DeMint Pleased With Election, Prefers to Work 'Outside of the Elected Leadership'

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The day after the Tea Party solidified its legitimacy by electing a slew of candidates to the House and Senate, Sen. Jim DeMint, who'd backed many Tea Party candidates for Senate early on, was feeling good. National Journal conducted a meaty interview with him, asking about the new Tea Party presence in the Senate and its plans for cutting spending and moving the nation forward.

DeMint agreed that the next Senate will have a strong Tea Party caucus:

Oh yeah, I think so. We've got a conservative  caucus already, which is called a steering committee. We'll have a lot of new members on that who want to advance common-sense, limited government agenda. So whether we call it a tea party or a steering committee really doesn't matter; we're going to have a great new group of conservatives.

As for DeMint's role in leading that caucus:

I hope to continue to chair the steering committee and move the Republican Party in the Senate back to more conservative, limited government principles. That's the position I want right now. I found I can do a lot more outside of the elected leadership positions, just being chairman there, and also what I can do on the outside with the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has proved that if we give people an opportunity to support conservative candidates.

The senator claimed to be happy with his non-elected leadership role, claiming he does not plan to run for president or party leadership:

No, I have no plans to run for president but I want to continue to try to elect common-sense conservatives to the House and the Senate so I think I've found my role for a while. ...

Any leadership changes would be a year or two down the road, I suspect. Even though we've had some disagreements and I know they've been critical of me, we've got a really good leadership team in the Senate. We just need to change our focus from the Appropriations process to one of creating national policy. That's going to be led on the House side by Republicans in the majority. What we'll be doing is responding to legislation the House passes, that we can debate, that we can talk about, that we can say 'yes' to and I think that's going to help our leadership focus more on the policy rather than just on spending and earmarks.

Read the full interview at National Journal.

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Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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