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. Barbara

    I hope someday soon the Republicans figure out that as cute as Drill baby Drill is for a slogan it is totally useless as a policy we can not drill our way out of dependence on foreign oil. Oil companies are setting on leases for literally millions of acres of Land they could drill on and have done nothing with them so unless or until they give up those leases or do something with them drilling in ANWR shouldn't be on option. On the other hand I certainly hope they stay with their "religious-based values" I hate to think what the Republican party would look like without them seriously I shudder to even think about it.

    November 15, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. George Ennis from Toronto, Canada

    now there's an oxymoron..."Republican" and "principles"....of course this new enlightenment coincidentally comes after 8 Years of the largest increase in government expenditures and debt in US hisotory....but I guess it was worth it because all of that money was invested in infrastructure like roads, bridges, hospitals, education etc.....oh it wasn't ???....well that's a pretty stupid "principle" to follow

    November 15, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  3. kayla

    John McCain was the pick of the Republican party. I just find it hard to believe once he lost everyone else in the GOP decided to jump ship to distance themselves from him. I am a Obama supporter but it just goes to show how quickly they DIVIDE not only other parties but themselves. I think americans have finally seen through the FRONT of the republican party and we see their TRUE conservitive beliefs (hate,radical religious beliefs, and personal gain and greed) . I believe it is not going to be the trend of the nation unless they stray from their core beliefs. Like a make over for the GOP times are changing and so is the make up of this country. Democrate .... The party of Democracy

    November 15, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  4. to Sen. DeMint

    Yeah, that's a good way to unite the party....Freak.

    November 15, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  5. Gaetano

    I wonder if there is a bigger moron in the Senate than Jim Demint. He wonders why McCain lost? McCain, on his worst day, is a more forward thinking, enlightened man than Demint could ever hope to be. I hope Lindsay Graham, the Sr Senator from South Carolina denounces this fool. He makes all Republicans look bad.

    November 15, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. Scott Alexander

    Someone who doesn't support global warming OR who is cruel to "illegals" isn't fit to be President. McCain wasn't fit to be President regardless (especially with his VP pick), but America certainly doesn't need another brand of conservatism in the White House either. Not after these last 8 years of mistakes by another conservative. And America didn't prosper in its early days by being conservative and close-minded. That's not how you get anywhere as a society. I know its hard for Republicans to understand that, but a lot of them are they're so consumed with themselves, there's no point trying to tell them differently.

    November 15, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  7. Dave IA

    The Republican party is so messed up right now. They are looking for any one to blame except there far right policies. I believe McCain won your primary over far religious whack Huckabee and the greedy Romney. Funny thing is your religious right would not vote for Romney because he is a mormon and the fiscal conservatives wouldn't vote for Huckabee because hes too religious. Throw in trying to run on policies for the top 1% of americans and then blame the loss on the media and black people.

    November 15, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  8. Not funny

    I cannot beleive McCain get the blame (I am no fan) but your party should rethink your values and ideas , religieous values? what happen to church and state .As a democrat keep going on the same path ,don't worry we don't mind hold power for a long time LOL

    November 15, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  9. SLB

    Good grief! Imagine how angry this guy would have been if the Republicans *won*...

    November 15, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. Steve from Florida

    Now that John McCain is free of Sarah Palin, he can go back to being his old self. ..a real maverick who can work across the aisle...

    November 15, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  11. Bridget

    Um, excuse me? A party that bases its platform largely on religious-based values? Who are you people, you sound like islamists. Republican Party, watch your moderates and fiscal conservatives flee as you energize your extremist, religious base.

    November 15, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  12. Max

    DeMint is a religious fanatic, he's part of the reason why the Republicans are losing now. Very few people can relate to his far right views.

    November 15, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  13. Bob from Virginia

    Of course, *everybody* cares what this guy thinks.

    Why is this even being published? The GOP lost for alot of reasons, none the least of which is their inability to communicate with people who aren't one of their "real Americans". Try to learn inclusiveness and cut the ideologue crap and maybe just maybe you won't be left in the woods for a generation or more.

    November 15, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  14. Chuck

    Another confused Republican Senator! Can't get the names straight.

    November 15, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  15. Richard`

    McCain won the primary among various Republican candidates. What is this guy complaining about?

    November 15, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  16. john

    CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES GOT US IN DEBT AND THE IRAQ WAR!!. they just dont get they have to loose everyone of their seats to get it.. Its like they are following Jim Jones

    November 15, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  17. Colin the Salesman

    DeMint seems to be missing the point about McCain, which is that he ran his campaign in the reverse method: he ran to the center in the primaries, then had to shore up the base in the general election. He was forced to do this because he had the audacity to buck the GOP establishment 10% of the time. If 10% constitutes betrayal in DeMint's eyes, than DeMint is helping to lead the GOP further into the wilderness, where blind loyalty to an out-of-touch orthodoxy matters more than rigorous, constant experimentation: in other words, IDEAS! McCain gets it, DeMint/Palin, et al, do not.

    November 15, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  18. Derek

    ummm wow, this senator is giving McCain criticism because McCain had individual views outside some of the party's? Last time I checked individualism kinda fell under the freedom category, and all this "you should have stuck blindly to the party line" sounds kinda like... dare i say it socialism, as the repubs were so fond of criticizing the dems of.

    November 15, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  19. Trisha

    The republican party brand seems schizophrenic to non-believers. They believe in less government as long as it stays out of the way of making money at any cost to social justice, the environment and health. However, they feel the government should have control over the most personal and intimate aspects of people's lives (marriage and reproduction.) Take a look at recent surveys that show people are becoming more spiritual, but less religious because religion is oppressive to civil liberties, especially to those who don't believe in the dogma and doctrines. The republican party wouldn't exist if the two polar factions (business and religion) were not a united front. The conservative right will not have their abortions, the rich will buy them some how or some way even if made illegal. The rich need the religious more than the religious need the rich.

    November 15, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  20. ol cranky

    DeMint has just proven that the goal of the Republican base is to create a Christianity government that ensures non-Christians are forced to abide by their religious law. If DeMint, Bozell, Perkins and Dobson truly had the cojones, they would splinter away to create a party that clearly states this purpose. The reason they won't do it is because they know that they would end up with less control than they have as part of the Republican party and that even some of the religious right's "value voters" may back away from them as they realize the damage that could be wrought upon this country with a theocracy (or the backlash when the majority of Americans do not condone their antics).

    November 15, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  21. GCV

    I am a registered Republican. I would describe myself as a moderate – in the middle. I would imagine that the majority of Republicans are somewhere close to the middle like me. In recent years I have been disappointed in the emerging arrogance of the more conservative aspects of the Republican party. More than anything else, it is the conservatism – and the hate and bigotry that comes with it – that is pushing me away from the Republican party. Today, while I would hardly characterize myself as a Democrat, I find myself questioning which party today reflects my views – I am a Reagan Republican – I first voted in 1984.

    Since the election, I have repeatedly heard criticisms from the far right how the Republican Party has deviated from the conservative brand – and that cost them the election. That is total and utter nonsense. I voted for Obama, because I am fed up with the arrogance of the far right and figure that staggering defeat would humble them and put them in their place. I guess I was wrong – they just don't realize that the majority to the midle right don't subscribe to their brand of conservatism – which today is perceived as arrogant and hateful.

    November 15, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  22. My Friends, let me tell you,

    Jim DeMint is wrong,it is he and his ilk,that brought the party down.

    November 15, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  23. Simmy

    Shut up Demint!

    South Carolina is still a deeply racist state. Until you'all join the rest of the country ,and judge people by the 'content of their character and not the color of their skin', take a seat in the corner and put on your Dunce Caps!

    November 15, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  24. Darryl

    And so proceeds the end of the conservative Republican party.

    November 15, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  25. Arlene, Illinois

    Now there's a start to wind up all the "Rednecks"

    November 15, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
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