Jim DeMint on the RNC fundraising memo and Jeb Bush for prez
We caught up with South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, a hero to many conservative purists and Marco Rubio's earliest big endorsement, while he was in Tampa Bay for the Hillsborough Lincoln Day dinner. He's a fascinating, very down to earth guy giving some leaders in his party fits. But he has also proven himself well ahead of the political curve this year.On Marco Rubio and the reaction he heard to his support from Senate leaders: "They told me he wouldn't stay in the race, he didn't have a chance, Gov. Crist difference between just going for numbers and going for people who actually believe in something. And it was clear after talking to Marco ... that he was passionate about the principles of freedom and he was ready to take on Goliath. I knew I was getting behind an underdog, but we've got to get some new Republicans there."
On vetting Rubio, Rubio's credit card expenses, and anti-illegal immigrant bill going nowhere when Rubio was House Speaker: "The fact that that's the only thing they could dig up is a pretty good sign, that they're getting desperate and there's not anything there....I think we're on the same page with immigration."
On the RNC fundraising memo found recently in Boca Grande, about raising money by fanning fears about Obama and creeping Socialism:"I saw that. ... I think the progressive philosophy is taking us towards a socialistic economy. I don't know what else you call it if the government owns and controls a large part of your economy.....The way that it was presented as some kind of marketing ploy, I don't like that, but I think there's real substance here. I mean you don't have to put a name on it, but I think it's gone far beyond anything that's liberal. Where we are as a country with our level of debt is really staggering...We should not ever say we're going to go out and fool our donors...I think you can give them the facts. They may want to call it something different from Socialism and that's fine. But what's getting millions of people out to tea parties and rallies is this whole idea that government is taking over everything and spending away our future" (Note: DeMint's staff, apparently concerned he wasn't adequately briefed and outraged, sent this: "The memo is juvenile and insulting to millions around the nation with sincere concern about the direction of our nation.")
On the 2012 presidential race: "I hope I can be part of finding a president who's got some real substance and managerial skills, but I don't even want to think about that until after 2010. I think we'll see some of the potential candidates deal with this tension within the Republican party and we're looking for ones that come down on the right side."
Romney, his candidate in 2008: "People are going to be looking for a grownup next that's accomplished things in life, and I think Mitt is going to be in that mix. But he is attached to the Massachussetts health plan to some degree and I think that's a liability....Some of us were talking about Mitch Daniels this morning. He's proved he can manage a state and make some hard decisions, so I think that 2012 might not be the year of charisma, it might be the year of real leadership and management."
Jeb Bush? "He would be a great president. He'd probably be the best on the list, if he didn't have the Bush name. It may not work in 2012, although the longer Obama is in office the better the Bush name looks. Maybe not in 2012 - you know, maybe I shouldn't say that. Jeb Bush has been very bold, and principled, and you never know. If he is interested, I'd sure be interested in talking to him."