Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) - South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint said Wednesday he's withholding his coveted presidential endorsement while he waits to see which candidate shows leadership when a deficit reduction plan is presented by Congress' so-called "super committee" debt-limit panel.
DeMint, a tea party booster, said he thought the candidates were "too quiet" when he and other members were voting on raising the nation's debt ceiling earlier this summer.
"They left us hanging out there," said DeMint, speaking to a group of party loyalists in Greenville. "That's not who I'm looking for."
DeMint, who endorsed Mitt Romney in 2008, did not call out the former Massachusetts governor by name, but of all the White House contenders Romney received the most criticism for being slow to respond when the debate was underway in Washington.
The two-term senator said he is not ruling out candidates, including Romney, who re-scheduled an appearance at a New Hampshire tea party to appear at the DeMint's Labor Day Freedom Forum.
"I'm taking a fresh look at the candidates. I'm giving them room to change," said DeMint.
But how the White House hopefuls respond to the 12-member commission charged with coming up with a plan to reduce the deficit another $1.5 trillion over the next decade will influence the conservative kingmaker's support.
DeMint said, "You're going to find out when this super committee produces its product, whether these candidates are willing to speak up and say, that's not right, you got to stop it."
After the luncheon speech, DeMint punted when CNN asked him if he envisions a scenario in which he would consider endorsing Romney in 2012.
"Right now they've all got a lot of strength so I'm going to keep listening. I want to see how they weigh in on the tough issues," he said.