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. S M R

    At least President Obama can walk and chew gum at the same time, unlike Bush.

    January 3, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. btannerski

    Distracted? How about trying to clean up 8 years of mess left by Bush, with multiple priorities to tend to...in addition to people simply not doing their job. Now, if Obama was on vacation as often as the Shrub was, maybe one could call him distracted! However, while Bush was on vacation over 40% of his presidency (and it shows!), Obama has taken 2.

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

    De Mint is not a problem solver. He is a blamer. Is he of the opinion that
    his ilk would always be able to control terrorist movements and foreign airline security? A false, fixed sense of power over over the world is
    delusional and a fantasy.

    January 3, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. Your comment is awaiting moderation AGAIN

    Oh dear the mighty flighty tighty republicans are at it again. I wish that there was some kind of virus that would shut their mouths for about six months. Then maybe we could get things going for the good of the country. And our fellow Americans would see how darn wonderful it was without republicans spewing and whinning.

    January 3, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. peter vaguely

    DeMint is demented. Like the party he has represented. They have nothing to contribute but obstructionist policy and fear mongering self-serving politics. They refuse to admit that the disaster of 9/11 happened on their watch.

    January 3, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    Sen. DeMint:
    DISTRACTED??? I can't imagine why, or by what or whom...

    He is busy fighting the "enemy within," those who would have handed the keys to Congress over to big business – Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Insurance, Big Bank... While I realize that he is TRYING, even with THAT enemy (guys like you) to find some middle ground, where PEOPLE can still have a decent standard of living AND pay their bills, you guys are fighting him on every turn (including some seriously piggy Democrats), slandering and misrepresenting his actions and what he has said.

    H*LL YES he's distracted – but that's just how you want him!

    January 3, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. Doug

    This opinion is looking right even to those who voted for a new administration. All we get is God bless Ted Kennedy and send me something to sign. We need an active President who works for the country, just not democrats. My President Obama thinks he is a thinker and that is hard work. Really, he needs to start working before half his term is over in a year. JOBS< JOBS and the ECONOMY!

    January 3, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  8. A. Smith, Oregon

    There were plenty of clues leading up to the Nigerian Muslim butt-bomber's attempt on the Detroit bound flight. Those numerous clues were either missed by a complete and utter lapse of competence on behalf of the CIA, or they were deliberately missed by the CIA to further their own nefarious agenda.

    Either way, President Obama relys on the CIA to do its job in a competent manner which it appears they did not.

    Several months prior to this attack, the Muslim bombers had sent a Muslim suicide bomber to murder the Saudi royal prince wearing a near identical Petn explosive in his underwear. The Muslim bomber stood next to the Saudi princes guards and bomb dogs for nearly 30 minutes completely undetected as he waited for a audience with the Saudi prince.

    When the remote Muslim handler beeped the bomb, it barely missed murdering the Saudi Prince. At least two months ago, Muslim bombers stated their rectal bomb was undetectable and published the ways, means and instructions on the internet, calling for Muslim bombers to follow suit.

    The Nigerian Muslim bomber did not have a passport according to the Amsterdam security police that was not seen, not registered nor displayed at any of its International Airport Security gates. And yet two creditable eyewitness's stated a middle aged man spoke for the Nigerian Muslim bomber at the security checkpoints and directly helped him get onto his International flight to Detroit without a passport.

    The Nigerian Muslim bomber was already on the UK no flight list. In addition to the UK do not enter thru any means list. The CIA certainly knew that.

    The CIA was aware the Nigerian Muslim bomber had been in contact with the Muslim Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki as they had previously with Maj. Hasan MD. on Lt.Gen. Robert Cone's medical staff at Fort Hood just prior to Maj. Hasan committing the largest case of fratricide in Army history.

    There were plenty of clues for the CIA to have actively stopped the Nigerian Muslim butt-bomber and it also appears the Nigerian Muslim bomber had a accomplice who directly helped him past Amsterdam's security checkpoints and onto his flight. Without which, he would have been routinely turned away lacking his passport.

    It's pathetic to blame President Obama and yet its entirely predictable the Republican party of NO is going to blame him for the CIA not doing their job.

    January 3, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. Mike

    I am just excited to see another Republican throwing out the words.
    I guess they were in la la land when Bush and pals took there eyes of the Afghan war.
    They were all excited when Bush went aboard a carrier and announced Mission Completed.
    Republicans always impress me with there patriotism, oh how many draft dodgers were in Bush cabinet.
    throw more stones

    January 3, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  10. willoughby

    And we should listen to Jim DeMint why?

    January 3, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. nikki marin

    Yeah because we all know that ANY President of the United States can only focus on one thing. Give me a break! The president has to multitask.

    January 3, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. Ms. Callahan....just sayin'

    It does seem awful odd to send the Gutamo prisoners to Yemen....
    just sayin'

    January 3, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  13. Chris

    He can't even protect us on our border with Mexico. Countries all over the world are being invaded by terrorists. Here in the US it happens that most of them are Mexicans! Don't believe it? Go check what's happenning in Mexico and you'll see nothing but terror.

    January 3, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  14. Margaret Anderson/Boise, Idaho

    Does DeMint and other Republicans like being treasonous during a time of war? These comments are not helpful to anyone. Is it so important to the Republicans to try to make President Obama fail that anything goes. There has not been one ounce of civility since Obama won the election. I have been waiting for a year for some respectable Republican to take the lead, but it hasn't happened. I am beginning to think that fear, hate and lies is what is taking over the Republican Party. Do the Republicans not have any good, hopefull, truthfull messages? This party is plummeting to the ground and I will be relieved when it gets there. Somebody put this party out of it's misery.

    January 3, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  15. phodges@vvm.com

    Do I dare state the obvious?
    That is, that Sen Demented belongs to the largest group of "distrac-
    tors" this
    President has had to face. Sending the detainees back to
    Yemen is but one of a long, long list of Bush's "huge mistakes",
    yet they continue to deny the role the Bush Administration played
    in putting America in jeopardy on so many fronts. They pull out
    a few criticisms of Bush when it meets their agenda to bring
    down the current Administration.
    The hateful comments being spewed by certain past Administration
    officials, would not have been tolerated by the Republicans.
    All of these people, and those who feed their egoes on Fox News,
    are Americans but they are NOT patriots. They need to get their
    own vision in focus before they are so quick to judge what others
    are thinking. Thank you

    January 3, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. Alan Fisher

    Isn't Senator DeMint the one who has prevented President Obama from appointing a director of Homeland Security? How does he have the gall to criticize Obama for his handling of the crisis?

    January 3, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  17. phoenix86

    Obama's presidency has always been about one thing: Obama's ego. To that end, Obama has had a razor sharp focus. Nothing else, not the ecomony, not unemployment and not terrorism, comes into Obama's thought process ahead of his self agrandizement.

    January 3, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  18. dk

    I bet he is.
    He should have stopped @ Schiphol on his way back from Oslo to search each passenger coming to the US
    Dumkopf!!

    January 3, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. Tom in FL

    Obama is 'distracted' if he works on anything but protecting Republicans from their own exaggerated fears? Granted, fearmongering is the Republican trademark, but there's another word for this and it is cowardice. Republicans are cowards who are so terrified of a real but relatively minor threat that all other activity must cease so that they can be protected. If Republicans win and succeed in paralyzing us all with fear, the terrorists will have won.

    January 3, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  20. sandy

    Does any one listen to this guy? I think not. He's a wanna be who never will be. If any of these politicians in Washington were elected President and had to deal with what Obama has had to deal with, they would all fail. Never in the history of this country has one President inherited so much from so many. I may not agree with all his policies,but he is my President and when it comes to national security I stand with him and all of the politicians in Washington should do the same. This is one time in history that the Republicans and Democrats should stand together no matter what party is in office, as our very existance is in jeopardy and I for one am sick of all the "politics" from both sides. This is our country,now stand up and defend it like men.

    January 3, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. Wayne Maus

    The Republican Party and especially the former Vice President are all over the networks blaming President Obama for not keeping the country safe by not focusing on these terror threats. They seem to blame him personally, so following this logic should not former President Bush be blamed for not keeping the country safe on 911? What happened to the security reports the Bush administration surely had before that fateful day? Dick Cheney states they kept the country safe during their reign, tell that to all the victims and their families of those hijacked planes and those missing buildings. I am not a Democrat, but I am sick to death of the way politics are handled now.

    January 3, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. Mike in TX

    I'm glad President Obama is not focused on security to the exclusion of everything else. Bush left us with so many huge problems we need our president to multitask just to keep the USA from collapsing! Quit being the party of NO, Republicans, and try supporting your President for a change.

    January 3, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  23. LostDecade

    Maybe if Sen. Demint and the party of NO would cooperate by approving the head of TSA instead of holding up the appointment for ridiculous reasons, security might improve. It's pretty funny that DeMint criticizes Obama for being "distracted" when the Republicans have already announced their determination to bring him down, apparently without concern about the needs of the country, and refuse to cooperate with him on any issue, no matter how pressing.

    DeMint – lead, follow, or get out of the way and shut up!

    January 3, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. David Newport, OR

    speaking for himself or the Party of America-haters? It is amazingly easy to find fault in everyone else as long as you never look at yourself.

    January 3, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. Isaac

    No suprises ,Glorious oppinions has always been against obama administrationsHer facial expression tells all.

    January 3, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
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