November 14th, 2008
10:46 AM ET
13 years ago

GOP senator: McCain betrayed Republican principles

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="A Republican senator hammered John McCain on Friday."]MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina (CNN) - South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint on Friday became one of the first high-profile Republicans to publicly criticize John McCain following his electoral defeat, blaming the Arizona senator for betraying conservative principles in his quest for the White House.

The conservative senator, speaking to a group of GOP officials gathered in Myrtle Beach at a conference on the future of the Republican Party, described how the party had strayed from its own "brand," which, according to DeMint, should represent freedom, religious-based values and limited government.

"We have to be honest, and there's a lot of blame to go around, but I have to mention George Bush, and I have to mention Ted Stevens, and I'm afraid I even have to mention John McCain," he said.

DeMint offered a long list of complaints about McCain's record in the Senate and on the campaign trail.

"McCain, who is proponent of campaign finance reform that weakened party organizations and basically put George Soros in the driver's seat," DeMint said. "His proposal for amnesty for illegals. His support of global warming, cap-and-trade programs that will put another burden on our economy. And of course, his embrace of the bailout right before the election was probably the nail in our coffin this last election. And he has been an opponent of drilling in ANWR, at a time when energy is so important. It really didn't fit the label, but he was our package."

Bush and Stevens, he said, had corrupted the party brand by expanding the size of government and engaging in wasteful government spending. Had Republicans not strayed from their core beliefs in recent years, DeMint argued, the election results might have been different.

"Americans do prefer a traditional conservative government," he said. "They just did not believe Republicans were going to give it to them."

DeMint said he would introduce a Senate resolution next week to boot Stevens out of the Republican caucus, and "force votes" on Senate seniority rules that have allowed certain members to hold onto power. However, DeMint twice confused Ted Stevens with Ted Kennedy, drawing chuckles from the audience of Republicans, who hold neither senator in particularly high regard.

"One of our principles is that power corrupts, and you need to disperse it," DeMint said. "And if our own party allows ourselves to be destroyed by this idea, and are not willing to stand up, then we have to change everyone at the top."

Filed under: Extra • Jim DeMint • John McCain • South Carolina • Ted Stevens
soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. Jason B.

    Palin was the only bright spot for McCain and according to exit polls he would have lost by double digits if not for her. Its funny Obama won based on the idea people would get tax cuts, sounds EXACTLY like Reagan. Its so funny, McCain wouldnt talk about Wright/Ayers but he STILL got called a racist biggot so good for Palin pointing out thay Obama DID start his political career in Ayers house because on GMA this morning Ayers admitted it was true.....too bad Barry cant be that candid.
    Obama is a sham

    November 15, 2008 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  2. hopeandpeace

    I agree with Nevada Dude - I am so tired of people mixing relgion and politics - remember, separation of church and state! I was a Repulican until this election. In fact, my daughter was working for the Democratic party and was soo excited when I changed parties. I was so dismayed with the divisivenes and extremes and sway the religious right held over the Republicans. For Dewitt to disregard some very important issues as unimportant is very telling how he devalues what is seriously important. He obviously doesn't value our world because he disregards placing imprtance on global warming. We don't need to drill more, but we need to implement eco friendly green energy. Take advantage of the sun, wind, electricty, bio diesel, etc. However, don't screw up any more of our land - once it's destroyed we can't turn back. Stop the drill baby drill chant and instead chant something more inspiring - think green dream green! It's time for our nation to embrace positive change. Religion is a private matter, and not something that should be shoved down our throats. Especially, when it's a religion contrary to our own.

    November 15, 2008 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  3. Charlie in Maine

    Yeah that's the problem. He wasn't conservative enough. Interesting take since conservatives made up his base. McCain lost the middle because he tilted too far right (with help from his running mate). He would be measuring the drapes right now if he had gone moderate. As an Obama supporter, I'm glad he didn't. I think it shows how out of touch the Republicans are for them to think McCain wasn't conservative and thats why he lost.

    November 15, 2008 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  4. Trollmaster

    Republicans betrayed conservative values a long time ago by not standing up to Bush and his reckless spending/borrowing.

    And McCain is on that list for remaining silent as well.

    Of course Bush doesn't care about the Republican party just like he doesn't care about America.

    November 15, 2008 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  5. IceNine

    I have read in their entirety every one of the comments posted before this one. The weight of opinion is simply overwhelmingly: This sample of opinion illustrates that the country has rendered their judgment on the intolerance, bigotry, and greed of the Republican party.

    I really hope that DeMint and Palin and the religious wing-nuttery secure the GOP base with ideological purity tests and drive out all those apostate RINOs with 'Operation Leper' and similar purges. This self-isolating, echo-chamber delusion will marginalize the GOP into a regional rump–still capable of obstruction, of course, but without any hope whatsoever of competing nationally.

    Right now, the GOP's internecine warfare fascinates me much more than the vacuous speculation about Obama's cabinet or first hundred days. This bloodbath is absolutely riveting.

    Go for it, Jim! You too, Rush! Wade right on in, Billo!

    November 15, 2008 03:23 am at 3:23 am |
  6. Miz in Portland, OR

    I sincerely hope the Republican party continues with this line of reasoning. They lost the election because the American people finally wised up and realized that putting our heads in the sand about anything and everything including global warming, immigration and our economy hasn't worked. The old hate politics of the past may not work again and I wish Mr. Demint luck. We need people on both sides of the aisle who have ideas and admit that there are things that need to be fixed in this country and in the world. Not the same old us against them rhetoric that dominates Republican doctrine.

    November 15, 2008 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  7. SkyPete

    "McCain, who is proponent of campaign finance reform that weakened party organizations and basically put George Soros in the driver's seat,"

    The Republicans always need a Boogie Man. If there isn't a real one they invent one. George Soros has been their targeted BoMa for awhile... Can anyone quote anything he's said or even know what he looks like ? Who is this mystery man the strikes fear and loathing in the heart of these people ?

    Can we order a few more ?

    Isn't accepting public funds for campaigning an option – not mandatory ?________________

    November 15, 2008 03:56 am at 3:56 am |
  8. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Those would be the same GOP principles that caused the mess we're in, right Senator?!

    November 15, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  9. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Remember Bush and his cabal hijacked the GOP. So where were the "conservative" watchdogs?!

    November 15, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  10. Teri

    IS DeMint's altrer ego Dr Demento? "“McCain, who is proponent of campaign finance reform that weakened party organizations and basically put George Soros in the driver’s seat,” – does he honestly believe that? Someone needs to remind him of the 527s like Picken's & Co "Swiftboaters". Republicans such as DeMint truly are living in an alternate universe

    November 15, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  11. Marylou South Carolina

    Jim DeMint won't even correspond with his constituents if they offer a different opinion. This guy thinks preaching from the pulpit is a GOOD thing.

    November 15, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  12. jason

    There isn't one opinion above that is different from any other. As a self proclaimed conservative, not republican (I believe in the minority of this very liberal post), there are obvious issues in both parties. I have no problem with a liberal as long as they know why they believe what they believe. Same goes for a conservative. That is what we call tolerance. The thing that frightens me is that most of the opinions above talk of all the democrats who wear these "white gloves and are tolerant of others." That is definitely not apparent in the comments above, some of which are extremely degrading to christians. Politics and general honesty in politics are dead. The bashing of christianity and its beliefs are mind boggling to me as well. Sure I can see hipocracy in preaching chrisitian values if they are not represented. Somehow people above seem to believe they should be afraid of a bible thumping christian who is looking to bring the message of jesus to other people; that is, bringing heaven to earth. That is what all christians strive to do. What is it they are afraid of us doing - helping a fellow american, making their day or life better! Somehow people seem to think this means forcing some kind of spiritual agenda of intolerance to every human being. If that is the case then people have an extremely misconstrued perception of what we as christians represent. While some do see the person holding up the sign protesting every sin known to man, that should not be everyday christian persona. Judgement goes both ways... Somehow christians can't be judgemental but other can be? Many say christians are too narrow minded, but aren't we the ones that believe that there is more to this life than just what there is on earth. How is that being narrow minded?

    November 15, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  13. uba2010

    Stop being a puppet of the media.

    November 16, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  14. Brad

    I'd like to see these conservatives keep blasting Republicans they consider moderate. It's time that the 60-70% of the country that is not idealogical finally work together to right everything that's gone so wrong.

    November 16, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  15. Fremon

    The republican core values are seemingly based on wedge issues (God, guns, gays) and not responsible lower taxes, govt our of are lives,fiscal responsibility, governmentat competance, etc were thrown out of the window with approval of the Republican lead congress of 6 yrs. They forgot what was most affecting most peoples loves which are jobs, thriving economy, and to lead honest, decent prosperous lives. What are republican core values anymore?

    November 16, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  16. Steve

    Obviously the million puppet liberal internet army is alive and well and trying to drown out the truth by overwhelming any dissent. Look for much more of this National Socialist, Nazi approach in the next eight years

    November 16, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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