Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), whose support of Tea Party candidates this year has roiled the national Republican Party, said Wednesday his picks in elections around the country could actually help the GOP recapture the Senate in the general election — instead of having a detrimental effect as many observers claim.
DeMint has supported Delaware GOP Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell, Florida Republican nominee Marco Rubio and Kentucky GOP nominee Rand Paul, among others. In each case, the candidates have defeated or nudged aside more moderate candidates who presumably could have attracted more support from moderate and independent voters — worrying some national GOP leaders.
But DeMint said just the opposite is true — only Tea Party voters can help give Republicans the 10 seats they need to recapture Congress.
"The energy that's behind the candidates I'm supporting is the only shot we have at regaining the majority of the House and the Senate," DeMint said. "Christine's primary was late, so whether or not we can pull her over the finish line, I'm not sure, but all of the other candidates I've supported are ahead in the general election polls right now and a lot of what they're doing is helping put a new face on a Republican Party. People like Marco Rubio. And you've got just a great group of other candidates — people like [Nevada GOP nominee] Sharron Angle and [California GOP nominee] Carly Fiorina — has given us a new message and a new look. I think we're building our party in a very positive way."