Wednesday, September 29, 2010

NRSC Senators Protecting Their Establishment Turf--Power Before Country

Republican senators lash out at Jim DeMint

Some of his colleagues say Sen. Jim DeMint is intensifying a rift within the Republican Party.


South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint last week accused his Senate Republican colleagues of doing “everything” in their power to help Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s write-in campaign against GOP nominee Joe Miller.

And he pounded them in a fundraising solicitation for doing “business as usual,” just as he “thought Republicans in Washington were beginning to get the message.”
Turns out Republicans got his message — they just didn’t like it.

A number of Republican senators told POLITICO Tuesday that DeMint was skewing the GOP Conference’s position solidly backing Miller, saying he was intensifying a rift within a party that’s trying to unite following a divisive primary season. And Republican leaders say DeMint’s decision to lay out to his supporters the debate about Murkowski in the closed-door meeting was a clear breach of protocol where senators don’t discuss private sessions between colleagues with outsiders.

“I personally think it’s very counterproductive,” said retiring Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri, scoffing at what he and other GOP senators see as DeMint’s apparent attempts to build his national profile at the expense of his colleagues.

Asked whether DeMint’s message was helpful to the Republican Party, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison simply said: “No.”

Despite saying his party was united in the final stretch of the campaign season, DeMint’s attack against his colleagues was his second since the primary elections ended earlier this month. His first came after the Delaware Senate primary, when he wrote to supporters that the Washington GOP was “quietly rooting for Christine [O’Donnell] to lose so they can continue to peddle their discredited line that conservatives cannot win.”

DeMint now says he was “perhaps overly aggressive” with his colleagues in his latest fundraising e-mail about the Alaska Senate race, but he defends his decision to talk about the meeting publicly because he said much of the closed-door talk already had been reported by the “Hill rags.”

And he acknowledged in an interview that his tactics “could be” hurting his cause by burning bridges with his GOP colleagues whose support he would need to advance legislation.

But DeMint insists that he’s “pretty popular outside the Beltway,” where he claims he’s standing with a “majority of Americans right now.”

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