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. Walter

    Thank God.

    Somebody is standing up for what is right.

    I miss Ronald Reagan.

    November 15, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  2. Darlene Brannigan

    Just reading what DeMint is saying scares me to death and much more greatful that the Republician Party did not get another four years to rape the American people of their rights and their dollars,"All men are created equal with certain rights as our Constitution is written and the Republican Party seems to forget that and works hard to take those rights from the American people ..

    November 15, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  3. tedwwweb

    Since when is it necessary to reject global warming, which as been scientifically proven, in order to be a true republican? I'm not a republican, but I won't go as far to say that republicans reject science. Also, the comments about religion-based values is a little scary because our constitution calls for a secular government.

    November 15, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. Hope

    I dont know how conservatives can build a ten TRILLION dollar deficit, this is a lot of crap, a bunch of people who say they are Christians then they speak profanities call people terrorist, invade sovereign states, they should not speak of the word conservatism or small government again not in our life time.

    November 15, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  5. Bill

    Sen. DeMint couldn't possibly be more out of touch with the American people. The Republicans were handily defeated across the board and he wants to blame it on McCain for his stance on the bailouit and illegal immigration? You've got to be kidding me. If this is any indication of how the leaders within the Republican party plan to move forward, they're in for a long period of irrelevance.

    November 15, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  6. Meka

    Republicans, apparently don't "GET IT"! So you continue to POINT FINGERS.

    Allow me to give you a Clue . . . Accept Responsibility, and work toward Healing this Country!

    November 15, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  7. Chuck

    Senator DeMint, this country was established based on the separation of church and state. Remember, our first citizens came here to escape religious persecution. Our forefathers wrote a constitution that gives us religious freedom, not to be ruled by it. Otherwise, you shall be perceived as an American Ayatollah.

    November 15, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  8. Phoenician

    Republicans were foolish to nominate 72 yrs old egoist born and raised in segregated social environment. Wake-up. America is multiracial, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. It does not have to follow Judaic Christian norms

    November 15, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. Keith - Ottawa, Ontario

    The nails were ALREADY in the coffin. McCain just tapped one of the nails with a small hammer.

    November 15, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. 4

    he just mad cause obama won y didnt he confront his party earlier than now leting it get worse

    November 15, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. maurice

    maybe the gop betrayed mcain. and sabotaged his campain...............

    November 15, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. Heather in Oregon

    Whew! The list of qualifications it takes these days to be a good Republican is getting shorter but more exclusive.

    I am reminded, yet again, why I am an ex-Republican.

    Every time one of them opens their mouth it helps me stay over here on the left.

    November 15, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  13. Dave C - New Jersey

    Wow I thought dinosaurs were extinct.

    Religious values? Anti-Global Warming? YES DeMint, if one of your kind was at the top of the GOP ticket this year Obama would have had 3 times the electoral votes.

    I look forward to the day when these old redneck imbeciles die off.

    November 15, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  14. Steve

    Good ol' Jim doesn't get it. McCain well recognized that the Republican Party is losing people by the thousands because of the alignment with the reactionary religious right. Most Americans are slightly conservative or slightly liberal, but not out at the ends of the spectrum. We want someone who can run the country, not someone who freaks out every time a new agenda is proposed.

    McCain lost because he was trying to be a moderate, all the while he was trying to pander to the far right with Palin. His resulting message was muddled and chaotic. Had he had someone at his side like Mit Romney, and talked about what he was going to do instead of trying to sow fear about Obama, he might well have won.

    November 15, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  15. Toledo Tom

    The only chance the Republicans had in this presidential election was to run out a guy who isn't a clear conservative.
    Of course, putting Palin on the ticket (who pretty much just made a full of herself and probably placed a stereotype on the average Alaskan), really hurt the cause.

    Otherwise, had a "conservative" been on the ticket, many more states would have become blue and Obama would have gotten more than the 52% of the votes he got nationwide...

    November 15, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  16. Tim Tsantoulis

    The GOP is so far out of touch with the American people it is unfair to blame just one idiot. Keep on fighting each other, and we will keep on winning. Go Dems, shoot for 60 senate seats

    November 15, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. Scott

    There is no evidence to back up this guy's claim what-so-ever. In most polls McCain had a higher share of his base (self-called republicans) than Obama had of his base (self-called democrats). I also find the idea that McCain was "too far off his base" to be completely preposterous. McCain was much farther right-leaning this election than he was in the senate or was during his 2000 presidential bid. He wishes that the problem of not winning the election was not being conservative enough, but it's not. It's actually the reason that they lost.

    November 15, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  18. Purnell Meagre

    Just keep on thinkin' that way, Jim – the Democrats will be in office until 2100.

    November 15, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  19. Brooksider

    How is it that Republicans are so clued in on what the country wants? Were they not paying attention two weeks ago?

    November 15, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  20. Ann

    Wow, he makes McCain sound much more appealing than he was during the campaign. I never thought Senator McCain was a narrowminded, 'traditional conservative'. i.e. to many that has come to represent white closet racist with a few tokens around. Unfortunately he espoused this approach during the campaign and lost independents like me in doing so. If the Republicans are ever going to succeed again in this country they need to reject approaches like Demint's. I'm in favor of fiscal conservatism but the past 8 years under a Republican didn't show me that. However, note to Demint: even if you try to mislead the public about scientifically accepted things like Global warming, Stem cell research, your lack of intelligence and veiled racism shines through.

    November 15, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  21. Wayne ( Canada )

    I didn't like McCain's polices but he is a lot more progressive and realistic then Demint. This is old time GOP Philosophy that will not fly with Mainstream America. Keep this type of nonscense up and the GOP will never see Power in Washington again. This is Sarah Palin type go nowhere rhetoric.

    November 15, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  22. daderi

    Bye bye Republicans. See you in 2064!

    November 15, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. Marvin

    Republicans eat their own don't they! Why not say this before the election? If you do, then we know how you really feel regardless of the outcome. Saying this after McCain lost only makes you look small Mr. Senator from SC.

    November 15, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  24. Drew

    I think most of the positions he named off were things that actually made McCain more appealling to voters. People liked McCain because he wasn't a total ideologue. If they had run some hardline Republican at the top of the ticket I bet the GOP would have lost by much more.

    When will politicians get it that people are wanting solutions, not more partisanship? I really could care less if a person has R or D beside their name. I want some fresh ideas.

    November 15, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  25. Anonymous

    So let's see...

    No amnesty for illegals
    No recognition of global warming
    No cap and trade
    Yes to drilling in ANWR

    You go right on ahead and embrace that platform – you won't ever see the White House again.

    Oh, and "power corrupts and you need to disperse it." Wall Street's unchecked greed also corrupts, but I'm betting my bottom dollar the neo-cons don't want to see the money dispersed.

    If this is the Republican brand, and you need to "get back to it", you won't have a political party, you'll have a cocktail party. Welcome to it.

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