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DeMint: ‘I Can Do More Good’ Outside Senate

By Todd Beamon   |   Thursday, 06 Dec 2012 06:27 PM

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint told radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh on Thursday that he’s leaving Congress because “I can do more good for the conservative movement outside of the Senate” as head of the Heritage Foundation.

“It was the Heritage Foundation that inspired me to run for Congress, and many of the policies I've developed — whether it be Social Security reform or healthcare reform, tax reform — Heritage has guided that policy development,” DeMint told Limbaugh on his afternoon program.

“And I believe that I can do more good for the conservative movement outside of the Senate in leveraging the assets of the Heritage Foundation to communicate a more positive, optimistic message to the American people.”

Editor’s Note: Who’s to Blame for the Fiscal Cliff? Vote Here!

DeMint, 61, said on Thursday that he was stepping down on Dec. 31 to become president of the Heritage Foundation. With an annual budget of $80 million, the conservative think tank is one of the nation’s most prestigious and influential.

He is replacing Ed Feulner at the foundation. DeMint had said that he would not seek re-election in 2016.

Earlier this week, DeMint attacked House Speaker John Boehner’s counteroffer in the fiscal cliff talks with President Barack Obama. The plan included $800 million in higher tax revenues, which DeMint said would "destroy jobs and allow Washington politicians" to increase the federal budget deficit.

Limbaugh, who interviewed both DeMint and Feulner on his show, quipped, “Well, I think it's safe to say Boehner is not forcing either of you guys out, right?”

“That's pretty true,” Feulner responded, laughing.

“It might work a little bit the other way, Rush,” DeMint added, also laughing.

The exchange referenced the removal earlier this week of four GOP representatives by Boehner and the Republican Steering Committee from their leadership positions. The congressmen charged that they were displaced for not towing the party line, which included endorsing Boehner’s counteroffer.

According to a transcript of Thursday’s interviews on Limbaugh’s website, DeMint admitted frustration with serving in the Senate.

“Yes, there's part frustration, but I am also reassured that we have now stocked the Senate with some of the strongest conservatives in the country today — and that's a big change,” he said.

DeMint cited such senators as Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Utah’s Mike Lee.

“So I'm leaving the Senate better than I found it — and I think I can do a lot to support these conservatives inside the Senate and the House by working with the Heritage Foundation all over the country to convince Americans that our policies are the best for them,” DeMint added. “For a hundred percent of Americans, whether they're poor or rich, conservative ideas will make the lives of Americans better — and Heritage has the platform for me to help spread that idea.”

He told Limbaugh that the GOP’s problem is “as conservatives, we have not taken enough control of our message and our ideas and communicated them directly to the American people.

“That's what we want to do at Heritage is to convince the large majority of Americans that conservative ideas will make their lives better.”

Perhaps the best approach to shaping that message is through federalism, DeMint said.

Editor’s Note: Who’s to Blame for the Fiscal Cliff? Vote Here!

“We've got 25 states now with Republican governors and legislatures. A lot of them are doing the right things, with being right-to-work states, cutting their taxes — whether it's immigration reform, voter ID, education choice.

“What we want to do at Heritage is more of what we've been doing,” he added. “And that's to spotlight the things that are working, promote them in other states, and use those real outcomes to pressure the people here in Washington to pass the policies that let these things work.”

Limbaugh then asked whether the Heritage opportunity would give DeMint “a different and a greater opportunity to work against, for example, Harry Reid,” the Senate Majority Leader.

“This may surprise you,” DeMint began, “but Harry Reid's a good friend of mine. I just walked into his office and talked to him. The problem is not Harry Reid.”

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