November 11th, 2012
02:42 PM ET
6 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. Name scot

    The comment about the Californian Republican Party is Particularly apt.

    The vote was not for the status quo. If it had been the rate of turning democratic seats to republican would have been like it was in 2010.

    The blind hatreds of the far right resemble those in Orange County California. A less consequential group in state politics can scarcely be found.

    November 11, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  2. mike from cali

    These comments all seem to be the same!!! Republicans...its ur right wing social agenda, go to church but keep ur church out of my life, don't want what ur selling!!!

    November 11, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  3. Max


    The major problem with the GOP is the antiquated view points they postulate. If the GOP is to be viable in the future, they have to get out of the mindset of the distant past and fast-forward to the 21st century. These are not the days of bayonets for sure!

    The GOP can't expect today's generation to get into reverse and back-speed to the 1950's...their ideas are too outdated for the new age. Maybe they need to even change their name to the GYP (Grand Young Party) to attract today's youths. They are free to, at least, steal some pages from Obama's book and learn how to stop going backwards.

    The GOP is essentially a 'backward' party...this must change if they want some attraction.

    November 11, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  4. Max

    Yak, yak, yak, yak, yak, yak, yak, yak yak, yak..and on and on they go...achieving NOTHING!

    November 11, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  5. mike92503

    Republicans don't get it...its ur social issues Stupid!!! Keep ur God out of my life... Your party has become party of controlling people's lives and hate...get the Christian coalition out of ur party, they're ruining you...

    November 11, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  6. onlyfacts

    As long as Fox news is around the Republican party will continue to fail. Fox's audience is misled on almost every political issue. These people end up sounding like fools with their ridiculous comments about Obama and Liberals. We can't ever debate real issues. It's not about being modern or more moderate or conservative. It is about being taken seriously. Luckily more than half of us know the truth and live in reality. So the conservatives need to start thinking for themselves and stop basing their opinions off of one hateful mans biased opinion. If you continue the ignorance you will never win the majority.

    November 11, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  7. Paula

    The electorate has spoken, but these guys refuse to listen. It is right there in black and white. This panel of Republicans has me laughing. They really do not get it, as it's much bigger than their little minds can comprehend. Voters want what makes sense. This party does NOT make sense. Relevancy without Rhetoric should be their aim as they go into their very uncertain future.

    November 11, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  8. bptsj

    There needs to be a third party for social conservatives. That way the GOP can go back to being known as fiscal conservatives and start gaining some votes back. The religious zealots can join the social conservative party and take whatever hardline stands they want. Many years ago I was a Republican but the path they chose drove me to being a Democrat. I think that has been played over by may other people as well.

    November 11, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  9. gdouglas

    The first party to develop a campaign that gets rid of blatant lies and derision will benefit greatly

    November 11, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  10. LouAZ

    Szilard 88:16 I'm all in favor of the democratic principle that one idiot is as good as one genius, but I draw the line when someone takes the next step and concludes that two idiots (Ronmey/Rayn) are better than one genius.

    November 11, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  11. fekt

    His own advisor says he had to adopt a harder stance on immigration in the primaries and that was part of the problem. Yes, it was, but not for the reason he says. It shows that Romney would say anything to whoever he was in front of when it came to pandering for a vote. It led to one more in the mountain of flip flops from a candidate who had no clear message on anything other than he will say anything and everything to get elected. The gop relied solely on hate for Obama to get the white house. They had no other plan. Say anything and everything to tear down the president, don't let the truth get in the way, if you get caught lying double down on the lie and never admit to it. In the end all you could count on was the racists and the fringe crazies. It's not enough anymore. I hope you learned nothing from all of this.

    November 11, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  12. edward Lewis

    If everyone would just look at who voted and where Obama carried the precincts it was the inner cities in all cases. Romney won if real estate matter and Obama won were welfare matters, the inner cities. Axelrod could have gotten a rock re-elected based on the demographic group

    November 11, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  13. Glenn

    I think the Republicans got it just right. I don't think they should change anything. That will ensure Republican defeats for years to come.

    November 11, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  14. pepecuevas

    for republicans to win they need to nominate electable canadiates, they got away with bush because of his NAME... second they need to get down from the clouds and reconize america has changed. and when you say you don't care about 47 percent of people in this country or let the auto industry go bankrupt, when your talking to the 1 percent elites, it don't take a rocket scientist to tell you that you been matched, the other guy would just need 3-5 percent of the country to vote for him and he would whip your butt...

    November 11, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  15. KO

    The Republicans are in denial if they think they just have to recalibrate their message. "Tax cuts" is not a governing philosophy. One problem is that the current Republican Party doesn't really take governing seriously. The other major problem is the the right is motivated primarily by fear: fear of immigrants, fear of non-Christians (especially Muslims), fear of cities, fear of minorities, fear of gays, etc. Ronald Reagan was a conservative, but also an optimist. Fear, anger, and paranoia aren't a way to attract new voters.

    November 11, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  16. Cecily

    The arrogance of those who take it upon themselves to "order" me how to think, what to value and to vote as they do, is at the heart of what I find offensive with certain "Conservatives". We Americans are bright, independent people......the minute your arrogance inspires you to tell us what to think: " Tee up,'s on! " Most of us respect your right to be wrong.....for us. Most of us are confident in *our* ability to make our own decisions.

    November 11, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  17. chill485

    The Republian Party's values, especilly those of the far right are what repels voters. It wasn'nt until the first debate when people got to see thatRomney was more moderate and reasonable that his poll numbers came off the mat. Clearly the true conservatives did not vote for Obama,they voted for Romney. There just aren't enogh of them to win an election. The only reason thy didn' lose th House was because of their success at gerrymandering

    November 11, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  18. harold

    This is a perfect illustration of how we can speak the same language but live in two very different worlds.
    Because of thinking like Bauer's, I used to be a moderate Republican, but now I'm a conservative Democrat.
    I went with the party espousing rational governance.

    November 11, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  19. Jackie Independent

    We need to build a strong third party to save United States of America!

    November 11, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  20. RJ

    WOW...THEY STILL DON'T GET IT!! guess you have to a 47er to understand

    November 11, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  21. Rick

    There are some real intelligent analysis in this blog but I think Bill Maher said it best: "The Republican Party has the same problem as The Beach Boys, their fans are dying". And that means that in four years they will get even less votes than this year.

    November 11, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  22. LOSERS

    Ron Paul WAS the future of the Republican Party.

    Then they disrespected him.

    November 11, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  23. CBP

    Mr. Bauer will continue to push his party to the right and will find that his party will lost members not gain them. People are more open-minded than he thinks. WE can vote for a candidate who does not necessarily agree with every one of our positions. However, we certainly cannot vote for a candidate who espouses ideas that are way to the right or to the left.

    Sooner or later those in the Republican Partly will find a way to accommodate all people. Until then they will continue to lose the national elections.

    November 11, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  24. Gary

    The results (total collapse) of the GOP are easily understood and cannot be blamed on the Tea Party or moral positions. Ever since Obama ws elected in 2008 and even more since 2010 the GOP went on a media campaign trying to demonize the president, democrats in general, and pretty much anyone who disagreed with them. The GOP allowed shock and rage commentators like Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Rielly, and to a lesser extent Beck to be their spokemen. They preached division and hate which was backed up by a GOP House that did everything possible to break things down further, blame Obama, and win the White House. I'm a conservative but I'm not stupid. It backfied big time and even good conservatives like me had to walk away from such immoral tatics. Even the credability of many religious leaders has been severely damaged. Will they recover? I doubt anything can stop the GOP from getting slammed in 2016, and they deserve it from the terrible example they gave us over the last few years.

    November 11, 2012 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  25. FEDUP

    Im so sick of the LEFT wing Democrats acting like they know it all. Im not a Republican but I am absolutely NOT a Democrat either. I am an Independent who has seen the way the Democrats act and I am disgusted.

    You say that the right is intolerant, when in reality, you are just as intolerant as they are in many areas. That is hypocritical. Democrats have time and time again proven to be raging hypocrites.

    Get over it. Your guy won, now stop slaughtering the Right wing with hate. We can all move on now.

    November 11, 2012 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
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