DeMint has demands for 2012 contenders

The presidential primary endorsement of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) will be a coveted one among the contenders for the GOP nomination. But it may not be so easy to get.

During his speech Friday at the Republican Leadership Conference, DeMint announced support for the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” Pledge, designed by several prominent conservative advocacy organizations. Signers of the pledge vow to oppose any attempt to raise the debt limit unless the agreement is paired with substantial spending cuts, spending caps, and a balanced budget amendment.

DeMint also announced that any candidate who wants his endorsement will have to sign the pledge. “I’m telling every presidential candidate: if your name isn’t on this list, don’t come see me.”

Support from DeMint will be key. South Carolina is an important primary state, and DeMint has become a nationally recognized leader in the conservative movement.

The Hill is calling the signing requirement a “litmus test” for conservative candidates.

The pledge could pose a problem for frontrunner Mitt Romney, who sidestepped a question on the debt ceiling at the first Republican primary debate, hosted by CNN Monday night. Asked whether he would raise it, Romney would only say, “I believe we will not raise the debt ceiling unless the president is finally, finally willing to be a leader on the issue the American people care about.”