November 11th, 2012
02:42 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN panel reflects divide in GOP on party's future

(CNN) - Mitt Romney's loss in Tuesday's election has prompted a flood of opinions on the future of the Republican Party, many of which were on display Sunday during a panel moderated by CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley and senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

On one side was former Romney campaign adviser Carlos Gutierrez, who pushed for a move to the center by saying the election results were the consequence of the "far-right wing of the Republican Party."

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The former Commerce Secretary said on "State of the Union" that Republicans like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock made voters nervous with their comments about rape and abortion.

Blaming the party's predicament on the "incredibly ridiculous" primary process, Gutierrez said the GOP nominating contests forced candidates, including Romney, to say "outrageous things."

"It's almost as if though we [Republicans] are living in the past," Gutierrez said.

Agreeing with Gutierrez's push to the middle was Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor who made a bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

Huntsman argued his party lacked a vision for the future, saying that rather than "moralizing to people" and focusing on social issues, people wanted to be "left alone." Like Gutierrez, Huntsman said the party needed to recognize "the cultural and demographic shifts that are profound in this country."

Huntsman said the tone of how Republicans talk about controversial issues like immigration was very important and had not been helpful for the party.

"Words matter," he said.

Headed in other the direction was Gary Bauer, the president of the conservative group American Values.

Bauer disagreed with Gutierrez and Huntsman, saying he wanted the party to continue pushing its conservative views, especially on social issues. Bauer said he believed social issues had helped the party net millions of evangelical and socially conservative voters since the Reagan era, and thought that these issues could appeal to Hispanics.

"America's not demanding a second liberal party," said Bauer, who also faulted Romney for not focusing more on these issues, believing that it could have helped his campaign.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington said that the election resulted in a "status quo" since the president and balance of power in Congress went unchanged in Tuesday's vote.

Saying the exit polls showed voters "were with us" on many of the issues, McMorris Rodgers said the GOP needed to modernize by tailoring its message to groups like Hispanics and women, rather than moderating the positions themselves.

"I don't think it's about the Republican Party needing to become more moderate; I really believe it's the Republican Party becoming more modern," the former Romney surrogate said. "And whether it's Hispanics, whether it's women, whether it's young people, the Republican Party has to make it a priority to take our values, take our vision to every corner of this country. To every demographic group, and I am confident that we can do it."

At the end of the discussion, the panel was asked for their solution to the party's electoral woes. None of the panelists agreed on any single answer, or whether a solution was even needed.

Bauer said Republicans should be "bold and confident" in their economic and socially conservative views, while McMorris Rodgers said she didn't believe any changes were needed in the party. Huntsman said a solution would be to "get our economic house in order" and tack libertarian on social issues, and Gutierrez said the party needed to "welcome immigrants."


Filed under: 2012 • Cathy McMorris Rodgers • Jon Huntsman • Mitt Romney
soundoff (141 Responses)
  1. Ken

    If one really look at the picture you have of the GOP on your panel you will see what the precise problem is!

    November 11, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  2. clarke

    Wow, THE GOP is really throwing their own people under the bus.

    November 11, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. Squigman

    Your party has no future that can be readily seen. The inclusion of the teatards and the hate mongers has sealed your parties fate. No one likes to be bullied, no one at all. As long as your party believes that might makes right, you'll always be losers.

    November 11, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  4. honest marie

    Simply put they have lost touch with 21st century AMERICA. Period! !!!

    November 11, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Victor

    Oh that's a good idea just keep moving even farther to the right on social issues and the only ones left in your party are bible readers and the gun enthusiasts.

    November 11, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  6. Name Independent Thinker

    John Huntsman and Carlos Gutierrez seem to be the sane voices of the Republican Party. Gary Bauer is someone they need to jettison, even after losing the election, he still wants to go as far to the right as possible. People like Bauer are the main reason the GOP lost, they scare the bejesus out of main stream America. If John Huntsman ever ran again for President, I would vote for him. He has the voice of reason and he understands China better than anyone.

    November 11, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  7. Robin

    Yeah Republican Party, it's only the WAY you are getting your message out that is the problem... As a Democrats, that is music to my eyes!

    November 11, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  8. J 'Cincinnati' Redd

    The GOP could could make a strong come back with a msg of lower tax rates and push small business,thats what 60% of americans want. leave woman alone and let them control their own body, leave gay people alone if two men want 2get married so be it.let GOD do his job. if the GOP did this they would be back on top in no time.

    November 11, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. Zon

    I agree with Governor Huntsman. Would have voted for the Repubican ticket if he had been the nominee. The social coservatives are driving the GOP over a cliff. They need to be solving fiscal problems and get out of the business of moral activism.

    November 11, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. Doug

    Huntsman is 100% right. If the GOP doubles down on stupid, as Gary Bauer is suggesting, they will soon become a permanent minority party.

    November 11, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  11. Bob Lewis

    A Democrat's prescription for GOP comeback based on the Real World most of them don't yet live in:
    1. Drop the social issues completely and kick out the "abortion" crazies
    2. Cooperate with Obama on immigration reform
    3. Put the Evangelicals back in their place, they've got nowhere else to go
    4. Stop opposing Obamacare and work to improve it instead
    4. Work with Democrats on entitlement reform. You have no credibility to do it alone

    November 11, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. Ken O

    The so-called "Right" will remain ineffective as long as they insist on coupling being Fiscally Conservative with being joined at the hip with Christian enforced morality. As long as they continue to try to uphold gun rights and national defense, but doing so at the price of having to swallow the Bible, gun rights and national defense will suffer at the hands of fiscally irresponsible debt-inducing pro-socializing liberals. If they start thinking like Statesmen and stop acting like evangelists they might revitalize the party. Until then, we will continue down the road of wealth redistribution, welfare populace and a society designed to exist based on the lowest common denominator.

    November 11, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. Joey

    Tea/Republicans DID voice their core beliefs strongly and well. But these were rejected by a majority of the electorate. It's not HOW they were voiced; it's what they are. And they have been rejected. Learn from this, Tea/Republicans!

    November 11, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. David from Sandy Utah

    I watched the discussion described above on State of the Union. Kudos to all involved.

    Sadly, Gary Bauer represents the very worst faction of the current Republican Party: So-called Christians who want to use the rule of law to shove their Iron Age mythology down the throats of society as a whole.

    Christians are expected (commanded) to follow The Golden Rule.

    Do people like Bauer want politically powerful individuals not of their faith to use the rule of law to enforce behavior or limit personal liberty based on the irrational, narrow-minded dogma of that other religion? These hypocrites make me want to vomit.

    Interestingly, Jon Huntsman disagreed with Bauer on the role of government in regulating so-called values issues.

    Side note, if Bauer and his ilk represent you family’s values, I strongly encourage you to put yourself up for adoption and find a family that does not embrace religionist bigotry.

    November 11, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. David Friedman

    None of the participants seem to have represented the Ron Paul wing of the party, which showed a strong appeal to young voters during the primary season, or the related Tea Party wing.

    November 11, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. honest marie

    GOP please do not change your politics. Afterall Rush L.does not want you to. We couldn't be happier for we do not ever want to see you at the realm of our political leadership. STAY THE WAY YOU ARE!!!

    November 11, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  17. n.cruz

    Mr.Gary B. is right, It's a mistake not to think Latinos aren't "pro-life" enough, we hold strong beliefs on that, and I'm afraid that all it'd take is a "tone down" of immigration/civil right issues and a cover up of the discrimination/white supremacy of the far Right to allure the Latinos to vote for Republican again.

    November 11, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  18. vic , nashville ,tn

    Soon after 2008 election republican party was divided, 2009 and 2010 GOP one and only goal was attack Obama care they were success after that what? ?????? No plan, No vision
    As Jon Huntsman said Party need a real vision it has to be practical
    Tea party blames Obama for current economy and deficit But Exit poll show voters Blame G.W.Bush
    Afghan war is hurting GOP , Immigration hurting GOP , Abortion hurting GOP

    November 11, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  19. vwman

    I'm just glad Romney lost.

    November 11, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  20. dfeaster

    It will be difficult for the Republican party to come together because so much of the party is made up of fringe groups.

    November 11, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  21. ted

    the problem with romney is that he had no core stances on any subject. He wanted to appeal to the right wing while wanting to appeal to independents. He waffled and flipflopped his positions until he had held every position on many topics. I think a politician needs to be true to himself or herself and take stands on subjects and stick to them and not compromise for political gain.

    November 11, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  22. Let's Move Forward

    Well republicans don't look for minorities and women to bail you out. The republican party is doomed because of hate for non whites, women and poor people, even poor republicans. In other words republicans you will not have your cake and eat it too. The people have spoken and we are taking our country back from the unpatriotic hateful republicans.

    November 11, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Such fools

    November 11, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. Rik Warren

    Bauer represents the far right and his rigid beliefs were represented by all the their prospective candidates. His inability to hear what the other panelists said because of his blinders is a metaphor for GOP s persona. Get out of peoples lives, level the playing field allowing the middle class to thrive and for goodness gracious drop Reagan as the political analog to Christ.

    November 11, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. hilroy

    No need to change??? How stupid these people in the RP are. No wonder this once great party with the big tent are headed to the scrap yard.

    November 11, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
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