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. Zac

    Are the house of Cards falling?

    November 15, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. Jon

    Sen. Demitt needs to worry about the issues affecting his state right now as well as trying to unify the party. If he thinks that lashing out at McCain for the loss at the polls, then he is wrong. McCain was chosen by the people to represent the GOP and if Demitt thought so poorly of McCain then he should have ran for president himself. With so many disgruntled citizens in the country and so many pressing issues for the next president, a far right leaning conservative would not have received as many votes as McCain.

    November 15, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. CJ

    McCain did not only betray the GOP; he betrayed America!

    November 15, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. Snail mail

    Wow it is amazing how and when the truth really comes out.

    November 15, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. Dub

    The Republicans do realize that it was "traditional Conservative principles" that lost this election for them, right? If anything, it was his "betrayal" of those principles that kept the race as close as it was...

    November 15, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. Hmmmm

    What in the world are the GOP principles? The GOP/Republicans/Conservatives don't even know what to call themselves these days...let alone define their so-called principles.

    November 15, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. cba1999

    Based on DeMint's comments, he still doesn't understand why the GOP is losing the base and has turned into a Southern based party with a few extra western states to call their own. Like it or not, this country is a CENTER based country and NOT CENTER RIGHT!

    The southern Republicans always talk about 'limited government." Bush has created the largest government in American history and has spent every future dime we will make over the next generation. The second point DeMint brings up is "religious based values." Oh yes, let's not forget about how the government was held hostage while Terri Schiavo's family wasn't allowed to carry out a personal family decision – all in the name of "religious based values."

    Unless the GOP realizes that the brand is broken and that America is changing, the party will go the way of the Whigs.

    November 15, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  8. steve

    No wonder they are called Repubicannibals, now they are starting to eat their own.Lets se ..freedom vs patriote bill, hmm?, religious values but only if they are YOUR religion, and last joke..smaller government. Can you say Ronald Reagan and the doubling of the federal government in the 80's. wow do you guys either have short memories or just like to change history as it suits you. Please pick Sara to run in 2012, please.

    November 15, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. Meron

    Republicans need to stop living in the past and unit!

    November 15, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  10. Kevin

    "Religious-based values". Maybe people didn't want rhetoric about values that pander the far right evangelicals, maybe they wanted someone who has faith but does not wear it like a badge.

    November 15, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. Mark D.

    Great principles for Republicans...

    What if YOUR religious-based values infringe upon EVERYONE else's freedom, religion, and/or government?

    Or are you, and only people that agree with you, patriotic and worthy enough to be considered pro-America.

    November 15, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. Carlos

    DeMint is an idiot. No one has one the presidency from the extreme right (or left). The middle rules, idiot! McCain did not move far enough to the middle. I am a conservative on foreign policy and economic policy. I am anti-welfare but I reject the conservative stand on religion and abortion.

    November 15, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  13. zgrrl

    Yeah?? and what about Sarah Palin? By that, I mean as a "choice" for vice prez. Republicans need to wake up and realize that the American people could see through the very transparent smoke screen they tried to put up by the choice of Sarah Palin...Among other things this pick turned a lot of people off.. even Republicans

    November 15, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  14. Carlos

    DeMint is an idiot. No one has won the presidency from the extreme right (or left). The middle rules, idiot! McCain did not move far enough to the middle. I am a conservative on foreign policy and economic policy. I am anti-welfare but I reject the conservative stand on religion and abortion.

    November 15, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. Joe - Chicago, IL

    McCain's failings were that he supports campaign finance reform, progressive immigration policy and believes in global warming? I think those were some of the only things going in McCain's favor.

    Sen. DeMint, I hope you run in 2012 on those ideas. You'll know how Walter Mondale felt at the end of 1984.

    November 15, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. Ron

    "His support of global warming," So that's a problem? It shows how ridiculous Republicans really are.

    Ron, Raleigh

    November 15, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. robert l gray

    REPUBLICAN CONSERVATIVES ALLWAYS BLAME SOME ONE ELSE FOR THEIR FAILURETHEY WAY THEY ARE GOING IT WILL BE A LONG TIME FOR THE PEOPLE TO FORGET GW BUSH AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY FOR DESTROYING THE UNITED STATES THIS TIME

    November 15, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  18. brigitte

    I do not see this man mention Sarah Palin. She was the absolute downfall of the Republican win and has also started, all on her own, a renewed racist and hate campaign by shouting words like *he must be a terrorist* and all such criminal slanderous nonsense about Barack Obama.
    The Republicans are finished and should never ever be put back in power.
    PS as we all can see, oil is not important anymore: now people have come to their senses, at once the oil prices are going down every day. The reason? there is still more than enough oil for everyone (but we need to find another solution ofcourse for he future) and it has already been proven that the oil price hike was another attempt by the Bush' administration to scare Americans and predict *doom* times. Shame on the Republicans!!

    November 15, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. Martin

    I am a 41 year old who has voted Republican all my life on the values of fiscal conservativism. I have watched the party leaders become wrapped around the axle on party planks that have diminishing relevance as I think about the world my grandchildren will inherit (continued support of big oil, ambivalence to environmental issues, sanctimonious positions on abortion and immigration). The one trillion bailout was my last straw. It was not McCain that drove voters to choose an alternative, it was (and remains) the growing disconnect between Republican Party actions and words.

    November 15, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. OB

    Is it just me or does it look like the GOP is lurching even further to the right?

    November 15, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. TA

    That's right, DeMint, because all of those voters were waiting for conservatives to give voice to them, which is why they voted for Obama. And the anti-immigrant rhetoric, please, keep it up. You lost because Latinos deserted you. Go right, my dear white right folk. Make it easy for us. Marginalize yourselves. Believe me, you deserve it, because you still do not get it. It was your 'conservative principles' that we rejected.

    November 15, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  22. Voter

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

    So basically no separation of church and state and remove regulation... so food, airlines and the stock market can "regulate themselves"

    Where do they find these people?!??

    November 15, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  23. DonM

    DeMint: how can you be for Freedom and then, in same breath, be for religious based values? How can religious based values be implemented without infringing freedom? When "family values" became more important than individual freedom is when the Republican party lost its way. McCain was a hodgepodge who earlier had defied the religious right but later compromised his values. The Sarah Palin faction is what killed any chance for McCain. How dare DeMint speak of freedom and then be for further implementation of religious doctrine? He is worse than Bin Laden who at least makes it clear he wants to implement a theocracy. DeMint hides his superstitious anti-reason goals behind the banner of "freedom" . McCain is just washed up. DeMint is deliberately evil.

    November 15, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  24. Linda

    DeMint is a dying breed and represents the basic reasons why our current President and country is in the ditch. He belongs in 1950 and not in the 21st century!

    November 15, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  25. Harry

    Look folks,

    Bush was the most unpopular US President in the history of the world, and McCain agreed with him 90% of the time.

    The guy didn't stand a chance.

    If anything, he'd have done better if he had gone FURTHER away from Bush and the GOP.

    You guys sucked, and you must pay the price.

    November 15, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29