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

GOP senator: McCain betrayed Republican principles

A Republican senator hammered John McCain on Friday.

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. willowood

    Save your breath. It's over. Get a grip and do what you are being paid to do, which is not to take up all this time with spilled milk.

    November 14, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  2. Keith

    Nothing new here; Itel held its bankruptcy meetings at either the Mark Hopkins or Stanford Court Hotel in the early 80's.

    November 14, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  3. thomas

    When Sen. Jim DeMint said "Americans do prefer a traditional conservative government" he was saying McCain betrayed America's principles, not just the republican's.

    November 14, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  4. republicans hate america

    you just dont get it! we do not want your religious values

    November 14, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  5. Obama/Biden 08

    Get over it. McCain was a good candidate until the Republican base dragged him down to their level.

    November 14, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  6. Mark

    Another Republican idiot that just doesn't get it. American's have had enough of "core" republican values as they no longer represent the mainstream. Don't blame McCain. He is the only reason it was close. A neocon as the nominee would have been wiped out by 20 plus points. A senator from South Carolina..well, thats all that needs to be said.

    November 14, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  7. Independent Fred

    Bloody Hilarious...

    These dopes don't get it do they. The reason John McCain was close as he was to Obama was his rejection of traditional GOP nonsense.

    1) Yes Global Warming is real and the worst offenders must pay the price.

    2) Yes the border must be secured first but you're not going to deport 12 million illegal aliens.

    3) No one likes the bailout but all are at fault for not adding stipulations first.

    4) Drilling is a stop-gap measure only not a long term solution.So drill all you want the MOST we can produce is 6% when we consume nearly 26% of the worlds oil.

    You guys don't understand John McCain far and away represents the BEST of the GOP.

    He still lost.

    November 14, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  8. Florida voter

    Senator Demint is wrong! The republican party lost because it is unable or unwilling to adapt to the times. Senator McCain lost because he drove in reverse rather than drive. If McCain had moved the party to the beliefs of most americans rather than the extreme right he would have won.

    November 14, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  9. RMcClintock

    McDint still doesn't understand that the reason the Republicans lost isn't just because of Bush, or Stevens, and certainly not McCain. Its because the GOP is out of touch with the majority of Americans. The GOP's commitment to fear mongering, illegal wars, corporate welfare, pandering to Christian intolerance, and appealing to the lowest and meanest in people has been exposed, and Americans are on to them. Its about time.

    November 14, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  10. Dexter Skagway

    The Republican "brand" emphasizes freedom and limited government? Are you kidding? Freedom of speech got reduced to "Free speech zones", America got a concentration camp and used torture, spying on citizens increased dramatically, and the cost and size of government expanded dramatically . . . with conservatives whooping up a storm in support. The Republican brand must refer to the ideals that Republicans pretend to champion but ignore in reality.

    November 14, 2008 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  11. Daniel Keating

    Another thing the republicans need to change-next time–no evangelical nutjobs on the ticket. They are neither moral nor the majority A perfectly intelligent female republican senator from Maine named Olympia Snowe would have been a perfect choice for VP–but she's ....*gasp* choice! Do'oh! that's a deal breaker in some circles.

    November 14, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  12. Justin Time

    One fool talking about other fools: it's a whole ship of fools, my friends, my friends... let me say that again... it's a whole ship of 'em, you betcha.

    November 14, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  13. Axl

    McCain betrayed Republican/American principles? That's ridiculously funny.

    Replace "McCain" with "every politician on the face of the earth". No one in either party sticks to what the party originally stood for, and half the time niether party knows what they stand for. Way to point fingers just to place the blame.

    Politicians are so far removed from thier ideological roots it's ridiculous.

    November 14, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  14. dustin

    i love how they are for limited gov except when it comes to gay marriage.

    November 14, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  15. Still an Ex-Replublican

    I was a consistent Republican voter for many years, but have become an independent during the last election cycle. Until the Republican party stops trying to shove its religious values down my throat as part of the party ticket, I will remain that way.

    Appeasement of the religious right is the reason Sarah Palin was added to the ticket, and it didn't help the intellectual credibility of their position at all.

    Keep your mystical nonsense to yourselves and simply provide practical direction on how we can improve the governance of this country. I would like to help you reduce the size of government with my vote, but not as long as your positions are dictated by a 2000 year old book of fairy tales.

    Keep your religion out of my government.

    November 14, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  16. Billiam

    More senseless ramblings. If McCain lost because he wasn't conservative enough, then that means more people voted for Obama because he was more conservative?
    What kind of Medeval B.S. is that?
    McDint needs a good bloodletting.

    November 14, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  17. Someday a Blue ND

    Once again, another Republican who blames their downward spiral on Republicans not being far enough to the Right. I fail to see the logic here. They claim America is Conservative at heart, and that moderate Republicans weren't Conservative enough for them, so Conservative America voted Liberal? How does that even make sense? They are completely wrecking themselves. They're going to dig in deep, pat themselves on the back for not giving into changing, and sticking to their guns, as the country moves on without them.

    November 14, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  18. Polly

    I think it's disappointing the way some Republicans feel the need to complain after the election. If they think they could have done better, why didn't they run for President?

    November 14, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  19. John

    The next thing that the Republicans will tell us" It was God's Will" that they lost. That He wanted to punish them for starting a war based on lies, and for leading the country into so much debt. That He wanted to teach His not so tolerant followers that they need to learn and practice what they preach.

    November 14, 2008 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  20. BILL, Louisville, Colorado

    "One of our principles is that power corrupts, and you need to disperse it," DeMint said. What a sick platform. Was Jesus not powerful? And Ghandi? And Mother Teresa? And a host of powerful and sublime thinkers of our time. Absolutes corrupt and it's that kind if thinking that narrows the mind and leads to intolerance and hatred.

    November 14, 2008 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  21. tiffany in ohio

    stop trying to force your values on the rest of the world......start including people in your party besides old white people......stop screaming family values when half of your families are disfuntional....stop screaming dems are tax an spend when you guys have the economy cratering......stop trying to fear when people want to hope......stop being idealogs and start thinking like normal everyday people........ENOUGH SAID

    November 14, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  22. Lizz

    What can you expect from a maverick ?

    November 14, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |

    I bet this DeMint guy was all over McCain at the convention in St. Paul being a sycophant.

    Look, for the GOP to make a comeback they simply need to include all the faces of America, not just the rich, white ones. Enough said.


    November 14, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  24. Brian Dodge

    Republicans want to run government on "religious based values?' How about government based on the Constitution? Aren't Republicans familiar with the value of separation of Church and State? In case you hadn't noticed, trying to subvert government into enforcing your religious views is a good way to get run out of government.
    Especially when you forget to govern wisely in other areas while doing so – Guantanamo, Katrina, global warming, financial meltdown, incompetent intelligence leading to war – well, I could go on, but you get the picture

    November 14, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  25. John Stevens

    If the Republicans move to their 'base' – they will be a minority party for 'all time'. Gone are the moderate Republicans ... the ones that do not force their 'moral vision' on the rest of us.

    November 14, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6