Live

Watch CBSN Live

DeMint: GOP Establishment Is Too Left

(CBS/AP)
Senator Jim DeMint is urging the Republican establishment to tack further to the right. That's because he believes the leadership has swung too far to the left.

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody, DeMint (R-SC) said his party deserves a better slate of candidates than the ones put forward to run against the Democrats

"I need some new Republicans, people who believe in constitutional government, a balanced budget and liberty and so I'm out across the country recruiting new Republicans who I think if they get here will not only challenge the institutions of government but be willing to even challenge the Republican Party and our leadership if they feel like we're going in the wrong direction. I think just a handful of new Republicans in the senate could help change the direction."

Asked if he could identify which Republicans the senator believed did not believe in constitutional goverment, a spokesman for DeMint had no comment.

In the interview, DeMint also suggested that the Republican party ought to find candidates with more ideologically defined credentials.

"I want to find people who will change this institution, people who will join the country instead of the club because I don't want more people coming up whether they are Republicans or Democrats and joining the Senate and looking at those institutions and being overwhelmed and impressed with them…We need some people with courage and vision right now and people who are willing to take risks and stand up against these forces that are pushing us I think toward socialist type of ideas so we found a few. You look at Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Marco Rubio, Chuck Devore. We've got a good list and they'll be a few more who I hope will be a group of new Republicans who will challenge Americans to look at a new way of governance here."

The intra-party tensions came to the fore earlier this fall during the contest in New York's 23rd congressional district when the party establishment initially supported state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava over Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. Scozzafava subsequently dropped out of the race and threw her support to Democrat Bill Owens, the eventual winner. The lesson drawn by Conservative activists: Don't waste time with ideologically suspect Republicans who aren't much different from Democrats anyhow.

While that strategy involves both risk and opportunity, DeMint believes the GOP has a better chance at the polls by putting forth a slate purged of moderates. But DeMint told Brody he believes the GOP leadership has moved to the left.

"When they say they would rather have a Tea Party than a Republican what they're telling us is they want some changes and they want some people to stand up for principles and in this case they want us to show some passion and even some anger about what's going on and I think there are many Republicans out there across the country who are willing to step into that role and we just need to give them a shot so the Senate Conservatives Fund…is just there to encourage those alternative candidates out there who are what I consider mainstream Americans.

"The problem here in the Republican Party is not that our base has gone to the right. The problem in the Republican Party is that the leadership has gone to the left and the tea parties and the Republicans out across the country are right there where American principles have always been and I'm trying to pull the party back to the mainstream of where America really is."

View CBS News In