DeMint hails his role in Tea Party's rise in new book

Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C., on "The Early Show," Nov. 16, 2010.
Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C., on "The Early Show," Nov. 16, 2010.
Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

As Democrats and Republicans gear up for the 2012 elections, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., is releasing a book he hopes will draw Americans to the Tea Party cause - regardless of what mainstream Republicans think of his efforts.

In "The Great American Awakening," which was released Monday with B&H Publishing Group, DeMint, a conservative Republican and early Tea Party champion, chronicles the early days of the movement and paints his own role in its growth as that of outside renegade among a group of "sorry rascals."

He says the book is meant to serve as a rallying cry for other likeminded conservatives.

"I believe that the 2012 elections may be our last chance to stop this insanity of spending and borrowing and debt," DeMint told The Associated Press in a recent interview. "I'm trying to recruit more Americans with this book."

According to excerpts provided to USA Today and the Daily Caller, DeMint describes how he came to be called a Tea Party "kingmaker" who pushed a handful of conservative candidates in the 2010 elections over establishment Republican picks. In the book, DeMint said his decision to stick up for Tea Party principles came at the expense of his relationships with many of his Republican colleagues.

"The Republican primaries for the Senate were shaping up in a positive way and it was gratifying to think I was playing a small role in helping to restore the Republican Party to its core principles," DeMint writes in the book. "But my success came with a price. My words and motives were often misrepresented and most of my friendships with colleagues were now cold and distant."

Among those Senate candidates DeMint supported in the 2010 elections were Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle and Marco Rubio. O'Donnell, who was running in Delaware, and Angle, who attempted to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada, were both unsuccessful in the general election. But in Florida, Rubio beat out Charlie Crist, the state's former Republican governor, who left the party and ran as an independent after Rubio's primary campaign against him gained traction.

According to DeMint, he faced a strong resistance to his support of Tea Party members. He insists, however, that the Republican backlash to his actions inspired more fervent support for the cause.

"Something happens to me when someone says, 'You can't.' I'm generally not very competitive; unless someone tells me I can't do something that should be done," he writes. "I came away with a new challenge: changing the Senate. If the people in the Senate wouldn't change their minds, then I should try to change the people in the Senate."

"I decided my work could no longer be with other senators," DeMint continues, according to the Huffington Post. "I would have to work with the American people to elect a new class of senators who would help me to stop the spending, debt, and the expansion of the federal government."

The South Carolina senator also describes what he says were hesitations about running for re-election in 2010 - particularly in a political climate he thought was unfriendly to conservative Republicans.

"I didn't want to spend another six years in Washington, but I didn't want to give up either," DeMint wrote. "The Republican establishment was clearly biased against conservative candidates, and it was undermining the party's ability to win elections."

DeMint, who did run for re-election and handily defeated Democratic opponent Alvin Greene, says he thinks the Tea Party will continue to thrive.

"There has been a very real spiritual and political awakening in America," DeMint says. "Some believe this movement will fizzle and die. I believe it will continue to grow and hope this book will inspire more Americans to join this great awakening."