June 16th, 2009
04:34 PM ET
12 years ago

DeMint 'convinced' Rubio can take down Crist in 2010

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/16/art.rubiodemint0616.cnn.jpg caption="Sen. DeMint, on the right, is backing Marco Rubio, on the left, in the upcoming Republican primary for Florida's open Senate seat in 2010."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Jim DeMint said Tuesday he is "convinced" Marco Rubio can defeat Charlie Crist in the GOP's Florida Senate primary and win the state's open seat next November - even if his endorsement puts him at odds with Senate Republican leaders in Washington who are backing Crist.

Rubio flew up from Florida on Tuesday morning to greet DeMint outside the Capitol rotunda and officially receive the endorsement, his first from a sitting member of the Senate. The South Carolina senator - one of the chamber's most conservative members - described the former Florida House Speaker as one of the young leaders "who will help lead our party out of the wilderness and into the arms of a waiting American public."

Rubio called DeMint a "hero" to American taxpayers and said the endorsement has given his underdog campaign a "great boost."

When Crist announced he would seek the Senate seat in May, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and other prominent party figures in Washington quickly endorsed the Florida governor's bid, much to the disappointment of conservative activists and bloggers who favor Rubio.

DeMint said he had spoken with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and NRSC chairman John Cornyn about his decision to back Rubio, and that they are "fine" with the move. He said he hopes his announcement will give other legislators breathing room to go with their consciences and back Rubio.

"I don't think there's been any effort by the leadership to intimate anyone one way or another, I certainly haven't felt, so I think you'll see some senators, and I know some House members, jumping in behind Marco," he said.

DeMint noted that Crist called him after getting word of his decision to back his opponent. The two men chatted about how the primary would be a "good healthy debate," according to DeMint, and Crist did not try to talk DeMint out of the endorsement.

Asked if he thought the early rush by GOP leaders to endorse Crist was a mistake, DeMint said the Republican Party "has to do what it feels like it needs to do." But he also contended that "primaries are good, particularly now as we're searching for the real soul of the Republican Party."

"Anyone who thinks we should not have a primary in one of our most important states is missing the point," he said.

Filed under: Charlie Crist • Florida • Jim DeMint • Marco Rubio
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. North of South Carolina

    I hope Charlie Crist wins. Sen. DeMint needs to worry more about
    S. C. and stop sending their Unisured Citizens to our Emergency Rooms on the border because S. C. refuses to treat them.

    June 16, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. Republicanssuckbigtime

    Keep it up GOP - we love you!!! Crist is one of the last sane guys standing in your party - hey, Charlie, come on over to the "Big Tent" Dems - we welcome everyone! Thanks Jimmy D - as your party gets tinier and tinier, with just racists and bigots and morons left, we applaud your efforts!!!!!

    June 16, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. sarah

    re: the caption beneath the picture. They BOTH can't be standing to the "right." Is Rubio pictured on the left or on the right? Hmmm

    June 16, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. Albo58

    Anybody is better than the RINO Charlie Crist!

    June 16, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Asked if he thought the early rush by GOP leaders to endorse Crist was a mistake, DeMint said the Republican Party "has to do what it feels like it needs to do." But he also contended that "primaries are good, particularly now as we're searching for the real soul of the Republican Party."
    The real soul of the Republican Party has been reposessed by the extreme right wing of the party. The Republican Party needs an exorcist.

    June 16, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. Jason

    I doubt that.

    June 16, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  7. cjr

    the woman who cuts my hair is hispanic – from a very large family – last week we were talking about Obama's choice for the Supremes. She said and I totally agree with her – the way republicans have handled this nomination – indicates the disrespect that republicans hold for the Hispanic community and that she and her friends and family are determined to never for another republican again under any circumstances. Republicans have killed themselves.

    June 16, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. JonDie

    Dang Liberal that Crist! The leaders of the Republican Party, Cheney, LImbaugh and Gingrich, should kick Crist of the GOP.

    June 16, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  9. Vic of New York

    So rich, white, Jim DeMint wants to back some anti-democracy right-wing nut to run for Senator. What's new?

    Dick Cheney would cut a deal with terrorists as a way to scare the public into putting a "White American Amajinidad" in office. The only difference between these Republicans and the Taliban is that their guy would be white and Christian. What's the difference? Cheney is guilty of treason!

    Beware of the false patriotism Republican are selling. These guys are looking to slide a "Christian Right Wing Autocracy" in under our noses if Americans don't wizen up.

    June 16, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  10. joe smith

    the Florida primary winner will be determined by AIPAC,the Teamsters, and the anti-defamation league..oh, can't forget the always centrist media..

    June 16, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  11. Gracie

    Here we go..... Republicans "feeding on each other".

    June 16, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  12. Mario, mtl, ca.

    Crist, what do you think? Is this is the real gop party?

    June 16, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. Texas Teacher

    More Republican Nonsense.... Wake up, Guys and Gals... you lost... and you lost because the Majority of Voters are just plain sick and tired of your politics as usual game plan! It just goes on and onnn and onnnnn... enough is enough!

    June 16, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  14. Steve (the real one)

    Gracie June 16th, 2009 5:15 pm ET

    Here we go….. Republicans "feeding on each other".
    Kinda like Maher vs Obama? Oh wait their both liberals! My bad!

    June 16, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  15. tess

    this is exactly what the republicans need to think about if we ever intend to rebuild our party – conservatives will win every time over republicans trying to "out-liberal" the far left! i have been for rubio since i first read about him because i have never felt crist was a true republican. i will send money to florida to help his campaign and any other candidates who stand for conservative principles!!!!!

    June 16, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  16. Lori tells GOP unlike them, we Dems can criticize our own President like Bill Maher. We STILL vote Democrat though!

    No, Rubio won't take down Crist. Republicans who claim they are strongest when they return to 'their core values' on the right, will throw those values away if they can't win. They will vote in Crist who is more like a Dem than Rubio is b/c they know they'll fail drastically if Rubio wins. I love pointing out that Crist supported our President's 'evil' stimulus bill. The bill that Republicans cried would burden our children and grandchildren. Funny, how they hated all politicans at the Tea Parties who supported the President's bill but...
    now they're willing to support one. I can't wait for Crist to win the nomination and we can use this against the GOP. Can't wait...

    June 16, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  17. America First

    Rubio is great !! He gets my vote.

    June 16, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  18. Ryan (Charleston SC)

    As a conservative am i allowed to call of you left-wing nuts racist for dare speaking out against a man of ethnicity. I think Marco Rubio is a great politician with proven experience and my guess is that 99% of you have no idea who he is. When will the mindless sheep wake up. You guys say the GOP is in trouble and then we look at the leadership under Obama, (Reid, Pelosi,Frank,Dodd) I am thrilled and excited as I think America will now wake up and realized what a JOKE the democratic party is today.

    June 16, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  19. Proud Member..Party of No

    Over 40% of the country consider themselves conservatives(as opposed to 21% liberal). Out with the libs and the RINOs and in with true conservatives such as DeMint and Rubio.

    June 16, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. Stu-Florida

    I believe Crist can be taken by anyone truly willing to take on the out of control insurance companies in Florida. Something Crist promised during his campaign and never fulfilled. He's let taxes also get way out of control. There are so many other other southern states offering better incentives to leave the state... which thousands are. The more people leave, the less revenue the general funds have... the more other tax payers pay.
    Our local governments have been spoiled by the hugh general funds and horribly wasteful spending which Crist has ignored.
    Crist should try Alaska where the population is less so he can manage better... perhaps.
    Whatever he tries we hope he just goes away!!

    June 16, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  21. Robin in SC

    If DeMint backs him, that should tell voters all they need to know to put Crist in WA.

    June 16, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  22. Michael, AL

    If Rubio wins the primary, i wouldn't be surprised if he loses in the general election. If DeMint and some other fundamentalist conservatives cared about their party, regardless of what ideology that some members might have on a few issues, then the Republican Party wouldn't be shrinking as much as it is right now. It's just sad!

    June 16, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  23. john copeland

    Perhaps the people of Florida would like to have our Senator's including DeMinted! The people of South Carolina would love to see him move! While our country is going bankrupt with the aid of the Republikkkans and last administration DeMint wants to put some more "god" in stone in DC at taxpayer expense! Novel idea that is. Does any remember the trillion dollar war$ we continue to fund while our troops are dying in thier showers from electrocution brought to them by the good ol' USA contractors that helped fleece America of billions and still doing it in Afghanistan. OMG where is my health care – single payer that is!

    June 16, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  24. Mark in Miami

    Rubio will make a great U.Su senator for Florida. He was a tremendous state senator from my district.

    June 16, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |