A day after loss, conservatives point fingers
Tea Party Patriots National Coordinator Jenny Beth Martin joins other members of the Tea Party outside the U.S. Supreme Court during the third day of oral arguements over the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act March 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
November 7th, 2012
03:54 PM ET
2 years ago

A day after loss, conservatives point fingers

(CNN) - Following Mitt Romney's loss to President Barack Obama, conservative leaders wasted no time Wednesday offering pointed criticism of the Republican Party and its pick for president.

A coalition of social conservatives and tea party activists gathered in Washington to decry what they described as Romney's failure to represent conservatives on a national level.

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"We wanted someone who would fight for us. What we got was a weak, moderate candidate, hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country club establishment wing of the Republican Party," Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, said in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington.

"The presidential loss is unequivocally on them," she added.

Pushed from the right in the Republican presidential primary, Romney sought to paint himself as "severely conservative," though the former Massachusetts governor had taken Democratic positions on certain issues in his political past.

Brent Bozell, president of the conservative Media Research Center, argued that Romney failed to pass the ideological test, saying he ran as a "Democrat-light" and adjusted his positions to campaign as a moderate during the general election.

"At the end of the day, conservatives were left out in the cold. It should have been a landslide for Romney, had he embraced a truly conservative agenda," Bozell said. "But Romney's a moderate and his campaign embarked on a bizarre...defense from the outset."

He further faulted the GOP presidential nominee for not adopting a political strategy of defining his opponent and going on the attack early on. Citing the president's record, Bozell argued "it should have been a cakewalk for Romney to define (the president), but he didn't–hence Obama's victory."

On social issues, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony List, blasted the candidate for not making abortion a central part of the 2012 dialogue.

"He took all the right stances," she said. "The problem was not communicating on the national stage with Obama what his actual positions were."

The group endorsed Romney after he unofficially became the nominee in April when former Sen. Rick Santorum dropped out of the race. Dannenfelser said they were "happy to endorse him when the time came" but expressed frustration when she said "we assumed, that given who he was, he would make (abortion) more of a national issue."

Looking at the party on a macro-level, activists also acknowledged Republicans had work to do in terms of adapting to the country's demographic changes. Alfred Regnery, president of the Paul Revere Project, issued a stark warning for the GOP.

"If Republicans don't start to listen to (what minorities are looking for in a candidate), it's going to be a long time before they can win," he said.

His comments echoed those made my former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who earlier Wednesday said on CNN that the party now faces a "very serious moment" and argued the GOP should work on becoming more inclusive–a major challenge, he said, for House Republicans.

"The question is do they want to, in a disciplined way, create a schedule and a program and include people who are not traditionally Republican?" he said.

All the activists at the press conference agreed that Tuesday's election signaled a need for the GOP to re-institute more conservative "fundamentals." While some argue the Republican Party's failure to retake the Senate or make gains in the House suggests the tea party is losing steam, the group of individuals Wednesday argued the opposite.

Given this week's results, they said, conservatives will be even more motivated to reform the party. Richard A. Viguerie, chairman of ConservatieHQ.com, ended the press conference with one final prediction.

"Tea partiers will take over the Republican Party within four years," he said.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Tea Party
soundoff (910 Responses)
  1. Rick

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
    ― Alexis de Tocqueville

    November 9, 2012 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  2. Teresa

    The Republican need to ditch the Tea party. Such extreme views like "legitimate rape" and "pregnancy after rape is God's will" are the things that sent the undecided over to the left. The position of no tax increases for anybody is unrealistic and irresponsible. trying to mandate marriage rights, birth control and a woman's right to choose just exposes the hypocrisy of those who say we should not have the government dictating people's lives.

    The words "Compromise", "moderate" and " tax" are not dirty words. They are necessary parts of the way our government works.

    November 9, 2012 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  3. liberal disease

    Maybe they should of offered free stuff like Barry

    November 9, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  4. kenredbar

    Congress should not receive any special perks. They should shve to pay there way as all taxpayers. Look for parking space and pay for it like the majority of taxpayers.

    November 9, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  5. Mark H.

    From the results of this election it appears Americans do want moderates and not extremists on either side. Obama is a moderate. There is no way he could be labeled as extremist unless you listen to GOP extremists. A Tea Party extremist candidate would have been buried by Obama. The extremists talk loudest but the voters don't want em. The former Governor of Massachusetts might have won but this manufactured right wing caricature failed, and even then with all the money spent he almost pulled it off.

    November 9, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  6. Anothermuse

    I'm at a loss to understand how anyone could think moving further right will accomplish anything except making the party even more irrlevant. The nation is, was and always will be center right. Romney was forced to pander to the far right during the primaries, and had to through in some rhetoric to appease them during the campaign..Had Romney been allowed to run as a full right leaning moderate, I think he wins.

    November 9, 2012 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  7. Bob

    As a staunch lifelong Democrat I am even surprised how all of the Republicans have now turned on their own and started to eat their young. Some of you say "The Republican party should be MORE conservative"-I think not. And as far as Governor Romney totally embracing a no abortion what so ever stance, you have got to be kidding. The hard line Republicans have on abortion is one of the major reasons you lost. And if you think the Tea Party will rise to nominate a candidate in 2016, it's you people that have been drinking the Kool Aid. Never ever will happen!

    November 9, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  8. Independent

    Not a Romney supporter so here is my feedback. Romney was forced to take positions to garner support from far right within Republican party. This was a big constraint. He was ambivalent on almost all issues. There was a conflict in what he actually believed and what poistions he was forced upon by his party. That led to loss of credibility. The republican party is as much to be blamed for ultra right agenda as Romney for not being able to stand up to various interest groups and create his own candidacy. The Republican may get overrun by Tea Party but whether that will make them win more American minds remains to be seen ... in next national elections.

    November 9, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  9. WLN

    WOW...I am amazed that after all is said and done from this election...the tea party actually thinks that it would have been a landslide if Romney moved further to the right....That to me..just cements my believes in that I voted for Obama...the correct candidate. I used to vote republican...I have always paid my taxes and I make a very good salary...so no, I don't fall in the 47%, but it's backwards thinking and old outdated policies and comments from the right..that are so far removed from where we stand as a country..that it is almost laughable, but really sad. The only constant is change...get with it Republicans or you will continue to become non existent in the future of this country..

    November 9, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  10. RTB

    The GOP lost because their policies are anti American wage earners. The social stuff alienated many folks, but the fundamental problem with the current Republican philosophy is that it is not helpful to the American working family. Albeit much use of slogans "freedom, American values", etc. look beneath those idiotic statements.

    November 9, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
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