January 3rd, 2010
02:00 PM ET
4 years ago

DeMint: Obama 'distracted' from protecting the country

Sen. DeMint said Sunday that the president has been 'completely distracted by other things.'
Sen. DeMint said Sunday that the president has been 'completely distracted by other things.'

Washington (CNN) – A leading Republican critic of the administration's homeland security efforts suggested Sunday that President Obama is making mistakes similar to those the Bush administration made in fighting al Qaeda.

“He has been completely distracted by other things,” Sen. Jim DeMint OF South Carolina said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Fellow Republican Thomas Kean, who chaired the 9/11 Commission, also cited distractions in his earlier interview on State of the Union.

“We had an administration which was not focused, as it should be, on terrorism and that’s understandable,” Kean said. “They were focused on health care and global warming and the economy. That’s very understandable.”

DeMint told CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger that Obama “is not focused on building the security and intelligence apparatus of our country.”

“The last administration – President Bush – made a huge mistake,” DeMint said, “by sending the Yemenis back” – a reference to freed prisoners from the Guantanamo detainee facility who returned to terrorist activity, including two Yemenis suspected of planning attacks against the U.S. and British embassies in Sanaa after their release. “The core leadership of al Qaeda now is made of those folks who were at the Gitmo prison. We can’t make that mistake again. So, it’s not just about this administration. It’s about losing our focus on security and I’m afraid politics and political correctness has become front and center in this debate.”

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri , a longtime Obama backer, took issue with DeMint’s remark.

“That’s just not true,” she said. “This president is focused like a laser on how to keep this country safe.”

McCaskill noted that Obama went against the wishes of some in his own party by ordering a troop surge in Afghanistan. “This is a president that is taking strong action and is building up our intelligence community – not diminishing it.”

soundoff (245 Responses)
  1. TBA

    And yet Sen. Jim DeMint (R) of SC still stands in the way of letting the TSA to have a cheif or leader, as of right now they have no one to look up to. The nomination of a former FBI agent is being block by Sen. Jim DeMint and the RNC.

    January 3, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    If we take a hit because of a lack of commitment to National Security then all the democrats had better get ready for a Jimmy Carter result .

    January 3, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. country republican

    This fool just doesn't care about our country. How do you blame the president for something like a terrorist attack? He is the terrorist at a time when we should be rallying behind the president and figuring out what needs to be fixed. He is too busy playing politics. When 9/11 happened, we ALL layed down party afflilation and supported President Bush. You have no respect.

    The people of South Carolina should be embarassed to have you representing them.

    January 3, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. Shawn

    Where was he when GW Bush presided over and caused the deaths of a million people from terrorism? Was that focused?

    January 3, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. m jeff

    Why would anyone listen to anything Demint has to say.

    January 3, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. Annie, Atlanta

    I am beginning to hope that Jim DeMint (as well as many others on the right) needs serious psychiatric help. If not, he's using the fear card to scare enough people into putting his party back in power again (the same party that was in power on 9/11, that is). And that, in my book, qualifies as terrorism.

    Merriam Webster dictionary definition of terrorism: " the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion." Terror is defined as: "A state of intense fear." See what I mean?

    January 3, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    First of all all of you cons such as Gingrich and now DeMented whining about TSA not doing their job, TSA is NOT responsible for screening passengers in The Netherlands.

    And what would have President Obama do, carpet bomb the Netherlands?

    Some one point out to these morons, that the agency to "harass the innocent, delay the harmless and risk the lives of over every American" was defined by and instituted under the reign of HRH, King George the II.

    You cons, ruled both ends of Penn Ave and have had 8 years to root out these short comings as spouted by Newt the Toad. Why didn't the Party of Newt take care of these shortcomings?

    To those same cons complaining TSA is not doing a thorough job, it is the fault of the cons and the traveling public. First, there were complaints that same sex pat downs were too "intrusive" and how offended we all were.

    Now, the "scanner" while not touching you still "invades our privacy" by letting a same sex screener see the outline of your penis and testes, or your breasts if you are female, however, it would have shown the explosive packet in the guy's groin area.

    If you do not approve of your penis or breast exposed via machinery or searches in an intimate area, then do not complain when highjackers are awarded the same right to privacy.

    Finally once again the man was not on the "no fly lists" because he was traveling on a valid visa that had already been used once. The TIDE data base could not tie the father's complaint a month ago to the list, because WE the TAXPAYER will not pay the taxes necessary to upgrade the computer system to respond in less than a month due to too many manual processes in place. So, the technology and good old manual frisking are there to help keep all the flying public safe, but a very vocal minority has succeeded in not allowing the full mechanism to be employed.

    So, we will keep taking chances like we saw on Christmas Day, but just quit squawkin' about it, because this is all WE the traveling public will pay for security and have deemed our privacy is a higher priority to us than is our security.

    The trade off is some of us may not make it to our destinations, next Christmas.

    January 3, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. Carnell From The Motor City!

    Great Job Senator Claire McCaskill D-Missouri For Pointing Out What You Did. As For Senator Jim DeMint (DeMinted/DeMintia) R-South Carolina. That-A-Boy! Keep Running Off At The Mouth, Keep Showing That All Of Your Well Off Education And Accredidations Make You Nothing More Than An Insignificant Fool With A Very Big Mouth To Match!

    January 3, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. katiec

    DeMint is demented. He is holding up a crucial appointment to TSA.
    He has openly bragged about doing everything he can to destroy
    our president, consequently our country. He is another one who hides behind his Bible while constantly lying, attacking, fear mongering losing all integrity and honor and refusing to represent us
    and our country.
    I am so sick of these radical politicians. They are a disgrace as to what our political process is supposed to be about.

    January 3, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  10. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    DeMint lie? Jim the wingnut member of the sons of the confederacy, held up the nomination for the head of TSA to make make Americans less safe and make terrorism Obama's "Waterloo." That was after he proudly said he would make health care Obama's "Waterloo." Before that, he was visiting and encouraging the military leaders in the government coup in Honduras, against the wishes of the government.

    You right wingnuts are really fortunate to have anti American heroes like this moron from South Carolina.

    January 3, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  11. M

    I'm confused, how did President Bush make a huge mistake when President Obama isn't even really concerning himself (aside from more flashy tv press conferences) over this. President Obama wants to shut down Gitmo and obviously that isn't the right move!

    January 3, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. catmomtx

    YOU THINK ??? President Obama from the day he was sworn in had to contend with one crisis after another. The economy and country was collapsing, what did Bush do? He went on a six month farewell tour on YOUR tax dollars.

    When President Obama was sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2009, we had two wars going on. Neither paid for or fought properly. Because the previous President chose to start the war in Iraq, it allowed al Qaeda to regroup and get stronger. Wall Street and banks were collapsing. The auto industry was collapsing. Our economy was teetering on total collapse. The housing and job markets were collapsing. There were crisis everywhere you looked. AND on WHOSE watch did these things occur? Of course we know Republicans have the gullible out there believing that these problems only happened after Democrats took control of Congress for all of two years. What they won't tell you is , George Bush learned that he could veto what he didn't want (all the while using signing statements).

    Yeah, President Obama may have been distracted dealing with all the other fires left by the Bush administration. I would think though since Cheney/Bush and Republicans insist that they did so much AFTER 9/11 to keep Americans safe that President Obama could have at least depended on those policies to be worthwhile. Instead we find that even those policies had flaws. What exactly DID George Bush do in his eight years?

    January 3, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  13. Shawn

    Hmmmm. I didn't realize President Obama was the airport screener in Amsterdam.

    And by the way, Obama is absolutely 100% right to focus on the economy and healthcare. 20,000 Americans DIE every year because they can't afford health insurance or the insurance company criminals refuse to pay for their treatments. That's seven 9/11s a year. Every year.

    January 3, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. Jim

    Yes, the Obama administration is facing distractions, although I doubt that they are seriously hampering our response to terrorism. But who is the author of that distraction, DeMint himself is opposing, on poorly thought out grounds, the appointment of a key security official. The Republican Party has become parasitic on terrorism, relying on the fear of terroist attacks to boost their political fortunes, although the failure of structures and personnel put in place under Bush suggests that at best, the Republicans are no more competent than Democrats in these matters.

    January 3, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. Francis Marion

    I have never been as embarrassed as I am for the citizens of South Carolina. They had to endure the sexcapades of Sanford, the lying rants of Joe Wilson, and now, the anti American antics of DeMint. We would be better off to throw all of our elected officials out, and start all over with true countrymen.

    January 3, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  16. jules sand-perkins

    Senator DeMint is absolutely correct.
    Senator McCaskill is deluded to think that President Obama is "focused like a laser" on our defense.

    January 3, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  17. stevetall

    DeMint is a mental midget. Pull your head out, you nincompoop, and do something positive for America!

    Only Republicans can sit and gripe, whine, and snivel over the results of the last election, committing themselves to "no progress on anything". What are you waiting for? Fix healthcare and move on. Fix education and move on. Personally, I'd fire all of you under-performing employees!

    January 3, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. Joe M

    Well he does not have any time to be concerned about any thing but where he will fly next in AF-1 and when and where his next vacation will be. He is a ONE and DONE just like his mentor Jimmy Carter.

    January 3, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Remember, we have been told that Jim DeMint is the leading candidate for president of the tea bagger party in 2012.

    January 3, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  20. America Shrugged

    The GOP are now criticizing Bush, that he was not focusing on terrorism? Now I've heard everything. This do nothing GOP party in congress was the same do nothing GOP party in congress that let Bush do whatever he wanted ( along with blue dog dems ). Now they have nerve to criticize Bush? Is this the platform they plan on running on in 2010? Obstructionism of the Obama adm from day one, bashing Bush, but no answers on how to help fix what ails this country other than decreased spending ( during a deep recession ), lower taxes (during a deep recession) , more $ for war and intelligence (during a deep recession), more deregulation (during a deep recession) ? Yeah, that's something I'll consider when I vote next time..NOT! I'm so glad that Pelosi and Reid are making them really work for a change. Staying late into the night and coming in on weekends (gasp) to bellyache about what they don't like about any bills that the Dems put out while not coming up with anything to offer themselves, I'm loving it.

    January 3, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. Dan

    Excuse me Senator DeMint. Can you tell me which Senator has prevented the confirmation of the head of the TSA?

    That Senator has betrayed Americans and clearly has no legitimate reason to discuss who is to blame for security failures.

    January 3, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. Chris

    The Right Wing Talking Point of the Week: Health Care Reform, Global Warming, Tarp funds – in other words the tasks of the Obama Administration – are "distractions" from fighting terrorism. The implication is that we should abandon pursuing these tasks in the name of national security. That the Republicans have been trying to stop and obstruct all of these since day one is, of course, just a coincedence.

    January 3, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  23. henry

    “We had an administration which was not focused, as it should be, on terrorism and that’s understandable,” Kean said. “They were focused on health care and global warming and the economy. That’s very understandable.”

    Yes DeMint, He lost focus on helping Americans with the Health Care and the economy while your predessor FOCUSED on building a country that won't even be grateful for 12 Billion a month welfare.

    What earth are you living on Mr. Senator? or is it politics as usual. My advice to you, please record your statements and play them before your family members including grandkids. At least they will buy into your line of reasoning.

    January 3, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  24. tee

    so called qualified people are suppose to be in charge of protecting this country.....if there is no coroperation between the organizations......changes will have to be made.....The President will have to weed out the people not doing or are incapable of doing the job that needs to be done. Including those put in place by the last administration.......Chose protection over priveledge.....Don't continue to believe the hype.

    January 3, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  25. Conservatives are worthless........especially DeMint.......

    This guy isn't capable of even leading a troup within the cub scout reserves. Here is someone who claims Obab is too distracted to defend our country when it is he himself who blocked the appointment of a TSA Director over worries about Unions and wages which could probably attract the most talented/qualified individuals to guard our country. He needs to go back to South Carolina for concern about the Governor being distracted with his mistress.............

    January 3, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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