MYRTLE BEACH, S.C – Sen. Jim DeMint, the Tea Party favorite whose endorsement remains one of the most coveted in South Carolina (even though he insists he won’t get behind anyone), said today that he thinks that fragmentation in the electorate is not a bad thing.
Speaking to a group of reporters after a speech at the Tea Party Convention here, DeMint said that when he talks to Tea Party supporters across the state, “they’re supporting all of the candidates. They’re pretty divided and I think that’s a good thing because there are good things about all the candidates.”
When pressed on why he thinks division is a good idea, DeMint chuckled, saying, “In my Senate primary I got 22 percent.”
During his speech to about 150 Tea Party supporters here, DeMint praised, by name, all candidates – even a few who dropped out – except Mitt Romney, on whom he lavished praise earlier this week, and Rick Perry.
DeMint said South Carolinians wanted a candidate with “the courage of a Michele Bachmann or the simplicity of the proposals of Herman Cain. You look at Newt Gingrich’s great ideas and Santorum’s strong on social issues.”
He even praised Ron Paul, who has wide Tea Party support but whose views on foreign policy make him unacceptable to a large swath of the Republican electorate.
“Look at Ron Paul,” DeMint started. “If [Republicans] don’t listen to the problems of the unaccountable and out-of-control of the federal reserve, then our party is not going to be a governing majority.”
While he mentioned those candidates, he suggested he wouldn’t be picking one out of the group because depending on whom he supported, he might get pushback from all Tea Partiers who didn’t also like that candidate.
“I know there are probably a lot of folks in this room that feel strongly a lot of different ways and that’s why I am not involved,” he said as the audience laughed.