Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) on Sunday turned the subject to abortion and "unborn children" after being asked about "racist comments" that hurt the Republican Party brand.
During a panel segment on NBC's Meet the Press, host David Gregory asked DeMint to respond to former Secretary of State Colin Powell's charge that there was a "dark vein of intolerance" in the Republican Party because people like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had accused President Barack Obama of "shucking and jiving."
"Spending more than we're bringing in and this debt is a moral argument that we need to connect with the American people," the incoming Heritage Foundation president explained. "The reason that I left Congress is because I don't believe the politicians are going to solve our problems unless the American people force them to. They're going to keep spending and borrowing in Washington, they're going to keep implementing policies... that hurt minorities. They're worse off."
"And we can go to Detroit and Philadelphia and Chicago where these liberal progressive policies have been in place for decades, and you see Latinos and African-Americans in failing schools, with high unemployment," he continued. "What we're going to do and I know Gov. [Bobby] Jindal is going to do along with a lot of other governors is show the success stories where the right ideas are implemented, and we're going to show the failures in Detroit and Philadelphia and L.A."
NAACP president Ben Jealous, however, argued that Republicans would be better off "if they're willing to give up on the gasoline that's been the old Dixiecrat rhetoric they've indulged in for the last 40 years."
"They need to stop," Jealous explained. "They need to say, 'We have an old brand as the Grand Old Party, the party of Lincoln, the party of Kemp, the party of people who united this country again and again. Let's be that and let's stop trying to be these Dixiecrats because it just doesn't work for anybody anymore.'"
Pressing DeMint, Gregory asked if he regretted "some of the comments about abortion in this last cycle, about rape, about, again, what Colin Powell thought were veiled racist comments from the party?"
The former South Carolina senator ignored the reference to "racist comments," instead responding with a rant about fetal personhood.
"The fact that we are losing over 3,000 unborn children a day is an important issue," DeMint opined. "But Republicans or conservatives should not engage in a wish list about exceptions for abortion when the other side will not even agree that we have real people, real human beings. And we need to fight the battle where it should be fought. Life is important. We know from all the new technology and improved sonograms that we do have a baby."
"Instead of just offering my opinion on some hypothetical debate about exceptions for abortions, we need to move it back and particularly work with the states that are fighting just for the personhood of the child. And if we can start there, I think America will move with us."
"Little different than the question about rhetoric and how it reaches voters," Gregory noted as he moved on to the next topic.
Watch the video below from NBC's Meet the Press, broadcast Jan. 27, 2013.