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
1 year 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 (911 Responses)
  1. Gary C

    The tea party is the American taliban (too extreme) the rebuplican party needs to be more moderate, you dont have to change your religion or moral views no one is going to make you have an abortion or marry a gay person, part of being free is not having to have someone elses beleifs shoved down you throat. God gave us freedom of choice the tea party gives us our way or the highway. The Republican party would have picked up millions of democratic votes if they would have told the tea party to get lost. The tea party and its extremist nuts lost the election not Romney.

    November 8, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  2. Donaldbain

    The reason Romney lost is because of the Tea Party and it's lunatic fringe agenda. Incidentally, the Tea Party will disappear over the next four years because the black man will be leaving the White House and the entire reason for their existence goes with him. There will still be kooks out there but no one will be listening, except Fox News.

    November 8, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. rick from Texas

    From and independents view: Conservatives/republicans had gold in their bag of primary candidates but chose to throw it away. It was John Huntsman. This and many like me would have voted for him instead of President Obama. But because Huntsman refused to vilify President Obama Like the rest of the field, he was never taken serious when in fact he had the perfect tone for the national election. Keep on hating and imature tactics republicans and let us know how that works for you...... and get a clue about the demographics in this country.

    November 8, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  4. Mr. Moderate

    If Tea Partiers take over the Republican party they will continue to wither. If is amazing to hear how out of touch these people are. All of their suggestions would have just widened Obama's victory margin. The Tea Party is the number one reason the Republicans failed to capture the senate in the past two elections. They Tea Party gave us Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, Sharon Angle in Nevada, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. All of these were easily winnable for the Republicans, but the Tea Party put in crazy candidates that were rejected by the WHOLE electorate.

    November 8, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  5. Ari

    All these people mentioned in the above article are what's wrong with the repugs. Social conservatism is dead, with the next generation abortion, gay rights are non issues...yet there are the teabaggers out campaigning for traditional family values. Repugs used to be about fiscal conservatism, but bush threw that out the Windows early on and proved that the party is all about, Pro war, religious bigotry, hate and failed trickle down politics....

    November 8, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  6. Anthony Thompson

    As a Democrat, I would LOVE it if the tea partiers took over the GOP! I live in Michelle Bachmann's district, which is extremely conservative. She barely eked out a win, despite a 7 to 1 fundraising advantage and the fact that Mitt won the district by 17 points! Go for it, tea partiers! Bring the GOP to it's knees!

    November 8, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  7. Norm

    Oh the buyer's remorse is now hitting the fan.
    From day one of the primaries, they all said Romney was unelectable.
    He was passed over in 2008 in favor of senile old McCain and his wacko side kick.
    But just a few days ago, this was the man they wanted to lead our country.
    Now listen to all of the complaints and excuses.
    This is the essence of the Republican party.
    This is exactly why America rejected them again and will in 2016.
    They aren't qualified to lead this country and never will be.
    I guess you conservatives should be saying the election results are God's will.
    Right?
    That's what you get for trying to put a heretic in the White House.

    November 8, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  8. Chris

    Wow. Just wow. Romney lost because the population is no longer willing to go along with the ridiculous social agenda promoted by the religious right in order to get to the goal of limited government. It's just too much baggage for this day & age, and these doofuses say the failure was in not being socially conservative enough?? If Romney had campaigned like he governed Mass (pro-choice and at least ambivalent about gay rights), he would have demolished Obama at the polls. America was itching for better domestic and economic policy, but they weren't going to pay the price the religious zealots demanded.

    November 8, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  9. Bob

    The Tea Party = living in fantasyland.

    November 8, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. babak

    Romney lost because SANDY ,Christie,sandy,hispian and sandy!also obama real wife bill clinton!

    November 8, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. AZ Girl

    The reason for the loss was two fold. The pandering during theprimary for the base vote then the pandering for the moderate vote during the election. #2, you can't have extreme factions dictating to all. If the Republicans eould have ran Houseman, this life long democrat would have voted Republican for the 1st time bacause he was a moderate.

    November 8, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  12. Roger

    As a Democrat and a true believer in the 2-party system, I feel compelled to impart this observation to my "republican" friends. OPEN THE WINDOW, LOOK OUTSIDE AND SEE WHAT AMERICA LOOKS LIKE! If you think you can go on relying on old white southern men and radical views expressed by the far right fringe, you will never win another election. America is not the same as it was 50-60 years ago. We are a nation of inclusion not exclusion and unless and until my republican friends can once and for all disregard the rantings and ravings of rabble rousers like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, etc. your chances of reaching the diverse ethnic populations in our country will never happen. Compromise is not a dirty word and is one you need to embrace if you want the GOP to continue to be relevant or go the way of the dodo bird.

    November 8, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  13. Name

    Tea partiers will /ruin/ the Republican Party within four years.

    November 8, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  14. Jimm

    The Tea Party members live in a bubble. Most of the country does not agree with their vision.

    November 8, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. Jackson

    What the GOP adamantly insists on ignoring is that the younger generation does not share their hate. As the tired old angry white men die out, they are not being replaced with other angry white men. The paradigm has shifted.

    If pressed, I bet you would find the majority of America just left of center on most social issues, and just to the right of center on most fiscal issues. That is America.

    Learn that lesson, or enjoy the slide into obscurity, GOP.

    November 8, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  16. vhalen

    The Republicans did not lose because of Romney. Romney lost because of the Extreme Right of the Republicans. Had Santorum been the nominee, this would have been SOOOOO much worse.

    I feel bad for Romney, I think he was by far the most qualified, most moral, and got painted by the other side as something that is not accurate...but perception becomes reality. I wish Mitt Luck.

    Also, I am debating shifting from a Republican to independent, maybe even ebracing the blue side. I don't like the blue sides Social or Economic side, but I do like their acceptance of other ideas. In order for the Republican party to survive a future election they must: Take a softer side on immigration and start making some friends with the Latino community. Its OK to stick to the conservative economic standpoint, but it must be more inclusive. Gotta find a way to soften the schtick on womens health issues. Republicans won't be Republicans unless they are anti- abortion, and that does not have to change, but gaffes on rape, fighting against birth control and planned parenthood to the extreme they did just sent too many women away from the party. We either need to come to the little or we lose bigger next time. Adopting the more extrem Tea Party stance will only hurt us.

    November 8, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  17. Inyrules

    Going more conservative would NOT have helped Mitt Romney – It was the already conservative and alienating views both from him and from Paul Ryan that solidified that I could never vote for them, or any Republican candidate that can't keep their religious views out of my bedroom and my body. If the GOP can produce a candidate that does not alienate women by taking their reproductive rights away, does not alienate gays by stating they are less than straight couples and shouldn't marry/adopt kids, does not alienate immigrants by believing in self-deportation, and does not alienate half the country because they're "lazy and dependent" (so NOT true), and had a fantastic plan to create jobs and help the economy, then I would vote for them. I did not see that in Romney/Ryan. Once the Tea Party butts out of the Republican party, we may start to see candidates that can represent and help the American of today, not the Americans of 60 years ago. Until then, my vote will go elsewhere.

    November 8, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  18. bawevi

    YES YES YES! Keep the Republican enslaved to moving more and more to the far right with the "Born Again" nuts and the Tea Party lunatics!!!

    And keep allowing the perception that the ridiculously biased FoxNews and Republican Party are one-in-the-same to build... AND what the heck, keep Donald Trump as the Republican's clown mascot while you are at it.

    That way, no one even in their semi-right-mind will vote for Republicans in the next election... and the party will be dead within two elections. (By the way, I appreciated what once were the principles of the Republican Party, but those are long dead within the actual party.)

    November 8, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  19. DAN B

    So my thoughts on the win for oboma. He had the balls to try a medicare system which has saved more lives then you think it has and saved a personal friends of mine life. somehow the argument of destroying the bill was a good idea because it cost too much money? well to put it in perspective its not as much as both candidates combined spending on brainwashing advertisements. Cleaner tech which only 2% has failed where bain capital failed at 20%. these are just the real life numbers and may not hit you for a while. I don't feel like typing everying out but if your soo confused and scared just like you were after the bush huricane then go ahead and try canada. where you can get free health and you just have to wait for a little bit. your yard is crazy large and your air is cleaner, plus all the chicks up there are better looking....I think i'll take my own advice.

    November 8, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  20. joesixpackjr

    The GOP has 30-32 of the governors in this country, many of whom are the youngest most innovative politicians in the US. The GOP (with the tea party) is actually in good shape and has lots of talent; its main problem is inability to win a national election because the NY based national media despises the GOP and will do whatever is necessary to defeat it.

    November 8, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  21. PaulC

    When you look at the field of extremist and bizarre right wing candidates the repugs. considered a win would have been a major miracle and a tragedy for the country.
    Their sole agenda was to benefit the rich and offer tough love and tolerance of the poor until they could become rich.

    November 8, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  22. plain&simple

    If the tea party feels so sure about what they say....let them start their own party. Republicans should insist! Quit selling your soul for power and pieces of gold.

    November 8, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. Mike

    Yes, please go further right. Go ALLLLL the way right.

    That way we can all be assured that you will never get power in this country. I champion the Tea Party and GOP and your desire to be a bunch of crazy nut bags.... I truly DO!

    November 8, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. Independent

    Romney lost because the Republicans are just simply downright offensive.

    November 8, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  25. PaulC

    Does the evangelical right wing feel that the loss is God's will? What do you think God is trying to tell them?

    November 8, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
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