'This Week' Transcript: Sen. Jim DeMint

AMANPOUR: What about Governor Perry's stance on Social Security? In his book, which is now being pored over, as you can imagine, he basically called Social Security like a bad disease and a big failure. Do you think that is going to haunt him on the campaign trail?

DEMINT: Well, I want to hear him explain his views on that. I've developed a lot of reform proposals myself and been accused of trying to destroy Social Security, when the whole point was to try to save it. I think most people know that Social Security is bankrupt. And I believe the governor probably feels as I do: We need to keep our promises to seniors and offer better choices to younger workers.

But I want to hear him explain these things on his own terms. And so I think we'll learn a lot about that and other issues on Monday.

AMANPOUR: Well, just quickly to wrap up Governor Perry, do you like what you've seen so far? Is he the presumed front-runner for you?

DEMINT: Well, there are things I certainly like, just like I do with all the candidates. Like I said before, I see some good things, some strengths in a lot of the candidates. And the ones -- we're having -- we've got the top runners or the top tier there on Monday.

So I'm not making any real judgments, but there are things I like about all of them.

AMANPOUR: Now, you're being very cagey, Senator. Let me ask you about Governor Mitt Romney, who did earn your endorsement the last time he ran. He's having a lot of trouble with the Tea Party right now. He's decided to come to your forum, where he was going to skip it. Where do you think he needs to go in order to get Tea Party support? Do you think he'll get it?

DEMINT: Well, the Tea Party's being thrown around a lot today, but for everyone who calls him a Tea Party -- themselves a Tea Party member, there are hundreds of people who have the same concerns about our spending and our debt. We know over 70 percent of Americans want to balance the budget.

So it's not one, small group. What it is, is just thousands of groups around the country who are concerned about the future of our country. I think it's one of the best things that's happened to our country and to politics, because there's a broad cross-section of Americans involved in citizen activism today. And some are called Tea Party; some are not.

But all the candidates are going to have to appeal to this new grassroots movement. And that's really what I'm looking for. I'm not trying to anoint any candidate. I'm looking at which one really catches the attention and inspires the average American, who has gotten involved with politics and the political process.

So that's key to me. Any of these candidates are going to have to appeal to those Americans who are unified, particularly around fiscal issues.

AMANPOUR: Talking about fiscal issues, President Obama is going to be making a big speech towards a joint session of Congress this week. Do you expect him to make any proposals that will win Republican support?

DEMINT: Well, I'm, frankly, very tired of speeches. I don't want to be disrespectful to the president, but what I want to see is something in writing and that the Congressional Budget Office tells us what it's going to cost so that we can not only read it ourselves, but the American people can read it.

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