Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) does not plan to endorse a candidate in the GOP presidential primary ahead of his state's crucial Jan. 21 primary. But he said on Thursday that he had an idea of who he wanted in the White House.
"We really need someone like a Governor Scott Walker who's willing to take the pain in order to save the whole state," he said during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
Walker, who will likely face a recall vote later this year, successfully pushed in 2011 for a bill to curb collective bargaining rights for public employees.
DeMint told The State that he thinks former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whom he endorsed in 2008, will win the South Carolina primary. He said he was concerned about Romney's Republican rivals attacking him over his tenure at Bain Capital.
"Frankly, I'm a little concerned about the few Republicans who have criticized some of what I consider free market principles here," he said.
CNN reported Thursday that a group of South Carolina allies to Sen. DeMint, including a top fundraiser for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, will endorse Romney.
DeMint made it clear on "Morning Joe" that he was focusing on Congress. "Hopefully we can change the Senate, and that's my whole focus this year...to get five or six more conservative senators who will help send the president good legislation, a balanced budget. And if we do that it doesn't matter which of these Republican candidates is in the White House."
DeMint runs an influential political action committee, the Senate Conservatives Fund. The fund backed several insurgent primary challengers in 2010, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who defeated establishment GOP candidates.
DeMint, who said in 2010 that he would "rather have 30 Marco Rubios in the Senate than 60 Arlen Specters," said there must be a conservative, not just Republican, majority.
"I came into the Senate with 55 Republicans and we didn't do squat -- in fact, I'm not interested in being in the majority again with the same people who were in the majority last time," he said on MSNBC.