Republicans detail 'autopsy' efforts after election losses
December 10th, 2012
02:57 PM ET
1 year ago

Republicans detail 'autopsy' efforts after election losses

(CNN) - Republicans provided more details Monday of their effort to determine what went wrong in last month's election, which saw the GOP lose both the race for the White House and seats in the House and Senate.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who last month said his party was planning an "autopsy" to locate problem areas, said the effort would "recommend a plan to further ensure Republicans are victorious in 2013, 2014, 2016 and beyond."

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The RNC said the effort, termed the "Growth and Opportunity Effort," would focus on assessing and improving eight points of the GOP's campaign strategy, including ground game, fundraising, and the GOP primary process.

The party also said it would look at learning lessons from Democrats' successful campaign methods, which helped secure a second term for President Barack Obama and propelled the party to a net gain of two seats in the U.S. Senate and eight seats in the House of Representatives.

Republicans will also gauge the impact of third party groups, which played a major role in television advertising and organizing in the 2012 election. Conservative super PACs like Restore Our Future and American Crossroads raised and spent hundreds of millions of dollars, both during the GOP primaries and the general election contest that followed.

Heading up the effort are five well-known Republican operatives: National committeemen Zori Fonalledas and Glenn McCall; Sally Bradshaw, a Republican strategist in Florida; Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary and a CNN contributor; and Henry Barbour, a major Romney fundraiser who is the nephew of that state's former governor, Haley Barbour.

Asked Monday on CNN's "The Situation Room" if the RNC plans to adjust positions on key policies, such as immigration and same-sex marriage, Fleischer said such changes fall under the purview of Congress, not the Republican Party.

"Parties don't make the policies and we're not going to go down that road," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, adding that there are many ways to attract voters and grow the party without changing ideology.

He said as the country undergoes demographic changes, Republicans must learn to make their ideas "more sellable, more believable, more heartfelt to people." Otherwise, he said, "you're not doing your job."

"We cannot be a party of just white people," he said. "That's not going to cut it."

Such change in messaging includes the way candidates present their viewpoints on social issues, he added.

"You have to have candidates who don't make tragic mistakes," he said, pointing specifically to GOP Senate candidates in Indiana and Missouri who made controversial comments about rape. "We repelled women, our candidates there did, with the statements that they made."

Fleischer stressed that Republicans "have the best ideas" but need to find better ways to get their message out.

"You have to let people know you care about them, you have to let people know that their life is important to you," he said.

Henry Barbour said Monday the group's first report would likely come no earlier than March 1, but that initial findings would be discussed at the RNC's winter meeting in January, scheduled to take place in Charlotte.

"I look forward to working with these outstanding Republicans as they conduct rigorous analysis and engage in important conversations," Priebus said. "The work of the Growth and Opportunity Project will be critical as we move forward as a Party and take our message to every American."

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • RNC
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. beevee

    With their stoneage thinking the GOP will loose out badly in future elections. Just one look at the people during the GOP convention should tell that the GOP is a party that has a long ways to go to be an all inclusive party. If they continue in the same mold it will become a party of dinosaurs and we all know what happened to dinosaurs.

    December 10, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Boisepoet

    It wasn't HOW they campaigned, it was the message in their campaigns.

    December 10, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    The RNC said the effort, termed the "Growth and Opportunity Effort," would focus on assessing and improving eight points of the GOP's campaign strategy, including ground game, fundraising, and the GOP primary process.
    -------------–
    They don't get it. They're still trying to figure out how to better use the tools that won them the White House in 2000 and 2004, to win the political battles of the future. They're stuck on stupid trying to re-fight the last battles, which they lost, with the same weapons that lost them the fights in the first place. Still with me?

    December 10, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  4. tracy

    Good luck

    December 10, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  5. suefou

    I will give you a postmortem... practice what you preach...
    1. Less government, means less government! Don't try to deregulate everything and then turn around and regulate to the hilt social issues!
    2. Women want to be treated equally... If your healthcare plan covers Viagra/Cialis for men, then by golly I believe that the healthcare plan should cover birth control... It's only fair.
    3. Less spending,which means you are actually gonna spend less. That includes things like corporate welfare, free farm subsities, and so on...
    We live in a collective society and we are all trying to have "The American Dream", so your policies can not be weighted more towards the wealth few in this country, but the collective society that we all live in.

    December 10, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. Squigman

    Shouldn't the proper term be necropsy. The act of autopsy would indicate the determination of human death. Necropsy, applies to all living beings. Many among us do not consider republicans to be human.

    December 10, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  7. ghostriter

    Maybe a frontal lobotomy is in order. Start with Reince.

    December 10, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  8. JustAO

    How can GOP suppress the vote in democratic leaning districts, gerrymander voting districts to their advantage, and hire a company that intentionally threw out democratic voter registrations, and still complain that democrats won the election based on ground game? GOP tried everything in the rule book to make sure democrats had no ground game advantage and they still lost.

    Maybe GOP should start looking at platform, message, and governing mantra/policies instead because that's what scared the rest of us from ever voting GOP for this and any future elections.

    December 10, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. LovesIrony

    When the crazy fringe of the Republican party controls the primaries and forces candidates to the right on immigration, abortion, and marriage equality the chosen candidate is damaged in the general election. Some of us would like a social liberal and a financial conservative but we are given evangelicals that want to legislate our bedrooms. To paraphrase the Soup Nazi, "No vote for you, come back 4 years." and you do the same thing expecting different results.

    December 10, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  10. BigTBone

    I fault the democrats for not mobilizing voters in 2010 and thinking everything would be fine.

    That tea party/koch cash infused election set the nation back 5 years easily.

    I also blame the media for allowing the plethora of lies to flow from republicans without calling them out on anything.

    December 10, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    I thought was just a question of packaging, of a marketing failure, lol. Considering they have rejected everything that used to make them attractive to a majority of the electorate, I think they need more than an autopsy of the Romney Campaign: they need to ask themselves if forcing the rest of the country to think the way they do is a real strategy for winning, or if accepting that a DIVERSITY of opinions, ideas and people and actually demonstrating it will be an effective start point for them.

    December 10, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  12. G8r

    When the GOP gets over the "all or nothing" approach to governance, starts promoting a realistic immigration program that includes easy entry for migrant workers, starts promoting "free and fair enterprise" as opposed by "free and unfettered enterprise", and acknowledges that the abortion issue is a religious issue and quits trying to impose their religious values on all of us, at that time the Republican Party has a chance to re-establish itself as a legitimate political party. Until then, it's a fringe party controlled by religious and bigoted zealots; a party that doesn't deserve the support of the people. If the Democrats would begin to swing to the use of responsible government spending and balanced budgets, I doubt that the Republican Party could ever make a comeback.

    December 10, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. Mark in Seattle

    Why an autopsy when it's so very obvious the crazy train has left the tracks.

    December 10, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  14. Marie MD

    There is nothing the repugs can do to change their "image" now. They have shown they are the party of we don't like anybody but people that look like us.
    The mr. Mardi gras, the kyan Cuban and Haley governors are tokens who think they belong to a party that hates, minorities, Blacks, women, seniors, gays, the young and now tose with disabilities.
    I am sure I must have left some group out because the list is longer than what I wrote.

    December 10, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  15. Yonni

    The autopsy should prevailed right wing talk radio show and the Faux news are metastasized for a Republican Party decline otherwise the RNC need second opinion.

    December 10, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  16. Natalie

    Just skip the autopsy and move right to the burial. The GOP is done unless they dump Norquist and the Teabaggers.

    December 10, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  17. freedom

    @beevee
    Inclusive? The democrats' definition is socialism. The republicans' is everyone do their part and carry their own weight. If you need assistance, it's there, but not to be abused. Simple as that. Individual responsibility and freedom – less dependence on government – that's what it's about.

    December 10, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  18. LudwigVanB

    After the autopsy is completed, I recommend cremation.

    December 10, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. forlife

    looks like they haven't learned anything.

    December 10, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The work of the Growth and Opportunity Project will be critical as we move forward as a Party and take our message to every American."

    While I welcome the thought of Priebus willing to concede their party is in total disarray, I have my doubts that sending Haley Barbour and Ari Fleischer out of the wilderness to lead their party back home is going to accomplish much progress. Using "forward" as their new talking piece probably isn't going to help their Growth and Opportunity program either.

    December 10, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  21. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    OOOH! Someone mentioned J.C. Watts as a potential head for the RNC and now the afterthought rears his head again talking about the autopsy, the path to victory in 2014 and the beginning of Karl Rove's Thousand Year Reich. Oops, sorry about that last tasteless comment.
    You can keep pointing out to the Rich Old White Guys who run the GOP that unless they get more inclusive that they will lose the elections all you want. But until they actually start working with Blacks and Hispanics and Women and divorce themselves from Ralph Reed, Franklin Graham, Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and Pat Robertson, they will continue to be the party of Rich Old White Guys. And they will keep getting the votes of poor Southern white guys by threatening them with the country being overrun by Blacks, Hispanics and Women!

    December 10, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  22. independent

    I want to see a Class Action Suit against the RNC for violation of Civil Rights through a national voter suppression and voter fraud they carried out.

    December 10, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  23. BigTBone

    freedom says: "Inclusive? The democrats' definition is socialism. The republicans' is everyone do their part and carry their own weight. If you need assistance, it's there, but not to be abused. Simple as that. Individual responsibility and freedom – less dependence on government – that's what it's about."

    Another problem is that there is no room for real life interpretations of events. Anyone needing assistance at any point from the government is a socialist leech. Nevermind who they are or what they've done, once you're a 47%er, you're a thief from hard working rugged individuals who never need anything from anyone...

    No man is an island was really the crux of "you didn't build that", but all they heard was some ___ism and 'redistribution.' The audacity of not acknowledging what really went on 00-08 is a big problem too.

    The autopsy is clear: victim suffered paranoid delusions, selective amnesia and was felled by overexertion from mental gymnastics!

    December 10, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  24. Jojola

    Why now an autopsy? Heck, the campaign was dead on arrival! It had no pulse to begin with.

    December 10, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  25. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    Dear GOP: The problem is your message, your platform, your intolerance and you narrow view of the world. No political strategy can fix that, just ask Karl Rove. Evolve of die, even if you don't believe in science.

    December 10, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
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