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. John

    If the Republican Keep thinking they don't need to change ,than It going to be a long time be for they see the In side of the White house,except on a Visit. They are way to far to the Right,and they make It real clear they are out to protect the Rich. They need to start showing that they care more about the middle Class and below. In other word the 100% Instead of the 1%. And right now they need to show more Intent to Compromise In congress or In 2014 they will lose Control of Congress. The American people are trying to tell you Republican ,but It seem that you flat out refuse to Listen, but keep going the way that you are and you Republican will find out the hard way. And get rid of the Tea Party they are not doing anything but hurting your Party and I mean big time hurt.

    November 11, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  2. KS2 Problema

    I'm thinking folks like Gary Bauer must have PRDF's - personal reality distortion fields - that could deflect a cruise missile in target-lock mode.

    Granted that the far right have - or at least had - embraced a profound skepticism of polling and survey data - a skepticism that served them disastrously during the recent elections as well noted across the media - but Bauer's bizarre flights of fantasy about the values that average Americans hold and the policies they say they believe in are enough to twist a straight-thinker's line of thought into a twisted, tangled heap of yesterday's spaghetti...

    November 11, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. GJGVT

    "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." << - Hello? that was 30 years ago, alot of those people it "netted" in 1979/80 were 60 back then, now they are dead.

    November 11, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  4. hsiao bai

    Further to the right? Bolder? Really? Can we just choose one state - lilke Montana or one of the Dakotas where they can have their own country where they can enact their chirstian version of Sharia law? Le's see how that works out for them. At the very least, in one more generation, there will probably be some great protest Rock n; Rolll coming out of Crazy-Rightastan,

    November 11, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. Name Penguin

    It's not the social issues that lost the election, it is the Republican Ayn Randish theory of economics that cost them the election. Their social platform is intrusive and draconian and did cost them some votes. But its belief that the wealthy creates jobs cost them the election. Wealth does not create jobs. Jobs create wealth.

    November 11, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  6. Facts don't Lie

    when people like Donald Trump and John Sununu were spouting off racial divisive stuff, as typical Mitt Romney failed to even address it less known denounce it. Why? Because the far right wing of the GOP the one he was trying to cater to accepts that type of garbage. In the end that didn't help him either. Instead of admitting to themselves they have a problem the Rush Limbaugh bunch says "we don't have a problem, THEY do!" and aren't going to change. Hopefully as a person here that has voted Republican in the past, they will do something about it. WHo knows in 2016 if the DNC doesn't offer what I can agree with I might vote GOP again.

    November 11, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. Nick Griffin

    The vast majority of Americans consider themselves fiscal conservatves and social liberals. It is difficult to find a Republican who is either of these, except in the ostracized, mocked and marginalized Ron Paul, libertarian wing of the party. The same is true of Democrats. Except on the issue of abortion, they are no longer civil libertarians, and clearly are not fiscal conservatives. In fact, there is little significant difference between the parties. Americans no longer have a major party that promises to give them even half of what they want from a politician.

    November 11, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  8. ronvan

    HOPE IS ETERNAL! NOT!!! UNTIL the republicans wake up and realize that they have BIG PROBLEMS, which they continue to deny, they will be irrelevant, and relagated to history, with the 2 main parites being democrat & independent!
    "BONEHEAD aka Boehner, is a prime example! There is a way to positively determine for, WE, the people, to find out exactly where the problems lies & who is a fault!! Put ALL the upcoming meetings/discusions/arguments, on NATIONAL TV!! Then WE can see who the problem makers are and deal with them on the next voting season!

    November 11, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  9. Dtg311

    I I think one of the reasons for the loss of the Republicans in this election is that people don't like the non-cooperative policy of the Tea Party faction in Congress. We can bear the hardship which is usually the consequence of such a policy only if it iis used against an occupying power, not against our own government.

    November 11, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. nc_mike

    Bwahhhhahhhhahhhhh!!!! Goodbye Reublicans, off the the far Right you go like the Whig party – into the political wilderness permanently. The moderates in the GOP don't have the stones to reject Rush, Rove, Hannity and the rest of the extreme nut cases dragging the GOP to the far right. The GOP internal civil war has begun, but the moderates will lose. like always.

    November 11, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. SueW

    Too bad Huntsman wasn't the choice of the Republican party. He was the only intelligent and true Republican in the field. Sadly, the Tea Party hijacked my party and drove us off of the cliff. It the leaders of the party don't take control back we won't be winning much for the foreseeable future.

    November 11, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  12. Name cindy

    The Rebublicans have offended just about every segment ans demographic groups there are They are their own worst enemy.

    November 11, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  13. Iamnotfooled

    Jon Huntsman is the only one who made any sense and would be willing to change the archaic mentality of the Republicans. Rep. Rodgers shows she is in lock-step with Repubs and will not budge. Pathetic.

    November 11, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  14. Maggi Mercado

    Politicians must realize the they can't play GOD and legislate goodnes. People have free will given by God in order to learn life lessons and evolve. Some self righteous, moralizing politicians are also hyporcrits pushing their religious and political views on others. The obsession with women's reproductive organs is beyond creepy, forced rape probes, saying rape is God's will, questioning rape's consequences, having secret homosexual affairs, cheating on their wives and then crying on TV saying they sinned but God forgave them. It's backwards and frankly revolting that religious leaders are in bed with these vipers. What would the prophets say?

    November 11, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  15. Hawk in Texas

    4 republicans on the same show and they all 4 had different ideas about what to do. they can't even agree among themselves. The biggest problems with the republicans is that they can't agree with any one, they do not believe in global warming. they do not believe in evelution. they cant even evolve far enough ahead to get off fossil fuels. they do not believe in green energy. they think that the world is only 6 thousand years old. the democrats wiped the floor with romney and nut job ryan. but yet bohner thinks that the republicans won. he is right back with my way or no way. maybe all republicans will be voted out of office in 2014.

    November 11, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  16. Andrew

    The level of dilusion these individuals speak is mind boggling. The GOP doesn't stand a chance of surviving if being more conservative is the approach. Pull your heads out from your back sides and look at the world around you. Stop listening to the religious lunatics and social value institutions looking to just gain power and say over your rights. It's the 21st Century .. Your policies don't benefit or open doors for the lesser of society. The conservative policies only socialize and subsidize the rich from ever loosing wealth or deal with real competition. You've allowed greed and unethical behavior in business to be the new normal. Your egotism about your own unwarranted accomplishments and selfishness is going to bury your party. This change in demographic and shift in values is just the beginning.. Do you change or vanish into history as the party of ignorance? The people sent you a message .. Either compromise or get the hell out of the way.. And if you won't well soon vote you out for ever. It's the first warning .. Don't be stupid and ignore it as just a breeze. It's the unseen storm rolling slowly over the mountain.

    November 11, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  17. plain&simple

    The fringe is the fringe for a reason!!! Republicans don't and won't get MORE fringe votes. They need to disassemble their dependence on the crazies. Try getting more people with a brain capable of independent thought and reason to vote your party. There's a bigger pool to draw from.

    November 11, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  18. Doug

    So, the key question is, why did Romney not have the integrity and beliefs to be "himself" in the primaries...if the primaries forced him to lie about what he believed in or would do as President, he needs to own it and the far right needs to "own" that they are far out of step with today's great America.

    November 11, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  19. Arun

    I think the repubes keep going to the extreme right. It will help get rid of this pathetic racist party of no compromise!!!!

    November 11, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  20. migeli

    There was something a little strange about that Romney guy.Thanks for spreading that around the office, moderater!

    November 11, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  21. yeahitsme72

    As a life long Republican who voted for Obama these last two elections.

    Republicans used to be the party of personal freedom and responsibility. Now they try to pass laws that limit personal freedom like who you can marry or if a medical procedure like abortion is appropriate. These are not laws that support freedom, this is trying to force one groups opinion on morality on someone else. It's un American.

    Republicans used to be the adults in the room on fiscal issues. They've made Ronald Reagan a deity despite Reagan running up huge deficits during his presidency and they've doubled down on disastrous fiscal policies (like those of George Bush, that nearly destroyed this country).

    After watching this clip it seems the some in the GOP needs a few more crushing defeats to learn it's lesson and retire the old guard that have run this party into the ground.

    November 11, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  22. Harry From Pa

    People voted against the Tea Party, they highjacked congress, and people are tired of the standstill in Washington, now its time to get down to some business. The people have spoken, and at this rate the Latinos will become the majority, and most of them are backing Democrats, if the Repubs don't do something now they will be lost to history.

    November 11, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  23. 0termbachmann

    Wait til the axis of evil, ( Boehner, canter, and bitch O'Connell ) try to block the government business again. Maybe people will wake up forever.

    November 11, 2012 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  24. Cincy Jim

    I'm a liberal democrat but I fully understand that we need two viable political parties. Solutions come from the center not from the fringes of either party. The Republicans have got to find a way to rid themselves of the radicals and get back to the the core values of the GOP when it really was the Grand Old Party.

    November 11, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  25. Charles W. Skinner

    How about turning off the welfare spigot to the 12 or so Democrat welfare counties which is where Obama won: Wayne and Oakland in Michigan, Miami-Dade and Broward in Florida, the counties surrounding Philladelphia PA, Fairfax VA and Columbus and Cleaveland OH, and Milwalkee WI. Cut off the welfare dollars from flowing to those counties and I guarantee you the people will be rioting in the streets to elect a Republican as the economies of those areas collapse.

    November 11, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
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