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. Randy

    Demint has it backwards,

    It his is brand ideas that betray republican philosophy. The republicans need to get back to their roots. I miss the traditional conservatives. Demint is a neocon, and necons are morons.

    November 15, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. JAY N.H.

    Bill Dingle

    Your an idiot! The only way out of this mess is for the government to spend and create jobs via infastructure and so on. We have this problem thanks to George Bush and his deficit spending. No president has spent more money than republican George Bush. You want to talk about Ideas your candidate John McCain had zero ideas. Spending freeze, what a bunch of idiots.

    November 15, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  3. Frank Lee

    These wackos on the extreme right will never get it.

    They actually believe their beliefs are in tune with what America wants.

    McCain lost because of signing on to Palin-like policies, not because he was a moderate.

    The right has become so stupid it's almost funny.

    They keep looking for another Reagan even though it spells their political doom.

    November 15, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. Peter

    Ha ha ha ha ha. Yes. That's exactly why the GOP lost, because it wasn't MORE conservative, it wasn't MORE right-wing. Apparently, the right-wing and the very right-leaning independents decided to support Obama because you weren't conservative enough. Yes, that makes alot of sense. Just make sure you keep going more and more to the right, because that's clearly what this country wants. Thanks (signed, Dems).

    November 15, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  5. Tom

    We should be thankful that senators like John McCain are the leaders of the republican party and not this DimWitt

    November 15, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  6. Dick D'Addario

    I'm glad I don't live in South Carolina and have to be represented by such a backward thinking person as him.

    November 15, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. GOP needs help

    This is so messed up. The things this guy is slamming McCain for are some of the few things that McCain got right!!

    November 15, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  8. George New Jersey

    We need more Senators with open minds to try and solve problems of our age – close minded senators, like the Honorable Senator Dewitt have blinders on and try to force their ideals on others. These folks, whether ultra-liberal or ultra-conservative border near criminal behavior. While that appears strong their blind faith in the pursuit of their issues causes extreme reactions from their counterparts and is truly unhealthy for all of us.

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

    TRADITIONAL CONSERVATIVE VALUES? You have got to be kidding. The TRADITIONAL conservative value is limited government – nothing more nothing less.

    The people turned on the REPUBLICAN party because of their abandonment of the CORE value. War of choice paired with tax cuts to the two top tax brackets. A trampled Constitution.

    McCain is the man. If, say, Huckabee was the nominee the results would have been worse for the GOP. Hopefully the GOP can return to the FUNDAMENTAL principle so I can start voting for them again.

    Don't you dare throw McCain under the bus.

    November 15, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  10. Bill

    Betrayal? He elected Palin as the VP and he did it just to satisfy the conservatives. Unfortunately, Palin is a religious nutcase and an airhead who doesn't know anytthing and who can't answer questions. I was thinking about voting for McCain, the only reason being I wasn't sure if Obama's talk was just that – promises that can't be kept. At one point I wasn't even going to vote, but once Palin came on the scene, I made sure I voted to keep her out.
    Obama kept saying McCain "Just doesn't get it". And he was correct. McCain and most conservatives who have a view of the way they think the country should be. They love guns, war, warmongering, protecting Big money at all costs, and lately what seems like Xenophobia. And as Phil Graham said we're a nation of whiners and McCain said the economy is strong the same week that it collapsed. Christopher Shays of CT said the same thing, he got canned and it was good to see. They are there to serve us, to help us, not to lie to us and insult us. And speaking of insults, nominating Sarah Palin was an insult to most people's intelligence.
    People have no jobs, they can't pay their mortgages, they've lost their life's savings, inflation is going through the roof, banks pay no interest, the stock market is useless, any kind of investment strategy is not woking, you can't get loans from banks. If you do have any money left, there's nowhere to put it. Health Insurance companies are price gouging everyone, drug company's are price gouging everyone. People are being taxed to death. And with all this, the country is being hemorraged by a stupid war.
    The Greedy Old Pigs protect the rich, they always have. But now, because of their greed and arrogance they have been unseated. It's time to take a look in the mirror. They have to stop living in a delusionary world like Rush Limbaugh and realize they have to change. If our government has started to get more involved, it's their fault it happened.
    I agree – there should be less government, less taxes, stricter immigration, better moral judgement on TV, and GOD is all important and I'm pro-life.
    It's pretty sad they they blame McCain, he's a good man. I dont' think any Republican could have won after what Bush has done. People are also sick of the right wing radical wackjobs like Limbaugh, Hannity and Coulter ranting their hatred and want of a one-party system in this country. It's not a great system, but that's what we have, so if you don't like it, move someplace else.

    November 15, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. Candy

    This deMint guy probably still wants to blame Lincohn for setting the slaves free. My god, freedom, religious-based values and limited government? Aren't we still in the midst of a nightmare because of GOP's versions of those three things:
    - freedom for the haves to kill, torture, grab riches,
    - religious-based values to discriminate and exclude,
    - limited government to exercise state-sponsored terrorism in the form of illegal wiretapping, pre-emptive strikes, and working on behalf of special interest groups?

    Just like most of their supporters in those red states, the GOP leaders are delusionsal and doomed – being 'conserved'. to eternity.by their out-dated conservative ideologies

    November 15, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  12. Lani in Los Angeles

    Matt in Canoga Park....

    McCain barely lost??? I don't think so. He lost BIG! And it wasn't because of the economy either.

    The economy tanking is Septmeber is just an excuse. Because if Americans believed McCain could take care of our nation they would have voted for him.

    Obama 's campaign proved he was innovative and forward thinking while Clinton and McCain, used old tactics. That's why they lost.

    Our nation is in a crisis. We need innovation not partisan politics.

    Independent Voter

    November 15, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  13. Republicans have no core principles

    When the cat goes away.. the mouse will play. LMAO, oh How I love to watch this party self destruct.

    November 15, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  14. Jason

    McCain didn't lose because be betrayed "Republican values."

    He lost because:

    1) His opponent is an incredibly charismatic person who has a gift for speaking.

    2) He abandoned, then tried to reclaim the mantle of a moderate who could reach across party lines.

    If anything, McCain was far too loyal to a terrible president and a Republican base that ultimately didn't support him anyway.

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

    I like the George Congressman who says Obama is a Marxist and Hitlerian and is about to establish a totalitarian state. While 74% of Americans according to latest polls expect Obama to a very good president–in other words, he starts with overwhelming positives–a group of Republicans gets attention shouting the most over-the-top rhetoric. This is red meat to the base while the rest of the population drifts away from the shrinking GOP.
    The Republicans began killing their own brand with Bush and some of them haven't learned a thing. Keep it up, fools. We love it.

    November 15, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. caj

    McCain did what he had to do to try and win and if it meant jumping ship he was prepared to do it......anything to win the election!!!!
    So you see his moto of " COUNTRY FIRST' was just that...a moto, it never did mean anything of significance.
    Of course they are all out there now blaming each other for their loss, that party needs to re evaluate it's principles....it has definately lost it's way and needs to move into the 21st Century.
    Too many " white" faces, we don't live in a "white only zone", we have moved on, well we Democrats have and they need to wake up and get with it.
    By, the way that is not a "racist" comment it is just a true fact of what we saw during the election at the McCain rallies.....I happen to be a white lady who feels it's way past time for us to come together.

    November 15, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  17. Robyn Harris

    The Republican "Brand" stands for:
    Wealth – For the Wealthy.
    Power – For the Powerful.
    Freedom – As long as you don't dare to disagree with Republicans.

    The Republican "Brand" stands for the sort of "Arbeit macht frei" mentality that very nearly destroyed the world in the mid twentieth century. Sixty years later and they still haven't learned.

    To the Republican "Brand", "spreading the wealth" is Communism and Marxism. To people who are not blinded by ideology, it means spreading opportunity, education, fairness, equity and equality, a basic belief in the dignity of human beings. A chance for a better future and hope for tomorrow.

    All of these things are alien and repugnant to the Republican "Brand".

    November 15, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  18. Jay

    I don't want to hear repubs critizing George Bush they fought like crazy to get him elected in TWO Elections. Now they have to sleep in the bed they made, period!

    November 15, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  19. tryagain

    DeMint is correct. The pervert media and the socialist pseudo-Republicans (e.g., Arnold Schwarzenegger) pushed this far-left political hack John McCain with the full knowledge that he had minimal allegiance to conservative principles. Most younger Americans are brainwashed against conservatism; most older Americans have forgotten about conservatism. Any true conservative running as a Republican would have won this election by a landslide, as it would have been a very refreshing change from the liberal deterioration that festered during the previous dozen years.

    November 15, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  20. Tex

    You are all moronic retards!

    November 15, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  21. Mike

    It was the lesser of two evils, really. Knowing that either one of them would destroy this country it was very easy to let the Democrats be responsible for the disaster that's about to befall this nation.

    It's funny. Liberals are all about "tolerance" unless one happens to disagree with them. Then they send out their hate squads to steal or destroy our "Yes on 8" placards. They claim to be for human rights, yet completely disregard the rights of the human fetus in the womb. But God forbid a convicted murderer be executed. And as for "separation of church and state", please find that in the Constitution for me. You can't, because it doesn't exist. It merely states that "no official religion" be established (akin to the Church of England). There was no intention to separate religion as a whole from our government.

    November 15, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  22. LiberalChris

    Well Paul Begala called it.

    Let the Republican in party knife fight begin.

    November 15, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Northwest Washington – it is already happening. Lookup the libertarian party. I am a right leaning independent that feels like i don't have a place in neither the republican or democratic parties. I found the libertarian party and feel right at home. They believe in small government, personal responsibility, and live and let live.

    http://www.lp.org

    November 15, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  24. Laurel

    This man is a complete idiot. He's actually blaming John McCain and the two others for the problems of an entire party. Its mostly Bush's fault. I definately was not a McCain supporter but, dont try to use him as a scapegoat for the Republican party's issues. If the Republicans were a little MORE moderate and supported a some of the issues John McCain pioneered they would have had a better chance. Its because John McCain embraced the more conservative philosophy that he lost the election. Religious based values huh....thats going to work again...look how it helped Bush

    November 15, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  25. Thevail

    The Republicans need to stop looking back and start looking forward.
    If they really want a conservative platfor..go back to the democrats of the 1950's because for America in the year 2008 THAT IS CONSERVATIVE.

    Time moves on gentlemen, move with or fade into a footnote of history. These ARE your only choices. You know, or become like the libertarians and greenies, an irrelevancy at the electoral level.

    It is time for the "conservatives" to figure out what to be conservative about. This wretched religious lip service , denial of modern science, and insistence that somehow their out dated economic theories actually work despite all evidence to the contrary, is ushering in some creepy Republican Dark Ages.

    And we don't want any, thank you.

    November 15, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
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