U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint slammed President Barack Obama, Democrats, and the media for maligning the grass-roots tea party movement.
The South Carolina Republican also predicted on CNN’s “State of the Union” today that Obama’s jobs speech Thursday will be painful to watch as it the president touts “more of the same.”
“Frankly, I’m so tired of his speeches, it’s going to be hard for me to watch,” DeMint said.
As for the tea party, DeMint said, “Obama and a lot of the Democrats, folks in the media have tried to speak of the tea party in derogatory terms and suggest that it’s a small right-wing group.
“What the Democrats are criticizing is legitimate, genuine citizen activism which has brought some accountability to Washington, and that’s what I want to be a part of,” he said.
He spurned polls indicating that the tea party is meeting resistance from independents.
“It's really a case where you had the media putting down the tea party and a pollster coming in and saying ‘What do you think of them?’” he said.
“They’ve been blamed for the downgrade and all of these other things and obstruction, which they haven’t had anything to do with."
“But over 70 percent of Americans think we need to balance our budget, stop adding to our debt,” he said. “That’s pretty much what the tea party is – it’s thousand of small groups around the country who are concerned about the spending the borrowing and the debt. And for every person who goes to a tea party rally there are hundreds of people who share those concerns.”
Turning to Obama’s upcoming jobs address to a joint session of Congress, DeMint told host Candy Crowley that extending unemployment benefits and payroll-tax cuts will not help lower the jobless rate.
“I just don’t think those things are going to create jobs, Candy,” he said. “We need a plan in writing. Without sending something in writing the president makes all of these grand gestures, and then it doesn’t appear in any legislation, and he’ll blame Congress for not passing something he never sends over.”
The longer unemployment benefits last, “the more perverse incentives you create,” he said.
“There are a lot of people who depend on it, and we need to make sure we have that safety net in place, but we also have to realize there are a lot of people gaming the system right now, and we need to do better than we’ve done with just extending benefits. We need to make sure our incentives move people back into the workforce rather than keep them home.”
Businesses want less regulation and more incentives, DeMint said.
“The president has it backwards,” he said. “He’s creating more risk, and he’s threatening to raise takes on small businesses. This is not a good formula.”
DeMint, who has established himself as a kingmaker among Republicans, has organized a GOP forum for Labor Day in South Carolina and has invited the following presidential candidates: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, businessman Herman Cain, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The Washington Post recently reported that Romney planned to campaign in New Hampshire instead of attending the forum, which would have been his first head-to-head encounter with Perry, although the other five signed up.
“They all have strengths, and there’s no one in that group that I couldn’t support as our nominee,” DeMint said. “I’m very open right now.”
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