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. j

    Freedom vs religious-based values seems to be a contradiction in terms, especially when referring to Christian right religious-based values, which, IMHO, limits freedoms, such as the right to choose, free speech, etc.

    I think McCain sold his soul for his campaign, trying to appease the ultra conservative base of the Republican party and if he'd run more like the McCain of 2000, he would have attracted more moderates and independents, which is what he needed to win.

    I'm hoping that the next leaders of the Republican party will turn out to be more moderate, perhaps just a little right of center, rather than the staunch conservatives that appeal to evangelicals and the like. They should look at values of Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln for inspiration and completely purge themselves of Atwater & Rovian politics.

    November 15, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  2. Kenton Wolfe

    The guy who didn't learn the lesson of this election is Jim DeMint.

    Most Americans DO NOT want this far right wing agenda as their government. Our government should represent all the people, and all the people should have a voice.

    Jim Demint's government would be exclusive to only those people who happen to agree with his philosophy. Screw everyone else.
    Sort of like the present administrations failed policies.

    November 15, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. Jack

    Yes, that is completely correct. If only John McCain was more conservative, then people would have voted for him instead of Barack Obama. (rolls eyes)

    November 15, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. MEL

    And how about Palin being so proud of Barack Obama and flip flaping all the way from Miami to Alaska last week???? Well I am very proud to say that I voted for Barack Obama, his campaing was excellent.

    November 15, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. Joey

    John McCain is a traitor to the tru freedoms that make America great. He should just switch over to the white-flag waving dems and be done with it!

    November 15, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  6. mabinty T.

    If what he is talking about is what the republicans stand for, then he makes perfect sense. I don't understand it. Good luck on bring change to your party!

    November 15, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. G. Anthony (Worldwide)

    I think this article highlights what all Republicans have been doing wrong–pointing the blame on eachother rather than taking personal accountability for their actions. Senator DeMint is just as bad as Bush and McCain. The GOP is a dying breed because it is plagued with a political virus that cannot be cured. They are foaming at the mouth.

    November 15, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. Linda32

    Wow, talk about changing their tune. The real Republicans shredding begins....

    November 15, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. Jeff

    You keep clinging to religion, Jimbo. Keep pushing to the right and pandering to other wingnuts. Your party will be become irrelevant; a footnote in the history books.

    November 15, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  10. Matt G

    To the senator,
    With all due respect, that's ridiculous. If anything, Senator McCain lost because the country is sick of what being a republican stands for. I have always supported republicans, but America is clearly sick of the status quo; if the party is too conservative, you'll never reach out to independents, which means you'll never win an election. So before you go criticizing McCain, consider this; if all republicans had voting records and values similar to McCain, you might have even won the presidential election. You certainly wouldn't have lost as many seats in the house and the senate.

    November 15, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  11. Eoghan

    Well, true to form, we are seeing the wolves attacking each other after defeat. The blame game will probably get a lot more vicious before it runs its course. I suspect, if anything, McCain has had cleaner hands than most republicans in the last 25 years. What was that old adage about honor among thieves?

    November 15, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  12. mk

    How can a party who has as says "religious based values" should be one of its core principles EVER expect to represent the enitre country.
    There are many religions, many variations in what "religious values" represent. I think that may have been the dumbest think I have heard any politician say in a long time.
    Religious values are personal choices and religion is a personal decison.
    The day a political party starts to define themselves based on religious values is the day we should all put them out of business.

    November 15, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  13. MK

    This guy, DiMint, almost makes me think McCain is a person I could have voted for. The problem with John McCain is that he pandered to the right of his party by picking Palin and changing too many of his long held views to try to win the nut cases that are in the DiMint camp.
    I think my immigrant Grandfather had the right philosophy, a republican is right for the state, they are generally fiscally conservative and run a state well (think Mitch Daniels, Indiana Govenor). A democrat thinks about the whole nation and what is best for all the people and better suited to run a Country.

    November 15, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |


    November 15, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. jrzshor

    it seems that ceaser has met with a few daggers.

    November 15, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. Larry from North Carolina

    Jim DeMint is a perfect example of why South Carolina remains a backwards state and is one of the jokes of the nation. He still lives in the mid 20th century and cannot see the new world developing all around him. His problem is not John McCain; his problem is his lack of foresight into the 21st century. He and his ilk remain close minded to the realities of a new era.

    November 15, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  17. leapfrog

    So what does that say about you, DeMint, if he was so opposed to your core values but you supported him anyway? Does that make you a hypocritical, two-faced whiner???

    November 15, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  18. Wes

    As long as the Jim DeMint's of the world keep spouting off this anti-everything agenda; before you know it you will have to go to a zoo to see a Republican.

    November 15, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. Joe Doctor

    This is just another example of a party that would eat its own to advance a self-absorbed cause. Senator DeMint – here's a news flash. The American people want a job, food on the table, medicine for the kids, and a car in the driveway, not a pious holier-than-thou "conservative" government that rules from the bully pulpit. Read your local papers once in a while. Our problems are spelled out there, not in the platform of any political Party. You would do well to spend less time and taxpayer money telling us what YOU think our problems are, and more time and taxpayer money helping us fix our real problems.

    November 15, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. There IS hope for the future>>>

    NO, the Re'lics are a betrayal to THEMSELVES! They are living in the past. America is more diverse than ever and they [re'lics] need to keep up with the CHANGEs going on with the American people. Time to LQQK to the future, not the past...

    November 15, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. New Day

    Good thinking, Senator; the path republicans need to take is a more conservative, less inclusive one. hehehehe It's been about 150 years, Senator, shouldn't SC be seceding from the union again? Loser!

    November 15, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  22. Rich

    This is the problem. Right wing as well as left wing nutz who refuse to work together and to come to compromise solutions to our problems. Nothing will change unless we get away from this.

    November 15, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  23. Mitch

    DeMint should take a step back and realize the GOP is a tainted brand from top to bottom. How can you stand for freedoms and liberty when you force religious morals on the country? The Christian Right does not represent the views of every person in this country and to think otherwise is as archaic as most GOP views. Smaller government at a time when that allowed so much corruption and rule bending is not the answer.

    Perhaps DeMint should take a step out of his protective shell and pedestal perch and see what's really going on.

    November 15, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. Frank from Peterborough

    Based on all the comments coming from the GOP it doesn't look like they understand the public's mood and the direction they are leaning.

    The idea people still have a center right philosophy is redundant and simply won't apply now or in the forseeable future. The GOP just might become a party of the past unless they can bring themselves to understand their day is done under their same old rhetoric.

    November 15, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  25. Chris from Baltimore

    Let's see...In 2000, 2002, and 2004, Republicans campaigned under the banner of "conservative values of limited government", then turned right around and expanded the size of government faster than any other time in our nation's history. NOW, in preparation for the 2010 elections, Republicans propose running under the banner of "conservative values of limited government" and they expect the American public to believe them again WHY?

    November 15, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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