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. GaPeach1977

    OK, that didn't take long. Official finger pointing has commenced. The problem here is how does blaming someone for the lopsided Republican defeat solve anything. I'm a moderate who grew up with a Democratic Mother and a Libertarian Father (don't ask). I can appreciate both sides of the spectrum. I think what hurt the Republicans in this election was the mixed signals they were sending to voters. "Cut taxes and spending" while they drove up how many trillions in budget deficit. "Traditional Right-wing Conservative Values" while the candidate leaned more moderate. "We're running a clean honorable campaign" while every insult in the book short of "your Mama wears Army boots" was thrown at the opponent. "Vote for our candidate for President" because our current Republican President sucks and we've done so well over the last seven years.

    November 15, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  2. Jeffrey

    I am no fan of John McCain, but I think the message that American voters sent on the 4th has gone completely over DeMint's narrow-minded head. And "support of global warming"?? Failing to recognize this threat is neanderthal-thinking & a pretty good indicator of why voters rejected this far-right type of thought. Exactly whose "religious-based values" is he talking about? I thought we had freedom of (or from) religion in this country. I'd like to see how he plans to incorporate values from every religion into his plans. Or is he talking just about HIS religious values?

    The Republicans need to move towards the center. Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Paul Broun, Jim DeMint, and Joe the Plumber better not be the future of the GOP, or the GOP has no future.

    November 15, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. David L. Mixson

    The outright DENIAL by republicans is truly something to behold and learn from. Obviously, American voters, who, by the way, represent a perspective somewhat to right of the general population, do NOT prefer a "traditional conservative government" as Sen. Dimwit pronounced as is evidenced by the rejection of the same on November 4.

    Please, please, please continue to promote Sarah Palin and her rhetoric of stupidity. Nothing is more telling of the "conservatives' lack of honesty" than the disconnect of her message and the actions of "conservative" governments.

    November 15, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. DLG

    I am very happy to see that at a time when the country is moving back to the center, these right wingers are blaming John Mccain for not moving even further to the right then he already did. They seem like a ship of fools to me. But on that note I hope they take over the Republican party and insure us of real Democratic majority for a long time.

    November 15, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  5. DA

    I wouldn't just blame McCain, it's the whole Republican platform that needs to be over hauled!!!! The party is not inclusive and the supporters they do have are dillusional with the whole religious zealot idealogcial moral concept they have!!!!

    November 15, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  6. joe sixpack

    Unfortunately the republican party's idea of "conservatism" is slowly fading away. Young people are extremely tolerant of new ideas and not old discriminatory religious practices. Its no wonder they by a 2-1 margin choose the democratic party over the republican party. And I don't want to hear BS about the republican party being the more patriotic ones. Right now the rest of the world doesn't want to hear about how great and powerful we are. This is a new century and a new world(with global warming problems, and it is MAN MADE), and the only base of ideas from the republican party that can be successful are a more limited government. And right now, we need as much govt help as we can get because of failed policies on both sides. And the only way we're going to fix our problems is through bipartisanship, not the blame game.

    November 15, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  7. Randy, San Francisco

    It is surprising that the extreme neo-conservative cultural wars wing of the GOP is ready to throw McCain under the bus for losing the election. McCain's only sin was not moving towards the center and picking Palin. Accusations of betraying Republican principles are ludicrous. Why are the accusers ignoring the polling data that the GOP will continue to be a minority party if it doesn't change the message?

    November 15, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  8. Florida

    Let's see he picked a nut for VP to appeal to conservatives and she brought him down. Just a minority of Republicans are social conservatives and they have now become the "nutty relative" of this family.

    November 15, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  9. E. Stanton

    It is Senator DeMint and his cohorts from the former Confederate States who do not get it. Their ideas are far removed from the main stream of the rest of the United States. their ideas are outmoded and unpopular. When Senator McCain embraced their tired old mantras, his popularity plummeted. As long as he and others of his ilk control the Grand Old Party and moderate progressive members of the party are cast aside, failure will continue.
    If Senator DeMint wishes to extend blame for failure, he should examine the stances he and his brethren espouse. Their ideas are alienating many who would otherwise lean Republican,leading to our defeat in the polls.

    November 15, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  10. Matt

    I hope more GOP'ers think like DeMint. They'll never be back in power as long as they keep thinking that catering to the (ever-dwindling) base is the way to go. McCain lost because he didn't appeal to the center and the moderates as much as Obama did – NOT because he didn't appeal to the base. As Rich Lowry noted – in a center-right nation, McCain lost the center.

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


    the people spoke yet you do not right wingers are old fossils.the repubs will never win another presidental election until you stop the religious right [farwells and dobsons]from hijacking your party.mccain did what every righttwinger has to do and thats move to the center. we are not a country made up of conservative people.[contrary to what de nitwit and other repubs want you to think].paliln should be all the proof you need.she draws out the fringe group but will not appeal to any intelligent person true middle of road person looking for leadership.even obama had to move to the center.get off of mccains back and start looking at the real problem which is your party is out of touch with the majority

    November 15, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  12. Jason Horse

    too old, too greedy, too bad......lick ur wounds

    November 15, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. John K

    So, selling his soul to the right wasn't enough?

    November 15, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  14. non-partison

    I wonder why this guy thinks that Republicans are distinguished by standing for freedom and religous values? Does he really think Democrats are against freedom and religous values? Wow.

    November 15, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  15. vern

    Of course now all of a sudden there's a lot of finger-pointing on the GOP side.How come you didn't make these comments during the campaign Sen.DeMint?

    November 15, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  16. Ronnie

    The republician party is DEAD! They haven't been about limited government since 9/11 which they use as a excuse to build up the government and launch a phony war in Iraqi.

    As for being religious-based values?Really?Bush has murdered thousands of troops and hundreds of thousands of civilians in two different countries.

    Freedom?The Patriot Act ended that.

    November 15, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  17. Linda

    Blame away GOP. Please keep blaming until 2012 then out Palin on the Top ticket so we can kick ur behind again.

    November 15, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  18. paul oregon

    there are two factors this dilusional person forgot to mention
    to me this one is a big factor ( HONESTY ) READ MY LIPS



    November 15, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  19. deb

    I never heard the media mention the good things, from my perspective, Mr. McCain supported. It wouldn't have made me change my vote, but it does show me a side of him I was not aware of and I don't think Mr. DeMint's comments are the kind of blame game which will now bring our nation and his own party together.

    November 15, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  20. jim COLORADO

    Wow, already starting to eat their own. Put the blame on the other guy. The right way ,the wrong way, the republican way.

    November 15, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  21. Independant

    His support for Global Warming is something the republicans are against?
    Wow nice to know this country is going down the drains in couple of decades because of this backward thinking. Not to mention the rest of the world will suffer from it if that's how republicans want to play it.

    November 15, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  22. Scott

    Mr. DeMint:

    Don't blame John McCain. Blame your party and your voters sir. Blame the ones who nominated him. The GOP had the option of nominating any one of three conservatives that were running. THEY chose not to.

    Mr. Demint's views would perhaps hold a sliver of validity if John McCain's views migrated left during the election. Not only is not true, a review of the record shows a decided right shift to appease GOP voters.

    The GOP knew what it was getting with John McCain. They bought the ticket, they took the ride.

    November 15, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  23. MikeWall

    Go ahead DeMint – kill off your party entirely – the American people have rejected you and everything you stand for – McCain was out of touch with what America wanted but you and your kind are TOTALLY out of touch! This isn't 1808! Get with the program you idiot!

    November 15, 2008 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. dawnna

    If Repubs turn toward even more toward the extreme right (as is DeMint), the party is history. The world is leaving his toxic blend of corporate-religious fascism behind.

    November 15, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  25. Charlie in Maine

    Dear Senator DeMint,

    Your party is awaiting moderation. My message will be moderated long before your party will be.

    November 15, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
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