DeMint: GOP Should Vote Against Bill Without Public Option (AUDIO)

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Even if a public option is removed from the Senate's health care legislation, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is urging all Republicans to kill the bill -- lest they help "create a monster."

The South Carolina Republican, famous for referring to health care reform as President Obama's "Waterloo," told conservative radio host John Gambling that the GOP would be foolish to agree to even major concessions in exchange for support.

"[The Senate] may pass something that's much more benign, that doesn't have a government-run plan in it, and they say they fixed it," DeMint said. "The problem is that bill will meet Nancy Pelosi in a conference where they really rewrite the whole bill. We can't let anything pass in the Senate, otherwise we're going to create a monster."

DeMint notably put the odds of health care's passage at 50 percent and predicted that, at this current juncture, only one or two Democrats "might help [the Republicans."

"Sen.] Joe Lieberman is speaking up," DeMint said. "He is not going to accept a government option."

The radio interview was picked up initially by the progressive watchdog group, Media Matters.

In one telling exchange, the conservative South Carolinian offered an implicit rebuke of House Republicans for aiding legislation's passage by allowing an anti-abortion amendment to be added to the bill.

"We have got to be careful not to do what the pro lifers did in the House," said DeMint. "The pro life Democrats said, 'O.K., if you fix this we will vote for it.' And then the Republicans went along and helped them pass a pro-life amendment and that helped them pass a bill."

"We have got to make sure we don't say the whole game is the public option and if they take it out in the Senate then five or ten Republicans jump on it and vote for it," he added. "There is a lot more wrong with this bill than just a government run plan [being] in it."

The senator's political calculus, at least as it pertains to the last point, does seem flawed. While a handful of moderate Republican senators may, in fact, jump on board a reform package that was purged of a government-run option, the likelihood is be that it wouldn't help chances of passage. Several progressive Democrats have indicated that they would vote against legislation that didn't include a public plan.

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