WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint came close to quitting Congress after one term because of his wife's difficult battle with cancer and bitter clashes with other GOP senators over his slash-and-burn tactics to cut federal spending.

But Debbie DeMint, the senator's high-school sweetheart, told him he couldn't abandon the anti-government cause he'd come to view as a mission from God.

'To my amazement, Debbie said we couldn't quit,' the South Carolina Republican writes in his new book, 'The Great American Awakening.'

'So we spent those special moments at the end of (2009) praying and asking God to help us through the next year of campaigning,' he wrote. 'We had no idea He would answer our prayer in such a clear and wonderful way.'

Within a year, DeMint was overwhelmingly re-elected to the Senate, joined by five Tea Party candidates he'd helped bankroll over Republican mainstream choices.

Debbie DeMint, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent surgery and two months of radiation treatments. Doctors have said she is cancer-free.

DeMint had expected a grueling campaign against Vic Rawl, a former state judge and legislator from Charleston, but instead faced Alvin Greene, an unemployed Army vet from the Pee Dee who inexplicably defeated Rawl in the Senate Democratic primary.

DeMint reveals his relief in the book as he describes Greene's August 2010 indictment on obscenity charges for allegedly having shown pornography to a female student in a University of South Carolina computer lab.

'It looked like my re-election might not be the long, hard, expensive, negative campaign I feared,' DeMint wrote.

Prosecutors last month dropped the charges against Greene when he agreed to enter a counseling program.

Addressing another bizarre chapter in South Carolina politics, DeMint said his one-time friend, former Gov. Mark Sanford, made a fool of himself with his extramarital affair with an Argentine mistress.

He said he was angry when Sanford went missing over Father's Day weekend in 2009 as aides said he'd gone 'hiking on the Appalachian Trail' and then-first lady Jenny Sanford said she didn't know where he was.

Sanford spurned DeMint's advice to resign, DeMint writes, saying Jenny Sanford had urged him to stay in office.

DeMint casts tough judgments on various politicians he describes as friends. He suggests that former U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis, an Upstate neighbor and an early political ally, deserved his defeat in last year's GOP primary — to now-Rep. Trey Gowdy — because he'd strayed from conservative tenets.

DeMint paid a breakfast visit to Tommy's Ham House in August 2009 soon after Inglis had appeared at the popular Greenville restaurant.

'This was where, only a few days before, my friend Congressman Bob Inglis was skewered for his support of the bailouts and the energy tax called ‘cap and trade,'?' DeMint wrote.

'In front of an already impatient crowd, he also tried to make a case for compromise on the health-care bill and criticized ‘angry' Republicans who were just following the ‘mob,'?' DeMint wrote. 'Inglis even told the audience to stop listening to their hero Glenn Beck!'

Among other prominent Republicans he calls friends but skewers on ideological grounds are former Sens. Arlen Specter (now a Democrat) of Pennsylvania and Bob Bennett of Utah; Sens. Dan Coats of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas; and former Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware.

In a typical swipe, DeMint wrote: 'Murkowski is a friend, but she was an appropriator who fought every effort to limit (funding) earmarks and spending.'

DeMint is a private man who guards what he calls 'family time' zealously, but he reveals his deep love for his wife and their four grown children, the impact of his Christian faith on his politics and other personal details in his book.

DeMint discloses that he does his own laundry, played in a rock band in high school and sometimes sings aloud to golden oldies during nighttime drives from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport to his Greenville home.

The former marketing firm owner engages in a running debate with historians and analysts who he claims misrepresent the United States as a secular nation with a government divorced from religion.

DeMint claims that the American Independence drive was 'led by priests'; that the Founding Fathers were more religious than commonly portrayed; and that the Constitution doesn't require separation of church and state.

'Big government is a religious issue,' DeMint wrote. 'History shows (that) in nations where there is a big government, there is a little God. When people are dependent on government, they are less dependent on God, and their spiritual fervor fades. Without the foundation of biblical principles, the culture becomes more dependent, violent and lawless, requiring even more government control.'

In a long section of the book, DeMint pays homage to President Ronald Reagan in describing an August 2010 visit to the conservative icon's former ranch in Southern California.

DeMint expresses regret that he'd never met Reagan before his 2004 death. He said the ranch visit made him feel like he'd known the man called 'Dutch.'