January 3rd, 2010
02:00 PM ET
8 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. it's me

    Obama is focused on himself and his ego.

    January 3, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  2. Liberals are worthless

    Republicans will easily take back both Houses in November.

    Liberals have proven that they are incapable of running anything, and can't be trusted with the nation's security.

    Huge Republican wins in November, start impeachment hearings in November to remove this pathetic excuse for a Persident from office.

    January 3, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  3. marcus2

    DeMint doesn't know what he's talking about. He needs to take a hike. Why the Press interviews these people is beyond me.

    January 3, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    I wish these stupid republicans would shut their dumb mouths.

    January 3, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    Boy, it sure sounds like DeMint, Kean, Cheney and the GOP leadership really want our country to be attacked.

    Isn't that treason? Certainly, it's unpatriotic and un-American.

    January 3, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. Positive

    I am so sick of the Republican's constant attempts to put down or pull down our President. Their behavior is not only shameful, but it also takes away an credibility they may have had (although after their handling when in control they had little to begin with) and has resulted in nobody listening to them on the rare occasion that they may have something useful to contribute.

    January 3, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. chicago4obama

    Could Mr. DeMint please tell me who was the President on 9/11, and who was the president when Richard Reeves smuggled a shoe bomb on to a plane bound for the United States. Stop making everything a political issue. Typical white southern bigot from South Carolina. This guy like so many southern politicians can't stand the fact we have a president of color!!!

    January 3, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. Black Viper

    Oh yes if i was an innocent muslim man picked up somewhere in yemen or elsewhere, tortured day and night for years in guantanamo whithout trial or possibility to proove my innocence there is a huge chance I will become bitter and hate the people that did that to me and swear on everything for them to pay them back.
    Thank you Bush for creating more terrorists than ever before for OBAMA TO DEAL WITH

    January 3, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  9. ti

    Sure Obama could have been distracted. Distracted by Senator DeMint's hold on his nomination to head TSA. Senator DeMint should take responsibility for his contribution to the breakdown in security.

    January 3, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  10. Rob Wilson

    Jim DeMint is a traitor to the United States. The entire Republican party has focused on fail at any cost, blocking anything from President Obama. Shame, DeMint. Shame.

    January 3, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. Larry

    Will someone tell this clown no one cares what he thinks.

    January 3, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  12. Greg

    There is no doubt that the unsuccessful bomber does us a favor. However, we must take advantage of this great opportunity to strengten our nation. The Republicans should stop pointing fingers now. Let's Us as Americans work together to defeat the enemy. This is not the right time to criticize Obama. Did the admistration fail? yes...but Republicans only want him to fail as they said earlier. I wonder if the Republicans would not welcome a situation like Sept 11 to make a point. I am sorry to say that , but their opposition on everything makes me think that way. I see hate. I don't see politics...

    January 3, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. Cary from NJ

    They should let the terrorists go from Gitmo, and as they leave shoot them and say they were trying to escape. That way Obama can save face and we eliminate the terrorist threat.

    January 3, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. JR

    Obama's biggest distraction comes from the republicans constant carping and sniping over EVERYTHING.

    January 3, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. Terry Gloege

    I wonder if there is an election coming up any time soon? I wonder if Mr. DeMint might be playing political games?

    January 3, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  16. Marie MD

    What? What is dimwit suggesting? The bush clan made a huge mistake? I hate to add to his bad news, but didn't the previous administration free these same terrorists?
    If we hadn't gone into Iraq and we had kept our troops in Afghanistan maybe we wouldn't be talking about bin laden except to say that he is dead.
    If I were a repug I wouldn't be beating any drum to remind the world what idiots you all are!!!

    January 3, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  17. Okey A

    This comment is coming from a man who is blocking the confirmation of the head of the TSA... The politics that The Repubs created only to be obstructionist is very troubling

    January 3, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. Will

    DeMint is a piece of crap! Grand old white party motto "When you can win on policy, scare voters!"

    January 3, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. hobart

    Nope. It's DeMint who's distracted from protecting the country. He's been deliberately blocking the nomination for TSA chief, purely for politcal reasons, and yet has the audacity to complain that Obama has delayed appointing one. What an completely outrageous lie.

    Why do Republicans keep making these deliberately dishonest loathsome accusations, all the while actually doing the same behavior themselves?

    Why do Republicans keep rooting for acts of terrorism to occur in American soil?

    Why do Republicans hate America?

    January 3, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. Dean

    Thanks, Senator Demented. It's comforting to know that you and yours (i.e., Dick Cheney) are always there to belittle President Obama, his administration and his party. During the last administration, any comments of this kind by Democrats were immediately attacked by Republicans as "unhelpful" or even worse, "treasonous".

    Do you ever have anything constructive or non-partisan to say?

    January 3, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  21. grizzly

    of course Obozo is distracted. he is more worried about being a celebrity and running around the world bowing down to anyone he meets.

    what a waste of oxygen he is!!

    January 3, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  22. johnkc

    Demint's comments are nothing but his attempt to distract from the fact that he personally has held up the nomination of the guy that is to be the head of the TSA. Had Demint been less interested in politics and more interested in protecting this country from terrorists, the TSA would have a leader in place to run the agency and give it direction. But no, the party of NO again blocks one of the presidents appointees for their own political gain.

    January 3, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  23. JT the Show Me State College Freshman

    I have to ask this question; Why are we politicizing this event for? Over 200 people could have died on that plane, and there are some people in Washington that feel the need to use this to score political points; that is very detestible and abominable to do so.
    I have to agree with Senator McCaskill with this issue; President Obama went against the wishes of a lot in the democratic party to surge the troop level in Afganistan. It was not a popular decision to make, but it had to be done, in my opinion. If we would have focused purely on Afganistan and Pakistan from the get go, we would not have to be sending this amount of our troops over there. I am sorry to say this, but history says this happened under President Bush's watch; history says that he drifted from the true focus point of where we needed to be. History does not lie folks. The Christmas day incident was the fault of the people responsible in the airports; President Obama can order them to step up security until he is blue in the face, but he cannot help it if some one decides to be lazy on their job at the airport, and not go through the security properly. If you want to blame someone for this, blame the airport security folks at the airport at the time that failed to check that guy properly. President Obama cannot follow all those people around all day long, and make sure that they do their job properly; it is up to the person who is working at the airport that day to do the job right.

    January 3, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. disaster

    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.”

    I can hear the laughter in the background! Focussed like a laser on security. Uh huh!

    January 3, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  25. Joel Miller

    The President has been doing as he promised: going after terrorists where they are not where they are not as the previous administration did. I find it ironic that the President would be characterized as weak when under his watch, more terrorists have been killed and there networks disrupted than under the Bush regime. As we continue to vigorously pursue these people, there will inevitably be more efforts at retaliation. Hopefully we will be prepared but the President's critics are playing into the terrorists hand as they attempt to sow division where we should be united. And they are doing so without justification.

    January 3, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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