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. KLEE

    I think "not!" Republican Principles – get real – the GOP needs to rethink their Principles!

    November 15, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. Christina

    McCain appealed broadly to moderate Republicans, conservative democrats and many Independents. How naive for the GOP to believe they could win this election by sticking to their narrow "brand." The Republicans are not in tune with the changing American electorate and will quickly become anachronisms.

    November 15, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. reggie

    BUT, most republicans praise the job McCain/Palin did during the campaign.

    November 15, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  4. Binky Tadpole

    Republicans, stop acting like babies. Get to work on the huge problems that face this nation. I'm an Amercian who is sick and tired of the blame game and finger pointing. Get your ACT together and ACT like adults and START TO FIX the problems. Do you know what the word bipartisan means. Show us that you do and quit whining!

    November 15, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  5. David Rogers

    Hey DeMint you are a maggot.

    We from the west are sick of ignorant bigoted southerners. You just don't get it. God answered America’s prayer and has elected President Elect Obama. DeMint you and like kind are the problem with America.

    November 15, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  6. Terry

    So let me get this right – Top Republicans agree that the McCain/Palin Ticket was wrong for America. Thank You! We had this figured out three months ago, on a Friday, in Dayton,Ohio. I have been a Republican for 42 years, and I can tell when someone is trying to put lipstick on a pig. John McCain said it about the Clinton Healthcare Plan, and then introduced Sarah Palin as his "FBI Vetted VP Candidate" in Dayton. The Republican Party is shrinking, not due to George Soros, but due to the greedy bailout of Wall Street by Bush, Paulson, and Cheney. Senator Stevens is a joke. What a legacy for the Republican Party. I am hoping for a new Conservative Independent Party that will replace the Republican Party.

    November 15, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  7. lol

    this was the democrats election to lose, if it wasn't for mccain the republicans wouldn't have stood any chance what so ever. it's easy to place blame after the fact, but no other republican would have had the respectable showing mccain/palin had.

    November 15, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  8. Timothy

    He didn't betray the party as much as he did it a favor by moving it back to the center where the VAST majority of it's members and supporters stand. Sorry conservative minority, you've had your day but the party is over!

    November 15, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  9. Greg

    "....according to DeMint, should represent freedom, religious-based values and limited government"
    Actually, this is why so many moderate conservatives like myself voted for Obama, a strong fear of those that would pander to the religious right. These "republicans" need to wake up and realize that most Americans don't want their "brand". It's time for a return to the REAL core of conservatism...fiscal responsibilty.

    November 15, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  10. Cal F. Power

    Ok, McCain just went up one notch in my book.

    The time for post mortem is over. Now is the time to look at today and forward to tomorrow and put our energies to fixing our nation.

    CNN, please focus more attention on newsworthy events of the thoughts, planning and actions of people across the nation who are doing something about fixing big and little things to make our nation a better place.

    November 15, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  11. Liberal and proud of it!

    One cannot betray principles that don't exist.
    Like "Pogo" said many years ago:
    "We have met the enemy and he is us."

    November 15, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  12. Michael watching from Canada

    The Republicans nominated a "Maverick" on the basis that they needed someone who would best distance themselves with Bush. In nominating a Maverick, the Republicans knew what they were putting forward someone who would stray away from Republican core principles. So Demint's complaints should be directed towards the Republican party for nominating someone who "betrayed Republican principles" before the general election got underway.

    November 15, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  13. Carl C Eppler

    The "in-fighting" has begun. Reagan warned the GOP about this. It never occurred during his time in the GOP. He knew it would lead to trouble.
    Unless the GOP gets their collective heads out of their....!...and gets real about issues that affect America, they will be out of power for a long time.

    Issues about Abortion rights and Gay rights do NOT help people keep their job, pay their bills or secure their future for their children.

    November 15, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  14. Rob in NC

    In a nutshell this is what is wrong with the Republican party. if you have to blame somebody, look in the mirror.

    When are these people going to learn that moving forward is not a bad thing? You can have a smaller government and still do good things. Doing nothing to help the citizens of this country and calling it "smaller government" is not a good platform. Letting the infrastructure of this country fall apart because it is "wasteful spending" is not a good idea. And drilling for more oil is not the only answer to energy independence. In fact it's the worse answer to the problem. More oil+More Cars=More Pollution. I hope you have another place to go for when you destroy this planet by your own shortsightedness and greed.

    Also they keep talking about freedom, but want to impose "religious-based values". Who's religion? Who's values?

    I know, I know, if it's not his way, it's got to be wrong.

    November 15, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  15. Ed - Washington DC

    See:

    Free the GOP – The Party Won't Win Back the Middle as Long As It's Hostage to Social Fundamentalists, By Christine Todd Whitman and Robert M. Bostock, Washington Post,
    Friday, November 14, 2008

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/13/AR2008111303347.html

    November 15, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  16. David

    How about you need more diversity in your party. Don't blame John McCain he was preaching the right wing cause. You the the right wing of the party introduce him to Gov Palin and that was the end.

    November 15, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  17. Michael

    Republicans across the nation choose John McCain to be their nominee for President because of what he stood for, not what the party stands for. The party failed to support him, forcing McCain to have to play to the base when he should have been chasing independents. This is where the business like organization of the Republican Party fails them, there is no room for adaptation. McCain never became the leader of the party because of specific party members who refused to swallow their pride and follow someone they didn't fully agree with. Someone should tell DeMint that his is only the party of limited government. Religious values are not exclusive to conservatives and everybody is for freedom; global warming... exists, a Republican President proposed the bailout, and campaign finance reform is a move toward transparency and reduces immoral and illegal practices. Maybe DeMint should reevaluate where he stands.

    November 15, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  18. Lois

    John McCain betrayed a lot of things in this campaign. The American people to start . Shame on him.

    November 15, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  19. Adam8

    We're going to be hearing more of this type of rhetoric in the coming months. Maybe the republicans should start coming up with some new ideas rather than keep harping on outdated "values" and the playing blame game.

    November 15, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  20. Chuck

    Hey Senator Jim DeMint, please do not start throuwing stones. Suggest you start constructively contribute to this country by supporting our newly elected President. I'm sure you can try to do that, at least, for awhile.

    November 15, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  21. Dave

    The Republican Party in recent times has come to stand for war-mongering, corporate greed, and intolerance. It would be great to head towards limited government and ethical behavior centering around working people. At this point, neither Republicans or Democrats seem headed this direction.

    November 15, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  22. C Spurgeon

    Typical GOP Balogney....and see what it got him...the minority party.

    November 15, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. Will from MA

    Well, if folks like Jim DeMint didn't spend the past 20 years transforming the GOP into the new Dixiecrat Party, then they wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.

    November 15, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  24. francheska ;-)

    It is not fair to blame McCain for the failures of the GOP!! I think it took the GOP as whole to get in the shape they are in.

    November 15, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  25. Andrew Caul

    What a wingnut DeMint is! He must be on acid to have such delusional views like this and so out of touch with the values of Americans! Why the Republicans will continue to lose seats with their combative nature!

    November 15, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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