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. Andrew Drinker

    I think Republicans lost the presidential election because none of the Republicans who could actually win bothered to run.

    November 8, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. JimA

    My wife and I are in our mid 60"s. We are Independents normally voting Republican. We vote for the candidate who most clsely represents our views, realizing that the candidate will be a compromise. Candidates cannot get elected representing splinter, extreme views only, We understand that, and make the best choice based upon compromise. We believe in "My country, right or wrong, my country" but do not believe "My party, right or wrong, my party". The Republicans alienated women and hispanics, spouted extremist views by fellow Republicans, and generated little enthusiasm for their presidential candidate. We voted Romney, but with little if any enthusiasm. We just couldn't vote Obama. Romney lost more than Obama won. Get over it, he lost. In my opinion, he would have lost pathetically if he had adopted and supported the Tea Party, Religious Right and other extrfemist positions.

    November 8, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  3. Jack

    I hope the Republican party can see past the loud minority shouting that Romney wasn't conservative enough. Did that cause him to lose the election because the true conservatives voted for Obama? Let's get real. If the Republican party could show a fiscally conservative plan and avoid the religious right that doesn't represent the voting majority, they would win votes. Guess what? The religious right will vote Republican even if they don't have candidates spouting ignorant comments trivializing pregnancy from rape or trampling women's rights.

    November 8, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  4. Edward Rowe

    The Republicans lost because Romney "was not conservative enough"?? and the "didn`t make abortion more of a central issue"?? These people are hilarious. As long as the Republican party preaches the outdated social ideology of the right they`re going to continue to lose. Obama and the Democratic party supports the majority not just the religious minority.

    November 8, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  5. saywho

    All will lose when you try to get into bedrooms and bodies.

    November 8, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  6. Jeff

    Conservatives lose because they have become too extreme not too moderate. It would be a mistake to become more extreme. But betting someone 10,000 dollars in a debate is not wise. Telling us you looked at "binders of women" in a debate is also not wise. Telling folks that 47% of the country is lazy and wants a free ride was not wise. One could argue that those three stupid incidents cost him the election but I still say the GOP has gone too far right.

    November 8, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. M

    Romney wasn't conservative enough? Are these people utterly delusional? They're so focused on talking to each other that they have no idea what the country wants. But hey, this ought to be interesting to watch. Let these idiots see how far to the right they can push the GOP and what crop of lunatics they can put forward in the next round of elections.

    November 8, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. Mitzi

    The civil war within the GOP has begun. I'm an independent female voter from Pennsylvania and have voted for Republican candidates in the past. However, Romney's inability to control the radical parts of his political party drove me away from him. I saw no reason to vote for a candidate who couldn't decide whether he should be a moderate or severe conservative, and I'll put bluntly that severe conservatism does not match my political views, never will, and I will actively vote severe conservatives out-of-office to ensure our government is more balanced. The more moderates, the better.

    November 8, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. Fortinbras

    The republican party is comprised of fiscal draconians, war mongers, social isolationists, religious zealots, and closet racists. Such party is destined for the fringes.

    November 8, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  10. Mark

    I'm a Republican and the Tea Party is the bane of our party. It is absolute nonesense that by moving further "right" Romney would have won. What cost him? The party had a good economic message and that bouyed the effort, but we got hammered on the female and minority votes. So, you think moving right would have helped you with female and minority voters? It would have gotten worse. The vast majority of Republicans are moderates. We want sound budgetary and economic decision making, but also some acknowledgement that the USA is not the USA of the 1950s. We don't subscribe to dogma either. The Tea Party and its message of exclusion is a loser as it alienates Dems, Independents and most Republicans. The Tea Party's 15 minutes of fame is – thankfully – expiring.

    November 8, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  11. Robert in Manassas

    Curious, it seems that these finger pointers are failing to take into account that perhaps it is their own extremism that the majority of the voters are rejecting. By forcing a moderate republican (which is what the party truly needed) and I think overall a good person to take on their extremist positions during the primaries just to get the republican nomination turned him sour on the people that he truly needed to have feel he represented him.
    In essence he was forced to become the personification of extremism which the majority of voters rejected.
    Just think, if Romney hadn't had to take on a pseudo persona and be able to represent himself as he truly was, I am sure he would have fared better and wouldn't have the problem with waffling on issues.
    Americans in general do not blame the rich for being rich, only if the means of that person getting rich robs hard-working Americans of their own financial solvency or if they do not help out the country as would be expected in times of financial hardship.
    Romney cannot be blamed for his actions because they were legal and in keeping with the groundwork that his Republican forebearers established. That is a systemic problem that needs correcting.
    Tip for the future, just because the next applicant for the job may not share your particular value that time around doesn't mean that he or she is not qualified to do the job and do it well. When the country isn't in such dire straights, then we as a whole can then look at social issues more responsibly.

    November 8, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. noneyobeeswax

    Boy this is just priceless. No one on this forum or in this article is facing the stark reality that despite being the largest ideological group, conservatives are still outnumbered but everyone else. So long as they allow their party to be defined by this they are going to keep pushing away moderates.

    So by all means show no quarter next election and run on every single hard line conservative position. Just a warning though, take a look at Todd Akin before you celebrate your "inevitable victory".

    Any party that would elect representatives who would actually discuss defaulting on our debt like it was an option (*cough* tea party) has to do some house-cleaning. We cannot afford that level of stupidity.

    November 8, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  13. Paul in NH

    The American people are sick and tired of the gridlock in Congress and the Tea Party has been nothing but obstrcutionists over the last 2 years with their unwillingness to compromise on ANYTHING – there are serious problems that need attention and when Boehner steps up the day after the election and starts the paralysis again that's a horrible sign – while they may see the close election as a call to standing by their convictions, the rest of us outside their bubble see it as a rejection of heavy-handed politics as usual and the need to compromise to solve very complicated problems – ideology only goes so far – you still have to govern in a country where there are a myriad of positions on any issue, rational or not

    November 8, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. Jeff G

    If the Tea Party thinks that Romney lost because he was not consevative enough, then they need to get used to losing on a national level.

    November 8, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. Data Driven

    Yummy, your tears of unfathomable sadness taste delish, wingnuts! Bwa ha!

    Lol, it was the liberal media who nominated Romney, not the GOPhers who voted in the primaries! Waah, tears of unfathomable sadness, lol! Lol!

    November 8, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  16. Storm Trooper

    We in the Tea Party should've had called on David Duke of Louisiana to represent our ideals. Duke for President 2016!!!

    November 8, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. rs

    The TEA Party is populated by radical kooks (West), and idiots (Palin) and semi-religous nut jobs (Akin). The problem is they run for offcie and instantly are hip-deep in money from the super-rich (Kocks, Adelson) because these the TEA Party is somehow convinced giving the rich everything in America is somehow a good strategy for OUR naton.

    The GOP simply needs an intervention. It needs to let go of their rich, special interest backers and once again touch America.

    November 8, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  18. Retgman

    Chris Christie has hurt any option he wanted for a future Presidential race. I understand he must do what he has to for N.J. residents but he hurt Romney's bid for President for "embracing" Obama. He went too far. I will never vote for him.

    November 8, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  19. Egotripped

    When will the Tea Party realize they are not Republicans and are an American version of the Taliban? They are protest sign carrying terrorists who have hijacked the democractic process for such a small minority of the country. They should just create their own "Independent" party and come their first official election when they receve less than 1% of the popular vote, they'll realize exactly who doesn;t support them.

    November 8, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  20. FLIndpendent

    I agree with most that since Romney had to move to the extreme right in the primaries that that hurt him. However, there is one thing most are missing here – Romney was the Governor of Massachusetts and won and governed as a moderate and he ended up losing that state by a very large margin. So, those that knew him best voted against him. Face it – he just wasn't the right candidate to go up against our President, but I'm sure happy that's who the Repubs ultimately chose!

    November 8, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  21. Paul in Tampa

    Well at least now Michele Bachmann can dedicate all of her energies into making Barack Obama only a two-term president.

    November 8, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  22. Spacenip

    The Tea Party will never acknowledge that the vast majority of people in the US do not share their views. They live in a different reality. Try arguing with one sometime. They will make no sense to you, and you will make no sense to them. This is because the core ideas from which their beliefs flow, is different than yours, and it is totally consistent with their internal logic. And part of that core belief system is that they are right 100%. Therefore they cannot synthesize new information and evolve their opinions to meet the latest facts. They can only see the discrepency between their beliefs and the facts on the ground as a conspiracy against them, or an attempt to misguide others. Which is really a hard thing to deal with because in order to have a discussion on any subject with anyone, you have to have some common guide-rails as to what reality is. Since their reality and your reality are not the same, you can't even have a discussion. Since that's the case, I don't know what to do about these folks. They are incapable of adjusting their views no matter what the evidence, and you can't have people in power who don't acknowledge the same reality that the majority of us live in and cannot learn as new information is presented. And as mainstream thought moves further along, their interpretation of reality will become further and further from the rest of us, which will make them increasingly uncomfortable and shrill. Its a real problem without a good solution.

    November 8, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |

    A day after loss, conservatives point fingers....... CONSERVATIVE / RELIGIONIST were pointing before they lost.....lying, distorting and pointing is what they do best.

    November 8, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  24. MB

    Wow, so Romney was too extreme for mainstream America and the GOP's response is to go even farther to the right?

    Romney was the most moderate of the candidates running for the nomination and got the most votes. All of the other more extremely right candidates lost handedly because they couldn’t even get most of the republican voters to stomach them.

    The GOP is committing slow suicide, which is fantastic news for Democrats. If they go much farther into right wing insanity a sack of corn could win against them. At least doing nothing is better than the psychotic rights ideas.

    November 8, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  25. John

    @ Brud As Englishman during the primaries i was hoping Santorum or Gingrich would win. Either of them being nominated would have guaranteed from the start that Obama would win and the rest of the world wouldnt have spent the last 3 months worrying about the possibility that America might actually be foolish enough to elect Romney.

    I have discussed the election in depth with my friends and we all find the comments of Obama being left wing and liberal to be highly amusing. Obama is further to the right than any european politician currently in power and would be considered almost too right wing to vote for while Romney would be classed in britian as aproaching extremism.

    No one who comments on here seems to understand what liberalism actually is, you associate it with communism and the whole thing terrifies you. Take the health services in Britain and Canada, we pay a set % of our income and get full treatment guaranteed, in Britain its 9% and best of all it means all people are treated equally wether rich or poor. You are free to buy private health insurance in addition if you wish.

    November 8, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
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