Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) had some kind words for another champion of the far right in a recent interview with Politico.
In assessing the potential field of candidates for the Republican party’s 2012 presidential nomination, DeMint said that Sarah Palin has, “done more for the Republican Party than anyone since Ronald Reagan.”
However, despite the high praise for the half-term Alaska Governor turned conservative commentator, DeMint said he has yet to decide which candidate he’ll endorse to represent the party in 2012. DeMint, who endorsed Mitt Romney in 2008, also said that he has never actually spoken to Palin, though she “left me a nice message.”
Prospective GOP presidential candidates are already jockeying for support from influential politicians ahead of the primary elections. DeMint in particular is seen as a potentially crucial supporter due to his sway with the Tea Party. His 2010 reelection campaign received $7,500 from Palin, $5,000 from Romney, $8,000 from Sen. John Thune (R-SD), $3,000 from Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and $1,000 former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), even though DeMint faced no serious challenge from the hapless Alvin Greene.Both DeMint and Palin threw their weight behind conservative candidates and Tea Party favorites in the midterm elections, often bucking the party establishment in doing so. Notably, they both backed Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware’s Republican Senate primary election, despite her longshot chance of winning the general election; DeMint even suggested he’d rather see O’Donnell lose than see moderate Republican Mike Castle–who polls indicated would win the general election–become Delaware’s next Senator.
DeMint has also gone rogue from the Republican leadership on a several recent issues, pushing to ban earmarks despite Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to the idea, and criticizing the tax cut compromise Republicans brokered with President Obama.