Cross-posted from The Foundry.

Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) addressed a packed auditorium at The Heritage Foundation this morning, just moments after being named the organization’s next president. He will succeed Ed Feulner, who is stepping down after 35 years leading the think tank.

More than 200 employees of the Heritage Foundation rose for a standing ovation as Feulner passed the torch to his successor. One Heritage employee shouted a battle cry: “Hoo rah!”

That set the tone for the staff meeting. Heritage’s Board of Trustees, announced Chairman Thomas A. Saunders, voted unanimously to approve the decision.

DeMint said it was “the honor of my life,” and joked that the move would be “a big promotion.”

“This organization is in a position to do more to save our country than any other organization I’m aware of,” DeMint said. ”I believe that we have put together here the power, the muscle, the ideas to turn things around.”

DeMint, Feulner, and Saunders stressed that Heritage’s policy-focused, detail-oriented approach will remain the organization’s mission. DeMint pledged in a Thursday statement to ”protect the integrity of Heritage’s research and not politicize the policy component. Heritage is not just another grassroots political group.”

Indeed, DeMint stressed that his proposals in the Senate have been informed by Heritage’s  policy work. ”This is a homecoming for me,” he said, noting that he was inspired to run after reading Heritage’s policy work. ”This feels like I just walked in the front door of my own house,” he told Heritage staff.

DeMint will take over as president in April. Feulner will remain as Heritage’s chancellor and the chairman of its Asian Studies Center.

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