DeMint withholds endorsement in 2012 SC primary

By the Associated Press | November 7, 2011 | 6:55 PM EST

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Tea party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint says he won't endorse anyone in the 2012 presidential race, taking a huge bump in popularity off the table for candidates in early voting South Carolina.

Wesley Denton is DeMint's spokesman. He confirmed a report on Monday that DeMint would stay out of the primary, which was first reported by the Washington Post.

In January 2007, DeMint's early endorsement of Mitt Romney helped the former Massachusetts governor stand out in a crowded political field that included former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the eventual nominee, Sen. John McCain.

DeMint has spent time this year convincing key Republicans not to endorse too early. He kept most of them out of the mix until Labor Day, when candidates appeared at a forum he helped organize.