January 3rd, 2010
02:00 PM ET
12 years ago

DeMint: Obama 'distracted' from protecting the country

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/03/art.demint0103.cnn.jpg caption="Sen. DeMint said Sunday that the president has been 'completely distracted by other things.'"]
Washington (CNN) – A leading Republican critic of the administration's homeland security efforts suggested Sunday that President Obama is making mistakes similar to those the Bush administration made in fighting al Qaeda.

“He has been completely distracted by other things,” Sen. Jim DeMint OF South Carolina said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Fellow Republican Thomas Kean, who chaired the 9/11 Commission, also cited distractions in his earlier interview on State of the Union.

“We had an administration which was not focused, as it should be, on terrorism and that’s understandable,” Kean said. “They were focused on health care and global warming and the economy. That’s very understandable.”

DeMint told CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger that Obama “is not focused on building the security and intelligence apparatus of our country.”

“The last administration – President Bush – made a huge mistake,” DeMint said, “by sending the Yemenis back” – a reference to freed prisoners from the Guantanamo detainee facility who returned to terrorist activity, including two Yemenis suspected of planning attacks against the U.S. and British embassies in Sanaa after their release. “The core leadership of al Qaeda now is made of those folks who were at the Gitmo prison. We can’t make that mistake again. So, it’s not just about this administration. It’s about losing our focus on security and I’m afraid politics and political correctness has become front and center in this debate.”

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri , a longtime Obama backer, took issue with DeMint’s remark.

“That’s just not true,” she said. “This president is focused like a laser on how to keep this country safe.”

McCaskill noted that Obama went against the wishes of some in his own party by ordering a troop surge in Afghanistan. “This is a president that is taking strong action and is building up our intelligence community – not diminishing it.”

soundoff (245 Responses)
  1. carrieanne

    Let's be fair here, DeMint....
    Where was Jim DeMint with his criticisms of the Republican administration when Bush #2 dropped the ball on 9/11??

    And, where was DeMint and his criticisms of the Republicans when the shoe bomber was also under Bush's watch?

    All the Republicans did for eight years is make a HUGE mess of everything: economy, war, world image, housing, job losses,banking, investing. And if Obama is having to spend time on a multitude of issues, it is because there is a giant mess that needs to be remedied. It will take years for him to fix this mess that was made by the Republicans...what a set-up.

    January 3, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. jan

    I cannot judge if all Republican's are right or wrong. However Dick Chney should keep hie opinion to himself. He is basically reponsible for the whole ugly mess. He helped build up
    Sadam Hussein during the Irani war and then later helped build up Osama Bin Laden during the Russian Afghanistan conflict. He is intereted in oil pipe line and probably kept the Amrican's from capturing Osama. He should just slither away like the snake that he is.

    January 3, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  3. StevieB

    DeMint is too busy trying to be a big man in the Republican party that he is distracted from reality.

    January 3, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. Lynne in CA

    Unless this pompous windbag DeMint lives inside President Obama's head, he is hardly qualified to judge whether or not a person is "distracted". In case DeMint has forgotten, he is the obstructionist holding up the TSA appointment.

    January 3, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  5. Dave

    Mr. DeMint, Please do us all a favor and SHUT UP!!!
    There has to be something very wrong with the people of South Carolina to keep electing obvious jerks like this. Please people of South Carolina, the civil war is long over, slavery is not coming back,
    blacks are equal to whites, what is your problem????

    January 3, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. Linda

    Distracted??? Only by unpatriotic hate and fear mongering idiots like Cheney, DeMint, Limbaugh, Palin, Boehner, McConnelly, Beck, and the rest who are determined to see Pres. Obama fail and are blocking anything he tries to do and criticizing the rest! Republicans have the shortest memory of anyone walking the planet! How they conveniently forget that it was the Bush administration that let out these terrorist plotters from Guatanomo saying they were reformed and then sent them back to Yemen.

    January 3, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. If it's not about implementing......

    Obama's socialist agenda, he doesn't want to hear about it....

    And so, Americans are left to buy Humvees and flak jackets so they have a chance to survive the Al Qaeda surprise show.....

    January 3, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. cara

    These stupid republicans screwed up the country in every way and are now criticizing Obama for wokring full speed ahead trying to save everything from the disaster it verged upon due to them. He has a ton on his plate since the moronic Bush administration and he is FOCUSING on a lot of issues. ..many that would not have had to take such a high priority without the republicans running this country into the ground.

    January 3, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. Mary in CT

    Why doesn't anyone ever call DeMint and the other hysterical conservatives who cite Obama's "political correctness" as the cause of attempted terrorist attacks? What "political correctness" is he referring to? It's just a buzzword that gets conservatives all riled up, regardless of whether there is any substance behind it or not. They have done the same thing with the Ft. Hood shootings. "Political correctness"? I think not. How about the Bush administration's stop-loss policies that have stretched our military so far that we couldn't let the lunatic leave the service no matter how much he begged to be let go?

    Look, if you want to have a debate about the virtues of conservatism, and how they can help protect the country, do so honestly, and in a way that actually contributes to the discussion. Why does Obama have to embody everything you hate about progressives (whether there is a basis for it in reality or not) in order for you to have something to say? snark snark snark. Bored now.

    January 3, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. lkwdobserver

    Typical GOP rhetoric, To quote GW, "If you ain't for us, you're against us" and the GOP has been against this President from the get go! I guess that tells you where they really stand!
    they have done nothing but criticize at every opportunity!

    January 3, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. so rich even obama couldn't hurt me but you middle class folk should worry

    it has nothing to do with distraction, its priorities! I am really surprised nobody has commented on obamas comments after the attack, he is a very good speaker and speaks with passion when talking about the gov running healthcare and redistribution of wealth and racism but I saw no passion no feeling he flubbed words looked uncomfortable you could clearly see this isn't a passionate issue for him which does not surprise me at all I have read his books I know his friends and his views, why is everybody surprised. I don't understand the confusion if I was a hippie baby who spit on vietnam vets when they came home I would love my president. If you are the type of person who is so self righteous you believe we tortured those 3 individuals at gitmo if you are happy 3 navy seals are being charged, if you think sticking a daisy in the barrel of your enemies gun is the answer than this is your man. you really can't argue that, I think there is more people in this country who are not like that but are not involved or informed hence the last election. The only good thing this president will do for this country is make people get involved make people get informed and show is exactly what the agenda of the left is. for that I think he is doing a great job and because of him this country will deal with the 20% of this county that hippie liberals and will squash them going forward, for that obama will help this country in the long run sometimes you gotta take a step back to go forward, thank you president for making is see the light, you will be the worst thing that ever happened to the left we will not have another liberal president in my lifetime thanks to you and I love you for that.

    January 3, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. Kev

    DeMint: “The core leadership of al Qaeda now is made of those folks who were at the Gitmo prison."

    Prove it, DeMint, or shut up While some small percentage of detainees released from Guantanamo have indeed returned to terrorist activities, I have not heard anyone provide any evidence whatsoever, much less any credible evidence, that any of even that small percentage are in any way accepted by al Qaeda in "core leadership" positions.

    DeMint is lying through his teeth. He needs to be challenged on this. It is hard enough to have reasonable discussions about how to deal with Guantanamo and the Bush administration's legacy in the "War on Terror", which arguably has made America less safe. It is certainly understandable that even innocent detainees may now have a grudge against the US after years of detention and possible abuse. Certainly we need to be careful about how we go about cleaning up the mess that is Guantanamo. It doesn't help to have partisan politicians muddying the waters with their disinformation and outright lies.

    I challenge DeMint, or any Republican for that matter, to substantiate this ridiculous claim... Name the names, Jim. If there is any basis for your statement, we certainly need to know, so we can go after the al Qaeda core leadership. Just who are they, Jim? And what is their function in al Qaeda? Or did you just make this up? Yeah, I thought so.

    January 3, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. Obama is not distracted......

    he just doesn't care about national security.......he just wants to redistribute wealth--yours-–and give it to people who do not want to work and never will.....

    January 3, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. Peter

    President Obama is busy trying to defeat our domestic terrorist group...The Health Care lobbyists. More people die every year in the United States from diseases which can be treated because they were denied coverage or have none at all than all the wars combined. The terrorists could sit around and eventually we'd all be dead anyways..

    January 3, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  15. angelo

    Ok, really impressive because I happened to remember of your policies, when they were in power.Ok, but always exist criticized. Ok, I even realize, that is the right of all people because we are born free and equal in dignity and rights.The are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood ....... ... but not now ,i think we should unite in one direction in these difficult moments of humanity? ...... economy and environment, human rights.

    January 3, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  16. lstro

    Do America a favor and vote all Republicans out of office. They will not be missed.

    January 3, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  17. RTB

    De Mint and his sour grapes henchmen ought to shut up.
    He is a disgrace.

    January 3, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  18. Mel (NZ)

    I would have liked to see with the new year, that the republicans would have made a resolution to be more positive and atleast try to assist the administration find solutions to the various problems the country is facing. The President is not distracted but overwhelmed by the enormous amount of work that needs to be done, and things that must be fixed from the 8 years of debacle before any clear solutions can be found. Although as an American sitting in a land far away, it seems to me that the republicans cannot for one minute take the fact that they lost and someone else won. It seems that most GOP & Chenney will be happy if the constitution is changed and only they can be elected into power. I wished that the media was more positive in reporting news and not try to be like FOX who only try to divide the country along political and racial lines.
    It is a shame that we got the change that we wished for and yet for change to take place, people need to be more focused and realistic in their expectations of the new Obama administration. The president has done more in one year than Bush/Chenney could do in 8 years. People have to realise that the world is changing at the blink of an eye; we are getting more interconnected, we are overloaded with news and information – good or bad and our expectations are sometimes too far fetched. We like something done right here and now, which is extremenly impossible esp. for a administration elected anew to make changes. People need to pause and make an effort to assist the administration find solutions to the problems of this modern world and stop bagging people because they have not met their wishes. The possibilities of achieving success requires a consolidated effort, and Yes We Can!!!!

    January 3, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  19. the middle class has caught on..........

    Republicans will lose all major electoral races for the next 40 years. They're ideology is obsolete. During war... which is extremely expensive, a country cannot provide tax cuts, thereby placing the middle class, and poor to fund a war. It would most certainly cause economic chaos. It's like giving your lunch money away at school when you're trying to raise funds from a bake sale......................

    January 3, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  20. BJ in NC

    Is this one of the Presidential hopefuls for 21012? We already see the train of thought.

    January 3, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
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