Interviews

Sen. DeMint: Republicans Have a Shot in 2012

South Carolina senator on GOP candidates, Wall Street protests

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 19, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: All right, in the meantime, we told you how all of these hot shot jobs and high-paying jobs are not at the corner of Wall and Broad. They're down in Washington in this fellow's neck of the woods.

And he wants to bring that to a lot of protesters' attention right now, South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint.

Senator, what do you think of this here? Because that flies in the face of all this conventional thinking that, well, it is all the fat cats on Wall Street. Apparently they are about 200 miles south.

SEN. JIM DEMINT, R-S.C.: Well, the occupiers, Neil, are protesting in the wrong place.

There is plenty of greed on Wall Street, but the problem originates here in Washington. As we become bigger and bigger as a government, as we plan and manage more of our economy, the salaries and the jobs are now in government. And Harry Reid has tried to say the problem is not in the private sector, the problem is losing government jobs. It is completely the opposite.

CAVUTO: I didn't understand something. I heard talk about that. And my producer was telling me, yes, Neil, Harry Reid really said it. And lo and behold, she dug up the remarks. This is from Harry Reid on that very point. Then I want you to explain this a little more. Harry Reid today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID, D-NEV., MAJORITY LEADER: It's very clear that private sector jobs have been doing just fine. It is the public sector jobs where we have lost huge numbers. And that is what this legislation is all about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO: Private sector jobs are just fine. We lost 2.5 million of them net-net over the last couple of years.

DEMINT: We have. We have lost millions of jobs. And the president's stimulus plan, all it did, Neil, as you know, is prop up government jobs at the state level temporarily for a couple of years and now they want more money to prop up the same government jobs for another year or two, but they want to add taxes.

So, they just don't understand what is going on. And it is very frustrating to be here and see the president talking about a jobs plan which is really a tax-and-spend plan, which didn't work the first time and it, is not going to work this time.

CAVUTO: We did try to get some of the leadership of this Democratic council that is trying to urge Democrats to embrace for want of a better term, Senator, this Occupy Wall Street crowd's message and movement.

But you are a good student of history and you know on either side that can be sort of grabbing that proverbial tiger by the tail. You might just end up inside the tiger. But what do you make of that? Because I have met some of these protesters. I don't think they flip over all Democrats either.

DEMINT: Well, citizen activism is good, but our citizens need to be informed. And what we are seeing here is folks who, really, are misdirected. They don't have a focus and they are unhappy and they want to blame someone. And the president is telling them through his class warfare that they should blame the capitalists.

This has been repeated throughout history. The problem is in a government that is too big, spending too much money, and put a big wet blanket on our whole economy, and if these protesters want to help us, if they want to have jobs, they need to change the president, they need to change the Senate, and we need to let the private sector create the jobs.

CAVUTO: Senator, let me ask while I have you, Senator. Everyone wants your blessing. You are sort of like the Senate's version of Donald Trump. Everyone wants to kiss the ring and get some sort of support or at least a photo with you.

And then everyone was sort of acting up when they heard -- apparently it was in Roll Call -- that you had supported or gone out and said that Mitt Romney was your guy.

You say that is not the case. Where do you stand on any of the presidential candidates?

DEMINT: I'm not leaning any way right now, Neil. I think we have got several good candidates. All of them would be better than what we have in the White House right now. Everyone is trying to suggest I need to endorse someone, but, frankly...

CAVUTO: Do you? Are you going to wait until the convention, or are you going to wait until there's a sure nominee, or Hollywood?

DEMINT: I'm at least going to wait until January. Now they have moved the primaries back, I may rethink that.

But I don't think there is anyone in America waiting for me to tell them how to vote.

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: I don't know. Mitt Romney didn't waste a nanosecond when Chris Christie of New Jersey said he would back him. He got down to New Jersey pretty quickly.

So what do you -- obviously, they have all been talking to you.

DEMINT: Yes.

CAVUTO: Do you have a litmus test over who gets ultimately your support?

DEMINT: No. Neil, I'm looking for which candidate really inspires the imagination and earns the votes of conservatives all around the country, the grassroots activists.

I want to see the ones that are appealing to independents. I want to see the one that can win the general election because 2012 might be our last chance to turn this thing around. We are in serious trouble as a country. And the Democrats and the president right now are going in the wrong direction. And even though it has failed, they continue with these policies.

So, we don't have a lot of time to waste and I want to make sure we get a candidate who understands how America works and they are willing and have the courage to actually make those hard decisions to turn our country around.

CAVUTO: Senator, any thought on your Republican colleagues front- loading these primaries and pushing them further and further to, like, now.

I think, at the rate we're going, Senator, we could have New Hampshire and/or Iowa both voting next week. But is that bad? Do you think it boomerangs on you guys?

DEMINT: I don't think it is good. I think it is good for us to have January do wait. And now to move these primaries back into January is probably going to frustrate a lot of voters.

I know I would have liked to have had a little more time before the voting started to actually evaluate the candidates because as you have seen, that some have gone up and then they go down and someone else is up. And we need to let this play out a little bit, but it looks like Florida has backed us up by changing their date, which I really don't understand.

But that may be the way it is. We can figure it out. We just have to get a good Republican who can win the election and I think we have got six or eight who could do that right now.

CAVUTO: Do you think it favors Mitt Romney though as the guy in place and the leader in place, not universally, but that a snapshot now favors him with an early primary series right now?

DEMINT: I don't think we can call a winner, Neil.

CAVUTO: OK.

DEMINT: I think that the three at the top of kind of jockeying for position. And that could be different in a month or two.

CAVUTO: Right.

DEMINT: But, again, I feel good about our candidates. And I think that is why a lot of people are having trouble making a decision, is because we have got some good candidates.

CAVUTO: All right, we will watch closely.

Senator, it's always good having you. Thank you.

DEMINT: Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

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