Influential conservative Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is exiting his final term in the Senate four years early to take over as president of the Heritage Foundation, a GOP-affiliated think tank in Washington with a budget of about $80 million.
DeMint is Tea Party favorite and a strong social and fiscal conservative who has said in the past that “you can’t be a fiscal conservative unless you’re also a social conservative.” The Senator said he is taking the job at Heritage with the goal of popularizing conservative ideals that could appeal to a broader public.
“This is an urgent time,” he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, “because we saw in the last election we were not able to communicate conservative ideas that win elections.”
DeMint will take over the role of the foundation’s president from Edwin J. Feulner, the man who first envisioned the think tank in 1973 and has led it as president for the past 36 years.
Despite hard leanings to the right on social issues in the past, DeMint has taken a stance more recently saying the Republican Party must adopt more Libertarian values.
“The new debate in the Republican party needs to be between conservatives and libertarians,” he said in an interview with Reason. “A lot of the libertarian ideas that Ron Paul is talking about…should not be alien to any Republican.”
The Senator may also push for the GOP as a whole to back off its traditional aversion to any kind of military spending cuts in his new position.
“I’m not sure what that number is. But I do know there’s waste in Pentagon spending. We’ve identified waste not only in the Pentagon but all across the board….But we have to have a vision for what we want our military to do,” DeMint said in a recent interview.