November 15th, 2008
10:22 AM ET
12 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: John McCain
soundoff (711 Responses)
  1. Dan MN

    He wasn't a good candidate. With the best of intentions he walked straight into the campaign finance trap. I agree he did not seem to adhere to the conservative principles that made this country great.

    November 15, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  2. John Burt

    Watching this I feel like the woman who saw her husband fighting with a bear. I don't know which side to root for.

    November 15, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. LaTreetha E. Sharpley

    Everything that Senator DeMint said was true. Yet, he does not realize that the American people wanted someone with fresh new ideas and to take this nation in a different direction. President-elect Obama, offered change and that is what won the election.

    November 15, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. Steve A. , New Braunfels , Texas

    the republicans betrayed republican principles, the intire party preachis one thing and then does the exact opposite.

    November 15, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. Don

    Mr.Dement is a Senator from my state of South Carolina and he is one to talk about principles. He is at best a hate filled man who dislikes anyone who is not like him...white,straight, and christian. He has worked overtime to deny equal rights in SC to gay and lesbians, he and his staff have publically ridiculed people not like them and he has no place to critize John McCain. McCain should be proud to not be in the same league as Demented.

    November 15, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. Chris

    I think, in some ways, John McCain had the impossible task of trying to appeal to mainstream American AND stick with the Republican "brand". It could very well be that we're simply no longer buying buying what the GOP is selling. Extremism on the right is no better than extremism on the left...rank and file conservatives haven't accepted that yet!

    November 15, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. Sarah from Delaware

    What an idiot. This actually makes me LIKE John McCain, and I voted for Obama.

    November 15, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  8. jane in Columbus,ks

    Out of touch, out of time. So sadly typical of old time politicians.Grow up, come into the 21st century along with the rest of America then we can talk issues.

    November 15, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. Why do you never post my comments?

    The only reason I, a life long democrat voted for Obama, was because he strayed from the conservative principles. Your republican brand is crap at the moment, DeMint.

    November 15, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  10. ray

    hese morons on the right dont get it, these are the same people who speaks of family values and they dont have that. the election is over morons on the right, why dont you people go jump off the brooklyn bridge.

    November 15, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  11. Barbara in NC

    "Republican Principles" – ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha


    November 15, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. S Callahan

    Blaming isn't the answer.....lots of people like John McCain..and he is honorable. Everything has a time and purpose and it wasn't his time for this political moment in history.
    Being a Republican, from my view I see the way was lost because you ignored the will of the people who prefer peace and dialogue over wars and threats.
    The way was lost when banks offered unrestrained credit, giving dellusion to the extent of a persons financial value.
    The way was lost when God was taken out of the picture and man tried to raise himself higher than.
    You want to draw the fold together you have to listen to the people.

    November 15, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  13. Kelby from Houston, TX

    Has anyone ever considered the FACT that Republican principals are WRONG? We have had republican principals in effect for the past 8 years! And the it's wrong all the way around; Economic, Social and Foreign policy...all bad for the country.
    Republican principals have failed us. This is why the nation has chosen a different path.

    November 15, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  14. ines

    DeMint's bluff is called. I'm from SC – He, like Lindsey Graham, are looking for the limelight anywhere they can make it. DeMint is the meaning of 'old school' politics – How does he have any high ground to point out any flaws in McCain?

    November 15, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  15. SSG Hernandez

    It is ignorance such as this that explains why I did not vote Republican for the first time since 1991 and am no longer a registered Republican and I do not plan to return to my former party anytime soon. Southern Conservatives have ruined the party.

    November 15, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  16. midwesterner


    November 15, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  17. susan

    If this is going to be the Republican party brand, then they are doomed to failure.
    From a now- ex-Republican

    November 15, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  18. Paul in Austin

    Amazing. This guy thinks the problem is fellow republicans not furthering a radical religion based government? Wake up! Most Americans do NOT want a Christian theocracy dictating the details of their life. As long as people like this and Palin are the face of the republican party they are going to continue losing.

    November 15, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  19. MB

    Now the blaming starts. Rather than focusing on ones own failures, or the general failures of the party, it sounds like a bunch of finger pointing.

    November 15, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  20. Margaret Anderson

    Jim DeMint is out of touch about where this country needs to go. I lost alot of faith in McCain about how he ran for President, but he did see that some things that the Republicans were pushing were out of touch with reality.

    November 15, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  21. jt

    Forgive this guy after all he's not that bad as a person just not fit for President..

    November 15, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  22. mitch

    republicans have no principles. they follow ideas of dividing and separating the people through hate,fear, and religion. their hatred for anything and everything 'muslim', has proven their bigotry for anyone not like them. they are shaming their party, and their 'christian' heritage,and turning into a bunch of mormons.

    November 15, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  23. Patriot

    I hope the Repubs keep believing that they have to move further to the right in order to attract voters. If they do, they will continue to lose.

    They just don't seem to understand the changing demographics in the country, nor that people are tired of divisive cultural wars and Rovian politics. This will be to their detriment, as it has already been with the 2006 and 2008 elections.

    November 15, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  24. will

    I find it amusing that in both parties, people that speak up for what they believe in and go against the grain get bashed. It's pretty pathetic, the message this is sending me (about Lieberman and McCain) is that if you have a difference of opinion you had better keep it to yourself.

    November 15, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  25. Joey, MN

    repubs are always better at complaining than governing. keep it up.

    November 15, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
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