Republican Senator Jim DeMint accused President Barack Obama of "mocking Americans" who are opposed to the Democrats' health care reform bill, and suggested that, as characterized in his recess appointments, circumventing Congress has become the president's style.
On CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, DeMint, R-S.C., who had previously claimed that the health care reform battle would be Mr. Obama's Waterloo, declined to admit that the president won his Waterloo.
"We'll find out in November who won or lost this battle," he told host Bob Schieffer.
Saying that more than 60% of Americans want Republicans to continue to fight the bill, even though it was signed into law by the president last week, DeMint said that the law should be repealed.
"I want to repeal it; I want to replace it with real reform that puts patients in charge of their health care again," DeMint said.
"A new poll out this morning in the Washington Post does not suggest that a majority of Americans are against [the bill]," said Schieffer. [The poll said 46% support it and 50% oppose it.]
When asked if Mr. Obama can expect cooperation from Republicans on anything from here on out, DeMint said, "The president has burned a lot of bridges on this health care reform package that he's rammed through Congress and rammed down the throats of the American people. The procedures that were used, the back room deals, the kickbacks have created a lot of bad feelings.
"Now, we're still looking for ways that we can work together with the president, particularly on foreign policy as it relates to the security of Americans. We have to keep that."
But DeMint added, "All of us who believe in freedom in this country recognize that if this health care bill stands, it will not only destroy our health care system, we believe it will bankrupt our country. So to give up on repealing this bill will be giving up on our country, for me and, I think, for millions of Americans.
"Bob, the president is mocking Americans who continue to be against this bill. He said, 'Bring it on' - that's what we intend to do."
Schieffer asked about Presdient Obama's announcement yesterday that he had resorted to making 15 recess appointments, to fill positions in several agencies (including the Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security Departments). Mr. Obama had blamed Senate Republicans for blocking confirmation votes on the nominees, in some cases for several months, leaving those positions vacant.
"His recess appointments belie the fact that hundreds of his nominations have been confirmed unanimously by the Senate," DeMint said. "But he has had mixed in with these batch of nominations some pretty radical folks. Craig Becker who was in the group that he appointed by executive fiat yesterday is someone who has worked for unions his entire career. He put him on a board that is supposed to be unbiased arbitrators between businesses and unions. Democrats opposed this nomination. There's bipartisan opposition. All we had asked for is some debate and vote on this nominee.
"He decided to circumvent Congress again, which has become his style on so many issues and just appoint him while we were out of town."
Schieffer also asked about recent "scary" reports of violence and threats directed toward Democrats before and after the health reform vote, including House Member's offices trashed and death threats. "Do you think the parties have an obligation to try to tone down some of this run-away rhetoric? Is it, in fact, dangerous?"
"Bob, I've been with hundreds of thousands of "Tea Party" patriots," DeMint said. "I've been with thousands of people at town halls and Washington rallies. I've never seen any violence or heard any bad language. Now always when you get large groups you're going to get a few bad actors. But it's unfair and untrue to try to paint this whole American awakening with some of the bad comments that we heard last week in Washington.
"There's no place for violence or bad language in American politics. We settle our differences with our voices and our votes. But I do believe that it is the right and obligation of Americans, when they think the government is going in the wrong direction, to speak out and even take to the streets in nonviolent protest to let their Congressmen and Senators know that they don't like the way we're going.
"I think that's what we're seeing. I think we're going to see a lot more of it. But again I encourage all Americans to do it the way we do it right in America. No violence. Just good protest, if that is necessary.
"But let's take this to the November elections and let those people in Congress know who you want to represent you."