GOP Sen. DeMint Neutral in Arizona Primary, but Thinks McCain Will "Probably Win" in November

(AP)
CPAC Convention, Washington -- Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), seen at left, has publicly decided not to endorse any candidate in the Arizona primary race, but he'll tell you who he thinks will win when he's asked.

Questioned at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) as to why he was staying neutral in Arizona, DeMint told CBS News, "There are a lot of senators I haven't endorsed. The Senate Conservative's fund...is focused on a few races, and some of those are primaries, where you have a conservative and what I would consider a more establishment Republican, so it's never our intent to endorse every candidate in the race but to focus on the ones that I think can really make a difference."

Pressed to make a prediction on how McCain would fare in November, DeMint told CBS, "I think McCain will probably win. He's working with me on some important things, such as getting rid of earmarks and balancing the budget."

Washington Unplugged: Sen. Jim DeMint On CPAC, Tea Party Movement

With a delight in playing kingmaker, DeMint has ventured to use his PAC to throw his full weight behind candidates who are more conservative, but less well-known than rivals favored by the establishment. Cases in point: DeMint endorsed former Florida state House Speaker Marco Rubio over sitting Governor Charlie Crist; and in California, he is backing state Assembly Member Chuck DeVore over former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who served as the top economic advisor to Sen. John McCain in his 2008 presidential run.

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Meanwhile, at CPAC, McCain's primary challenger J.D. Hayworth, seen at left, circulated different rooms of activists, making a case for why he can take down an icon of the GOP.

"You wonder why John McCain is facing this challenge? It is because, after 28 years in Washington… He may claim conservatism but sadly those underpinnings have deserted him and it's time for him to come home," he said.

Despite their candidate's late entry into the primary, the Hayworth campaign believes they have the potential to "suddenly take off," in the same way the campaigns of Scott Brown and Marco Rubio did.

More Coverage from CPAC:

Mitt Romney: Obama's Agenda Is "Reckless"
Dick Cheney Urged to Run for President at CPAC
Boehner: Imagine if I Was House Speaker
Marco Rubio: We Should Obstruct Democrats' Agenda
Marco Rubio Dismisses 2012 Speculation
CPAC Convention Courts Young Conservative Women

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