The Corner

DeMint Surveys the Field, Praises Jeb

Sen. Jim DeMint, the conservative star from South Carolina, is keeping a close eye on the emerging 2012 presidential field. New names, he observes, keep popping up. One of those, of course, is former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Rich, Kathryn, and John have all written about Bush’s appeal in recent days.

DeMint, in an interview with National Review Online, calls Bush “one of the best” possible presidential contenders. “Maybe the person we are looking for has not stepped out yet; it could be a Rick Perry or a Jeb Bush.”

“[Bush] would be a really good president and a good candidate,” DeMint says. “He had a solid record as governor; he showed that he was willing to push innovative things in education and elsewhere.”

DeMint says President Obama is “clearly beatable.” But the GOP nominee, he argues, will need to be formidable, since the president may be able to bounce off of a rebounding economy. Numerous potential candidates, he says, “are watching to see where Obama’s popularity will be. A lot is going to depend on whether people believe that he has anything to do with the economy coming back. And it will come back; you can’t keep the American economy down.”

NRO wonders: In coming months, if Bush and other conservative favorites decide to sit out 2012, will DeMint feel compelled to jump in? “I really am trying to avoid that,” he tells us. “I’m looking for good candidates out there in the field.”

“I would have to feel a strong pull from people all over the country,” DeMint says. “Again, it’s not something that, right now, appears to be in my future.”

But could a grassroots ‘Draft DeMint’ movement stir him to run? “I don’t want to suggest that I’m waiting for any kind of draft,” he says. “It’s really not what I want to do. I really don’t have any intention of running. . . . I’m not ruling anything out, but it’s not something I want to do.”

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

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