Jim DeMint recently told The Hill that he would consider running for president, if frustrated conservatives continue to pine for him.
Then a spokesman for his PAC walked it back, and a source told The Daily Caller that when DeMint said he'd pray about a bid, he just meant that it would "literally take an act of God to get him into the race."
I'm going with DeMint's own words in The Hill story, and here's why.
1. The Reagan/Churchill Factor:
Over the past year, DeMint has consistently said that he's looking for a "combination of Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill" in the GOP nominee.
That's the political equivalent of looking for a car that can tow a 42' boat, get 80 miles/per gallon doing it, and double as a taco wagon, all at once.
It'll be tough to find.
2. The Open Field.
The candidates whom he's praised in the past don't seem to want to run.
Since the 2008 election, he's talked up Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence, and Chris Christie. None seems inclined to run.
3. The Dick Cheney Factor. Remember how Dick Cheney looked for a vice-president and found himself? (sounds like the logline for a coming-of-age movie).
DeMint seems predisposed to the same kind of search-and-find effort.
Check out this interview from last year, when he described the next president, and the verbal Etch a Sketch seemed to spell "DeMint."
"Anyone who really wants to be President right now doesn't know how much trouble our country's in.
The next President is going to have to take on some challenges that no President ever has before, as far as pulling us away from a financial cliff. The President's gonna have to tell the American people the truth: that the federal government's gotta do less rather than more, and we're going to have to deconstruct a lot of the wasteful agencies, and you're gonna have to fight every special interest group in the country."
In other words, "Vote for me!"
Then, in a separate interview last year, he smiled wider than Larry Craig's stance when the topic came up -- check out the grin.
And just last month, it sounded like the king-maker might just want to be king himself.
"I'm not running for president, but I will be working with grass-roots activists across the country to ensure the next Republican nominee has the principles and courage necessary to save our country."
4. DeMint sees an opening.
The strongest tea party candidates all have significant vulnerabilities. Sarah Palin quit her day job, Herman Cain is woefully deficient on foreign policy, and Michele Bachmann has discipline problems.
DeMint would immediately become the tea party candidate with the strongest resume. His conservative credentials on fiscal, social, and foreign policy issues are impeccable.
Further, there's no true southerner in the field (Gingrich's claim on Georgia's affections is about as accurate as General Sherman's would be).
Winning Iowa would be possible, and South Carolina a gimme. The GOP establishment might not like DeMint, but would they be any more comfortable with Palin, Bachmann, or Cain as the standard-bearers?
P.S. That picture of him with the sunglasses, fatigues, and palm trees was not taken in Iowa or at CPAC.