Jim DeMint Won’t Run for Republican Presidential Nomination

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 24, 2011   |   3:16PM   |   Washington, DC

Sen. Jim DeMint, a prominent pro-life conservative from South Carolina, has ruled out running for president before but, today, a spokesman for him said he is definitely not seeking the GOP nomination.

The news comes as pro-life Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he is forming an exploratory committee and pro-life Rep. Michele Bachmann reportedly will set up a committee between now and June.

Matt Hoskins, spokesman for the Senate Conservatives Fund, DeMint’s political action committee, told the Washington Post that, instead of seeking the presidential nod, DeMint will focus on supporting conservative candidates for Congress as he did during the 2010 election cycle.

“He’s said all along that he isn’t running for President and his role in the primary is to encourage the candidates to embrace conservative principles,” Hoskins confirmed.

“At the end of the day he believes he can do more to change America by continuing to change the U.S. Senate,” another source close to the senator told the Post.  “He doesn’t wake up every day with a burning desire to be the commander-in-chief [and] he knows without a deep burning desire to be president it is near impossible to successfully run for the job.”

During the 2010 election cycle, DeMint supported pro-life Senate candidates like Utah’s Mike Lee, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio in Florida and Rand Paul in Kentucky — all three won, but other DeMint-supported candidates lost, including Ken Buck in Colorado and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware

With DeMint not running for the presidency, South Carolina, which has not received as much attention as the third presidential state in the primary election process, will likely be more in play. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who is a likely candidate, will look to shore up support from fellow southerners, but other potential candidates will look to gain support from the pro-life, conservative Republicans who are crucial to crowning the Republican nominee. No GOP candidate has won the nomination in recent elections without first winning the state.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, of Georgia, would be a prospect to do well in the state as would Sarah Palin if she decides to run.

John McCain won South Carolina in 2008 after a victory in New Hampshire propelled his campaign ahead of Mike Huckabee, the Iowa winner, and Mitt Romney, who won some caucus states but did not win in any of the big three early contests.