Are Republicans Happy With Field of 2012 Candidates?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," October 5, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST OF “HANNITY”: Now, one group that will undoubtedly play a crucial role in nominating the next presidential candidate is the Tea Party. Joining me now with reaction to all of this is one of the movement's leaders on Capitol Hill, that South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint. Welcome on board, glad you could be with us.

SEN. JIM DEMINT, R-S.C.: Thank you, Sean. It's good to be back.

HANNITY: All right. What do you make of the announcement of Governor Palin today, are you surprised?

DEMINT: Well, I'm not surprised. But she's done as much to change the political landscape in America probably as much as anyone since Ronald Reagan. And she's done a lot to help elect conservatives to the House and the Senate. And I'm glad to hear that she's going to continue to do that because we need to give the next Republican president a majority in the Senate and a majority of Republicans who are going do what they say they're going to do.

HANNITY: Well, yes, you know, something, I guess on a personal note, she has been beaten up so badly all the time, it's probably a good decision for her family. But I said last night on this program, whether she runs or not, she is going to have a major impact on not only this race, but on many races around the country because I have no doubt she's going to be out and about and campaigning and helping a lot of candidates all of whom will be seeking her support.

DEMINT: You know, Sean, more than anyone else I think in the country today, she helped convince Americans that they could make a difference and if they got involved and active that they could take back their country. So, what happened in 2010 had a lot to do with Sarah Palin. And if she continues to do that, I think we’re going to have an even bigger victory in 2012.

HANNITY: What did you think of Chris Christie's announcement?

DEMINT: Well, probably best for the field. I liked his boldness and courage in taking on the teachers' unions. But I think now, our field is packed with good candidates. I think we've got a lot of strengths there and I'm just going to wait for the next two or three months to see how this plays out before I have consider getting involved with it myself.

HANNITY: Look, I've never believed the media narrative which is this is a weak field. I don't believe that at all. You know a report out today, 47-41, generic Republican beats Obama. The president's approval rating is now in the 30s. No president, you know, this late in his term, except I guess, Harry Truman has been able to overcome those poll numbers. He’s got an uphill battle. The economy is getting worse, it's not getting better. As you look at the candidates, a lot of people speculating that there might be an intramural battle, I'll be it; I think probably a healthy one between more, quote, "establishment people and Tea Party candidates." Do you agree with that narrative?

DEMINT: No, I don't think you’re going to have establishment versus Tea Party. I think most of the candidates that are running now, not just for president but the House and the Senate realize that the political power in America for Republicans and Independents and even some Democrats is coming from that grassroots level. And they’re running on those basic themes of limited government, balanced budget. So, I don't think you’re going to have that tug of war that you saw in the last elections. I'm seeing it in my work with the Senate conservatives' fund, is most of the Republicans running for office in primaries carry that same message that we've heard from the Tea Party and it is a basic Republican message of limited government.

HANNITY: Yes. The problem, it seems the president has center, is that when he says people are not better off, he said it this week, than they were four years ago, and Joe Biden saying, I don't blame people for being mad, we're in charge. That's not the promise that they were making back in 2008. But all of the candidates, they want to repeal Obamacare, all of them want lower taxes, all of them want more energy independence, all of them want less regulation, so it seems while there are distinctions, it seems that they’re on the right conservative path. Do you agree with that? Do you fear any would change?

DEMINT: No, I do. Because I think they are reflecting what the mood of America is. America’s focused on fiscal issues; they’re focused on developing our economy by opening up energy supplies and rolling back regulations. So there's not a fine -- a lot of distinctions on positions. And that's good because Republicans have been looking for that big tent, and I'm very happy that that big tent is on the conservative side and that's really where a lots of Americans are going right now.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this. Does it matter to you or how much does it impact you, for example, Governor Romney has to answer Romneycare, Governor Perry has to answer his immigration policy, in-state tuition breaks for illegal immigrants. Herman Cain has to answer, well, he never held political office, Newt Gingrich has to answer for everything that happened when he was speaker. Should that be the deciding issue, what happened in the past or what they’re saying now?

DEMINT: I think we need to look at their principals, their character; we need to look at the level of courage they have in articulating a vision, in their positions for the future. Sure, we need to look at what they’ve done in the past. I'm not concerned if someone has changed their position. I'm a recovering ear-marker and I led the effort to kill earmarks. We've got to convince a lot of people in Washington to change their positions because we've got to change the direction of the country. So, I'm looking for what the candidates say about what their vision is for America. I want to hear what they say about what the Super Committee comes up with, what our spending levels are here in Congress. I want to know that they have the courage to weigh in and present bold ideas for the future. And so, I'm not -- I don't have a litmus test.

HANNITY: Will you support every candidate in this current field?

DEMINT: Yes, I will.

HANNITY: Whoever gets the nomination?

DEMINT: Yes, I will.

HANNITY: All right. Senator DeMint, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

DEMINT: Thanks, Sean.

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