NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Sen. Jim DeMint isn't planning to target any of his fellow Republican senators for defeat this year, but that could change if incumbents end up voting to raise the federal debt limit, he said Friday.
Addressing the Republican Leadership Conference here, DeMint said his Senate Conservatives Fund would aim to raise $15 million for favored candidates during the 2012 elections. In an interview later, he said he isn't trying to oust any colleagues now, but that could change.
If senators vote to raise the debt ceiling, "something that important to me and the country, if we have folks who go the wrong way on that, it's going to be pretty hard for me to sit still," he told Hotline On Call.
Still, he professed a reluctance to engage in an intra-party feud: "With 23 Democrats up, I've got a whole lot of work to do without bothering any of my colleagues at this time," DeMint said.
DeMint said he believes the Republican presidential field isn't set yet, though he demurred at some efforts by South Carolina Republicans to get him in the race.
"I can't help but be humbled and honored when people do something like that, but it's not something I want to do. We don't have any plans right now. I'm trying to identify other candidates," he said. "I probably will [endorse a candidate], but I don't have any inclinations now. I'll keep an open mind. It comes down to how they deal with this balanced budget amendment.
The senator had nothing but praise for one Republican whom some politicians in his home state are trying to draft into the presidential race. Asked about the effort by some Palmetto State lawmakers to draft New Jersey's governor, DeMint said: "I'll join them with Chris Christie."