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DeMint: Obama’s Gay Marriage Stance a Distraction

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President Obama voicing his support of gay marriage Wednesday was just a smokescreen to distract from his policies, Sen. Jim DeMint said on CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report.”

“The president’s trying to get us to talk about anything but the economy, and what his policies have done to our country. So he’s deflecting attention here. He wants Republicans to take the bait and talk about that for a week or two,” the Republican senator from South Carolina said.

“The states need to decide this. Marriage is a religious and state issue. The president has even said that. We don’t need to deal with it at the federal level, and we have no business trying to redefine it,” he added.

DeMint said Republicans need to stay on message.

“The Democrats are bringing up the Buffett Rule, student loans and all of these things that are minor issues. They don’t expect them to even pass, but they don’t want us talking about what this president has done to jobs and the economy and our country as a whole, so that’s where we need to stay on message,” he said. “I think Mitt Romney’s going to be disciplined on this.”

Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, won the West Virginia primary this week with 70 percent of the votes cast.

Rick Santorum, who dropped out of the race and has since endorsed Romney, received 12 percent; with Rep. Ron Paul, a Republican from Texas, picking up 11 percent.

(Tuesday on “The Kudlow Report,” Paul said he had no plans to drop out ahead of August’s Republican National Convention.)

DeMint said that grassroots support for Republican policies of fiscal austerity was growing.

“It’s not about a political philosophy,” he said. “It really is about saving our country, and I think you’re going to see Americans more activated in this election than they were in the last one.”

DeMint also pointed to a win by Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, a Tea Party candidate, over longtime Sen. Richard Lugar in a primary fight.

Mourdock said he wouldn’t be sidetracked by Obama’s support of same-sex marriage.

“As I’ve traveled Indiana over the last 15 months, that issue hasn’t come up but maybe two or three times,” he said. “But what I do hear in every stop along the campaign trail is: We need to get the economy going again. People understand that the Obama plans haven’t worked, and they want to see more private-sector growth.”

Also on Wednesday, the federal government recorded a budget surplus of $58 billion — the first time since the economy faltered in September 2008.

Mourdock said that while the Tea Party wasn’t as visible in organizing in this election cycle, sympathetic groups have provided the volunteers for grassroots activism — and he predicted that the sentiment behind the movement was alive and well.

“Anyone who’s written the obituary for the Tea Party is going to find out their report was greatly exaggerated,” he said.

By CNBC.com's Bruno J. Navarro

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