[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/29/art.demint.gi.file.jpg caption ="Sen. Jim DeMint said Wednesday he doesn’t think Tea Party backed candidates will spoil the GOP’s chances for gaining a majority."]Washington (CNN) - Republican Senator Jim DeMint conceded to CNN that he is trying to send a message to the GOP establishment by backing conservative candidates like Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, but rejects concerns that his moves could rob the GOP of the Senate majority.
"The GOP establishment is out," DeMint said in an interview in his Senate office, "what we're going to do is help the American people take back their government, and I hope the Republican Party will be the party that carries that banner."
DeMint was an early supporter of O'Donnell, a candidate many Republicans did not want, because they fear she is too conservative to win in a blue state like Delaware.
DeMint conceded that it will be "tougher" for O'Donnell to win than it would have been for her defeated, moderate opponent, Rep. Mike Castle, but he also argued that "Americans who live in Delaware love their country and they're not stupid."
"We're at the edge of a cliff of financial disaster in our country. I think the terms of moderate or conservative really trivialize something. The stakes are too high to use those terms. This is really a difference between survival and bankruptcy as a nation. People of Delaware understand that New Hampshire all over the country so I think this year is going to be different," said DeMint.
"They're not going to be looking for a candidate who is kind of mushy and you can't tell the difference between him and Nancy Pelosi," he said.
Despite his efforts to send a message to the GOP establishment, he says he still supports his own Senate GOP leadership.
"Mitch McConnell is a great leader I think what he needs is a good team around him so he can move us forward and John Cornyn is a great friend and a great conservative and I think they've made the best decisions they could about who they thought could win the election. but America has changed. there is an awakening that's going on that has inspired people who have never been involved with politics to take a sign and go out and stand in the street and say no more," said DeMint.
Before the interview, a GOP source told CNN they were frustrated with DeMint because he was pushing for purity over practical – that by backing someone like O'Donnell with less of a chance to win, he is jeopardizing GOP goals, like repealing health care reform.
DeMint scoffed at that.
"We've got to avoid this idea that we can get anyone who calls themselves a republican even if they don't vote with Republicans. That's not what Americans want. I don't think that's what our party leaders want," he said.
With DeMint's help, Conservative candidates in states like Kentucky and Colorado have defeated the Republicans the national party considered more electable against Democrats in the general election.
DeMint insisted those conservative candidate are faring better in the polls than people had anticipated.
"I think if you talk to [NRSC Chair] John Cornyn or [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell…and they now look at our candidates like Pat Toomey and Marco Rubio and Rand Paul and Ken Buck they're all ahead in the polls because America is really ready for a Republican who is very clear. That we need to cut this spending and borrowing," said DeMint.