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. Marc

    This right wing kook thinks the Republican nominee was too LIBERAL? So those further to the deep end did, what, vote for Obama? How delusional. PS If he doesn't believe global warming is real, maybe he'd like to try standing on the North Pole in a few years.

    November 15, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  2. Barb

    I did not vot for John McCain–why not? His comment and the commnets of many other Republican individuals (I am an Independent) in regards to the economy are so unrealistic that I could just see our country really going down the tubes faster then it currently is.

    To suggest that he would cut spending right across the board is like an ostrich putting its head in the sand and not looking around to see what is coming at it.

    What you purchased for your family 2 years ago does not cost the same today. So what does that mean? Spend the same amount of money BUT get less and try to make it go further. In many instances this can not be done. Try spending $10.00 on gas and see how many gallons you get today versus 2 years ago and yet the same number of miles to work.

    I appreciate the fact that the Obama team seems to be looking at each and every department and analyzing its needs, wants and dreams. You and I have to do that but of course that is our own money and not someone elses (who cares just tax and they will pay).

    Republicans until you wake up and come into the real world you are going to be out of luck.

    November 15, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  3. KCCardFan

    As a Democrat, I hope that DeMint and his Republican cronies continue to march to their "religious-based values" drumbeat.

    Trying to pitch that nonsense to voters in the 21st century is like trying to sell a set of vinyl record albums to an iPod user.

    I just hope the GOP remains clueless for several more election cycles.

    November 15, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. James

    DeMint and the Republican party better get ready to change , you can`t live in the past . The world is changing , but the republican party keep singing the same old song ,my way is better and i don`t care what you say , no matter if it is good for the people or not, by the way i`am a rep. and i did vote for Obama

    November 15, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  5. JM

    Sen. DeMint needs to address the real problem, and that is that the USA is not defined in such narrow terms by the electorate. Unless and until the GOP expands its base to include people of all belief sets, it is going exactly nowhere. The "solid south" doesn't represent what the USA is in this day and age. The GOP better wake up and move on. The narrow, social issue and specifically religious based belief system is taking them NOWHERE.

    November 15, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    these are all the reason why the GOP lost the last election

    November 15, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  7. voter in SC

    I'm sorry, but Senator Jim DeMint does not get why the Republican party lost. And if he continues in this thinking, the Republicans WILL lose again in 2012. His ideas may work for voters here in SC, but they do not extend to the rest of the country–which is more populous.

    November 15, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. thomas, michigan

    Until and unless the GOP jettisons the religious right, the party is
    doomed. This overly simplistic faction of inanity is a curse on the
    American way , namely Constitutional separation of church and state.
    We can thank them for W's blundering, right down to the darn -near
    destruction of the world economy! Save souls, you people...preach
    the Gospel! And stop mucking up politics. It destroys great institutions.

    November 15, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  9. Rick T

    Rep DeMint represents everything the Republican party needs to move away from.

    November 15, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  10. Henry, Sierra Vista, Arizona

    These Republican "head in the sand" politicians do not seem to understand that it is the brand of "conservatims" he so fiercely advocates, is the reason they lost. We are increasingly turning away from this approach to leading our country. They are the emperor without clothes.

    November 15, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. Hayden

    I am a Republican and I agree with the criticism of Bush and Stevens, I just wish more Republicans had stood up and said this four years ago instead of AFTER the election.

    November 15, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. Steve (Mpls, MN)

    The truth of the matter is the biggest weakness that the Republicans had was the fact that they had the "R" behind their names. As unpopular as Bush was (and is), it would've taken a heck of a lot to beat the stigma of being in his party.

    It would've taken an extremely strong Republican candidate (which McCain was), an extremely weak Democratic candidate (which Obama wasn't), and catching every break possible (which McCain didn't) to win. No matter who was at the top of the ticket for the Republicans, it was an almost impossible hill to climb.

    November 15, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  13. dee

    Demint should keep up the ANTI Immigration Reform rhetoric and the Republican Party will NEVER see a Latino vote again!

    November 15, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. Veteran for OB

    No!! John McCain lost because the Republican Party has become the party of hatred and the party of exclusionists. It is full of rich folks and racists. All of the states that went for McCain have racial issues.

    November 15, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  15. Anthony in Jax

    All the Republicans have going for them now is the blame game. Instead of attempting to come up with solutions as to how to fix their brand, they are caught up in a middle school style bickering contest. I don't know Sen. Demint's voting record, but I don't think I'd be going out on a limb to guess that he voted with George Bush 90% of the time.

    November 15, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  16. Roberta

    I left the Republican party because it got into bed with far-right Christian interests. In theory, I like the idea of limited federal government and fiscal conservatism, but when the party wants to impose evangelical values on everyone, I'm OUT, and, I suspect, so are a lot of other people who are scared witless by the thought of an American Taliban running our government. Keep your religion out of my government, and maybe I'll think about supporting you again!

    November 15, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  17. Well Well Well

    Have big cup of cognitive dissonance. The GOP is very wrong if it thinks that America is still a center-right nation. It is a center-left nation, and will remain so for some time, especially while the GOP continues to twist in the wind, and away from the mainstream.

    November 15, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  18. Daniel

    "The Republican brand should represent freedom ... religious-based values."

    Isn't that how the GOP got off-track to begin with? Brilliant reasoning, Sen. DeMint.

    November 15, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  19. Delia

    It should not surprise anyone that DeMint is from the state of South Carolina.

    They are on a planet all to themselves. Out there...but somehow they make it all work.

    I think it is called "Severe Conformity"

    November 15, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  20. latina-obama 2012

    Thanx Mccain and your party. Us Obama supporters would like you to do this again in 2012.......

    November 15, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  21. Dave from SLO

    But I thought Mavericks were allowed to do anything. Like Senator Joe LIEberman, John McCain does support his party's agenda, but only when it's to his benefit. Although, McCain did strickly adhere to the GOP philosophy when he unleashed that special-needs running mate of his. She ran around the country screaming that Obama "pals around with terrorists." It doesn't get anymore GOP than that! Now Pres-elect Obama faces extraordinary danger from republican-programmed extremists who could take that provocative message to heart.

    November 15, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. Joe

    CNN still sucks

    November 15, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  23. Doc Benton

    Nothing could better demonstrate how far from the mainstream of American public opinion the Republican Party has drifted than the comments of Senator DeMint.

    November 15, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. Cindy

    Sen. Jim DeMint I couldn't agree with you more!

    November 15, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  25. Anupam Tantri

    Unfortunately the South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and his band of conservative Republicans are wrong. They have not heard the American electorate who want to address global warming and also address real economic reforms through regulation, fiscal spending controls. In fact, the so called conservative Republicans are out of touch and out of control.

    November 15, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
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