Sen. Jim DeMint held a small briefing with several bloggers while at CPAC 2012 and I was fortunate to attend.
I was a bit late to arrive as it took me longer than I thought to get from blogger's row to his suite and the discussion had already begun.
Sen. DeMint was one of the first prominent individuals to endorse Marco Rubio and the discussion was about his support of Rubio and Rubio's obligation to 'pay it forward' by helping other candidates across the nation.
DeMint was highly diplomatic, not taking the bait, and defended the work Rubio is doing. He said, "Marco is strengthening the party as whole - whenever I mention him, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul...people want more men like them."
DeMint did acknowledge that it is a bit "divisive to do what I've done" in taking sides during primaries. He praised Rubio, a first-term senator, who is picking his battles and, as a Catholic, is a great spokesman for 'freedom of conscience' legislation.
He was asked about the ability of non-citizens to serve in the military and gain citizenship. He supports this as it currently is since it allows non-citizens (not illegals) learn the American culture and values. He said we do need a better system for people to get to American legally.
"Democrats won't allow anything but blanket amnesty because they want voters and union members," he said, so he doesn't expect any action on reforming immigration laws in the future.
He then addressed earmarks saying, "The first battle is with our own party, especially over spending and earmarks."
As to the lack of a budget for over 1,000 days and a question of how we can get the American people to notice - or care - about that, he said that voters see a budget as 'inside beltway' stuff that doesn't impact them. His aim will be to show the priorities of the Obama administration as expressed through their budget, let Paul Ryan and his committee introduce their measures and then compare the two for the public.
He said that Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) wanted to to a budget but Senate President Harry Reid (D. NV) said no. "They'd rather attack the Republican budget than present their own," DeMint said.
He then plugged his book, "Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse," which he believes is a blueprint for what we need to do this year because, he explained, "next year we'll be in a heap of trouble."