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. Adam P.

    "Freedom" and "religious based values"? LOL. Good oxymorong there. Apprently the good Senator is not aware that, thanks to these "religious based values", adults in our country have been denied THE FREEDOM to use their money to entertain themselves by playing poker on the internet?

    November 15, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. Ron

    wasn't the GOP and their talking head press just championing McCain the so-called "maverick"?

    November 15, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  3. Nick Albuquerque

    What Demint fails to understand is that what he considers the core values of the Republican brand have failed. When more then half of the religious right recognizes the perils that lay ahead if Climate Change is allowed to go unmitigated, it becomes clear that Demint is clinging to the past when he yammers on about the economic challenges of addressing Climate Change. It further highlights his failed way of thinking by ignoring the significant role the government will have to take to address the worst financial crisis since the great depression. Demint and the Republican party need a new vision if they want to be taken seriously in the 21st century.

    November 15, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  4. Kahless

    Trying to impress with policies that would appeal to Democrats and Liberals is exactly why McCain lost. They would never vote for him no matter how far to the left he moved and truly amazing that he could not see that. One has to question McCains fitness to be President with such a huge miscalculation.

    The example is demonstrated time and time again even right here in the responses denouncing Demint and Conservative values in this forum. Conservatives stayed at home this cycle since they did not have a candidate.

    November 15, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  5. Gerald West

    McCain is far more noble and honest than the politicians who control the Republican Party. He doesn't do deception and mud-slinging convincingly. He didn't lose because he was underfunded; he lost because he couldn't sell from the empty wagon that is the Republican platform!

    November 15, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  6. Bill Dingle

    I could not believe that McCain voted for a government bailout. Where's his Republican DNA? He must have really wanted to be President. At least the Republican governors are talking about holding the tax line and stopping the health system takeover.

    Now we have Obama throwing money at every fix it scheme imaginable. He kept saying jobs, housing and a world wide recession were Bush's fault so often the voters forgot to ask if Obama had any financial ideas other than tax and spend or job creation ideas other than a new WPA.

    The word is out to have a filibuster proof Senate i.e. roll over the opposition. So much for working together in this united United States.

    November 15, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  7. Matt, Canoga Park

    Someone tell DeMint to just shut up. McCain held his own and barely lost in a election year where the opponent had more money then sense at times and bought his way to the white house. He is in the same party as the current president who is not liked by over 75% of Americans.

    This second guessing and blame game from some idiot senator who did not even have the courage to run for office himself . If he is so rightous and perfectly conservative then where was his run? What has he done?

    Don't you know you can't armchair quarterback a presidential election if you yourself did not have the "stones" to actually try and run yourself. If Romney, Huckabee, Paul or anyone else had said this I could accept it because at least they also threw their hat in the ring.

    Next time this idiot is up for office kick him out please. Demint is a coward, McCain is a proven hero in more ways then just military record.

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

    DeMint is part of the reason that the Republican are in deep, deep trouble. He, and others who think like him, just don't get it. I think that there will be significant blood-letting within the Republican party for a long time to come. The Republicans increasingly have come to represent a jingoistic, unintellectual attitude that is all about blaming "liberals", immigrants, urban dwellers, etc for all the problems in the country; increasingly they need to look more at themselves.

    November 15, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  9. I love repubs like this

    The best Republicans, from the perspective of Democrats, are those currently saying that if only they were MORE conservative America would embrace them. I do hope guys like DeMint win out because their utter inanity will give Democrats winning majorities in congress for years to come.

    November 15, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  10. Kelby from Houston, TX

    Now that I think about it, McCain did not betray Republican principals. He betrayed his own. This man became a totally different person for this race. He did a complete 180. He stooped to a level of dirt that had defeated him and it did not work. He tried to scare us. His campaign wanted us to fear Obama. FEAR is no longer an option.

    November 15, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. alan j.

    The problem was not McCain. I would LOVE to be a Republican.
    But I can't
    They don't want anybody who isn't ideologoically pure, and this is not the hallmark of a governing party.
    Sorry DeMint. The problem is YOU.

    November 15, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. ousteroune

    "Republican principles": the oxymoron of the century!

    November 15, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  13. Alan

    Senator DeMint is very right, you know.

    I live in Arizona, and was compelled to vote for McCain ONLY because I knew the alternative, who got elected based on a career of moral and physical cowardice and hanging with bigots, would be much worse.

    The same guy who uttered the F-Bomb at Senator Cormyn for pointing out the dangers of Shamnesty is the guy who could have won the election by looking pointedly at his opponent and saying. "I have served this country my entire adult life. I have fought for this nation, and spent time in a prisoner of war camp, tortured. I have worked for all Americans. Mr. Obama, what have YOU done besides spend 20 years in a pew while a bigot spewed and vomited hate and you did NOTHING. Well, nothing except hang out with domestic terrorists and PLO supporters.

    What he was willing to do to Cormyn he lacked the guts to do to Obama. Those who ran his campaign were keystone cops and gutless jerks like his old chief of staff, Grant Woods, a RINO. But they sure knew how to blame the only one who really was working – Sarah Palin, well, her and Joe the Plumber.

    We need Conservative Leadership. Not guys like DeLay who resigned without fighting, but guys like DeMint, like Jindal, like Eric Cantor, who will FIGHT for us and for America.

    November 15, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Jack

    Senator DeMint talks a lot about what he's against but, what exactly is he for?

    Does Senator DeMint want to go back 100 years and get really cheap labor?

    Does he want to deport everybody that doesn't go to his church?

    Does he want everybody else to pay tax and leave his "kind" alone?

    Just what is Senator DeMint's brand of republican? No code words or phrases Senator, let's here it plain and clear – what do you advocate?

    November 15, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. Cathy, Peoria AZ

    AS I expected most Republicans just don't get it. This party needs to move to the center, a more moderate approach and look to the Tim Pawlenty's and Bobby Jindahl's of their party. The continuation of the ultra conservative movement will get them nowhere which is fine by this Democrat. The daily dose of fear mongering and a total lack of a cohesive plan PLUS Sarah Palin lost the election.
    Go ahead and continue the religious based values, fear mongering (which should be in total disagreement with each other) and lack of a plan and it will be years before you recover! Take a good hard look at your membership, no diversity, no youth, no nothing! That is why you lost!

    November 15, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  16. Palin4Prez

    Don't worry the Republican Party will be back in 2 to 4 years. The US will not tolerate the idiotic liberal and socialistic principles that the Axis of Taxes will propose (Obama, Pelosie & Reid).

    November 15, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  17. Paul in Miami

    Imagine that, the headless snake (not that Bush had a head to begin with) is thrashing about. The reason for the mess :THE PEOPLE, which they clearly forgot. Blame McCain? Absurd, he has more honor in his little pinkie than all the Bush administration put together. More of the same will get more of the same: FAILURE. These dimwit dinosaurs will bully the party into oblivion. Its time they got down on the side of the people. Maybe then, they can regain some of the lost honor they claim to have now.

    November 15, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Thanks. Are we reading the same blog? 80% of what is written in Ticker blogs is heavily biased toward Obama. The McCain bashing has been relentless, even after the election. The thing only worse than a sore loser is a sore winner, and these posts have been full of people kicking McCain and his supporters after they were down. Republicans are every sladerous name possible. McCain is refered to as McSame, McBush, McWar and worse. He is even called a traitor, when he has sacrificed more for his country than most will ever do, including Obama. Perhaps it's because you agree with these hateful comments that you find the CNN Ticker bolg 'more civilized'. Personally, I find that many of the comments are 180 degrees opposite of what Obama claims to preach. He claims to be bipartisan and wants to bring people together. Most of the blogs by his supporters have the opposite effect.

    November 15, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  19. Alan

    Gerald West,

    One question for you.

    Who did YOU vote for, McCain or Obama?

    If it was the latter, case closed about how nice McCain was.

    November 15, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  20. Jeff, North Dakota

    Republicans betrayed Republican principles. Otherwise Ron Paul would have been the Republican nominee. I say good riddance to the GOP.

    November 15, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. Dr. Hawkins

    McCain is a republican in name only and that's why he lost. What exactly was his message? Limit government spending yet OK the bailout – he had no message. Certainly a message that ressinated from the republican core. Limited government, accountablility, social and fiscal responsiblity, he was none of this.

    Mitt Romney and Gulliani 2012. It will happen. Newt we need some leadership. The republican party is sooooo lost, it has no leader.

    November 15, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  22. playtankjulie

    Wow... everything this guy is blaming McCain for are the only things I liked about him.

    P.S. Separation of Church and State. Look it up. First Amendment.

    November 15, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  23. JOHN

    The Republican "brand" is what got "blown" out the ANALS of history.

    November 15, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  24. Art Michaelson

    McCain and the Republican Party lost in a landslide because their STANDARD Bearer sold his honorable soul to gain the Right Wing Religious Evangelical Christian vote by choosing that BIRD BRAIN Sara {Palin to be in line to inherit the PRESIDENCY if McCain vacated the office. The 62% of voters who believed that Palin was illprepared for the office probably voted for OBAMA or one of the other parties. Americans were fedup with the negativity being spouted by PALIN and developed by BUSH/ROVE traind advisors. Americans want HOPE and that was why Reagan did so well.

    November 15, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. John

    Bush killed the Republican party, John McCain Built the coffin, Sarah Palin promoted the civil war and nailed down the coffin lid, The Reverend Hagee officiated at the Funeral.

    Republican Party RIP.

    November 15, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
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