Last summer, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) offered a quote that symbolized the GOP’s strategy of reflexive opposition to the President. “If we’re able to stop Obama on this [health reform], it will be his Waterloo. It will break him,” he said. DeMint was clear that his strategy was purely political. “If we stop him on health care,” he said, “then I think we have the opportunity to maybe realign the whole political system in our country.” Fortunately, DeMint didn’t get his way and 32 million more Americans will soon have health care.
But due to his successful efforts to help drive tea party senatorial candidates like Christine O’Donnell, Pat Toomey, and Marco Rubio to victory over establishment candidates, DeMint is emboldened. He told Bloomberg that businesses want him to produce “complete gridlock” in the Senate:
DeMint doesn’t care. “I’ve been told by businesses that if we would stop the tax increases the best thing that could happen for business after that is complete gridlock. At least gridlock is predictable,” he tells Bloomberg Businessweek, taking a quick break between TV appearances. His goal, he says, is to stop programs that violate his anti-Big Government ideology. “What happens in the Senate is the Republicans sink to the lowest common denominator,” he says. “People want an alternative to some kind of watered-down Republican philosophy.”
DeMint told reporters yesterday that so-called moderates are the scourge of his party. “I think what happens is when we have a few that vote with the Obama agenda, it defines the whole Republican Party,” DeMint said. “I don’t want the majority back if we don’t believe anything,” DeMint said on Fox News this week.
DeMint’s potentially powerful new bloc of supporters may pose a leadership challenge for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Tellingly, this morning on the Today Show, DeMint couldn’t even remember his leader’s name. “Well, I like our current leadership,” he said. “Mitch – um, um [pause]. Um – Mitch is doing a great job.” Watch it:
Bloomberg’s Lisa Lerer has changed the quote that she originally attributed to DeMint. The story now notes that DeMint was characterizing what business leaders have told him.