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. Ravi

    This kind of sheer bigotry and intolerance is exactly what's wrong with the GOP. Their "religious based values" is code for taking away the rights of anyone who is not a white heterosexual christian. That's what the Republican party now represents: HATE.

    November 15, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. mwanakijiji

    Obama is real African. In Africa when some one is elected to be a president, he appoints all the family members and friends to take positions in the government. A friend, senior advicer!

    November 15, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. Roger

    Jim DeMint is just another ultra conservative that won’t let go of their belief that “Americans do prefer a traditional conservative government.” Wrong again Jim, the people have spoken on a ratio of about 2.5 to 1 to reject your “ultra conservative” government concept. Wake up and admit it! Also the Democratic Party represents freedom, I enjoy religious-based freedom so don’t think your party has a lock on those concepts. And as far as “limited government”, Bush really made the government smaller didn’t he?

    November 15, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. thatoneconservative

    The republicans lost the presidential election, and lost control of more seats in both the house and senate. Demint isn't too far off in his evaluation of why this happend either. Contrary to what many of you believe, conseravatism isn't dead. The problem that us real conservatives have, is that our leaders are in fact, not principled conservatives and really have nothing to more to offer to the electorate other than a give/take democrat light platform which is really inconsistent. On top of that, guys like DeMint have no clue how to communicate conservative ideals to young voters.

    What conservatives should be pushing, is individual liberty. Watch out in 12', and 16' if we can find someone to match up with Bobby Jindahl of LA.

    November 15, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  5. ThisTicker

    This ticker sucks. They dump some of the comments they don't like.

    November 15, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. SF Serg

    Whatever Mr. Republican. Just put Sarah Palin on your 2012 ticket so President Obama can extend his legacy. OBAMA/BIDEN '12

    November 15, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  7. ken

    The Republican party will rise again. Bil Ayers stayed quiet during the election but now has bombed the White House.

    November 15, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. dark days

    Notice to Bill Dingle:

    Obama is not president yet.

    November 15, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  9. Roger Larry

    I voted for Obama, but I hope the Republicans can come together with a contemporized brand, because some HEALTHY competition would be wonderful for this country. I'm concerned by all this talk about America being predominately center-right...maybe that used to be the case (I'm 28 years old, so I don't know) but I'm alarmed that it's being taken for granted so soon after the election. Shouldn't the GOP be sorting through the evidence for a while yet? I realize you have to move quickly when the leardership is wide open as it is, but if you re-build the party on false ground, the whole thing will come tumbling down again. Honestly, I hope the GOP has a great candidate in 2012, but if they keep TELLING Americans what the country is feeling instead of ASKING them, it will be for nothing.

    November 15, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  10. mark from Buffalo, NY

    OH i just love the in-fighting and backlash. We`ll just sit back and watch the Republicans melt down for the next 4-8-12-16 years. We dont have to say anything, your own base is doing the work for us, attacking each other.

    November 15, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. Jon

    Sen. DeMint is making a fool of himself. During the primaries, McCain ran as a centrist, which nearly doomed his campaign until the New Hampshire victory and which forced him to woo the base during the general election; the precise time when political candidates are supposed to present themselves as centrists. If McCain's election strategy had been reversed, the outcome may have been quite different. DeMint is a fool for claiming a McCain "betrayal."

    November 15, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. Repub Redux

    Yeah, this DeMint guy sounds like a typical GOP shill; everything he mentioned that McCain proposed and he was against were things that need to be addressed somewhat in the way McCain has addressed them. I do not agree with McCain on many policy issues, but immigration, global warming and campaign finance ALL need to be worked on. What an idiot this DeMint guy is and what a terriffic depiction of this backwards-looking party.

    November 15, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. Mario

    "freedom, religious-based values and limited government" seems contradictory to me. He talks of freedom when the church forbids gay marriage, homosexualty, or anything else that in not in the real of Catholicism. How can you elect people like this?

    November 15, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  14. Jeff in Illinois

    "Religious-based values" means government interfering in the lives and rights of citizens. It means Big Brother, not limited government. It means "Control Society", not "Land of the Free". Those who believe they should impose their religious beliefs on others should move to a nation where such behavior is excepted, because "Real Americans" don't need your fasicst kind here. Iran would be my first thought.

    -A Catholic who knows religion has NO place in politics.

    November 15, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. tim

    Keep in mind, Jim DeMint is also the mental giant who believes gays shouldn't be allowed to teach in public schools as if school kids are getting their heterosexual clues from straight teachers.

    November 15, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. sarah

    All of this Republican in-fighting sure in entertaining....let the blame game begin!

    November 15, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. T. Mckinley

    I have just one thing to say to Senator DeMint and the rest of his conservative Republican colleagues.

    "The oppression of the Sith will not return. You have lost!"

    (Jedi Master Mace Windu)

    November 15, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  18. Jerry


    November 15, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  19. Sue

    Wait a sec...this was YOUR candidate, and when you chose someone espousing all the traditional "Republican" conservative values as VP, she managed to alienate even Republicans. The idea that less government now means more money for the wealthy, less money and services for everyone, and a war economy to boot, is not what Americans want any more. We see that drilling will not solve the basic problem of over-consumption; that educating our children will create employees for the future jobs; that shooting and bombing create more enemies, not peace. When the GOP actually has a solution for any of those problems, maybe people will listen to them again.
    By the way, thank you to the Republican governors for NOT naming Sarah Palin to any committee, thus sending her back to her beloved Alaska with just about as much power as she had 10 weeks ago. Finally, a wise Republican decision!

    November 15, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  20. Larry, Hazleton, Pa

    Are the repubs really this dumb to listen to this man talk all you need to do is remain conservative on all issues and you will elected. I just don't believe they understand that not all issues are conservative or liberal – they are mostly moderate – any one who follows a far left or far right ajenda is only fooling himself – the electorate is just to smart for those kind of thinkers. This was proven when Mr Obama was elected on Nov 4.

    November 15, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  21. Rhiannon

    The reason that McCain lost the votes of so many Independents and other swing voters is that he caved to the Right Wing Nut Jobs in his party. By the end of the campaign he bore little resemblance to the "Maverick" who reached across party lines and was instead some kind of right wing caricature of himself. Had he stuck with his principles he might have done much better.
    Little Rock, AR

    November 15, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. Jim Duignan

    Oh, Jim DeMint and Rick Davis. What a great pair! Hope you run the GOP for years. DeMint doesn't know Ted Stevens from Ted Kennedy.

    and, Rick Davis re Sarah Palin "We got her a gal from New York." A gal, a gal!

    What a pair of idiots!

    November 15, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  23. Republicans - Truth is Optional Party

    If these Republicans want to know who is to blame for the landslide loss they suffered they need to take a look in the mirror. The main problem of the Republican party is their lack of grasp of reality of what America is today – not all old white people.
    They also need to drop these right-wing extremist religious nutjobs that they destroyed the Party trying to tell everyone else how they should live their lives. You can't say you believe in personal freedom and then think you can tell other people how to live their lifes while you hypocritically do as you please – perfect example – Sarah Palin, Ignorant, racist, clueless to the real world, religious extremist who preaches to everyone else and then gets convicted of corruption, ethics violations and abuse of power and ends up with a pregnant teenager which she parades around proudly. It"s sickening.
    The Republican Party needs to get a grip and a new direction and the first thing they need to do is disvow and get rid of the very small base but overly influential relgious nutjobs in their Party. Start with making people like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News irrelevant and not your spokespeople. They are a joke and destroy your credibility as a valid political party. Ever heard of separation of church and state???

    November 15, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  24. MATT WILL, W-S N.C.

    The McCain klan ran the Republican ticket as a bunch of racial renecks. They appealed to renecks and left everyone else out, during thier stump speeches. Palin was the worse of the two. In one stump she referred to herself as being a reneck. So, tell me how were they going to win, unless the country has more renecks. McCain, was running on nothing but his war hero statis. But everyone is fooled by him and him being a hero. He was no hero, he was a POW, PERIOD!!! He was never tested in his career. HE was and is a LOSER.

    November 15, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  25. JEFF

    This guy is an idiot John lost election only because he was a GOP .But sen McCain is still regarded as agreat statemen unlike him

    November 15, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
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