November 11th, 2012
02:42 PM ET
1 year 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. ThinkAgain: Let's see the list of donors!

    You know what I'm more concerned about – and not just because I'm a Democrat and my party won – is to see some immediate, real action and cooperation from the Republicans on tackling the very real problems our country faces.

    And I don't mean proposing the failed policies of the past; THEY DON'T WORK! America needs and deserves a lot of hard work from our politicians to GET THINGS DONE.

    November 11, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. Eileen Gray

    I would suggest that the inability of the far-right to acknowledge any position but their own is amply demonstrated by Mr. Bauer and Ms. McMorris Rogers. The Republicans, in gleefully empowering these fringe mentalities, have sown the seeds for their own growing irrelevance.

    November 11, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. Ancient Texan

    A larger turnout by the Conservatives that stayed at home because Romney was not conservative enough, or because he was Morman would have been a large help.

    November 11, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  4. Harald Schmidt

    I voted primarily for Obama to vote against the Republican social agenda ... History proves you cannot legislate morality, also our country was founded on principal of seperation between religion and Goverment. Jesus quoted "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's", Matthew 22:21.

    November 11, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. r.brown

    I for one due hope the GOP continues to delude themselves and changes nothing. If so they will be easier for the Democrats to beat. Back to the 1950's GOP!

    November 11, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  6. Anthony

    More people voted for Democrats than Republicans in this election. More people call themselves Democrats than Republicans. This means that Democrats are closer to the political center than Republicans. This should not be difficult to understand. Republicans, move back to the center, or you are going the way of the California Republican Party.

    November 11, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  7. CheeseSteak

    Dinosaurs all

    November 11, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. Mittfail

    "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.""

    Yes – when we lose, the answer is to limit democracy or change the rules... what else is better than that??? Score one for elitism.

    Maybe if they hadn't alienated the Ron Paul super-minority by cheating their way through the primary they would have had a shot a winning. Maybe if he had advised his candidate to have a backbone and actually support conservative values other than the team of kingmaker 1%-ers that were running that campaign wanted, they would have had a shot at winning. Maybe if he had advised his candidate to stand firm on core conservative values of smaller government and transparency they would have had a shot at winning.

    All of those things would have taken the one thing that was clearly missing from the campaign – integrity. His remarks in this article show that. The least he could do is admit they made a mistake when it came to identifying what being a Republican was about and say sorry for screwing up the campaign. Oh wait – that takes integrity. Nevermind.

    November 11, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. Canuck

    "Bauer said Republicans should be "bold and confident" in their economic and socially conservative views."

    If they would just drop the socially conservative views I think they might get somewhere, I think people would accept economic conservatism, but the GOP doesn't seem to understand that people typically don't like being told how they should live their lives.

    November 11, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. Dave Harris

    The "far right wing IS the Republican Party", since they've run out everybody else. I don't think they'll invite back the people they hate.

    November 11, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Nick S

    The reason the GOP lost is because they have abandoned all of their principals. They were originally the party of civil liberties and economic liberties. They used to be fiscal conservatives, and in favor of less government intrusion into your life. Now, they spend just as much as anybody in government, and they favor intrusion into your personal life and American intervention overseas.

    The GOP will soon be taken over by libertarian-minded people who favor a return to the party's roots. We have watched it begin with several elections won this year by libertarian-minded republicans.

    November 11, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  12. Quattrone

    As long as there is a strong contingent of the GOP that thinks like the third guy - that women need to be told what to do - they are going to continue to self destruct.

    November 11, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. Jeff O'Dette

    6 feet under. And good ridance

    November 11, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. Rick McDaniel

    If the social issues don't go away, the GOP is done. Independents do not support those issues.

    November 11, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. john

    Republicans continue to miss the real point here. Becoming more moderate is a yes as is becoming more inclusive, but they need to move away from the tea party and far religious right mentality and to help get rid of all the super pac, and lobby money that is corrupting our entire political system. And last but the most important is to remember that they work for the 100% and not the 1%. they have to concentrate on helping all Americans and not the "have mores". If they don't do this or get this, then as a political power they will be null and void.

    November 11, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  16. hypatia

    well, they've managed to insult and denigrate everyone BUT old rich white guys. What did they think was going to happen and how does all that add up to 'we need to be MORE extreme"? Oh, I forgot. GOP reality is like reality-show reality.

    November 11, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  17. Bill in Florida

    Let's hope that the Tea Party wins the war and moves the GOP even farther to the right. Result: Democratic rule in the White House and Senate for the next 20 years. And maybe we can flip the House back to Dem control following redistricting after the 2020 census.

    November 11, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. Facts don't Lie

    @ Ancient Texan...

    so what are you going to do once Texas turns BLUE and that is coming up. I hear Oklahoma is safe as a red state or Louisiana but right now they have a governor that doesn't look like too many in the GOP so that might not be safe either. Oh well.........

    November 11, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  19. Jim Saunders

    McMorris Rodgers is saying is, "Let's put some lipstick on this pig."

    November 11, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  20. Nick Griffin

    A vast majority of Americans consider themselves fiscal consetvatives and social liberals. The problem is, in the Republican Party, its difficult to find members who are either, except in the mocked and ostracized Ron Paul, libertarian wing of the party. Likewise, with Democrats–except on the abortion issue–they are no longer civil libertarians or fiscal conservatives. Where are Americans to turn? Minimized, marginalized and ignored third parties who struggle in our duopoly for mere ballot status?

    November 11, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. al91206

    True blue liberal here ... but honestly I could and probably would vote for someone like Jon Huntsman. Many people that the GOP has lost are fiscal moderates and social liberals. When the evangelicals took over the party in the 90's these moderates as well as minorities started leaving the GOP in droves. As a Democrat I hope that either the GOP moderates their stances, then we all win, or they keep their extremist tone and Americans vote them into irrelevancy. Either way, the country on social issues has made a marked shift to the left and it probably will never go back to the Reagan "values" again.

    November 11, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. ken

    The Tea Party is a like a cancer in the Republican and needs to be stomped out or Republicans will alienate moderate Republicans and Democrats it needs to pull in.

    November 11, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  23. Galactus93

    Pandering to Latinos about granting Amnesty to illegal aliens is not going the help the GOP win any votes. In 1986 Ronald Regan granted Amnesty to millions of illegal aliens and now they all votes for the Democrats. Now 12 million illegal aliens want Amnesty and they will become citizens to vote for Democrats. Deportation is the only answer. Enforce our current laws and deport all illegal aliens. The GOP has nothing to lose by insisting that all illegal aliens must be deported as part of any immigration overhaul.

    November 11, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. kel

    These folks are still in denial. No new ideas and the country has changed. This party cannot continue to use scare tactics and lies to get their base to vote. Obviously It didn't work. Karl Rove is still in denial in which he made an ass out of himself on Fox News of all places.

    November 11, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. Anthony

    Conservatives, this election has made it clear that there are not enough of you. Romney won the Republican primary because conservatives could not stop him. When you don't have enough people on your side, pointing fingers at others won't help.

    November 11, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
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