Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) - Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, was one of Mitt Romney's top backers during the 2008 presidential campaign – a key endorsement that helped the former Massachusetts governor boost his profile among conservatives.
But if Romney decides to run for president again in 2012, a prospect that seems likely, he might have to do so without DeMint's support.
DeMint told CNN Monday he isn't sure he'll endorse Romney this time around - even though Romney was recently in South Carolina raising money for the senator's re-election bid.
"Mitt is still near the top of my list of candidates, but I want to look and see who steps up to the plate," DeMint said after a fundraiser with Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio. "Frankly I think we need to wait until after the 2010 election to see what happens in Congress."
Asked to name some candidates he might support instead, DeMint pointed to Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, marking the second time he has floated the fiscally conservative governor as a potential White House candidate.
"When I look at what he's doing in Indiana, it suggests that he can make hard decisions and he understands how to run things," DeMint said.
"By the next election, Americans are going to be looking for an accomplished leader who has a proven record, who can really get things done," he said. "I'm not sure that person has emerged yet. But there are a few on the horizon."
DeMint, who is up for a second term in November, also addressed speculation that he might want to lead the Republican ticket in 2012.
"I don't want to be president," DeMint told reporters. "The fact is, anyone who really wants to be president right now doesn't understand how much trouble we are in as a country.
"I think it's time we have a candidate for president who tells people the federal government has to do less not more," he explained. "I am not sure America is ready for that type of candidate but we need that kind of candidate right now."