To GOP's new guard, 'establishment' remains a four-letter word

10/05/2010 08:11 AM

ERLANGER — South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul made it clear at their rally Saturday that they are political kindred spirits.

“His involvement and his generosity and his willingness to raise money have been a big deal across America,” Paul said as he introduced DeMint to the crowd of more than 300. Most of the crowd were tea party movement supporters and participants, many of whom had come from a tea party rally down the road.

DeMint said he received a thank you card from Paul that said at the end, “I smile when I think of what we can do together in the Senate.”

And later he said that would mean jettisoning the practice of “earmarks” into the legislative junk heap once and for all. In fact, DeMint said that practice of lawmakers specifically tagging federal dollars for “pet projects” back in their home states has distracted legislators from doing the real business of the people.

During his remarks and a brief interview with cn|2 Politics, he said lawmakers who rely on that are the establishment — Democrats and Republicans — and they are the ones who must be stopped. DeMint name-dropped a few Republican Senate candidates who could form a new guard, including Paul, Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio and Pennsylvania Senate candidate Pat Toomey.

“We have the establishment shaking in their boots,” he said. “This is a pretty inspiring movement in America.”

To underscore the depth of his frustration with members of his own party, DeMint spent much of his 10-minute speech complaining to the crowd about how disappointed he has been with some of his fellow Republicans and how unhappy they’ve been with him when he says so publicly.

“This one really got me in trouble. I said, ‘I would rather have 40 Republicans who believe in the principles of freedom than 60 who believe in nothing at all,” DeMint said. “I was literally lectured in Republican conference that day that I didn’t understand that we needed numbers in order govern and stop what was going on.”

He said when he first reached the Senate, there were 55 Republicans and George W. Bush was in the White House. Still, the profligate spending continued.

“We deserved to get thrown out,” he said. “I did not want to be in Washington another six years with the same people I was there with before. I did not want to be a part of presiding over the demise of our country.”

He told cn|2 Politics later that his remarks weren’t aimed at U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who took over the caucus in 2007 or “the leadership team.” He called McConnell a friend.

Instead, he said his comments were aimed at other veteran Republican senators who are more interested in bringing back projects and money than conservative principles.

Here’s Pure Politics’ video report:

- Ryan Alessi with video produced by Dan Pelstring


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.