Senator Jim DeMint Dismisses President Obama's Jobs Speech

PHOTO: Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) is interviewed on "This Week."ABC News
Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) is interviewed on "This Week."

As President Obama prepares to address a joint session of Congress this week on proposals to increase employment, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint said he is "tired of speeches" and would prefer written proposals that can be studied by Congress and the public.

"I'm, frankly, very tired of speeches," the South Carolina Republican senator told "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour. "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."

He dismissed ideas that have been floated in recent weeks by the White House, such as extending unemployment benefits and payroll tax cuts, and offering tax credits for new hiring.

He said businesses instead are seeking certainty on tax policy and less regulation.

"The things that have been leaking out of the White House, none of them are like what I've been hearing from businesses all over the country," DeMint said. "So I don't think the president is going to come out with things that are really going to create jobs. I'm afraid it's just pandering to his base."

With the arrival of the traditional Labor Day weekend kickoff to the presidential campaign season, DeMint will host six GOP candidates at the Palmetto Freedom Forum in Columbia, S.C. on Monday, where the top-tier candidates will be given the stage to try to woo the electorate in the key early state of South Carolina.

Only candidates polling above 5 percent nationally were invited. They will each be given 21 minutes to speak separately "to define the issues on their own terms," rather than in a debate format.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), former Speaker Newt Gingrich, and businessman Herman Cain will all take part in the forum. Romney had originally planned to skip the event, but changed his schedule to attend just as new national polling showed Perry had taken over front-runner status for the nomination.

DeMint is a major force in the Tea Party movement, and his endorsement will likely be critical in the state's early primary.

But he says he plans "to withhold any endorsement or support for several months" in order to see how the candidates respond to major issues over the course of the campaign.

"I'm excited about our field. I think the more people find out about the Republican candidates, the more strengths they see," said DeMint, who endorsed Romney in 2008. "It's really important to me to see how these candidates respond to the big issues of the day."

"I want to see not only their policy proposals, particularly as it relates to jobs, but I want to see how they respond to recommendations from this super-committee and what Congress is doing towards balancing the budget and other issues like that," DeMint added.

DeMint said he sees strengths in many of the candidates, and won't "make any real judgments" until the end of the year as the first primaries and caucuses approach.

"I'm going to listen and look and do my homework," DeMint said. "And I'm not counting any of them out at this point."

DeMint said he still hopes to find out more about Perry, whose recent entry into the race has shaken up the field.

The South Carolina senator said he does not hold Perry's past affiliation as a Democrat who supported Al Gore for president in 1988 against him, or past statements he has made about Social Security that have created controversy in recent weeks.

"We know people change. Reagan was a Democrat," DeMint said. "And I want to look at what the governor's done as governor of Texas, just as I'm going to try to dig into a lot of the issues, past, present and future policy proposals of all the candidates."

DeMint said the Tea Party is reaching a broader base of the GOP electorate, and the candidates will have to appeal to them on fiscal issues to gain their critical support.

"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," DeMint said. "All the candidates are going to have to appeal to this new grassroots movement."

"I'm not trying to anoint any candidate," DeMint added. "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."