The real maverick: Jim DeMint

As Republicans seek a way forward after two disastrous elections, social and fiscal conservative activists off Capitol Hill are rallying behind DeMint because of his unrelenting style to force his party to return to its small-government, free market roots. DeMint, 57, said in an interview that he’s not dwelling on his previous battles with the GOP leadership and sees areas where his party’s leaders and the Obama administration can work together to solve the country’s problems…

DeMint, up for reelection in 2010, is genial by nature and says he tried to work within the Capitol’s seniority system during his three terms in the House and his first two years in the Senate.

But he has learned, he said, that lawmakers in both parties “only respond to pain.”

“They don’t respond to good policy, persuasion, being nice. I’ve tried it all,” he said. “There’s nobody nicer than I am.”