A day after loss, conservatives point fingers
Tea Party Patriots National Coordinator Jenny Beth Martin joins other members of the Tea Party outside the U.S. Supreme Court during the third day of oral arguements over the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act March 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
November 7th, 2012
03:54 PM ET
10 years ago

A day after loss, conservatives point fingers

(CNN) - Following Mitt Romney's loss to President Barack Obama, conservative leaders wasted no time Wednesday offering pointed criticism of the Republican Party and its pick for president.

A coalition of social conservatives and tea party activists gathered in Washington to decry what they described as Romney's failure to represent conservatives on a national level.

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"We wanted someone who would fight for us. What we got was a weak, moderate candidate, hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country club establishment wing of the Republican Party," Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, said in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington.

"The presidential loss is unequivocally on them," she added.

Pushed from the right in the Republican presidential primary, Romney sought to paint himself as "severely conservative," though the former Massachusetts governor had taken Democratic positions on certain issues in his political past.

Brent Bozell, president of the conservative Media Research Center, argued that Romney failed to pass the ideological test, saying he ran as a "Democrat-light" and adjusted his positions to campaign as a moderate during the general election.

"At the end of the day, conservatives were left out in the cold. It should have been a landslide for Romney, had he embraced a truly conservative agenda," Bozell said. "But Romney's a moderate and his campaign embarked on a bizarre...defense from the outset."

He further faulted the GOP presidential nominee for not adopting a political strategy of defining his opponent and going on the attack early on. Citing the president's record, Bozell argued "it should have been a cakewalk for Romney to define (the president), but he didn't–hence Obama's victory."

On social issues, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony List, blasted the candidate for not making abortion a central part of the 2012 dialogue.

"He took all the right stances," she said. "The problem was not communicating on the national stage with Obama what his actual positions were."

The group endorsed Romney after he unofficially became the nominee in April when former Sen. Rick Santorum dropped out of the race. Dannenfelser said they were "happy to endorse him when the time came" but expressed frustration when she said "we assumed, that given who he was, he would make (abortion) more of a national issue."

Looking at the party on a macro-level, activists also acknowledged Republicans had work to do in terms of adapting to the country's demographic changes. Alfred Regnery, president of the Paul Revere Project, issued a stark warning for the GOP.

"If Republicans don't start to listen to (what minorities are looking for in a candidate), it's going to be a long time before they can win," he said.

His comments echoed those made my former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who earlier Wednesday said on CNN that the party now faces a "very serious moment" and argued the GOP should work on becoming more inclusive–a major challenge, he said, for House Republicans.

"The question is do they want to, in a disciplined way, create a schedule and a program and include people who are not traditionally Republican?" he said.

All the activists at the press conference agreed that Tuesday's election signaled a need for the GOP to re-institute more conservative "fundamentals." While some argue the Republican Party's failure to retake the Senate or make gains in the House suggests the tea party is losing steam, the group of individuals Wednesday argued the opposite.

Given this week's results, they said, conservatives will be even more motivated to reform the party. Richard A. Viguerie, chairman of ConservatieHQ.com, ended the press conference with one final prediction.

"Tea partiers will take over the Republican Party within four years," he said.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Tea Party
soundoff (910 Responses)
  1. Steve

    Why does the tea Party think everyone wants what they want. They have paralized government with their actions in Congress and think that everyone is in love with their ultra conservative, radical views that at times boarders on lunacy. Only a small minority of the country buy in to their rediculous ideals, so why do they think the majority of Americans would elect their candidate. The Republicans could have promoted a better candidate, but not one that is willing to harm the country just to get their way. The Tea Party is the most harmful entity in government.

    November 8, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. enuff

    But if he had won, he would have been the perfect candidate. Romney is seeing who his friends really are right now. Et tu Brutus?

    November 8, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. RPrentice

    My Republican party did not lose because our candidate "wasn't conservative enough." We lost because President Obama was closer to the center of the electorate. Wake up Republicans and move to the center! We aren't making angry old white guys fast enough to keep up.

    November 8, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. KO

    The Tea Party is the worst thing to happen not only to the country, but to the Republican Party. The Republicans could have potentially won the Senate, but the loopy Tea Party candidates they ran in Missouri, Indiana, and other places lost. If they try to run a "real" conservative in 2016 they'll get killed again. Conservatives need to point fingers at themselves for what happened Tuesday night, but it will never happen.

    November 8, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  5. ShawnDH

    So the lesson conservatives learned was that Romney just wasn't conservative enough? Yeah good luck with that. Enjoy LOSING again in 2016. This country has become much more liberal and conservative ideology just isn't mainstream. It has failed and it's dead.

    November 8, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. RPrentice

    My Republican party did not lose because our candidate "wasn't conservative enough." We lost because President Obama was closer to the center of the electorate. Wake up Republicans and move to the center! We aren't making angry old Caucasian guys fast enough to keep up.

    November 8, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  7. jimbo0117

    Just what group of voters do the Tea Partiers think they would have attracted by nominating a more stridently conservative candidate? Do they believe that there were conservative leaning independent voters that voted for Obama because they felt that Romney wasn't conservative enough? I'm really confused by this line of thinking.

    November 8, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. SCS

    Quote from IndianaVoter - "I as a conservative point my finger to all liberals. There are too many liberals in America and that is what will bring America to it's knees eventually. Liberals don't believe that of course, but all you have to do is look what happened overseas to other countries with liberal policies and see that they are all going bankrupt."--–Isn't that pretty much saying "There are too many other Americans that don't agree with me and they are going to bring my views of what the country should be farther from reality."? I think that is called "democracy". You do know that "Liberals" in America are Americans too, right? You also completely equate two totally different different problems as support for your "argument"- the Eurozone is in the issue they are because of no centralized banking system and no individual EU member fiscal audits. The US crashed because of 2 wars we did not execute in an intelligent manner and a de-regulated financial and banking system. So in response to the quoted drivel I will say "I as an Independent I am glad that the elections worked out as they did, in order to keep ignorance and fear out of the discussion of our future as a nation, which will need brutal and unrelenting honesty in order to correctly define and tackle current and future problems. Unless you are a Conservative American with a human and civilised ability to work with others, then you are irrelevant as a solution provider and will most likely stay that way until you are extinct as an individual and a party/group. You can always try again next election cycle and see if medievel thinking comes back into style then, but don't hold your breath." Have a nice day.

    November 8, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  9. JJC

    What world are these tea party people from? They think Romney lost because he didn't make abortion a central issue? One factor to his loss was that abortion WAS a central issue, with republican candidates saying stupid things, like a raped womens body will shut down a pregnancy if it is a "legitimate" rape. These tea party people need to realize that this country leans conservative for fiscal issues but leans liberal for social issues. Republicans need to dump the social conservatives and focus only on fiscal issues which is their strong point. I thought the tea partiers were for smaller government at first. Now they are for social conservatism as well? They are no different than the religious right now.

    November 8, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |

    "Tea Partiers will take over the GOP in 4 years"...FANTASTIC NEWS! That will be the end of the GOP as all minorities, science minded people, women, all non-christians, all non-racists, really virtually any non evangelical WASPS will desert the party!

    November 8, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  11. rs

    Indiana Voter-
    Please explain that if as you ascert the fiscal policies of the Democratict ("liberal") party are the problem, why deficits GO DOWN when the Democrats are in control? The Deficit WENT DOWN 31% under Obama's first 4 years. It was GONE under Clinton. We got into these fiscal problems under Reagan, Bush 1st and second. GET IT? You guys are not the fiscal "conservatives" , and "liberals" aren't the problem- uneducated voters lead around by foreign-owned FOX news and their deceptions-ARE!

    November 8, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  12. Robert

    When one finger points out, three fingers point back. Ultra conservatives are passionate, but not terribly analytic. They are not a majority, and have trouble realizing that their way of thinking may be the majority in places, but not across the country.

    November 8, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. goodthinker

    The Tea Party and the far right are completely clueless. Mainstream America will not buy it, no matter how much they rant and rave.

    November 8, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. Merlin DuVall

    Sooner or later the TEA Party will learn that there are not enough conservatives to just take over. Romney was not even a good example of a Mormon, possible because of the corporate experience he found that he could not accept being told what to do by people so far below his perceived status.

    November 8, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  15. Steve

    The Tea Party needs to unhook themselves from the Republican Party. They are like some sort of brain leach that has grabbed hold and now controls the entire body. Get your own party so the rest of the country can laugh at you instead of fear you.

    November 8, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  16. ColoradoJoe

    Who would WANT to be their candidate if the tea party is going to through ya under the bus? Maybe Jenny Beth Martin should shut up and run herself!!!! The tea party people are big boys and girls. If they didn't feel Romney was good enough as their candidate, they could have brought in their own. Again; Maybe Jenny Beth Martin should shut up and run herself!!!!

    November 8, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  17. Realist Bob

    Republican ideology has a problem:
    1. Minorities want flexible immigration, education access (affirmative action, loans, etc.), which are mostly part of the Demo platform. However, minorities are also very socially conservative, and a focus on issues like abortion and gay marriage in the context of minorities would create an opportunity for cognitive dissonance that MAY change their minds.
    2. Tea Party has made enemies of minorities – minorities are slowly being conditioned to vote against Tea Party candidates, and if Republicans appeal to the "Tea Party" group, they would permanently alienate minorities.
    3. Traditional conservative Republicans are simply outnumbered by minorities and youth, both of which are embracing Demo ideology.

    Solution: Republicans need to focus on being fiscally conservative and socially liberal to win back the youth and minorities, while avoiding class warfare positions – it's a no win situation to go against union positions (most government workers are union) because they are strengthening in number.

    November 8, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  18. zipurlip

    The TParty, religious right, and all other socially extreme conservatives can start their own party if the GOP at large doesn't suit them. Each group was represented on a national level state by state in the primaries. The raw truth is a radical candidate suiting those fringe lunatics didn't stand a chance. Primary results were clear on that as the neocon darlings were shot down one by one. Flavor of the month to the point of being the butt of jokes. At least Romney offered some chance. The singular problem for the GOP comes from no compromise within. Moderate GOP loyalists have been and continue to be disenfranchised. They have and will continue to choose the other side. The remaining GOP have and will continue to experience bitter defeats. Shouting louder won't change anything.

    November 8, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  19. Eiolgj

    Three thoughts: 1) When someone is finger pointing, three fingers point back at that person. 2) Romney didn't seem to have, or at least project, core values. I would never consider voting for somebody who can't articulate their deeply held values. I'll listen to someone who does. 3) Abortion/life is an important topic/value, but I won't consider a candidate who doesn't look at life holistically, including how people will live after birth and how our country conducts war. These issues are what a president actually deals with, not abortion in isolation.

    November 8, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  20. Steve

    If eveyone is so in love with the Tea Party, why did their interplanetary leader, Michelle Bachman, almost loose re-election in a highly populated Republican district? Because normal people see through their cr*p.

    November 8, 2012 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  21. PaulGadner

    OMG...These conservatives seem to have completely muted the voice of the people. People do not want an even more 'severely' conservative candidate. They want a moderate who will work with both sides – who is pragmatic, who can solve problems. I would have voted for the Massachusettes Romney. Instead I voted for the only Moderate Republican running – Barack Obama.

    November 8, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  22. Anonymous

    "Tea Party will take over the Republican Party within one year".....yeah, great idea....make the Party ENTIRELY irrelevant. If this happens, they won't be able to carry Wyoming.

    November 8, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  23. Bernie Margolis

    "On social issues, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony List, blasted the candidate for not making abortion a central part of the 2012 dialogue."

    Obviously. Look how well that strategy worked for Akin and Mourdock! Someday the Republicans will actually get the extremist candidate that delusional folks like Bozell and Dannenfelser want and they'll see a truel landslide victory ... for the left. Maybe that would wake them up to reality. In the meantime, Romney's statement to the effect that he's only going to represent the 53% of the population that pays taxes wasn't to blame for his loss: it was his failure to communicate his stance on abortion and to stand up for his conservative values.

    November 8, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  24. dzerres

    Not conservative enough? Are they insane? Well, OK, they are insane but its amazing to see them admit it. You had two extremely conservative, rabit anti-abortion senate candidates lose big in the red, red, red states of Missouri and Indiana. What does that tell you? Nothing? OK, bu-bye then – you'll win House seats here and there due mostly to redistricting but you will not win Presidential elections. Hillary 2016.

    November 8, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  25. abhi

    since 1980, onoly real conservatives have won for republicans; Regan, Bush Sr, Bush Jr; when ppl thought Bush Sr raised taxes & moved away from ocservatism, they lost. Ross perot also did some to them in that fight. The last 2 elections, both repubs were moderate; 1996 – Dole was a relatively moderate candidate; moderate cnadidates dont win elections for the repubs, because they cannot differentiate with the democrats who have moved towards the center. The country still remains conservative; the repubs need to change – they need to embrace ecoonomic conservatism, social moderation & foreign policy conservatism; with this they can in back the country.

    November 8, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
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