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. Steve

    They just don't get it! If the Republican Party is going to stress "religious-based values" they will continue to lose ground. Many of my friends and work colleagues told me that they were staunch Republican supporters and never voted for a Democrat until now. Why? Because They are tired of the GOP's fixation on pushing THEIR religious values on everyone else. This has infuriated them to the point that they have said they will not vote Republican until the GOP kicks out or marginalizes their religious right wing,

    November 15, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  2. pj451

    What do they put in the drinking water down in South Carolina? First we get the catholic priest demanding that Obama voters go to confession because they committed a mortal sin by voting for a baby killer, now we hear from DeMint that, and I am busting a gut laughing here, the GOP must represent religious based values! Oh for the good old days when the romans knew what to do with their christians.

    November 15, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. Mark

    Stop moderating my comment and post it!

    November 15, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. Matt

    I love how the wingnuts think that McCain lost because he wasn't conservative enough. Do the negative numbers for Sarah Palin tell these people nothing? A right-wing agenda is about as popular with Independents (which is how you win elections) as The Plague. A conservative candidate has absolutely no chance to win a national election any more: it was tried, it failed, and nobody except registered Repulicans (whose numbers get smaller every year) are buying it. Your ideology is finished, conservatives; deal with it.

    November 15, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. James

    Wow, Republicans just dont get it. The world is changing and so is America. The old republican brand does not resonate with mainstream America. Big government vs. small government... sometimes the government needs to act for the best interest of the people. Global warming is a perfect example. DeMint suggests McCains support for aggressive environmental programs like cap-and-trade are a reason for defeat. I disagree completely. If McCain was against any real programs to address global warming, he would have lost the race more soundly. His shrinking base would like it but the majority understand we need to lead on reducing our carbon output to provide a better world for our children. Americans believe themselves to be leaders in the world yet the republican brand represents greed over vision.
    Healthcare is another example...
    Republicans are on the wrong side of these issues in terms of what mainstream America wants and needs. Well run government bodies that are fiscally conservative can provide needed programs to help America without wasting money. How can Republicans believe they represent religious-based values yet not support healthcare for all Americans?

    November 15, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  6. Tom Ross

    The problem with the Republican Brand of freedom, religious based values and limited government is that those principles are incompatible. By imposing their religious based values on others who have different religious based values, Republicans take away the freedom of others and expand the power of the government over others.

    November 15, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  7. TexasTim

    The reason the Republican party is in disarray is because there is some strange mechanism in the conservative brain that prevents you from questioning authority, party leaders, and god.

    Any deviation from what is know to be "common knowledge" is considered subversive and anti-american, anti-republican, blah, blah, blah.

    You people have no capacity for abstract, grey-area thought. Its always black and white. You don't support the war? You are a terrorist sympathizer. You don't support George Bush? You are anti-american or anti-republican. You criticize government when its run by Republicans? You are a leftist, liberal, commie-pinko.

    I've never seen a political party so boxed in by themselves. The reason you are in the shape you are in isn't because you have left your values and roots, its because you have followed them. And that is a painful lesson you will eventually learn when Palin gets 3 electoral votes total in 2012 and the dems win 65 senate seats. The brand is stale.

    November 15, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  8. Bill Huggins

    I think this clown DeMint doesn't really know what he's talking about. The American people ere ready for a new progressive government from the left. They are tired of living in the past. Thank goodness for Obama.

    November 15, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. deure

    the stabbings have begun...

    November 15, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. Forever Conservative -except 2008

    I find it confusing that repubilcans want to protect the unborn but not our planet. The extremeofa freemarket destroys an economy and yet they still feel Gov't has no role. The issue for republicans is buidling on cnservative principles while being more responsive to the changing world. Conservative principles are good as a base but they must evolve while maintaining the findamental objectives.

    Does this guy livein the real world:

    "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..."

    November 15, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  11. duh

    Of course hes not a conservative. He's what the majority republican party has unfortunately shifted to; "neo-conservatism", following the great leadership and political prowess of the great Ronald Reagan. Instead of fiscal conservatism, these neo-cons support large amounts of government spending, especially on the military, but also on social programs usually pushing the "agenda" of their religious right (see abortion, gays rights, etc.). Whats more is they want all these large spending programs while keeping taxes low, which means less revinue for the governmnet to spend on these programs. This is called "deficit spending", or fiscal idiocy. They also heavily rely on the theory of "trickle down economics", or as I like to call, bs economics.

    November 15, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. Patrick

    Sorry Senator McCain's ability to stand up to his own party is why I voted for him over Obama. If both candidates were purely liberal or conservative I probably would have voted for Obama.

    November 15, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    That's right! For those who forgot it – Republicans don't believe in global warming, they do believe we can drill our way out of an energy crisis, they are against amnesty for illegal immigrants, and they want small a government – too small to stand up to Big Business – and what government we do have they want to adhere to their particular interpretation of the Bible. These are their core values, the values McCain betrayed. Personally, I want everyone to know this is where the Republican Party stands.

    November 15, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. Patrick Lewis

    These folks just don't understand that there is a sizable portion of the country that don't like what the GOP "brand" represents.

    November 15, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  15. Jesse Farbowitz

    I did not vote for John McCain, but this Senator from South Carolina, Mr. DeMint, is a moron. Yes the republican brnad is in turmoil but I'm going to guess this guy doesn't believe in conservation (when it comes to the enviornment) because he wants to "drill, baby drill" and seems to think Global warming is a myth. I think this "high powered" senator shoulr rethink his own values before blaming it everyone but himself.

    November 15, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  16. Humantyphoon

    This makes not sense. They did not believe the conservative was conservative enough so they voted for a Democrat.

    November 15, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. Tom

    Where was this guy on the campaign trail?

    November 15, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. Shannon

    Besides the fact I voted for Obama, I think its said that Demint blames Mccain. Didn't the Republicians vote for him in the primaries?? IF he didn't like his choices I think maybe he should have run. Mccain ran a bad campaign. If the republicians didn't like his record why did they vote for him , if they wanted a conservative they should have been voting for Romney or Huckabee.. Sad...

    November 15, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. Ian, Minneapolis MN

    Poor had to have known this was coming though right?

    November 15, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. reality

    Republican party is irrelevant now. Let's remove any remaining signs of this corrupt, disgraceful party in 2010, and 2012. Republican principles have consistently failed to address modern issues, and none of them fail to recognize it.

    November 15, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  21. Tony

    Because becoming more conservative would have won them more votes...

    November 15, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. Ray

    Um, Senator DeMint? You may have missed this: The voters soundly rejected the conservative principles you call "Republican," during the primaries! McCain walked away with the nomination. The voters said "No" to Huckabee (who appeared to be the favorite of the Religious Right) and said "No" to Romney (who appeared to be the alternate to Huckabee).

    The people spoke back at the beginning of 2008: they voted to step away from the conservatives.

    November 15, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. James Martin

    "Religious-based values".......that is what to blame, hun. Religion has NO place in politics, period. NONE. There is 6 billion + people on Earth and 6 billion + Gods since NO one thinks exactly alike. Face it. Church members in a congeration cannot even agree on every issue. Politics should be based on sound, intelligent reasoning using the best scientific and expert advice available, not on faith in some imaginary, invisible cloud being. As long as the GOP continues to push religion down people's throats they will continue to fade in power and be UnAmerican by rejecting this basic part of the constitution.

    November 15, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. michael

    This is the type of guy who will keep Republicans from ever winning again. I had always voted Republican until this election. When someone who wants to lead is so ignorant as to actually be against addressing global warming is not smart enough to lead. Also a person who believes a party should lead based on religions principles has missed the boat. This is not Iraq, his mythical beliefs have no place in government.

    November 15, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. heath1

    They can talk all they want but until the Republican Party start accepting more that it's on race of people you will continue beening loser!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 15, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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