Sen. Jim DeMint is “unlikely” to endorse a presidential candidate in the 2012 GOP primary, the South Carolina Republican said in an interview with the Washington Post.
“I want to announce that I am very unlikely to endorse a candidate in the presidential race,” DeMint, an influential conservative, told Post columnist Marc A. Thiessen in a story published online late this afternoon. “I would be very comfortable supporting any of ... [our candidates] for president.”
DeMint’s reach stretches beyond South Carolina, a key early primary state in the nominating contest. The Senator cultivated broad support among conservative activists during the 2010 cycle by providing financial support through his Senate Conservatives Fund political action committee to insurgent conservative candidates in several GOP Senate primaries.
DeMint’s endorsement in the 2012 presidential contest was presumably coveted, and the Senator said in an interview with Roll Call as recently as Wednesday that he did not plan to make a decision regarding whom to back until January. However, DeMint offered that he might ultimately choose not to endorse at all. The South Carolinian backed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in 2008.
DeMint said he could change his mind, depending on how the 2012 primary plays out.
"As we get into next year, if we have two at the top and one is clearly the conservative and one’s not ... I might look at it again. But my commitment right now is to stay out of it,” he said.
DeMint said he plans to focus his political efforts on the Senate, beginning with rolling out more endorsements in Republican primaries next week. Thus far, DeMint has backed Ted Cruz in Texas and Josh Mandel in Ohio.