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. wwf

    Yah can't fix stupid. Huntsman would have made a great candidate, but he was not good enough for the new republican party. He is an idiot as well for staying with them.

    November 11, 2012 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  2. Jeetu

    If the reepublcan party does not move with the times, it will be a party of the past, dead and gone. Those who blame on the tactics are missing the point.

    November 11, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  3. WILSMITH24

    The Republican Party has 3 faction.............Northern Moderate Republicans, Tea Baggers and DixieCrats.
    The Northern Republicans will leave the Republican Party as Independents in the next 10 years, leaving the Tea baggers and Ole Dixie in control of the GOP.
    Texas and AZ will be Battle Ground State in the next 4 to 8 years.

    Look for the DEMS to be in power for a very long time. The Yellow Brick Road is laid thanks to the old ways of thinking by the GOP. The are all still living in the White Male and Reagan Years. Time has passed you.

    November 11, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  4. Dnick47

    1. Kick out the preacher. 2. Slence Limbaugh, Coulter, et. al. 3. Boot Rove and all the Bush's. 4. Rid yourself of the bagers. Following these points you might have a viable Party.

    November 11, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  5. josh Jolt

    The primary agenda of GOP is to reduce taxes on the rich; by now it can only be done by reducing benefits to the middle class. To get this agenda majority support you pander to religious right, anti civil rights south etc. Now these groups to whom GOP panders have become a narrowing demographic. The problem is that to add to the demographic, they may have to throw some of their traditional allies under the bus. The question is who? Is it the christian right (meaning abandoning social conservatism) or the dixies (meaning abandoning anti minority and anti immigration policies).? The real difficulties of either route are that you have to give up a bird in hand for a bird in the bush and the current congressional establishment would be thrown to the dogs with these changes for the possible gain for another new group. So expect a lot of talk and a conclusion that no changes are really necessary.

    November 11, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  6. Alex21

    Man! – I am surprised GOP got even 48% when it is making fool for everybody.

    Reagan brought the debt from 600 plus billions to three and half trillion, six times over, till then the debt was going down from Truman to Carter the debt went down every year, Bush 1 tried to stop the bleeding after Reagan and Clinton balanced the budget. Bush 2 spend more in eight years than any other president. Obama has stop the bleeding partially but with out the help of the GOP.

    The funny thing is excellent marketing by Republicans of LIES!!! Do you know Republicans are responsible for the majority of deficits!!!

    Republican Presidents were responsible for nearly majority of deficits while Democrats are responsible for decreasing the deficit. Actually recent past Bill Clinton converted from deficit to surplus as immense deficit created by Republican presidents – Reagan and Bush. George Bush converted surplus to deficit by tax cuts and irresponsible war with Iraq, drug prescription etc

    So if you are really worried about deficits – you should flee from Republicans – go Democrats full time.

    Think about how can you balance a budget if you start with tax cuts! and increase defense spending.... There is very little left afterwards. Also remember – citizens are paying for Social Security and Medicare as separate taxes. Actually they are in surplus right now and US govt uses it to pay defense and other bills and gives them IOUs. These Social Security and Medicare will become negative as baby boomers retire.

    But right now we are in deficits and this is majority due to Defense, Tax cuts and other spending such as paying for politicians like Ryan's Health care. It is not due to Social Security, Medicare and so on...
    Also remember the taxes for rich are one of the lowest in US in the world and also lowest in US historically. If tax cuts balanced the deficits than we should have balanced budget now. So tax cuts balances budget is brainwash and mathematically it makes no sense!!!

    November 11, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  7. TAes123

    Jon Huntsman- the ONLY Republican in the primary pack that would have given President Obama a real challenge. The Republicans need to wake up. Someone please show Gary Bauer the door.

    November 11, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  8. IndyGal

    If more of the GOP were like Huntsman they might get somewhere. He made the most sense. Small government also means less intrusion in personal lives, not more. Worry about the economy and stay out of people's personal lives.

    November 11, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  9. MontyD

    Yup huntsman is right... leave the social issues out and ill stop voting (L) or (D)...

    November 11, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  10. DENNA

    I love where the country has gone right now, but it may very well go back to the Reagan "values" if the GOP figures out another way to stoke white southern male resentment. Richard Nixon figured out how and he sentenced America to decades of the south terrorizing the rest of the country with those doozies they elected. Bill Clinton was the only one, since LBJ, who was actually worth something and the GOP whined and cried for 8 years.

    November 11, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  11. DENNA

    These people still don't get it.

    November 11, 2012 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  12. AlVeerhoff

    I saw 2 words in the earlier remarks that resounded with me: integrity and transparency. Both were lacking in the GOP campaign. Romney may be a nice guy but I had no idea who he was actually campaigning for or whether he really meant what he said. Did his talk at Boca Raton or his debate comments reflect his true values? Exactly what was he going to do as President and for whom would he do it? Running as the Not Obama gave his rival an opportunity to avoid substantive discussion of his own plans.

    November 11, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  13. Debbie

    I am a fiscally conservative, socially liberal voted for Obama.. I am a non white, college graduate with a 6 figure salary. So I didn't vote for Obama to get stuffs.. And I am not dependent on him for my economical success.. I voted for him because of progressive social agenda he was supporting.. Republican wanted the govt. to intrude in our bedroom.. I voted against that.. That might explain why Romney did so badly amongst women..

    November 11, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  14. Emma in Baltimore

    There are none so blind as those who will not see.

    November 11, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  15. ranjit singh

    republic party lose. So many things hapen 1 republicin not coprate with president .some good thing s and also tea party not good too.because poeple know abt it.

    November 11, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  16. Wake up People!

    Keep up the good work GOP!! You're doing great!

    Sincerely a happy, employed Democrat!

    November 11, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  17. papafritz57

    The hatred of others embodies everything that is wrong with the GOP/Teabaggers. The list of those they hate and the venom that pours from the lips of their spokespersons just amazes me. Having vicious people like Rusty Limpballs, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Fox show hosts like Hannity and Billy O'Really!, absolute nutcases like Glenn Beck and the parade of lunatics that parade before their cameras acknowledges just how far out of touch with humanity these people are. What the heck happened to them? What rocks did they dig under to find them? Gingrich preached absolute racism in North Carolina and Georgia and yet every news station invites him on their broadcasts to pass judgment on Obama. Why do they think we want to keep hearing from this miserable failures? Romney lost because he is not a decent candidate for President. George W. Bush was bad enough and demoralized us all, but Romney has no idea what actual breathing Americans are truly about. The GOP stinks and it should kill itself off and start all over again. To think that I voted for Nixon, Reagan, GHW Bush leaves me baffled as to the low low low caliber of what they present to us citizens as leaders.

    November 12, 2012 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  18. IndependentGA

    There are a host of reasons as to why Romney lost. First and far most, Mitt Romney was not just a flip-flopper, he was an outright liar. He told lie after lie and changed position on issue after issue like a prostitue changes Johns. In the end, the American people didn't really trust him. Secondly, the policies and attitude of the GOP are hostile to just about every minority group in this country. At least that's the perception. Look at the extreme policies the GOP advocates in regards to abortion and immigration? Does the GOP really think that Americans believe that women who become pregnant as a result of rape or who lives are in danger as a result of a pregnancy should be forced to carry that baby to term? That's cruel and inhumane. Does the GOP really believe that Americans believe in mass/self deportation? Maybe some, but certainly not most. Look at the attitude the GOP's attitude toward gays, and the venomous treatment towards this country's first black president? "He's not one of us." "He's not even American." "He hates this country." Calling the president a "liar" during the State of the Union address... and much more. These are all turn-offs to rational thinking people.
    So, if Republicans ever want to be relevant in a national election again, they'll need to rebrand their message and themselves and stop acting so... stupid.

    November 12, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  19. Art

    Early in the campaign I saw Romney giving a speech to the cadets at the Citadel. Now wonder why I voted against him?

    November 12, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  20. Hillcrester

    The GOP needs to disengage itself from Norquist, Faux News, talk radio and TV, evangi-delusionals, Rasmussen-type dissemblers, Rove, etc. but of course it won't and can't until it is devastated in the 2014 elections.
    RIP GOP!

    November 12, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  21. kneehall

    I find it hypocritical that the Republicans don't want the government interfering in their lives and yet want laws against abortion and gay marriage??

    November 12, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  22. SN

    It wasn't necessarily the comments made by Akin and Murdoch but the fact that most of the republican party members and high officials kept quiet and didn't take a stand on it. The question is not whether they made the wrong comments but what if they made those comments after their victory (if they won) and then amend the law? Does it necessarily make it a true victory? It is also not about the choice of words but what they truly believe in and act upon. Is there a better way to choose words for what they said? Wouldn't that be an insult to the American public that someone can send the same message wrapped up in a different diction? In 2012, they are taking us back to what the 50's were just echoed all through the country and got some really worried. On one hand they say they care about the 100 % and on the other it is not truly reflected in their actions. Young people the leaders of tomorrow aren't going to go for it, no matter republican or democrat. Their poor understanding of voting population size also affected them as they didn't get enough people to vote if one were to look at the numbers (assuming there would be enough people supporting their cause and principles). Thus they may have lost on two major causes, not having enough people voting as well as enough people to believe in their cause. Many other pundits have exquisitely elaborate din why MR lost to BO. Read those articles.

    November 12, 2012 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  23. enuff

    No one FORCED Romney to say anything. He said whatever he thought people would buy. No one had control of his vocal chords but him.

    November 12, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  24. Jack

    For you pseudo conservative and the religious right listen to this, he is right! Those of you that support hedge fund, deviatives trading are supporting gambler in the market, they add little true value to market; that is why I call you pseudo conservatives.

    The religious right your social agenda is that of intolerance.

    That is why this conservative will not vote national for the Republicans.

    November 12, 2012 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  25. G-Money

    This was a great civil, rational and intellectually stimulating discussion/debate. I really wish we had more discussions like this during the race instead of all the negativity, fear-mongering and empty rhetoric (on both sides). If the Rebuplicans and Mitt Romney had articulated themselves as well as this panel did I just might have voted for them. Oh well, better luck next time.

    November 12, 2012 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
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