"The new debate in the Republican party needs to be between conservatives and libertarians," says Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). "A lot of the libertarian ideas that Ron Paul is talking about…should not be alien to any Republican."
Yet right after the 2010 midterm elections, the influential Tea Party favorite proclaimed that "you can't be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative," a comment that was widely viewed as a slap at libertarians. And South Carolina's junior senator is also a staunch pro-lifer, has favored a constitutional ban on flag burning, and is on the record saying that gays shouldn't be allowed to teach at public schools.
More recently, DeMint has been leaning libertarian. His new book, Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse, is a warning to the nation that we need radical spending cuts (including putting defense spending on the table) or else face economic oblivion. And he was instrumental in getting Tea Party Republicans elected in 2010, including the most libertarian member of the caucus, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who also wrote the foreword to DeMint's book.
Reason's Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch sat down with DeMint for a wide-ranging discussion about fiscal vs. social conservatism, cutting spending, the GOP presidential nomination, whether the Tea Party still matters, and much more.
Approximately 29 minutes.
Shot by Meredith Bragg and Jim Epstein; edited by Epstein.
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