Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) — the one-time Mitt Romney presidential booster cum Romney presidential critic — will soon stand near Romney once again.The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin reported Tuesday that despite his earlier decision not to attend DeMint’s Labor Day presidential candidate forum in South Carolina, Romney has suddenly found time for the tea party’s favorite senator this weekend.
Why? Rubin got this:
The Romney camp dismisses the suggestion that this is in response to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s rise in the polls. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul tells me: “We’re pleased we were able to arrange our schedule so that Gov. Romney can attend Labor Day events in both New Hampshire and South Carolina.”
Beyond his stardom in the national tea party, DeMint is a major force in South Carolina Republican politics and his endorsement is expected to carry some weight in the important early primary state. Until pretty much today, when he also announced he would address a tea party rally this weekend, Romney’s strategy had seemed to involve rising above the demands of know-nothing activists. Instead, secure in his frontrunner status, Romney had defied tea party orthodoxies on issues such as climate change, with an eye towards moderate votes in an eventual general election.
Now, though, that seems to have gone out the window. It seems he’s made the decision he has to stop Perry from cutting off his legs, so to speak, and stealing the nomination from out under him. DeMint’s event will now be the first one where Romney will face Perry, to whom he’s lost some critical support in the last few weeks.