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. Tim in Dallas

    Ah, yes, it must be SOMEONE'S fault, right? It cannot be that the GOP, by choosing to ride hate and fear, by being intellectually bankrupt, by offering nothing but the further erosion of America, and by wrecking the economy, had no chance of winning.

    Frankly, the one thing that they have accomplished is to show that Supply-Side economics only works for those at the top. The GOP has shown it is the party of incompetence, anger, and hatred.

    November 15, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  2. Linda, NY

    This is America and we do not have government based on religious values. The change the republican party needs to make is to kick the religious zealots to the curb!

    November 15, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  3. Lilarose in Bandon-by-the-Sea, Oregon

    Folks, global warming is not a religion!

    It is a fact, a reality.

    The fact that Republicans consider it a religion is that they believe in make-believe, just like their religious stances....all make believe.

    I am hoping our young people who support Obama will keep their religions private and start thinking about saving the world from ourselves.

    God isn't going to be happy if we keep screwing up. He might even decide to end this experiment.

    November 15, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |


    November 15, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. Chuck

    religious based values is code word for goverment intrusion into your
    personal lives. Republicans core believe is bigger goverment and less freedom for the people. So is the Dems but they admit it. I will not vote republican.

    November 15, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  6. Cheryl

    Oh please, the republican resounding defeat was a total repudiation of their platform and beliefs. The fact that they had a man who couldn't remember what he said from one state to the next and a totally unqualified corrupt female whose main goal seemed to be attempting to slander Obama (and get a whole bunch of new clothes) didn't help at all

    Suggest the republicans might take a new, FRESH look at their premise, examine the policies they so suck up to and try to figure out how to serve the country instead of their ultra-wealthy friends.

    We LIBERALS will do everything we can to make sure you never get back in control of this country. We will be watching you like a hawk.

    November 15, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  7. J

    John McCain was not electable from the moment he considered running. The disaster called the Republican Party simply validates the Reagan-era approach of not working with liberalism and the "go along to get along" philosophy pervading the GOP of today. It does not work. Conservative ideas and philosophies carried Reagan to resounding victories. The conservative message rings true with most all segments of our society. McCain did not get the message and attempted to co-opt the conservative ideals to fit his philosophy and resulting humiliation. McCain is a maverick, no question there. He is a maverick in that he ran as a Mondale democrat under GOP banners rather than as a Reagan conservative. And we all know what happened to Mondale. The GOP deserves the whipping it has received. God? Help us through the next four years? The conservative base of the GOP needs to champion ideas tested over generations. Listen to DeMint. The electorate certainly deserves Obama much as it deserved Carter. I am glad I have returned to academia for a few years.

    November 15, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. SAGG

    As an Obama supporter, I'm amused by what Sen. DeMint is saying. He's blaming a man who basically sold out his principles for his party's defeat. John McCain did everything he could to appease conservatives, from embracing Bush's tax cuts to Sarah Palin. Repubs have no one but themselves to blame–period. DeMint, whether he likes it or not, is part of the blame, since he's a Repub. He, like most Repubs, don't want to see what they've done wrong. I hope that sort of thinking continues for them so they'll lose even more elections.

    November 15, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  9. Doh!

    and does the Republican Party have any principals left?

    November 15, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  10. Amanda

    And did he mention McCain's choice of a beautiful but tenacious dumbell who lacked character as his running mate? McCain underestimated the intelligence of the American voter who knew better than to have this dimwit sitting around waiting for 72 year old McCain to die!

    Palin was the most ambitious politician I have seen in many years. McCain used her to spit out venom he himself could not bring himself to say against Obama. She did it well, but degraded herself even more in the end. He can blame the campaign, but HE had the final say on who would be his running mate, and he chose Palin after meeting her only once. Stupid. He deserved to lose.

    Good luck, GOP, in trying to shut Palin up! SHE is here to STAY!


    November 15, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. Washington Observer

    Demint is a calculating opportunistic idiot – he should stay in Myrtle beach and play golf. As for traditional Republican values - the vast American majority are sick of a party running on right to life and gun right issues -– wake up and smell the roses. Demint had an opportunity to speak out during the past 8 years of Bush rule and he just went along with the herd. For him to stand up now and take shots at Bush and McCain is disingenuous at best, and conniving and dishonest at worst.

    November 15, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  12. Tom

    No Mr. DeMint, all of you betrayed your principles. John McCain never stated he was a party line rubber stamper.

    November 15, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  13. Richard

    DeMint should have started and ended with the incompetence of George W. Bush.

    November 15, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  14. Mark Dover, Delaware

    Jim DeMint is wrong.

    November 15, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. danel

    Blame Bush, not McCain.

    November 15, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. otis

    Where was this criticism back in 2006 or even before the election?

    You know why Republicans lost? They became corrupt, immoral and have no new ideas to bring the country forward. Get off this idiocy of saying evolution doesn't exist and start showing current American values today. A party molded after the 1950s decade won't cut it this day in age.

    November 15, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. Mark

    Repubs must not get it....until they morph into something more than just the all 'white' party, their campaigns and candidates will continue to see diminishing returns.

    November 15, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  18. John

    The rats are jumping ship. It is quite amazing to see these "professionals" turn on each other.

    November 15, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  19. mike

    Aren't armchair quarterbacks great?

    November 15, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  20. Chris F.

    Senator John DeMitt is a loser and the state of South Carolina deserves better. How does campaign finance reform ammount to betrayal this is no a valid argument? The GOP is a bunch of cry babies. They want the law to be change back just so they can raise as much money as they want and then cause more corruption for their party. Maybe if they did not make fun of community organizers and use those skills to put together a campaign they would have done better. I think it is funny how the GOP made fun of Obama as a community organizer and those are the skills that help him prevail in this election. Maybe the GOP should just shout up, stop being morons and crooks.

    November 15, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  21. Michael

    Wow, this guy is nuts. "His support of global warming" – what does that even mean? By support does he mean McCain thinks it could be man made? Does this Senator actually think a president should reject all science on global warming and just form a belief based on what's convenient? I'm not at all an environmental nut, nor a McCain supporter, but this guy is way off. McCain > DeMint.

    November 15, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  22. We need new politics.

    This is the problem with Washington. We have two parties. And the far-whatever in each party gets ticked when someone of power doesn't represent the far-whatever religiously.

    I don't have anyone who represents me. Obama doesn't. McCain doesn't. I'm in the middle.

    I hope Obama chooses McCain for a cabinet position. Maybe Secretary of Defense. I'd love to see this guy reach across the aisle even if it means choosing someone who will challenge him. So sick of party politics.

    November 15, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  23. Hari

    It's clear that Senator DeMint is out of touch with his party. The new Republican party is emerging Senator, and you are not a part of it. His 90s image of a right wing conservative should stay in the 90s. Barack Obama's election now means that voters are being redefined across party lines, and the Republican party is no longer the party of the "religious based values" and "freedom." The Democrats claim that title too.

    And if he wants a wisp of a chance of being taken seriously, he needs to recognize that global warming is a problem and that a cap and trade system or a carbon tax is the way to go.

    Are you joking, Senator?

    November 15, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  24. John

    I would argue that for many Republicans religious-based values are not one of their top three reasons for voting Republican. Having only 2 major political parties makes it impossible to please everyone. I know many Republicans that have differing views on many issues, so please don't type cast Republicans, or Democrats, into a generic bucket of ideals.

    November 15, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  25. Lando Griffin

    Yep. If McCain had opposed the bailout, I might have voted for him. That showed he was not fiscally conservative. But then again, none of the Republicans seem to be anymore. Their idea of being conservative is to spout against abortion while re-electing a President who doesn't hesitate to blow the fetuses out of Iraqi women.

    November 15, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
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