Will Tea Party Patron Jim DeMint Run for President?

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Jim DeMint would go for the presidency in 2012 if none of the other candidates were sufficiently conservative, CNN's Peter Hamby reports. The South Carolina senator has denied harboring such aspirations for a year, but in March, he's headed to Iowa. His closest advisers say DeMint has set a high bar for entering the GOP primary--he'll only step in if there's "a massive void" among the candidates.

DeMint, who was a major backer of Tea Party candidates, hasn't found a Republican 2012 candidate worth backing yet--aside from Rep. Mike Pence, who isn't well known and hasn't decided whether to run. Unlike in 2008, when he endorsed Mitt Romney early on, DeMint might not endorse anyone this cycle.

The national fanbase DeMint built during the 2010 primaries would help with fundraising, Hamby writes. He's also from at state that holds one of the most important primaries for Republicans.

  • Waiting for Combination of Churchill and Reagan  That's the candidate DeMint keeps saying he's waiting for, Christian Heinze notes at GOP12, regarding his endorsement. It's a smart response, Heinze writes:
It's funny and deflects attention, but more importantly, it lets him answer the 2012 question by not answering it ... Unlike with the top prospects, time hasn't established a tacit agreement between DeMint and the media that, yeah, he's going to run but can't announce it yet. Right now, everyone actually is genuinely intrigued by his ambition. ... So let's see if he continues answering 'Churchill/Reagan'. Haley Barbour jokingly said you could measure his ambition by his waist size. This is one way you might be able to judge DeMint's.
  • Strong Candidate, Jennifer writes at Cubachi. He's popular and has name recognition. "However, I think this is another addition to a list of conservatives who want to become the kingmakers of the party not necessarily run for 2012. ... Interesting to note too, that DeMint is releasing a new book this summer called, The Great American Awakening: Two Years that Changed America, Washington, and Me. Usually a candidate releases a book before a run. Seems to be the norm now. So is this a case of weighing the reaction for a possible run or to garner some attention?"
Many conservatives across the nation, including some here in Iowa, would like to see DeMint run for president.  It’s easy to see what these people like in him.  His conservative credentials are impeccable.  ... If DeMint is absolutely not running for president, and King’s 'conference' is opened up to other presidential candidates to attend, this might even turn out to be the most important and public job interview any presidential candidate will ever have. Receiving the seal of approval from both King and DeMint would go a long way toward paving the way to the nomination when you consider the political sway both King and DeMint have in their respective states, which hold two of the first three major contests.
  • Playing Chicken? Eric Kleefeld wonders at Talking Points Memo. "Despite his public denials flatly saying he's not running for president, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) nevertheless seems to be making a lot of the right moves to do so--particularly an upcoming trip to Iowa. Or instead, could he just be trying to keep the actual candidates on their toes?"
  • There's Too Many of Them  "It seems like the field of Republican presidential candidates is growing rather than shrinking," BooMan writes at Booman Tribune. "Think about it. We have: Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, Jim DeMint, John Thune, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rudy Guiliani, and (possibly) John Bolton. And Ron Paul could always get into the race again. How do you get them all in one screenshot?"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.