DeMint: Tea Party didn't cost GOP Senate control

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) strongly denied Sunday that the Tea Party had cost Republicans control of the Senate.

Asked on NBC’s "Meet the Press" whether he thought the movement’s Senate candidates had lost the Republicans the majority, DeMint said: “That is a very silly thing to say. The Tea Party is responsible for just about every Republican elected around the country.

“Last year, many people thought Republicans would fall below 38 in the Senate.”

For Tea Party-backed Christine O’Donnell, who failed to win election in Delaware, DeMint blamed the Republican party itself for hurting her chances.

“I think we did see in the wake of her primary win a number of Republicans suggest she was not a viable candidate; it made it difficult for her to start on the right foot.”

DeMint, a leading figure in the Tea Party movement, said he hoped the Republican Party would “embrace many of the ideas of the Tea Party.”

“I think they made a huge difference in the election, but it’s just a part of awakening of the American people ... citizen activism is changing American politics,” he added.

In the next two years, DeMint said he would look to cut spending, defund the healthcare bill and eliminate earmarks in the Senate.

He said spending cuts would hit federal employees harder than the American electorate: “I don’t think the American people are going to have to sacrifice as much as the government bureaucrats.”

And he will not support cuts in Social Security or Medicare: “We need to keep our promises to seniors.”