Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), founder of the Senate Conservatives Fund and a leader of the Tea Party movement, compared Sarah Palin to former President Ronald Reagan Wednesday night and hinted that he would support a presidential nominee that has not always acted conservatively.
"She's done as much to change the political landscape in America -- probably as much as anyone since Ronald Reagan," he said on "The Sean Hannity Show," comparing the former vice-presidential nominee and governor of Alaska to the two-term president.
"She's done a lot to help elect conservatives to the House and Senate," he continued, referring to her endorsements of candidates in 2010, "and I'm glad to hear she's going to continue to do that." Palin, in a statement released Wednesday night, said that she would not run for president in 2012, saying she "can be more effective in a decisive role to help elect other true public servants to office -- from the nation's governors to congressional seats and the presidency."
DeMint said, "What happened in 2010 had a lot to do with Sarah Palin. If she continues to do that, I think we're going to have an even bigger victory in 2012."
Palin endorsed 54 Senate, House and gubernatorial candidates in 2010. Six Senate candidates won, while five lost. Of eight gubernatorial candidates, six won in their general elections. In the House, 17 out of 28 candidates endorsed by Palin won their general elections. Five candidates in the House and two in the Senate did not win their primary elections.
Hannity also asked DeMint whether Mitt Romney's signing of the Massachusetts health care law or Rick Perry's signing of a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition would be a problem. "We need to look at their principles, their character, we need to look at the level of courage they have in articulating a vision and their positions for their future," DeMint said. (DeMint endorsed Romney in the 2008 Republican presidential primary.)
"Sure, we need to look at what they've done in the past. I'm not concerned if someone's changed their position. I'm a recovering 'earmarker' and I led the effort to kill earmarks," he said.
DeMint added, "We've got to convince a lot of people in Washington to change their positions because we've got to change the direction of the country."