[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/11/art.vitter.gi.jpg caption="Vitter fired back at Voinovich Wednesday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana slammed fellow Republican George Voinovich Wednesday for saying the GOP's problems stem from the fact that it is "being taken over by Southerners," calling the Ohio senator "a moderate, really wishy-washy."
"I'm on the side of conservatives getting back to core conservative values," Vitter told the Washington Times. "There are a lot of us from the South who hold those values, which I think the party is supposed to be about. We strayed from them in the past few years, and that's why we performed so badly in the national elections."
"[Voinovich is…] a moderate, really wishy-washy," he said.
Voinovich, who has decided not to run for re-election next year, told a newspaper in his home state that Southern dominance of the GOP was hurting the party elsewhere.
"We got too many Jim DeMints and Tom Coburns," Voinovich told the Columbus Dispatch Monday. "It's the Southerners….
"They get on TV and go 'errrr, errrrr . . .' People hear them and say, 'These people, they're Southerners,'" he said. "The party's being taken over by Southerners. What the hell have they got to do with Ohio?"
DeMint and Coburn are both major critics of President Obama's health care reform plan. DeMint has emerged as a top target for Democrats, who have launched ads attacking the South Carolina senator for saying the defeat of the proposal would "break" the president.