Hours after taking credit for helping to bring tea party candidates to the Senate, Sen. Jim DeMint skirted questions about whether he would support creating an official tea party caucus.
“I’m chairman of the conservative caucus already,” the South Carolina Republican said during a Tuesday night interview on CNN when asked whether he supported the idea by Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to create a tea party caucus.
“One mistake we’re making in this election is to suggest ... it’s all about the official tea party movement,” he said, adding that there are thousands of supportive voters “who don’t consider themselves part of the tea party movement.”
Pressed further on whether he could get behind a tea party caucus, DeMint replied: “If there is one, I’ll join it. But what we’ll probably do in the Senate is just expand the conservative caucus and reflect the tea party ideas.”
Earlier in the evening, the South Carolina Republican crowed about playing a hand in the victories of two tea-party-supported candidates, Paul and Sen.-elect Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), even as Senate GOP leaders declined to support their new conservative colleagues during the primary season. He praised Paul for “winning a race that the leaders in his own party said he could not win,” and in Rubio’s case, he said he “was honored to support Marco’s campaign in the primary when the Washington establishment opposed him and even laughed at his chances.”