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. dannie

    I do not think blacks and gays get along very well. When Obama is not involved i think blacks may someday vote for republicans because of all the meanness and hate coming from the gay left.

    November 15, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. Bob

    LOL!!! While Senator DeMint's remarks about what he perceives to be the "future" brand of the republican party might play out well in a backward state like his own, South Carolina, it will have a devastating effect on the electability of the GOP for years to come. What they need are NEW IDEAS, not he same old FAILED ONES......THAT is what this party needs to comes to grips with.......By the way: GOOD LUCK!!!!

    November 15, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. Sleepless in MI

    Yeah, I'm one of those who believes folks Palin and DeMint represent winning majorities for Democrats. Their battle cries for "religious based values" will alienate voters who might agree only with their economic conservatism. Obviously the Republican party has years of self-definition and infighting to overcome, and it might be years before they have an agreement on who they are. It bodes well for progressives, like me. But it is a shame that Gerald Ford type Republicans are ostracized and a thing of the past.

    November 15, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  4. Bob In Baltimore

    You know, sense and sensibility seem to be creeping southward. Virginia, North Carolina both went blue so I suppose that Demint better watch out and hopefully he will be the next Elizabeth Dole casualty!

    November 15, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. john

    THey really do not get it the GOP is in self destruct mode...its sad

    November 15, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. Don

    Yeah, DeMint is definitely deluded. A Palin candidacy in 2012 would preclude the worst electoral defeat in the history of the party. She is okay to look at, but once she starts talkin', and the folksy drawl and hockey mom talk comes on, it's an immediate rush to the exits for anyone with a lick of sense. I still find it difficult to believe W was elected (ever), never mind twice. Hopefully the age of American Ideological Idiocy has come to an end. Electing the formerly drug addled/drunken/conveniently religious dim bulb to run the show was a catastrophic error. Coincidently, of biblical proportions. Now that it's over we can all see the effects. Obama will need 8 years to clean up the mess.

    November 15, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Jeff Brown

    Keep opening your pie hole DeMint, your brand of conservatism is dead! As long as you keep spouting, the voters will flock to the left!

    November 15, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. Fred

    I thank Senator McCain ran a great campaign. I thank the RNC coud have much, much more for him to obtain the presidency in this last
    election. Looking at the mount of people he lost by wasn't so bad.
    He did not have the financial backing that President Elect Obama had.
    Finances have alot to do with winning anything so I have noticed over the years. And also we must remember there sits a president that has done very little for this country the last 8 years who was a Republican also. We must look at this also. And look how many times the republicans would block things in the Senate and in Congress. I am a Democrat who voted for John McCain and Sarah Palin. I truly thank that if it were not for the so very many black leaders and television host, that Obama wouldn't have would not have stood a chance. It is all Finances, Finances, Finances. Not the person running, as Mr. Obama really lacked so much experience. So hay the election is over, quite pointing fingers as it could come back and bite you in the butt. I thank that Senator McCain and Gov. Palin should be commended on what they did. They also made history in this last election. And lets do what Senator McCain said to do. Mr. Obama has been won the election we need to stand behind him and be supportive right now. This country is in a terrible mess. Lets start working to clean it up and not start pointing fingers. Excuse me he
    didn't quote in those words, but we did get his message. So thank you Senator McCain and Gov. Palin. You did an outstanding job doing what you did with little help from the RNC. If the election were hald again tomorrow you would have our vote. We new on just prior before the election things didn't look good, but we couldn't be swayed not even then. Again we are Democrats that voted for McCain, and there were many more out there. But the people making bad comments about Senator McCain and Gov. Palin need to stand behind them even now. Thats the problem in Washington, finger pointing is like the flue, so many catch it.

    November 15, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. Rich

    DeMint is delusional. The Republicans lost not because McCain did not fit the label. They lost because the label has lost its dreadful appeal, never to be persuasive again.

    November 15, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. Gregg

    Add yourself to that list there, Sen. DeMint. There's nothing special about you, either. You're just another stupid politician. But, thankfully, you're in the minority now. You and your party won't be able to rob America for at least another four years. Enjoy your obscurity. You've earned it.

    November 15, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. Brian, Quad Cities

    This is how the the zealots lash out when that party advocates anything that appeals to mainstream America... They are Hosed

    November 15, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. California Gold

    I look at it this way. McCain had about 48 million votes. 48 million. 48 million people gave their vote of confidence to McCain and his "Republican Conservative principles". Trouble is DeMint adamantly believes Richard Nixon's "silent majority" are ultra conservative. No matter how loudly his yells or how aggressively he blames others, the fact remains they are wrong and completely irrelevant to the 21st century. DeMint and others will go to their graves screaming the sky is falling and the Earth is flat. Still doesn't make it true or acceptable.

    November 15, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. DeVone

    it seems to me that TRUE AMERICANS WANT A TRUE AMERICA
    we have the world in HOCK and people are still pointing the finger
    we know the shap this country was in before Bush and we we know the shap it is in now and it is sad that people of America donot
    want to see American people back to work that is insain
    the republican selfish party need to think about who REALY
    take care of them

    November 15, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. Vietnam_Vet71

    Dimslie,
    Your revisionist history is off the mark! Republicans, only, chose President Ford over President Reagan (may he be praised forever)–so your "we" is inaccurate. In my opinion Reagan was a great president; but he was not a god.

    I grew up in South Carolina in the sixties and remember ULTRA-CONSERVATIES (then they were called DIXIECRATS led by Strom Thurmond) wanting to do everything in their power to hold onto their segregationist ways. Based on the election results of Nov 4th, I believe some of the same people in my home state of South Carolina would rather lose everything than move forward in this world economy. The US of A is much better than that!

    GOD BLESS ALL OF AMERICA!

    November 15, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Quite your whinning! the electon is over. Unite and prepare for
    2012 and local elections in between.

    November 15, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  16. Sam

    The Republican party has not represented a good portion of American people for the past 8 years. And p l e a s e keep religion-based things out if it....hasn't anyone heard of separation of church and state?

    November 15, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  17. Rod Ellis

    Blame, how about the WHOLE Republican party. A month did not go by without another Republican dropping from a scandel. The War good or bad was a kiss of death. The Republican party is a joke, about values , what values. The only one left was pro-life, stealing, lying and bribing are not religous based values.
    Then the mortgage melt down, the GOP sucked their thumb in the corner , which delayed the whole thing and sent the country into a panic. Should I go on. If it had not been for pro-life issues, I WOULD HAVE VOTED DEMOCRATIC. So we better get use to the Democrats for the next 8 to 12 years unless Obama falls on his sword.

    November 15, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  18. EARL THE PEARL

    THE REPUBLICANS HAVE TO GUT THEIR PARTY AND BELIEFS AS THEY ARE OUT OF TOUCH. TO MANY OLD GUYS RUNNING THEIR PARTY AND THEY NEED TO GET YOUNGER PEOPLE INVOLVED. GEORGE BUSH SET THIS PARTY BACK AND IT IS GOING TO TAKE A LONG TIME TO BUILD IT BACK.

    November 15, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  19. Gene

    I'm by no means pro-McCain.. but...

    I think part of the problem with the republican party is that they're so rigid. So, if you're part of the republican party.. you're not allowed to have individual ideas? Welcome to the new puppet party republicans.. this goes against the very concept of being an American.

    November 15, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  20. lescroc

    quite your whinning the election is over, prepare for 2012 and the elections in between.

    November 15, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  21. ashlea

    Americans, even a lot of Republicans, are sick to death and disgusted with the judgemental, self-serving values DeMint seems to hold dear to his heart. That's why his party lost – a few small items like years of corruption and greed, their hypocritical holiness (sanctimony), the good ole boy's club garbage. You can include that rag Palin and McCain's catering to first one group, then another, ad infinitum in a frantic effort to get himself elected, disproving his banner of "Country First" as quite a bit of the reason they lost but, mostly, it was because of the ideas that DeMint et al nurture in their heart. People aren't as brainwashed and stupid and closed-minded as they used to be, even a lot of older people I know decided to leave the Republican Party out of sheer disgust.

    November 15, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. SD

    Maybe he should run for President in 2012 and represent the Republican Party (wink,wink)!!

    November 15, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  23. yeti

    And so they begin to feed on one another. I was wondering how Senator DeMint came to the 'conservative principles' he enumerated. These are those foisted on the GOP in the last 20 years, but would not so closely resemble those of the traditional GOP of, say, 1950, where collegiality and genuine conservatism were more the rule. Of course, McCarthy took care of that.
    This tired notion that madly drilling in the Arctic will somehow rescue us is bunk. After billions invested in such a scheme and the inevitable destruction of the environs, we would harvest a modest supply of a couple years worth of oil, along with some natural gas. This with the equipment in scarcity and aging. The problem is that we are trying to solve our fossil fuel dilemma by more fossil fuel. It isn't buying time; in actuality, it is costing time that would more valuably be spent on other energy sources.

    November 15, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Hes just jealous that McCain is mtg w/ O on Mon and has an IN with the bi-partisan approach that will save this country.

    November 15, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. streetsmart

    What is so pathetic about this talking head is that he just doesn't get it...

    I am a Democrat who at one time actually flirted with voting for John McCain because he is such an honorable person. But, after listening to the right wing of the GOP venting their rage and not taking any responsibility for the events of the last eight years...It was no way McCain...However, I would be trilled if Obama saw it fit to add McCain to his cabinet and McCain finally dump the GOP like he almost did in 2000.

    McCain is too much of a respectable and decent person to still be a part of that "dog pound" which the GOP has denigrated into over the last eight or more years…

    November 15, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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