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. BJ in NC

    Senhator Demented is right about the President being distracted. The Republicans are so busy trying to derail the country under Presicdent Obama's leadership, any human in the President's position (yes President Obama is human). The Demints and et. al. have a perverted mentality and will put this country at risk if it means that they have disagreed with President Obama. President Obama inherited a big "to do" list from the previous administration. But make no mistake, he has done more to right this country's ills in 11 months and 17 days than Bush-Cheney did in 8 years. That is why the Demints, Cheneys, McConnells, and Limbaugh thinkers are making as many distractions as they are. But the larger majority of sane people see right through that fog and are looking ahead to the continued progress of this country.

    January 3, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  2. Future expat

    Ignore this guy. He has shown repeatedly that he is only interested in acquiring political power by any means necessary. This usually means tossing the same red meat peppered with the usual "socialist" "fascist" "dictator" garbage that gets the GOP base all riled up.

    This guy is not to be taken seriously.

    January 3, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. TEden

    DeMint is correct, but his leveling the blame against Obama is slightly off the mark. What BOTH Bush and Obama have missed is that terrorism issues need to be handled by an autonomous office within the White House, that monitors full-time issues like security enforcement and terrorist cell activity and coordinates White House policy with minimal presidential oversight. Only then can the president put his energies into healthcare and climate change and not risk becoming "distracted."

    January 3, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  4. Brownstone

    Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama and most Americans have overreacted on terrorism. 9/11 should not be a surprise. After decades of American involvement in wars overseas, a "payback" the magnitude of 9/11 should be just expected. I am not here to discuss whether the US is right or wrong in sticking the nose abroad, but the fact is that US leaders should not overreact again when facing attacks in the US soil otherwise we will lose this war for good.

    January 3, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  5. D. Bunker

    Gee, the president has his hands full cleaning up the Bush mess and he has to battle a rabidly partisan GOP (not to mention DeMented's block on the TSA nominee). And yet President Obama still managed to handle this incident far more openly and directly than Bush handled the shoe-bomber.

    Keep up the good work, Mr. President.

    January 3, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  6. Steve/Boston

    Puhleeze! Senator DeMint is demented. Does he remember Bush and his total ignoring of the 9/11 information. If he had paid attention to it then it might not have happened at all. Or, how about Richard Reed and his infamous shoe? Was Bush on top of that one?

    These fundamentalist religious conservatives will grab at any thing to cause a stir, conveniently forgetting their own, more serious lapses and down right ignoring of serious information.

    Plus. Really? There's a fool proof system for protecting the country and Obama is ignoring it? Really? If Mr. De Mint, or any other Republican knows of such an omniscient system, it seems to me that their holding back that information is not only immoral, it's criminal.

    January 3, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. Right Leaning Independent

    I think it is near impossible to stop all terrorist threats no matter who is in charge. The sniping from either party is politics and nothing more! The Dems did it to the Repubs and now the Repubs are giving it back!

    January 3, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  8. Lisa

    For crying out loud...what will those nit-wit Republicans spout off with next. Republicans have become down right ridculous. Sad...

    January 3, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  9. ron

    Makes you wonder who Republicans are really working for. DeMint conveniently forgot to mention that republicans are the ones distracting the President...ON PURPOSE...with their silly partisan tactics. Are they working with terrorists? Distract the administration while terrorists kill/try to kill Americans? Great stra-tee-gery fellas! Just freaking great! Let's vote this folks out so that our country can move past republicans.

    January 3, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  10. LEXIE

    Republican DeMint looks foolish.

    January 3, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. Zanda

    What would Republican DeMint have done?
    Answer: Bomb Nigeria.
    Demint is a fool.

    January 3, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  12. Steve

    DeMint and other Republicans like him are "distracted"....They do not understand that they finished second..The reason they are in office is to serve their constituency. This is their mission. Trying to thwart the administration at every turn is not doing that..They turned the nations security over to KBR,Blackwater, and Halliburton on a "no bid" basis, and cannot stand someone attempting to think these things thru..Its sour grapes, and very obvious to all..Keep it up and you will join the unemployed ranks this November

    January 3, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  13. Reggie

    He's being polite by calling Obama distracted. I would call Obama INEPT.

    January 3, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. DAVID G.

    Demint comes from the state of South Carolina....need we say more?

    January 3, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  15. Michael

    I would not leave DeMint or any Republican in charge of the security of an outhouse let alone this nation. It's best if they just to stay quiet for awhile.

    January 3, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. enicolas

    why anyone even pay atention to demint, dick vampire cheney and the republican party. don't we get it. they are terrorist who is also want to see this country fail.

    January 3, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. Gerry In Toronto

    Demint, the obstructionist defines what a terrorist is, all he has to do is look in th mirror every morning.

    January 3, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. poppysmom

    Did the US really drop the ball on this or did the Netherlands? I understand we should have had him on a "no fly" list, but weren't their lapses also committed in the Netherlands that are THEIR responsibility?

    January 3, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. Jaxson

    Republican Demint is lower than a snake's belly.......

    January 3, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  20. Norm

    Unlike Bush, Obama is able to focus on more than one thing at a time. He’s also able to do this for more than three days in a row before taking a vacation like Bush did (Crawford Ranch or Camp David).

    In parallel, Obama is addressing critical issues such as: terrorism, health care, global warming, and the economy.

    The only distraction is the stuff the GOP throws against the wall.

    January 3, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. greyfox

    It seems that if the GOP can't find a specific thing to harrass Obama about, they fling vague generalizations instead. I'd like someone to tell me just how wonderfully focused Bush Jr. was. Ever.

    January 3, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  22. Mr Joshua

    President Bush started Homeland Security and other policies. Of course they are not perfect as they were and are still kind of new. It is Persident Obama's job to build on these things and tweek them as needed. I concur in that he is distracted by Health care and cap and trade and all that. He has got to get his priorities straight right now. This is NOT a game.

    January 3, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  23. Trent

    Republican Demint is laughable....bear in mind he comes from the great state of South carolina where they grown em a little differently.

    January 3, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  24. Greg Murray

    The Republican Party should step up and help their president fight this battle. Someone needs to tell them that he is our president and their president as well. They should stop fighting him and help him fight the terrorists.

    They keep looking for a hook to destabilize Obama when they should help him destabilize Al Qaeda.

    The flight did not originate on American soil, yet they want to blame him for Amsterdam's mistake. President Obama should be more forceful about explaining that.

    January 3, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  25. Todd in OKC

    Wait, is this the same Jim DeMint that has a hold on the confirmation of Obama's pick to head the TSA because of unionization concerns?! This clown cannot be taken seriously.

    January 3, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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