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Sen. Jim DeMint on Charlie Crist's Party Switch

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," April 29, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, ANCHOR: In minutes, goodbye Grand Old Party for Florida Governor Charlie Crist? The U.S. Senate candidate expected to announce he’s going to be running under a third party for the seat.

Will a flip have a big fallout for Republicans?

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint joining me right now.

Senator, good to have you.

SEN. JIM DEMINT R-S.C.: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: If he leaves, is he persona non grata permanently to Republicans?

DEMINT: I think so.

This — this is what Republicans get when they care only about the numbers and about winning, and do — no longer care about the principles that people elect us to stand up for. People vote Republican because they want limited government and free markets, individual responsibility.

They vote Democrat because they want more from government. It’s pretty clear, whether it’s Arlen Specter or Charlie Crist, that they’re in this for themselves. They in it to win. And if they can’t win as a Republican, any party will do.

CAVUTO: What if he wins as a third-party candidate, though, and it’s like a Joe Lieberman deal, right, where...

DEMINT: Yes.

CAVUTO: ...as an independent, he wins; then the Democrats have to come crawling back to him to say, oh, we always loved you, Joe?

Might you, if the governor were to win as a third-party candidate, be in the same position?

DEMINT: Well, I don’t think that’s going to happen, because the people of Florida are onto Charlie Crist. They — they heard what he said a few weeks ago with Chris Wallace. He said he wasn’t going to run as an independent. Now he’s doing it. He’s flip-flopped so many times that they know they can’t count on him.

And what they have found in Marco Rubio...

CAVUTO: Well, he wouldn’t — by the way, he wouldn’t be the first guy to do that. I think similarly Joe Lieberman pooh-poohed that kind of talk when he was running.

But — but he polls fairly well — that is, Charlie Crist — here in a three-way race. He gets annihilated in just a two-way race with your candidate, Marco Rubio. But are you worried, regardless of what happens in Florida, Senator, that there’s this sort of potential fracture within the Republican Party?

DEMINT: Well, I guess there’s always a chance of division.

But what I see is completely the opposite, is that Republicans all across the country are embracing the — the energy, the ideals of this American awakening that’s going on. And Republicans all over the country are having very spirited primaries. And they’re looking for new faces and folks who will come up here and just focus on less spending, less borrowing, less debt and less government takeovers. And if the Republican that’s in office is not doing that, I think you’re going to see some incumbents lose.

But, Neil, this is not because the party is moving to the right. This is because the American people are asking us to stand up for basic constitutional limited government principles. That’s what Marco Rubio is going to do.

CAVUTO: If you don’t mind my switching to the Arizona immigration dustup, Senator, Marco Rubio, I think — and we will get a confirmation of that when he’s with us tomorrow — but he is — he’s not for what the law is doing. He — he recognizes its intent, but he is concerned about its fallout.

And that already has become a divisive issue for Republicans in general, has it not?

DEMINT: Yes.

I think — I’m glad you’re going to talk to him about that tomorrow, because, like a lot of us, when the law was first reported, it was misreported as far as what it’s going to do. And a lot of us were concerned about civil rights violations. But the people of Arizona don’t have any choice. The federal government is not doing its job to protect the people there. There’s an onslaught of people with a large criminal element who are there illegally. And if the federal government won’t do its job, the states are going to have to do their job.

And Arizona won’t be the last to pass tough laws against illegals. If we don’t stand up for our laws, we’re not going to have a country. So, I think Marco will clarify...

CAVUTO: But, Senator, are you worried — I see your point, sir. But I guess the political point was that Republicans, who have made major inroads within the Latino community, fairly are not, are going to see those reversed, and the great promise, let’s say, of a Marco Rubio could be short-lived.

DEMINT: Well, Neil, I work with legal immigrants all the time, people who have become American citizens. I have not met one yet that supports illegal immigration.

Certainly, they support, you know, a fair treatment of all the folks who are here in this country. But they want us to have a rule-of-law system and a workable immigration system that’s within the — the context of a secure border.

And if we can’t secure our borders, there’s no reason to have an immigration policy, because people are going to come and go with drugs and weapons and human trafficking like we’re seeing on the Mexican border.

CAVUTO: I’m reading something the other day. It must be on a political site. And they list all these promising Republicans for 2012. And, lo and behold, Senator, your name came up.

(LAUGHTER)

DEMINT: Well, I have no interest in being president right now.

What I would like to do is to have an earthquake election this November, stop a lot of these radical initiatives that are going on, and hopefully get behind a presidential candidate who will tell Americans the truth.

CAVUTO: All right.

DEMINT: And, Neil, that truth is, the federal government’s going to have to do less, rather than more.

CAVUTO: Senator, always a pleasure. Thank you very much.

DEMINT: Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: Senator Jim DeMint.

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