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. dibick99

    rep. demint can take his religious base and shove it. the one thing i'm sure of is that we've had a pretty religious nut in the white house over the last 8 years and look what's happened to this country. perhaps the religious south should start their own party – better yet, how about their own country and then we'll finally get rid of them and their ridiculous family values

    November 15, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. DM

    Republicans need to figure out what they are. If they're for smaller government, less government intervention in peoples' lives, then they need to drop the "pro-life" stance, drop the Christian bias (government shouldn't interfere with anyone's religion), tdrop gay bashing, and settle on some values that aren't so contradictory and hypocritical. Republicans during my lifetime have been big spenders (Reagan, W) who want to control peoples' lives rather than shrink government and increase freedom.

    November 15, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  3. Marco in AZ

    Just more denial,.....

    The day after the election, I heard two Repulican analisysts on the radio say that "If the Repubican Party wants to regain promanace and respect with the American public, the one thing they CANNOT do is think and say 'We weren't conservative enough. we didn't say less government enough, didn't focus on terroism enough, we didn't stick to our principles enough, we didn't ,...'

    Well the very next day here on there is a joker saying ALL those things and that "Conservitives NEVER lose elections. Since were weren't Conservitive enough, that is why the public voted the way they did.


    "Conservatives ALWAYS win?

    What about all those non-Conservitive governors, senators, congressmen, mayors, city & county executives that are elected every election,....more so in some parts of the country then others.

    Even if he ment to say "presidental elections" , what about when carter was elected in 1976 and the back to back Clinton election wins?

    With compleate, utter denial like this, we may see the rise of the Libertarian party as one ofthe "big two" political parties, and the Republican party in the "Number 3" spot.

    NOT because they have a conservitive agenda or ideas, NOT because the are not liberal in their thought, and NOT because they refuse to change. Because many refuse to show GROWTH or PROGRESS, which they fear is compleate change. They have become stagnant in their line of thought.

    I know so many comnservatives that have become Independants, Democrats or Libertarians because of this.

    Why did Obama get elected?

    Because he also gained the vast majority of the young voters who are looking for much more flexible lines of thought. And that is only going to be the continuing trend in this nation the more diverse it becomes.

    I wonder what DeMInt (honestly) thinks about that.

    November 15, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  4. Rick in L.A.

    Can't tell you how much so many of us are enjoying the GOP crying in their beer. John McCain was and is a decent man who compromised his views to run for office. And as an aside, I can't wait to see Sean Hannity waiting tables at some dive in Cleveland. (no offense, Cleveland.)

    November 15, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. oUt oF ToUcH

    oUt of toUCH, ouT Of tOuCH, OUt oF tOucH, oUt OF tOuch, OuT oF
    tHIS is exactly why the GOP is in disarray. Their own party members dont know who to blame.

    THE gOP is out of touch, out of ideas, and out of time.


    November 15, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. The Legacy of Barack Obama

    Fiscal Responsible Government … Every Republican President that has followed a Democratic President has increased the national debt at a faster rate than his predecessor. President Clinton had, after man years, gotten us to the point where we ran a budget surplus. We could have begun to pay down the national debt and unwind the national leverage… but then came George Bush … and a manufactured excuse to go to war and spend TRILLIONS of dollars. President Obama will restore the path to balanced budgets that will position us to eliminate the debt and will once and for all label the Democrats as the Balanced Budget Party.

    November 15, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. a good Republican

    Now I know Why McCain (Palin) lost; were Republicans like Sen. Jim DeMint lose interest in McCain and did not campaign for him(or worse, not voting). It’s us Republicans to blame for not standing united whomever the candidate is. There weren’t to many religious-based folks campaign either, shame on you folks too. I didn’t care when Sen. Dole was our presidential candidate, but I was just as proud of him as I am proud of Sen. McCain. To bad Governor Schwarzenegger is not able to run for President. Governor Sarah Palin in 2012.

    November 15, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. Tyler Derden

    Typical Republican finger pointing. Let's dish out blame instead of working toward a solution. Well, if you're not part of the solution then you're part of the problem. So sit in the middle and suck on it.

    November 15, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. Hope is Coming

    Republicans are a joke, Palin is a fool, the GOP is finished !!!!!!!!!!

    November 15, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    As one of a few democrats in SC I can tell you some things about out of touch people and Senator Demint is one of them BUT most people in SC think he is the greatest....the deep south will not change their political views until a politican like Demint tells them otherwise...most are head strong about the GOP & will not vote otherwise regardless of the other candidate & especially if the other candiate is not a grumpy old white man....The only good thing about John McCain choosing Sarah Palin for his running mate is that it forced the head strong republicans to vote for a woman otherwise it would have never happened...The GOP should realize their problem is due to the extreme right wing christian conservatives who will do anything to get a candidate to spew out their right wing agenda....

    November 15, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  11. Brad


    Everyone just stay quiet and allow these delusional Republicans to believe the wrong thing.

    The longer they go without "getting it", the better off the nation will be.

    November 15, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. Tom

    McCain choose Palin to excite the base, something he was unable to do. Problem is these right wing nut bars will not win the general election for you . Unless the GOP get back to some fundamental core values that the American people can identify with they will continue to come up short. George Bush has harmed this party like never before and because of the economic break down and the pain that just keeps getting worse the American people will not forget. The GOP need to repackage the brand under competent leadership or run the risk of a 3rd party rising and leaving them in last place.

    November 15, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  13. Buzz McCollough-Seattle

    Mr. DeMint and all his ilk in the Republican party are exactly why they lost so convincingly in this election, and why they will continue to lose if they don't make the Republican party more inclusive. Their "values" amount to exclusion for anyone who doesn't follow their failed platform of: anti-abortion, global warming is a myth, gays and lesbians are less than real people, all illegal immigrants should be shipped back to where they came from, e.t.c. ad nauseum. As long as the Republican party allows this right wing fringe made up of people like Mr. DeMint to control platform and policy, then the Republican party will continue to lose elections and be relegated to the compost pile of American politics. One of the primary reasons John McCain lost the election was that he allowed his campaign to be co-opted by Mr. DeMint and those like him.

    November 15, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. BobC

    Enough with the bitter grapes! It's over! Bush poisoned the election simply by being Bush, Sarah Palin appalled many voters who normally would have voted Republican, and the economy was the deciding factor. Plus Obama has youth, aq clear vision and ran, a focused campaign and McCain had too much against him: age, health records he did not completely disclose, a desperate scattershot campaign, and Palin. It would effect a lot of Republicans.

    November 15, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  15. Perry in Alabama

    As long as any Republican identified him or her self with the failed policies of the past eight years, they were going to lose. A war that we should not have been involved in that did nothing to improve our security. An economic policy so lax it has led to a collapse and lack of tolerance. I see so much anger and hatred from fellow Christians it is disgusting. We do not have to be angry to disagree with people. And the lack of common sense on global warming. The Republicans deserve to lose everything, until they wake up.

    November 15, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. Ravi

    Religious based values? This is exactly why I will NEVER vote Republican. Few things are more offensive to us non-Christians then to be told that we are not Americans if we don't follow the Christian religion. If this moron DeMint could have a conversation with Thomas Jefferson, he would understand why separation of church and State was so important to Jefferson when crafting the Bill of Rights.

    The Republican party is truly starting to look like one of those radical religious hate groups in the mid-east. They want to turn our beloved federal republic into a theocracy! And they continue to fuel the fires of hatred and xenophobia in the name of their "faith". Now that's scary.

    Also, it's people like this guy DeMint who give a bad name to the majority of Christians and Southern Whites who are kind, tolerant, and decent people.

    November 15, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. Barry In Las Vegas

    What beat McCain was a bad economy, the last four years of the Bush Administration, and bad luck with the Stock Market tanking in the last 6 weeks of the race.

    The truth is McCain did better than any other Republican could have under these circumumstances.

    Also have to give Obama his due. He was a very good candidate and the fact is they had a better political machine than the Repbulicans and people wanted change, starting with the Democrats saying no to Hilary Clinton.

    November 15, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. jab

    DeMint failed to mention that his "Republican brand," has led the US and the world into economic shabbles and hated throughout the world. We are on the brink of third world countries being stronger than the US( see China's economy) therefore- the Republican Brand he is talking about is subversive and anti-american. They want the people to be led by barely literate leaders like Bush, McCain, and Palin. Frankly, 21st century problems are complex, leaders here should be calm, reflective, and extremely intelligent, with a good heart for the people. The Republicans prefer to nominate, mediocre, rabble rousing, do nothings. They appeal to the Deliverance segment of our population. They don't care about the Country. Their "Country First " slogan is meaningless.

    November 15, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Mike

    It seems ironic to me that a politician from South Carolina, the state that saddled us with "Duhbya" in the 2000 primaries, thinks that he has a single bloody thing to say about the state of the GOP.

    November 15, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. Reggie

    This "blame game" should surprise no one. DeMint is a nut, and everyone knows it, but at least he "came out" and stated his beliefs for everyone to see. I'll take that over a "closet" neo-con any day of the week.

    Funny thing is, his thinking represents exactly what the Republicans say we should fear about Muslim extremists that want to destroy our country and way of life.

    Ponder that.

    November 15, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. Danny

    I am sorry. This does not help Republicans. It only helps CNN who tries to give negative talk on Republicans. CNN, you have lost a viewer today.

    November 15, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. Brian

    One important advice – beware of Lieberman!

    If Lieberman gets stripped out of his democratic powers, he will not hesitate to join the republicans to gain POWER!

    All who gain power are afraid to lose it – especially Lieberman!

    November 15, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Imagine. All those Republican primary voters sabotaging the Republican chances in the general election by supporting someone who doesn't believe in Republican values. What were they thinking?

    November 15, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Ken in NC

    If the Republican Party listens to this idiot named DeMint's from SC they will never win another election. I am an Obama supporter but I do know McCain to be an honorable man. McCains problem was allowing his campaign people to run him instead of him running them. The problem with the Republican Party was the Democratic Party that appealed to more people, the sitting President that was so disliked that the only reason he was not tarred and feathered was because it is not allowed, the economy that tanked on the Republican watch, one HATE SPEWING AIRHEAD named Gov. Sarah Palin, and one well run campaign by the Democrats that out spent Republicans by as much as 3 to 1.

    November 15, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. Carol

    "Americans do prefer a traditional conservative government" ??

    Um, I think Americans just spoke – that is exactly what they DON'T want.

    Also getting the boot – along with your party: "religious-based values" in our government, complete disregard for global warming, and drilling in ANWR.

    Don't let the door hit you....

    November 15, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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