South Carolina U.S. Senator Jim DeMint has been a key cog in the conservative voice that has spread through Washington D.C. politics. With the use of his fund-raising prowess and the strategic use of his political capital, DeMint is recognized as the key player in getting a number of Tea Party candidates elected to Congress in the midterm elections of 2010.
Clemson University Political Science professor and conservative activist David Woodard says DeMint will eventually play a role in who wins the upcoming state Republican presidential primary scheduled for January 21. Woodard says, for now, DeMint playing it “close to the vest” in not endorsing a candidate with the primary over three months away.
Because the economy is still faltering, Republicans see incumbent President Barack Obama as being very vulnerable in 2012 and members of the conservative wing of the GOP– including DeMint– see this primary season as a chance to choose the candidate that agrees most with their philosophy of less government. Woodard says that DeMint’s hesitancy in endorsing the man who was his choice in 2008, Mitt Romney, speaks volumes.
AUDIO: Woodard says DeMint will eventually endorse a candidate prior to the primary :45
DeMint told reporters in Charleston on August that he has not completely ruled out another run, but he favors term limits of 12 years for senators. He was first elected in 2004 and was re-elected last year. Woodard says DeMint normally says what is on his mind over being tactical, but that has served him in the past. Woodard says if he had been advising DeMint he would have probably told him not to tip his hand on his future plans is concerned because that could work to compromise some of his political influence.
AUDIO: Woodard says DeMint may have tipped his hand on his future plans prematurely :25
DeMint said in late August that he does not think his plans will hurt his ability to push for budget cuts and more responsible government spending.