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. Minnie

    McCaskill, Obama is not focused on anything but himself. The heck with everything else. Terrorism should be first on the list and protecting this country. He has made a mess of healthcare.

    January 3, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  2. Doug

    All this arguing over who is to blame is really interesting considering the biggest terrorist attack on American soil is being hatched in Iran (can you say nukes?) right now before our eyes, and we sit here pointing fingers - too funny.

    January 3, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  3. rick

    the obstructionists say president obama is distracted? these people do not have a clue. all they have are complaints and you'll rue the day.

    January 3, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. Eva from Tampa

    The public seems to have a very short memory and/or fails to link 9/11 to Bush's watch. And under their watch did they return one of the Gitmo detainees, who is a mastermind of the Underpants Bomber. The Repulican party is playing their typical fear tactics game–which is all they have. They will stop at nothing to discredit this brilliant President, who can manage more than one issue at a time. And why are we listening to Jim DeMint–a birther, tea party leader, obstructionist and hold out on approving the proposed TSA leader?

    January 3, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  5. Keith in Austin

    Demint does appear to be a little hard on the OBeaver but one thing is for certain, the President is weak regarding our security and clearly naïve regarding the belief that America must appease our enemies so they will hate us less.

    Obama has been a dismal failure thus far for allowing a left-wing ideology to paralyze our economy, eliminate jobs, increase deficit spending, reduce our personal freedoms while increasing taxes. Unfortunately, throughout his lofty ambition to bew loved throughout the World, he is compromising our national security on a daily basis. I believe America will
    attacked again and again because Islamic Terrorists understand one thing. Demonstrable Strength!!! Something Obozo just doesn't get.

    January 3, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  6. KLJ

    Dear Sen. Demint,

    We, the American people, will not be duped again by the use of fear politics the Republicans love to deploy so much. The President is focused on our safety. I appreciate someone who will wait to obtain some facts before speaking on a subject. If you wish to assign blame, consider starting with the Bush adminstration ill advise war in Iraq that allow the Taliban in Afghanstan to recover. Instead of looking for political points and playing the Washington blame game, spend some time working on solutions to prevent the mistakes from happening again!

    January 3, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  7. Sarah

    Of course he's distracted. In case, no-one in the GOP has noticed, he's busy trying to reverse a near-depression and to end two wars that the idiot Republicans cheerleaded us into. Not to mention he's doing so with a bunch of Repucblican obtructionists in Congress... including chief among them, Sen DeMint.

    January 3, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. arizona gal

    This comment from DeMint who has blocked the head of the TSA appointment. He is the one who is "distracted" by his own ego and not worrying about the security of our country. Another Senate grandstander.

    January 3, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. Molly Weasley

    Jim Duh-Mint really needs to find a hole to crawl into. The Obama administration has been extremely successful in stopping terrorist plots all through 2009. Duh-Mint just needs to bother to review the record. But that would take away from his partisan hissy fit.

    Why don't you lift your hold on the new TSA chief, Sen. Duh-Mint, so that agency can be fully staffed? Or are you too busy lying? Obama got a terrorist briefing three days before Christmas because he DEMANDED it of his intelligence personnel. Does that sound distracted to you?

    The Republican Party - never too craven to politicize terrorism.

    January 3, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. Bassman

    I don't think the Obama administration is " distracted", I thnk they made a conscious decision to tone down the terrorist rhetoric. They naively thought the terrorist would stop if Obama sounded conciliatory. It is time to admit that stratagy has not worked.

    January 3, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. Ben Van Dusen

    More of the same from the GOP. This is not being the 'loyal opposition', this is trying to make mountains out of every molehill that they perceive. Hammer on Mr. Obama, be relentless. Don't try to lead or re-do your now dated and obsolete party. Just keep to second-rate thinking. Sorry, DeMint, I'm not buying your attempt to spin things. Why don't you come up with a GOP stance on the environment that actually embraces environmental protection. See if you can advance Bush's efforts on tax reform. Never did hear what became of that. Don't dawdle, because the Democrats will take up tax reform and have a range of good answers to choose from. So I think it is fair to say that Mr. DeMint is distracted from representing his constituents, distracted from any sort of first rate thinking that he might be capable of because he still thinks that relentless, second- and third-rate harping is his job.

    January 3, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. Rod from Indy

    The Republicans are holding true to their history. They were created in the 1860s out of the Freesoil Party and the Know Nothing Party, and after 150 years, they still know nothing, except how to attack. I'm beginning to wonder if it's possible for a GOPer to put his country first over his petty, narrow minded views. You proved you couldn't lead, so either follow or shut the hell up and get out of the way. Come back when you have an opinion on how to fix anything.

    January 3, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. Barleyman

    DeMint? The guy who is holding up the appointment of the Director of the TSA? Are you kidding? Just another example of the Republicans creating political points, while holding up true progress.

    All i hear from the GOP is bashing, but no solutions, suggestions, or any thought of trying to work with the administration. We are ALL Americans. Lets work together.

    January 3, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  14. Bryan

    Focused like a laser? LOL

    When is this moron up for election? I'm going to send whomever is against her $20

    DeMint is right Bush blew it by releasing terrorists. Barak should have the common sence to learn from that mistake. Apparently his allegiance is to the ACLU not the united states.

    DO NOT CLOSE GITMO

    January 3, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. mhetz

    The laser beam seems a bit dull-Afganistan is not the only location of terrorists. What about a strong response to Iran? What about Gitmo? Now is not the time to close it down just to satisfy a campaign promise. If he was so focused why did it take 3 days to hear from him. It doesn't matter what Bush did -what did Obama do? I feel less safe with this President,and that is a sad comment...

    January 3, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. Larry

    Typical Republican lies. UNreal that the party of no cannot help but look to hinder the adminstration..

    January 3, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. Harold Trainer, USAF RET

    Obama is so distracted he has forgotten about his base and tries to please the center right and military too much. Harold Trainer, USAF RET

    January 3, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  18. Bob Zmuda

    I'm so tired of this ceaseless crap. Stop the partisan crap. Nobody takes it seriously and you just sound like a screaming infant.

    January 3, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  19. Crazy Harry

    Absolutely distracted....

    by the obstructionist republicans who refuse to come to the table with any good ideas. Mr. Demint, once you and your wacky fellow republicans decide to work together in a truly bipartisan way, we would all be better off.

    As my mom used to say, "If you don't have something nice to say, it's better not said"

    January 3, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  20. Adam in California

    Clearly thereal distraction was caused by Bush when he started fighting his "war on terror".

    The whole idea that there are Islamic terrorists out there trying to kill Americans is a big distraction from the real threats to the United States – corporations, private medical care, travel bloggers, and small businesses.

    January 3, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  21. Jack

    Hmm, let's see. The previous administration brought us into the unnecessary and very troubling invasion of Iraq. Was that an act of distraction or rabid impetuousness? A thoughtful administration is not a distracted administration. It seems to me there are those in the GOP who actually wish there was a successful attack on the U.S. so they can say "I told you so." Where is all that talk of patriotism and supporting the president now that their party is no longer in power. Fair weather patriots the lot.

    January 3, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  22. kay

    De-Ment and Kean are both nut cases.He and the gop are only focued on saying no.
    .De-Ment is the one holding up the TSA because they may unionize.What an idiot.

    January 3, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. FactCheck

    Republicans have done such a great job of keeping their eye on the ball... under whose watch did 9/11happen?

    January 3, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    So here it is, folks, the new Republican tactic in their efforts to make our president and our country fail:

    Repeat over and over that because of one thwarted terrorist attack, President Obama is "distracted" from protecting our country.

    BULL! The Republicans are trying to scare people into thinking that the GOP should be in power. Why? Because they don't want all the things President Obama is trying to do to help the American people:

    1. Keep our country safe (President Obama would never have ignored – like GW Bush did – the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing memo entitled, "Al Qaeda Determined to Attack the U.S. Using Airplanes")

    2. Continue the economic recovery

    3. Pass real health care reform

    4. Re-regulate the financial industry

    5. Rebuild the Middle Class

    January 3, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. Cato

    Repugs refuse to admit that the BIGGEST failure to focus on national security in American History, was the BUSH ADMINISTRATION who had SO MUCH info prior to 9/11, yet ALLOWED the U.S. to lose over 3000 people due to their stupidity. And what was the distraction? BUSH VACATIONING for most of the first 8 months of his presidency! A distraction that continued for the next 8 years!!

    January 3, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
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