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. Greg

    Today's oxymoron...

    ...Republican principles!!!

    November 15, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  2. Levar Patterson

    The Republican Party will always lose the black vote because of one simple reason. Those 6 words "Barack Obama Pals Around With Terrorists". They have completely written off the black and most of minority vote forever if they never have the guts to repudiate that kind of politics. Most blacks didn't know who the heck Ayers was.. but all they had to hear was "Obama" and "Terrorists" and that let African Americans know that we have a burdon of being accused of being with terrorists because of our name.. if it isn't traditional like the last 43 presidents.

    The Republican Party will continue to shrink especially if Sarah Palin is the leader.... and I don't even feel sorry for them.

    November 15, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  3. Levar Patterson

    They yelled "Terrorist" into a crowd of angry ant-obama supporters... their party will never grow again until they get rid of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, and Bill O'Rielly.

    November 15, 2008 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  4. Maria - WA

    OMG! What freakin' idiots! McCain was nominated because people thought they were getting the McCain of 2000. Then, McCain sold is soul to the Evangelicals, picked Palin, and launched the most negative campaign I've ever seen.

    Get a clue! The country doesn't want your right-wing, wacko religious "values" in our government. McCain probably would have won or come closer to it if he had stayed closer to the center.

    Hey, Demint, since you think you're soooo right, nominate Palin in 2012 and see where that gets ya.

    November 15, 2008 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  5. Max

    this guy is "DeMint-ed". ( cmon Repukelicants, laugh with me, humor is about all you have left! )

    November 15, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  6. Liberals wrote the Constitution

    When Sen. Jim DeMint said "Americans do prefer a traditional conservative government" he was REALLY saying

    "Anybody who doesn't want a South Carolina style regressive exploitative theocracy isn't a Real American".

    To which actual Real Americans said: Go Cheney Yourself.

    Republican Party USA: On the fast track for 1912!

    November 15, 2008 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  7. Nevada dude

    much as i hate bush he wasnt the only one who abandoned conservative principles. scapegoating some GOP members wont solve republican problems. YOU HAVE TO WALK THE WALK, NOT JUST TALK THE TALK.

    and a religious agenda is NOT a core republican principle, not a real one anyway, as it has nothing to do with government!!!

    November 15, 2008 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  8. Joshua College Station Texas

    This guy DeMint sounds like a real loser. Every single one of his points is antithesis to what is good for this world and this country and what the majority of Americans want.

    Down with DeMint.

    November 15, 2008 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  9. rob mcnaughton

    i think an ad prior to the election, a la spartacus, with people of all colours standing up and saying i am a real american, then the next one and the next one, would have worked, but it might have implied race was an issue for obama, which of course it was in some states anyway. at the end had he said i am a real american and banged his chest, and said if you are a real american you can vote for any real american you want to, even me, i think it would have allowed some southern whites to vote for him as until then they accepted the fox and palin undefined diatribe that he was not as american as you or i.

    November 15, 2008 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  10. Allan

    I sincerely hope that the Republican Party listens closely to DeMint and follows his advice.

    Becaue I'm a Democrat.

    November 15, 2008 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  11. Mark F

    I love it when Republicans fight.

    November 15, 2008 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  12. Mr. Phillies Phan and Obama/Biden Supporter

    Yep, they're going to blame whomever they can especially this idiot DeMint for their loss. Republican Values!! LOL!! Their day is WAY over, it ain't 1980 anymore and will never be! I think more republicans should be the way this dumb southern senator is saying is wrong, it would help the world.

    It did help Senator McCain at all because he seemed to stray from the "new way" and revert to the "traditional conservative" way and then on top of it ran a smear campaign with that running mate of his. I did like Senator McCain as a politician until this election, I'll always respect him as a person because he was a veteran of a war and served his country well but as far as politics, big thumbs down!!

    NSF Diego Garcia, BIOT (Until Summer '09)
    Then off to McGuire Air Force Base in South Jersey

    November 15, 2008 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  13. Antietam

    Well, Semator DeMint, you voted for the Iraq war and the foolish invasion of Afghanistan. You want government by God, and a cop in every woman's clinic. Small wonder that the GOP is in bad odor.

    November 15, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  14. Alex

    Yeah, OK, let's see DeMint try to bring his repressive religious agenda to the 2012 race and see how many people are really interested in voting for more of that...

    November 15, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  15. Hillary

    By the way, Sen. Dimwitt are whatever his name may be. I consider myself to be a very religious person. However, I want my president thumping the constitution, not the bible. I like myself a little something called separation of church and state, you know what I'm saying? Read up on it.

    November 15, 2008 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  16. Steve

    I hope that McCain works with Obama on issues where they agree – you know, the way Americans want both parties to work together – and makes doctrinaire dunces like DeMint gnash their teeth.

    And I may be a liberal Democrat, but I'm rooting for the Republicans to save themselves by going to the center. Let theocrats like DeMint and Palin form their own marginal party. My parents were moderate Republicans who actually believed in stuff like science and religious diversity. I'd like to see those kind of Republicans rise again.

    November 15, 2008 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  17. devon spencer

    There isn't one single reason McCain lost, there are several. McCain lost because he only reached out to Republicans, he chose Sarah Palin, he ran a very negative campaign, he didn't raise a lot of money, he had a poor strategy (such as campaigning in PA), had a mismanaged campaign staff, did poor in the debates, and his party lost a lot of credibility.

    November 15, 2008 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  18. Kevin

    Republicans still have a national party: they have the former Conderate South and a few western desert states.

    Not much else, though.

    Their conservative 'base' has run their party, as well as the country, into the ground.


    November 15, 2008 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  19. mike

    I hope they keep worshipping Ronald Reagan and talking about conservatism because they will keep losing elections. If anything this country is moderate as an average. That far-right Sean Hannity/Rush Limbaugh stuff is old. Does a landslide say anything to them? It was a 7% popular vote rout, and Obama got 365 Electoral votes.

    Republicans need to ditch Sarah Palin and think about a reasonable platform for 2012 or 2016 if they want to have a chance.

    I am a Democrat, strongly supported Obama, but can't help but comment on how ridiculous their party's "leaders" sound sometimes.

    November 15, 2008 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  20. Carl from MI

    Larry Craig would have been a better choice for the Republican candidate for President. He much more closely represents the 'REPUBLICAN BRAND'!!!

    He never betrayed the Republican Core Values... Neither did Ted Stevens. Or Tom DeLay for that matter... or how about Mark Foley? Can't forget that strong supporter of Republican Core Values!!!!

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

    Actually... Americans USED to prefer a traditional conservative government. Now they just want an HONEST one that isn't going to steer our nation into the ditch again like Dubya has.

    It's over... Obama won... and the voting public is tired of the Republican Party's only strategy of fear and smear and VOTED THEM OUT!!


    November 15, 2008 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  21. Jimbo Jones

    Whomever listens to this garbage is either straight line republican, from the bible belt, or the south...except Florida. Thanks for coming through this time.

    Vote replubican and watch your country go down the crapper. Ask Bill Clinton before he took office and see how great the country was before he took office. Shave the Bush...for good.

    November 15, 2008 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  22. TonyQ

    Actually Jim the American people would rather have a socialist terrorist as president than another Republican, so there is your explanation.

    November 15, 2008 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  23. Kate

    As for "faith based" agendas, may I quote someone Republicans would definetly consider a "liberal". "Render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar's, and unto God that which is God's". Or my all-time favourite "as ye do unto others, so also you do unto me".

    As for those who vote according to the Evangelical movements pathetic "How would Jesus vote?". Jesus never voted, never took part in politics. Jesus was, sorry to all of the Bible-thumpers out there, not a Republican, neither was he a Democrat.

    The last I knew, he was a Jew. He was, in fact, called Rabbi (teacher). I also doubt that, being middle eastern, Jesus was blonde and blue-eyed. He probably had swarthy skin and dark eyes. In this day and age of religious intolerance and racial profiling, He probably would be detained at airports and certainly not allowed to play golf at WASP golf courses.

    November 15, 2008 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  24. Johio

    Nixon popularized the term "silent majority," as opposed to the vocal protesters of the late 60's and early 70's. But the far right religious conservatives have never been a majority – just better organized, and more motivated to vote. The real majority has always been too disenchanted and suspicious of the political process to get involved or vote.

    Obama changed that by inspiring millions of young people and older people who had never before voted. He added them to the active core Democrats, then pulled in a significant number of independents and disaffected moderate Republicans. The Democrats will stay in power as long as Obama makes even a little progress on the issues important to these Americans.

    DeMint and others like him who believe that they lost because McCain drifted to close to the center will only continue deluding themselves into thinking that the majority of Americans want to stay in the past.

    There will continue to be people who agree with DeMint and vote for him, but I believe that as long as the Republicans are dominated by extremists, their true minority status will only be perpetuated.

    November 15, 2008 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  25. Lee

    Underneath all the political posturing during the election, I think McCain is basically just a moderate Republican. But since that doesn't seem to be in vogue with the GOP right now, maybe he should act like a real "maverick" and become an independent. At this point I don't think he has much to lose.

    November 15, 2008 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
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