Sen. Jim DeMint on Wednesday backed away from his previous ironclad insistence that he had no interest in running for president and was focused only on helping to elect conservatives to the U.S. Senate.
DeMint, a Greenville, S.C, Republican in his second Senate term, has become a conservative hero to activists across the country for his staunch opposition to federal spending, immigration reform and President Barack Obama’s health insurance law.
DeMint was asked repeatedly by a reporter Wednesday whether, in the wake of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s defeat in the Nov. 6 election, he is weighing a White House run in 2016. Each time DeMint declined to reject the possibility.
“I’m not even thinking about it now,” DeMint told McClatchy in response to the last query about his political ambitions.
The lawmaker known as Senator Tea Party responded with quips to the earlier questions Wednesday.
“I don’t even know how much the (president’s) salary is,” DeMint said.
Told it was $400,000 a year, he quipped: “Is that all?”
Those responses were in marked contrast to his emphatic denials in early 2011 when some conservative leaders were trying to persuade him to run for president.
When CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer asked him in February 2011 whether he was eyeing a White House campaign, DeMint gave a one-word answer: “No.” ...
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