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. jolene

    That list includes the only things i like about mccain!

    November 15, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. CanIcallyouJoe

    McCain campaigned on a platform of war, hate, racism, nationalism, and fear mongering.

    ...How did he betray republican principles again?

    Seems to me he was a shining example.

    November 15, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |

    Oh yes, McCain lost because he wasn't Conservative enough.

    Republicans have learned nothing!

    November 15, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  4. NT

    DeMint is a part of the legacy of blame for the problems with the Republican Party. The country has moved ahead of the Redneck policies of the South. Global warming and climate change are real, this country was never founded on religious principals of fundamentalism founded on stories of creation stolen from the Egyptians. Add DeMint to those who should be removed.

    November 15, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. Mark

    Senator DeMint is a fine example of all that is wrong with the Republican Party. He tells you he believes in freedom and limited government and religious based values. So he believes that the government should get off the peoples backs and out of their lives, except that you can't have an abortion, you can't marry if your gay, you can't pull the plug on your brain dead wife, you can't end your own life if your terminally ill, no sex ed only abstinence training and by the way I'd rather you didn't use birth control or get a divorce but I can't stop you yet because I don't have the votes. President DeMint isn't going to happen so put away your 2012 banner Jim.

    November 15, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  6. Rod Kennedy

    Unfortunately, it's a really old brand the South Carolina Senator is speaking of, like "Ovaltine." Coming up with a new brand might be advantageous. Joe the Dinosaur is not going to help them.

    November 15, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. Walt

    The republican leadership still does not get it!!! This guy is just as clueless. Let me break it down to you, no one is interested in that conservative crap anymore.

    The conservative message is narrow, exclusive–as opposed to inclusive, and borderline racist.

    Why do you think McCain was the republican nominee? There were "conservative" candidates. No one is interested in that mess anymore.

    Please do try it again in 2009, you will ensure Obama 2012!

    November 15, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. Patriotic American

    Jim DeMint: if you voted for the long string of disastrous domestic and foreign policy decisions advocated by George Bush the past eight years, America has a message for you: LOOK IN THE MIRROR. Blame yourself DeMint. Everyone in the GOP wants to blame somebody else. That's precisely the problem. If you voted with George Bush, you facilitated the worst Presidency in American history. Live with that.

    November 15, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. Ken in Pisgah Forest

    Don't blame McCain for being McCain. The problem is the Republican party has winner-take-all states, and McCain played them to his advantage. A true conservative, like Mike Huckabee, would have had a chance without the winner-take-all.

    The 'conservative principals' just don't play well in a sour economy, especially when people perceive that conservative deregulation allowed the economy to go south.

    Because of the Bush policies, the Republicans were ripe for losses, regardless of who the standard bearer was. Just look at the percentage of registered Republicans nationwide. People are getting tired of the parties and are registering as independants.

    Sorry, Jim. Your off base on this one.

    November 15, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  10. Grace

    What a silly comment from Jim DeMint. Republican VOTERS voted him to be the nominee therefore McCain represented the true Republican principles regardless what DeMint said. McCain did not win because Republicans underestimated Obama's ability, capacity, intelligence, and determination of winning the presidency. C'mon, who would ever believe that a half-black would win the highest office in USA even in 2008. Hillary & Republicans both underestimated Obama and there were no alternative strategies or plans to defeat Obama's.

    Do not blame McCain, he tried his best . Repblican like Jim DeMint should blame himself , his party, and his fellow Republicans for being too confident & not helping him win presidency.

    November 15, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  11. msclguru

    Sen. DeMint, you idiot.

    Did it ever occur to you that it was your own party members who selected McCain to be "your package"?

    Setting the bailout aside, the Republican primary voters were well aware of his support for campaign finance, global warming, cap-and-trade, and amnesty for illegal immigrants - AND his opposition to drilling in ANWR.

    If McCain didn't fit the party "brand," it's because the PARTY ITSELF rejected that brand!

    But by all means, continue to push this line of rhetoric. The real blame for the party's ill fortune lies with extremists like you, and your profile rising within its ranks should be more than enough to ensure its continuing failure.

    November 15, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. aleco-NOKOMIS,FL


    November 15, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  13. mike

    He is right mc cain just mr suck up to bush and kennedy and he open border guys as long he is living in gate community just like all liberal elitis

    November 15, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  14. Mike Mc

    DeMint doesn't get it. His "brand" is outdated and appeals to a shrinking demographic. The irony is that McCain was their best shot at winning the presidential election. I think its funny that the so called "conservative" wing of the party thinks everything will be peachy if they just return to Reaganism. Might have to look deeper than that, boys.

    November 15, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  15. amused

    They just don't get it. McCain lost not because he was too moderate, but by swinging too far right and pandering to base. The base did support McCain even if they weren't wild about him. And they loved Palin. Let the right wing Republicans keep deluding themselves with rhetoric like DeMint's and they'll find themselves on the sidelines for a long time. They're living in the past. A party of old white men.

    November 15, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  16. Daniel

    Im not republican but if republicans were like he said they shoudl be, I would vote republican.

    November 15, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. Mike

    He's 100% correct. My vote was not so much a vote for McCain as it was a vote against Obama and socialism.

    Romney 2012

    November 15, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  18. catmom

    The Republican party is their own worse enemy. They don't seem to get it. Not checking George Bush was their first mistake. Their divisive brand of politics their second mistake. The me vs. them, If you don't agree with us then you are unpatriotic, branding Democrats and Liberal as not liking America hasn't helped. Thinking only about your base and not reaching out to others is a big problem. Letting Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck and other right wing talking heads be your spokes people who do nothing but spew hatred and divisiveness is also bringing the Republican party down. After eight years of George Bush and the divisiveness coming from Republicans, most Americans are just plain sick and tired of them. The past two elections have tried to tell them but Republicans choose not to listen.

    November 15, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  19. JNP

    Oh, Puleease....De Mint, your party has come to represent the gap-toothed, willfully ignorant voter, who spends little time with the idea that problems are more complex than the 'solutions' the GOP has attemtped to destroy this country with.

    McCain was actually trying to run on a campaign of non-issues, since your ridgidly orthodox ideologes on issues runs counter to notonly common sense, but the individual liberty of others. Particularly the religious-based so-called' values' that has turned the GOP into the American Taliban.

    Look, you lost the high-income, highly educated, most of the urban and inner suburb area voters, and were left with the 'Deliverance' voter...not a good sign.

    No, he did the right thing....the GOP brand is toxic. Good riddance. The rest of us the in the rest of the America who you hve shown great disdain will not miss you.

    November 15, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. KM

    Oh sure...right DeMint, the Republicans lost because they weren't conservative enough. You go ahead and believe that idiocy and see how long your party wanders the political wilderness.

    November 15, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  21. Debby

    This is why I voted McCain because he is his own man and thinks for himself vs. going way liberal or conservative.

    November 15, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  22. BillK

    If Republicans want to come back they have to stop listening to the marketing/management consultants and stop refering to their philosophies as a "Brand".

    Talk like that just sickens people. It cheapens them and makes them seem interested primarily in "selling" their "package"

    So, stop listening to the people telling them that a polital party is just like selling anything. Stop marketing the Republican party and just get back to a movement.

    November 15, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  23. Nathan

    Conservative Republicans think that straying away from conservative values is what cause them the election. As a liberal i believe that most people are conservative in nature. What most people aren't in nature is MEAN. That is what conservatism has come to be synonymous with.

    November 15, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  24. malclave

    Sour grapes.

    Of course, even if you beieve that McCain betrayed the GOP, you also have to deal with the Demcorats who betrayed the United States, and continue to do so.

    November 15, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  25. Norm

    What a bunch of self-serving hypocrites! Besides the fact that they are clawing their way over each other to garner support for themselves, and they've abandoned their party to do so, they historically say that they want smaller government. Alas the percentage of the GDP that the Republican adminstration has co-opted has risen from 17% to 22%.

    How is that smaller government???

    America doesn't want the traditional government. We've had enough of it. They've taken our livelihoods and sold them overseas, they've taken our brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers and set them off into a horribly mismanaged war that has scarred lives across the globe, and have only alluded to the fact that they planned it stupidly.

    We've given up the heart of a generation becuase we feel our leaders don't care about us. If the soldiers we send to protect us can't even get care and help when they get home, when they have to fight to get benefts, then they've shown us that not even the greatest sacrifice matters.

    Obama may not be the savior, that so many condesendingly refer to him as, but he is not the same. This isn't about conservatism or liberalism, this is about the hope that someone might actually listen to the people again. Time will tell. But we've had 8 years of the opposite. Now someone else gets a turn. And if he can't do it, then we try again.

    November 15, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
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