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. SJC

    DeMint also mentions Bush along with McCain abandoning traditional conservative values. 22% of the people still approve of Bush. Who does he think these people are? They are the right wing traditional conservatives that get their news and information from Rush, Ann Coulter, Mike Savage and Fox News. Bush didn't abandon DeMint type conservative principles! He exposed them as a bankrupt, failed and discredited ideology that has no place in the 21st century.

    November 15, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. theo

    I love to hear when people think John McCain betrayed conservative principle. He was never a conservative. I listen to all the people I work with and it became very clear the reason they did not vote for John McCain was Sarah Palin and the devise campaign tatics. They felt after 8 years of being divided, the country needed a new direction. When in politics, you need depth in thinking when it comes to issues and John McCain had it, but Sarah Palin did not. Its back to "you can put lipstick on a pig, but its still a pig". Some people will say I am calling Sarah Palin a pig, but think about it in the context of depth. You need substance not rheotric. She is the reason republicans did so bad. So the republicans need to remember the 11 commandments of Ronald Reagan... John McCain make a tatical error in choosing her or better yet John's campaign did. They were only counting on Hillary's 18 million votes. Campagins are won on strategy, not gimmicks. .

    November 15, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. gary, detroit

    Bob 1942

    I'm with you. My only question is, of course, what does Sarah think about all of this ?

    November 15, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. Dimslie

    Even though the leaders of Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, Afghanistan, and, now, China have formed a line to get a piece of Obama the fools who voted for him still don't have a clue. This is an exact replay of what happened when the first Jimmy Carter was elected. In 1976, we rejected our conservative candidate Ronald Reagan (may his name be praised forever) and went with the "moderate" Gerald Ford (who had never won any election outside his own Congressional district). Now comes Jimmy Carter 2.0.

    November 15, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. Texas Teacher

    mmmm.... sorry, commentators.. I type and read too fast. I'm an opinionated old Indian woman... who happens to be a teacher in Texas. Do what you will with these posts. They come from my heart and my desire to see all of us wake up and be the human beings we were meant to be. I do the best I can.... sometimes my human frailities come through.

    November 15, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. SC Charleston

    DeMint is of the ultra-conservative breed of Republican – A lot of us moderates here in South Carolina do not like this guy. The hilarious thing is that he, not John McCain, represents the skewed and extreme partisan direction towards which the Republican "core" has recently moved. I considered myself a Republican up until about 2002 – the party has moved so far right since then even that now I would be seen as a liberal here. Jim DeMint represents the faults of the party – not McCain – and if anything lost the election for John McCain, it was listening to the advice and "religious values" of those such as DeMint by trying to appeal to this right-wing Republican "core" that barks much louder than it bites. Earth to Republicans : The religious right-wing was never your core – it is called "extreme radical." Get back to your old core and older, more solid stances (maybe focus less on moral issues and more on the country, you know, church separated from state?) and you will get your old votes back.

    November 15, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. An American voter

    are you still gonna put my comment under evaluation or whatever you call ? it is just a test

    November 15, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. AZ

    Keep it up and you will be De-Mintized in the next election. Keep beating the same old drums of "resolve, freedom, war on "terrorism," gay marraige, etc.
    American are finally awake, bubba.

    November 15, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  9. Lilarose in Bandon-by-the-Sea, Oregon

    No place else to make my comment....

    If we bail out the auto industry, they will be back with nothing to offer me in the way of a compact, efficient, and low-cost car than they have had the last 20 years.

    What is wrong with manufacturing cars for relatively low-income people? Look at who bought the Volkswagens! And the Model A's and T's!

    Forget all the fancy stuff!

    So the fat cats won't make a huge amount of money. Too bad!

    November 15, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. wpod

    A party based on fantasy. This guy is a joke.

    November 15, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  11. GARY


    November 15, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  12. sandee in Portland

    I didn't vote for McCain, but he doesn't deserve this from his own party. When will the republicans realize that they lost this election because the american people no longer want a religious based party in power that only thinks their beliefs and values are the right thing. Sarah Palin was a poor example of their kind of Christian. As a moderate christian, I will never vote for the republicans again until they get their act together and come into the 21st century rather than living in the past. When will they wake up and realize they are now the minority in this country, not the majority. We are a nation of all different nationalities and faith.

    November 15, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  13. raffaele

    I support Obama but have to say that outcasts like this Mr DeMInt made Obama's race easier. These are probably the Republicans most people do not believe in

    November 15, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  14. Ken

    John McCain was picked by the voters in the Republican primaries because he represented solutions that made sense to most Americans. Those in the Republican party who cling to outmoded ideology doom their own party future defeats. Also putting forth social conservatives is another fatal error. A great philosopher once said "render unto Caesar what is Caesar and to God what is God's."

    November 15, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  15. ceasar

    and you too Brutus?

    November 15, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  16. Annie, Atlanta

    What's incredibly sad in all the blame he laid on Senator McCain, is he forgot the one thing that was most apparent – the use of fear, hate, and race baiting as a foundation for his presidential bid. Do Republicans not see this as a problem? And if not, where can they go from here? I personally think McCain owes us an apology for unleashing such hate, and pitting us against each other just to win.

    November 15, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  17. john

    I sure hope that all republicans think like this bone headed senator and that they choose Sarah Palin as their candidate so that we'll win in another lanslide next time! The REAL reason they lost so bad is because by sucking up to their base they totally lost the middle. They believe the Earth is just a few thousand years old, they're against science, etc. They're going the way of the Neanderthals. The Neanderthals couldn't adapt either and look what happened to them...

    November 15, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  18. An American voter

    oh , the phrase i was looking for was "waitingk moderation".
    so still it is. good day sir !

    November 15, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. Jack

    Hah. Jim Demint is stupid. I hope he keeps building up power, because if he's in charge the republicans will just keep on losing. They aren't going to win on no abortion, gay marriage, and low taxes anymore. Get a clue, Jim.

    November 15, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. Woodman

    It wasn't McCain who strayed from the principles of the GOP–the GOP strayed awayed from the needs of he American people. Knuckleheads like DeMint would prefer to keep the GOP in a political Dark Age, rather than accept the fact that the world is changing around them. If they choose not to change with the rest of the world, they will become irrelevant.

    November 15, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  21. Mark K

    Is it DeMint or DiMwit?

    November 15, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  22. sick n tired

    DeMint is an idiot! He's just as much a failure as the rest of them! So much for that little "Contract With America" thingy you all talked so much about back in the Clinton years when the GOP gained control of both houses of Congress!!!! I remember DO YOU?

    November 15, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  23. Amber

    The Republicans are headed for a split, just like what happened to the Democrats in the 1960s. Democrats and Dixiecrats. LBJ said when he signed anti-segregation legislation in the 1964 that he "delivered the South to the GOP for a generation with the stroke of a pen."

    Now we're going to have Republicans and Dixiepublicans.

    It's all about courting the Southern electorate, and has been since the founding of this country. The saddest thing is that while I'm sure that there are many people in the South who are not bigots, racists, and generally afraid of everything that isn't The Other, the South as a voting bloc generally wants to go backwards to somewhere before 1860 when white landed gentry were in complete indisputable control.

    November 15, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  24. Credit Card Republicans

    Does Jim DeMint know what happened to the $700.000.000 bailout we just gave to the eight largest banks?

    November 15, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  25. Brookline Bill

    Noting the issue of campaign finance reform as a reason for Republican defeat:

    As I rememer it, when contribution limits were raised (to $2,000 per person - I believe), the Democratic members of Congress were thought to have signed their own political death certificate - after all it was the wealthier Republicans who could make these higher $$ contributions.

    In this election cycle we have seen a great democratiztion of the campaign finance as exhibited by the many millions of small contributions. I've read a number of Republican critiques as to why Obama won was because he had such a large campaign fund. As we know it was so large not because smaller numbers of large contributions but rather its converse. I think blaming campaign reform is just an excuse for a party bereft of real solutions to what faces us as a society today.

    November 15, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
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