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. bigthinker1

    Yes. The TEA Party must go or the GOP is dead. It already is on life support for as long as the infection remains. If the Tea Party's ideals are so "mainstream" they will resonate and result in elections - kick them out so they can start their OWN Third Party. This would show everyone their "importance" in the grand scheme of things. The TEA Party is the infection that's weakened and is killing the GOP I used to know. And for the record I have almost ALWAYS been opposed to the GOP's "solutions" but also considered them a conservative voice of reason that forces liberals to be more moderate (which they need, too) and re-think what they're doing with common sense. Now they are like blathering slobbering attack dogs with an intelligence considerably lower than the average junk yard dog.

    November 8, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  2. fatcafe

    Lotta soul searching in the Republican camp these days. They are pointing the finger of blame at everyone and everything but themselves... and their basic philosophy... which is dead wrong.

    They are out of touch with Women. They are out of touch with Gays. They are out of touch with Hispanics. They are out of touch with Blacks. They are out of touch with Students and the youth of this country. They are out of touch with the middle class and the working poor. They are out of touch with reality.

    And worst of all... they continually attempt to pass laws that reflect the religious beliefs of their Evangelical, way to far to the right, base. Most of us still believe in the separation of Church and State. If you don't approve of abortion... don't get one. If you don't approve of same sex marriage... don't marry them in your church. We are all free to believe what we want to believe, but we are not free to force everyone else to live their lives according to our own personal beliefs. That is what Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness is all about.

    Get with it guys and gals... "The times they are a changin".

    November 8, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  3. Dave in SC

    Conservatives are whistling in the dark if they think an even more conservative candidate would have given them a 'landslide.' It's 2012, not 1912.

    November 8, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  4. Jo

    We do need to include minorities and changing demographics. Many in these groups actually espouse conservative values much more than even some of the Republican base, so it's fit that we bring them in. The conservative voice actually resonates across the two parties, we just didn't utilize it and Obama won despite having promoted his far-left policies... Tea Party does need to reign in a bit, since I think their extreme rhetoric cost us a lot. There are values from the Tea Party we need to take on for sure, but they should not dominate our party.

    November 8, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  5. Randy, San Francisco

    Tea Party and social conservatives are wrong! Don't blame the salesman for a BAD product. They need to look at tapes of the GOP Convention. How many minority faces were in the audience? Placing a few token minority speakers on the stage is a deceptive sham.

    November 8, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  6. AshamedFormerLibtard

    Time for a constitutional convention!

    November 8, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  7. Bob

    These people are completely clueless! Do they think conservatives voted for Obama because Romney wasn't conservative enough?!? Do they think if Romney told more lies about the state of the country under Obama's leadership (which would have been hard to do, given almost everything presented on this subject by Romney was a lie), he would have won? Had Romney stayed as right-wing as he presented himself during the primaries, the election results WOULD have been different: Obama would have won in a major landslide.

    Note to Tea Partiers and other right-wing extremists: Your brand of politics has been rejected by the majority. Change or face extinction.

    November 8, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  8. asdf

    Wow...you'd have to be pretty blind to reality to think that MORE social conservatism would have won the election.

    November 8, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  9. JustanotherAmerican77

    I think more than anything else, the GOP failed him. His comment about the 47% (although I agree with it) is something you simply can't say as an official who aims to represent everyone. When you're in business and politics you learn there are simply things you cannot say. What happened is that people who were too radical, too conservative (Todd Akin, for one) gave the party a black eye and scared away many independent and moderate voters. The Tea Party not NOT what the GOP needs. Let them do their own thing because right now they are splintering the GOP and leaving many Republican faithfuls disenchanted and alienated from their own party. If you ask me, the best thing to do is restore the GOP to it's core values: small government, personal freedom (and I mean ALL personal freedoms). We don't want government in our marriage, in our healthcare, or in our religion. Let the Evangelicals who want to force their religious beliefs upon you take the Tea Party and start their own movement....

    November 8, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  10. Anonymous

    These people just don't get it. He lost because he was right leaning, even if he was a moderate. Far right wackos are a very small vocal minority who's time has passed.

    November 8, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  11. Zoticus

    The GOP's problem is really that it's too radical, in the sense of wanting to make sweeping changes.

    November 8, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  12. Alger Dave

    A few other reasons why the GOP lost: 1) Romney painted himself as an 'economy fixer' from the start, even thought it's been clear for a few years that the economy was on the mend, albeit slowly. By the time the election came around, we saw consumer confidence at it's highest level in years – not surprising since the economy's been on the mend since 2010. In the end we didn't need an 'economy fixer', we needed something else. 2) Romney rarely went after the president on social issues, even though this president is the most liberal in our history. This would have been an easy, low hanging fruit due to the president's obviously liberal stances on so many social issues, but Romney could not go after him too strongly on this because the president could have just reminded the country that Romney held many of these same stances a few years back – a clear and glaring weakness of Romney's. A lot of evangelicals still voted for Romney (the vast majority of evangelicals who voted, voted for him) but had a hard time connecting to this candidate. You saw this in my area by the lack of yard signs, etc. – folks had a hard time getting excited about him. So this is the 2nd time in 4 years we've learned that a semi-conservative will have a hard time winning the White House – how many more times do we need to go through this exercise? Santorum would have carried PA, but most importantly OH, with his working class background and Catholic roots. Romney was just too different from the rest of us to ever connect, which was why he had to buy the primaries to win. Let's all take a lesson from it!

    November 8, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  13. macbil

    Republican Party is going to have a civil war: tea party/rural vs country club/city/wall street elites.

    November 8, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  14. rs

    Perhaps a better way to get the GOP back to sanity is to clearly define the differences between "conservatives" (which in fact the GOP isn't at the moment), and the really radical elements at play (like the TEA Party). The GOP prior to Reagan was more or less philosophically consistent- fiscally conservative and socially neutral- minimal, sensable government. Post-Reagan with tthe insertion of the so-called "Christian" Right, things began to get wacky- fiscal conservatism (sort-of) with trends towards financial redistribution to the wealthy, and radicalism affecting social issues (whereby traditional Republican beliefs around Civil Rights and voting slid towards so-called "morals" issues- abortion, etc.).
    Today what we have is a GOP that is neither: it supports massive bailouts for the rich and corporate world, has signed pledges to non-governmental (non-citizen) groups like the Club for Growth and their guru Grover Norquest, that is rapidly draining the treasury, and now holds social positions that are very radical fringe, and in fact anti-Republican: anti-civil rights; anti-voting; anti-equal pay. Worse, they are playing with psuedo Christian ideology as an inspiration for law.

    Like people stumbling in a dark room, the GOP now keeps heading back into the darkness away from the light by refusing to re-establish even modest tax rate increases for the very wealthy, and they mumble about "not being conservative enough" indicating their movement towards even greater political irrationality.

    They need to grasp fully that Mr. Obama's position is NOT extreme or leftist. That in fact his staked out positions are very centerist. We need to take their FOX and Rush away, as they are both very corrupting and essentially evil influences. Perhaps most of all- they need to meet real Americans again, and understand that our problem is not abortion, but a lack of sane fiscal policies and jobs. Novemeber 6th should have driven that point home.

    November 8, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  15. harry

    thanks to fox & rush the gop will always lose. keep the hate up and keep on loseing

    November 8, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  16. steve851

    I'll point my finger at social conservatives who fail to comprehend that social issues are none of the federal government's business. Also at the neocons who love their foreign adventurism but never suggest how to pay for it. But mostly at the anti-immigrant hysteria which serves no purpose except to alienate an important block of voters. Just stick to fiscal responsibility and smaller government

    November 8, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  17. Art Kittler

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

    You could have picked whomever you wanted and in so doing got the candidate your party picked.... Majority rules. That's how the system works and it worked all through the season and again on Tuesday.; perhaps not in your favor but it worked with all its flaws as well as strengths. It's time to stop your crying and bickering and move on. The tea Party days are numbered.

    November 8, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  18. thomas

    This person that the tea party is talking about could not get anywhere near the votes that robme got, they are out of their minds. just look what happen to their hand picked candidates all of them LOST it was not even close.
    This woman is totally completely in outer space just look how BIG their candidates lost across the country

    November 8, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  19. Greg

    This just in – Sarah Palin is dumbfounded. No reason given.

    November 8, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  20. Historian

    They can go ahead and think that, if they want, but they should be prepared to keep losing the Presidency. More conservative is not where they missed out: hispanics, women, the young, those are the demographics they need to open up to. That means being more moderate on some issues, like immigration and birth control, while being more specific about their economic philosophy.

    November 8, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  21. FedUpRepublican

    Wrong, wrong, wrong! The people quoted in this article couldn't be more wrong if their butts were screwed on backwards. Each and every one of them can take big share of the blame for the lousy results experienced by the Republican party. As for the arrogant posturing of the tea party representatives quoted in this article, they apparently haven't been informed yet that many of their ilk were served their walking papers on Tuesday. Here's a news flash; the majority of Americans are neither "severe" conservatives or raging liberals, so until the leadership of the Republican party finally decides to grow a pair and take the party back from the lunatic fringe (tea party and social conservatives) then they're going to keep seeing results similar to Tuesdays'.

    November 8, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  22. Critical Thinking

    Republicans need to adopt more of the; " we will give the americans free stuff, borrow the money from other countries to do so and then walk away from our responsibility to pay for it and hand the bill to the next generation that was too young to vote when we were running for office. Somewhat similiar to when a group of people go out together for dinner and when the check comes, the irresponsible person can be found in the restroom.

    November 8, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  23. salukilady

    Sore losers usually point fingers at everyone and everything else......................except themselves or their policies. Wake up and smell the roses.............America is no longer the old "white boy" majority.

    November 8, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  24. ru serious

    The Tea Party and the assorted wingnuts are to blame... the Primaries were bruising, Game over before it even began for Romney, since his own party defined him. Oblamo just picked up the Gingrich, etc. talking points and ran with them. What a sad sad day.

    November 8, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  25. Peter Sutherland

    Typical! The Tea Party subscribes to the old philosophy that to stop a child from crying, you just need to spank it harder...

    November 8, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
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