lost all its wheel in every area of human endeavors. Gop, think present and future, not the past.

    November 15, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. Craig H Easton, PA

    Hey DeMint. Maybe it's the conservatives that are betraying American values. McCain lost because he tried so hard to pander to conservatives that he lost the moderate center of this country which believes that those religious values you're talking about are developed within and between us and God, not stuffed down our throats by "limited government". The GOP has a fundamental conflict between the social and fiscal/small government conservatives.

    November 15, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  19. John in FL

    The problem with the Republicans is that they never got supportive of each other. If anyone can recall the meeting with the bailout when McCain suspended his campaign, all the democrats were rallying to point out that McCain was not needed. Obama never had to say a word. The Republicans never came out in support of their nominee, much like the Dems did. It's kind of funny that the only one that supported him was Lieberman. We all know Hillary and Bill cannot stand Obama, but they ran with the party line and did what was right for their party. If the Republicans want a shot in 2012, they better find a candidate that everyone can support, that is young and intelligent.

    November 15, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  20. The Watcher

    The problem with the Republican brand can be clearly seen in two events. The Democratic Convention and the Republican Convention. One the party of a 21st century America the other the party of 1950's America.

    November 15, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  21. Stance

    Aren't my congressmen and senators supposed to represent my districts' opinions and needs first. Then their agenda second, that being the party's principles. And if there is still a lack of guidance their own morality.

    November 15, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  22. Goldwater Republican

    "according to DeMint, should represent freedom, religious-based values and limited government."

    DeMint needs to wake up and smell the coffee, the Republican Party that Americans want to vote for has nothing to do with religious-based values, the Republican party that Americans want is fiscally responsible, cuts waste, and promotes a positive view of the USA in foreign lands while respecting our individual freedoms. Barry Goldwater please come back!

    November 15, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  23. Maggie

    Does the republican party even know what its own principles are? The party is so fractured and broken now – its "fiscal conservatives" are in direct contradiction and competition with its "social conservatives". It's almost comical to see this party breaking apart, from a liberal point of view. The republicans can't exactly tout "fiscal conservatism" when they racked up a multi-trillion dollar deficit under President Bush. Their "social conservatism" amounts to nothing more than a complete disregard for separation of church and state and a strict "Christian" regimen that they want to force upon everyone. Republicans are supposed to want "less government" when it comes to regulating corporations and environmental laws, yet at the same time they want to use government to enforce their "Christian" views in our bedrooms. Like I said, it's comical from a liberal point of view watching the finger-pointing and blaming. I think (and can only hope) that the republican party is in deep, deep trouble. They can blame their loss on the democrats' smart use of the internet, they can blame John McCain, they can blame Sarah Palin, they can blame the "liberal media", or they can blame mickey mouse for all I care. The truth is this fracture comes from their own convoluted "principles", plain and simple. I'm surprised it took so long, actually. And happy it came at a time when we have a really, really smart democratic president-elect.

    November 15, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  24. DEB, WHITEHOUSE, OH

    DENITWITT SHOULD BE HIS NAME. I agree with Dixie in AZ. I have not supported McCain but I will when it come to this moron of a senator. are you living in a cave senator, global warming is here and it's here to stay and more people should be aware of it not ignore it. Oh and yeah, while we are at it, let's throw in some more religion.

    November 15, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. Still don't get it

    We should not be surprised to hear that kind of statement, this is the guy that stated gays and single mothers should be allowed to teach. I believe that Obama's education and healthcare plans would do some good to the republican folks.
    At the same how do you argue with someone who rejects even global warming?
    I am a Christian and I love my pastor to stay out of my voting booth, how do you argue with someone who says " the democrats stole the election and God wanted McCain/Palin in the White House, that's why it's called the White House."
    How do you argue with a pastor that says "Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their God is bigger than you, if that happens."
    This is madness and stupidity at its optimum.

    November 15, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
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