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. Ken

    "The Party of Personal Responsibility." LOL
    "The Party of Fiscal Responsibility.” LOL
    “The Party of Family Values.” LOL
    “The Party of Patriotism.” LOL
    “The Big Tent Party.” LOL
    It’s the party of blame; the party of the rich by the rich for the rich, the party of tax-cuts and wars paid for by our children, the party of sticking their noses in everyone else’s personal business, the party of chicken-hawks, the party of prejudice and the party for whites-only.
    Voters see right through Republican lies. It’s all packaging and no product.
    GOOD RIDDANCE!

    November 8, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. I Carsten

    The Republican Party thought they had it made,get a few tinhats together,tell them some insane nonsence .
    Say the President is not really an American, but a Muslem who want to enslave you.Tell them that health care is going
    to make you a commie. Tell them that the only real Americans are white Americans.Tell them the goverment wants to
    take away their guns. Tell them the the goverment is interfering in their Christen Churches, and the only real Americans
    are Christen. Tell them that paying taxes is unpatriotic,because the Goverment will only use to give hand outs to those dead beat poor people . Crank up these frighten people even more then they usually are so you can get them to vote for
    you. Then when you get in power do nothing for them. Great plan, only problem is now they want to take over the party
    and you can no longer control the monster you created. They actually beliveve this BS. The Tea Party now is insisting
    the country thinks like they do. Now they want the Republican Party to use the crazy nonsence you feed them as your
    platform. Good luck trying to get normal people to vote for these great ideas that the party now owns.By the way,people
    will catch on that insisting if we keep doing the same things your party has been doing over and over this will suddenly
    some how help middle class America, and not just you and the rich donors won't get you elected. Maybe, just maybe if
    you just once tried doing something in the best interest of the country for a change, you might win one.
    same thing over and over

    November 8, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  3. 11/6, "There was an avalanche on Bull$#*! Mountain"

    Anyone heard from Rinse U.R. Priebus since the avalanche?

    November 8, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. JGR

    That the Tea Party wingnuts think, after costing the Republican Party five or more Senate seats and the Presidency, that the solution is to be even more racist and wing-nutty, points not just to intellectual bankruptcy, but honest-to-god cognitive pathology or defect in brain function. Put more simply: they really are mentally disabled, and need supervision, medication and health care. Thankfully Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions like these!

    November 8, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. USAF Vet

    Ok Tea Party! Break away from the Republican Party and start running strictly Tea Party Candidates in the elections if you are so confident! Let's see what happens!

    November 8, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  6. Frank31

    Why republicans lose, is they are all talk and no reality. They claim to be moderate, but in reality, are extremist nutcases more often than not.

    America doesn't want hard right economic policies or hard-right social policies. They want moderate policies like Obama/dems are offering, and no amount of republican yahoo propaganda will fool people about that reality.

    November 8, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  7. Pander Bear

    Yeah, the problem was that the rapist loving, minority bashing, women hating GOP isn't conservative enough. LOL! Go further to the right GOP! I'll pop some popcorn and watch you fade into irrelevance.

    November 8, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. Beedle Bump

    We need to get more extreme right! Ban divorce! Ban alcohol! Only allow Christian shows on TV! AAAAAGGGGGHHHH!!!!

    That is the ticket. We will just ignore the fact white population is declining and put our faith in jesus

    November 8, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. Mike

    A more conservative candidate would have done worse than Romney and Ryan. Your ideas and philosophies do not resonate with the public. Less regulation of the banks that ruined the world economy with their speculation. Tax cuts for the wealthy funded by gutting social programs and safety nets for the poor and old. Repeal a healthcare program that will help tens of millions of Americans and slow spending growth. Tax policy that favors those that ship jobs off shore. Growth of defense budgets to start yet another war while our infrastructure falls down around us. This morning my local paper had numerous upset republicans telling me how stupid I was for not supporting their candidates. You expect me to vote for your party by insulting me? Not to mention vote for policies that make no sense. Good luck with that.

    November 8, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. MTexas

    This is a ridiculous stand to take. So let me get this straight – because Romney wasn't conservative enough, he lost to Obama? So... did the Republicans instead vote for the Democrat b/c their guy was too moderate? And then I suppose the super-conservative approach would have gotten the swing voters? Romney taking the approach of moderate is the ONLY reason it was even somewhat of a close race. Until the Republican party admits to themselves they need to modernize their thinking – I don't think they'll see much success in 2016!

    November 8, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Buck Nazty

    Best thing I've heard in a long time. "Tea party will take over the Republican Party within 4 years." Good luck with that.

    November 8, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. carrborian

    i have just about lost my patience with these self-righteous, childish jerks. christians they are not!

    November 8, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. emanresu8

    Anonymous hit the nail on the head. The new, true "silent majority" are people who want to get things done by representatives who are completely comfortable working with others regardless of party affiliation. The media and leaders of both parties react to the "squeaky wheel" extremists from both sides, but the true opinions of the masses lie with moderates of both parties. I'm disappointed to see this reaction from the Tea Party and Republicans. The message is clear: Don't dig yourself deeper into an extreme stance. Romney was a better choice than past candidates because of his less extreme views. That's why it was a tight race. Congress inability to be flexible for the last 4 years lost cost them my vote this election. I'm an Independent, and I believe we'll see a continued, strong exodus from both parties to declare themselves Independent, simply as a None of the Above vote. We're tired of voting the lesser of two evils.

    November 8, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  14. Paul

    I often here even some of the fringe lunatic pundits describe America as a center right country. The Tea Party was hijacked by the radical, evangelical right wing of the party. Goldwater warned of this almost 50 years ago. Barack Obama won the election because he is closer to what used to be center right policies than the radicals that have hijacked the GOP.

    November 8, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. NameJames l pollard

    Da bottom line is dat Obama n da democrats r more n touch not just with minorities but with regular everyday Americans period

    November 8, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. Sane in Maine

    What was the TP thinking? Everyone else in the country knew that Mitt was going way out on the far right – just to cut toward the middle of the field – trouble is he didn't catch the pass. Didn't they understand what "etch-a-sketch" meant?

    He would have lost by a wider margin if he stayed that far right. Who really know where he was – he didn't even know.

    November 8, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  17. Roger

    I love it when all the Snakes start eating each other.

    November 8, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. John Henson

    All of these attacks on Mr. Romney remind me of vultures picking at a carcass. REPUBLICANS lost, not just Mitt Romney! Republicans have left moderates, blacks, Latinos, and women out of the party. It was the party that needlessly left them out of the conversation. One conservative wrote the defeat was "a reminder to us that we need to rally together and solidify social, fiscal and national security conservatives."

    Yeah. Do that and never win another national election.

    November 8, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. Seth Hill

    What does religious conservatism have to do with fiscal conservatism? Us Liberals are split the same way, social vs. fiscal. We really need 4 parties: Religious Conservatives, Social Liberals, Free-Market Capitalists, and Wellfare-State Socialists. Then each of us could join the party that really represents them.

    November 8, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  20. D R

    They just don't get it. It would've been 70% for Obama if a "true" Conservative had run. Most of America does not believe all that "true" Conservatives – both social and fiscal do. They can keep deluding themselves or come back to earth and try find a way to work with others to further their agenda. My way or nothing is the proven road to failure. If Romney could've just been himself (a moderate GOP) and not had to pander to these far right wingnuts to get the nom, he probably would've won.

    But it would've been so much fun to have Bachmann or Trump or Perry as nominee – what late-night comedy fodder there would've been.

    November 8, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. steve

    The ultra-conservative wing of the GOP truly lives in an alternate reality (or "bubble" as Bill Maher calls it). They believe that the majority of Americans are ultra-conservative and ultra-religious (read: Evangelical Christians). They think that their vocal minority is actually the majority. The truth is that most Americans are centrists. We believe in fiscal-conservatism but we also believe in fairness under the law, equal rights, and the Constitution. We believe in separation of church and state, and we are against having government intrude into our personal lives. That is only part of why Romney lost.

    November 8, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  22. JohnK

    The Republicans aren't going to win the presidency again until they get rid of the right wing extremists and religious nuts that make the most noise. The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

    November 8, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. Greenspam

    How about this – why you look at pictures of Obama's election HQ, you see people of all races. When you look at pictures of Romney's election HQ, you see only white people.

    November 8, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  24. mike

    The Republican party is over - they are becoming obsolete, it's really quite enjoyable to watch.

    November 8, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. Sea Cow

    No matter who the the RNC puts into leadership they will still have a very large constituency that embraces the most vile strains of religious dogma, xenophobia, and contempt towards the underclass. It is a toxic brew that will undermine whatever effort they put forth to present themselves as a party of viable ideas and reasonable alternative within a rapidly evolving and diverse electorate.

    The loudest and highest profile segments from which they garner support are a built-in repellent to the civil minded populations they need to attract in order to win future elections. The tea partiers are quintessential examples.

    The RNC is critically deficient and seemingly incapable of understanding the changing role of culture in politics. It appears they are trapped in a labyrinth of myopia that will ultimately usher in their extinction unless some rational element from within stands up against the most derisive groups curently waiving the RNC banner. Unfortunately for them, they don't seem anywhere near to doing that.

    November 8, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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