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
8 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. Antiquity

    "though the former Massachusetts governor had taken Democratic positions on certain issues in his political past." you mean LIBERAL positions. Christ, it's bad enough things are split partisanly and so extremely but implying that "Democrats" are the only ones that have those ideas is inherently wrong and the reason we can't get a single thing done in congress and a danger to the people of this country.

    Bozell argued "it should have been a cakewalk for Romney to define (the president), but he didn't–hence Obama's victory." Are you talking about the guy who wouldn't even be considered for nomination if there were REAL candidates on the ballot?

    "Tea partiers will take over the Republican Party within four years," he said. You mean that fringe equivalent of OWS that's single handedly held up congress from making any progress on any issue important to the nation OR making decisions that erode our rights as a free people?

    How out of touch is this guy?

    November 8, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  2. Dnick47

    They must reaally have the blinders on! You lost becaause you were too conservative. America is in the main, "As long as no one gets hurt or killed, live and let live," society. In several States grass was legalized. Gay marriage was legalized on others. I am sure that some who voted for those measures do not smoke weed nor would they marry a same sex partner; but they beieve, like most Americans, that why should we punish and incaraserate people for smoking pot or being a homosexual. Now if the home molest boys like the dude at Pess State did, we all agree he should be left out for the buzzards to feed on, baring pervision however, let it go. Now if you want to follow the Bible letter for letter, more power to you; but do not let your money loving firebrand preachers dictate to the rest of us.

    November 8, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  3. Arnold from Boston

    The Tea Party movement within the Republican party will now either split from the Republican party or take it over.
    In our 2 party system a 3rd political party has never succeeded in electing a President. The closest was in 1912 when Roosevelt split the Republican party and as an independent (Bull Moose Party) ended up getting more electoral votes than the Republican candidate, but that allowed the Democrat, Wilson, to win.
    Another parallel is the split that broke the Democratic-Republican (anti-Federalist party) into Democrats and Whigs in the early 1800s. But there were still just 2 parties.
    The Whigs as the second major party did elect 3 Presidents before dying out to be replaced by a newly reconstituted Republican Party under Abraham Lincoln.

    November 8, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  4. Political Agnostic

    Maybe it is time for the tea party to end its association with the Republican party and form itself into a new political party in the same way that the Liberitarian or Green party have done. In that way they would not have to deal with the moderate faction of the Republican party.

    November 8, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  5. Ashland

    I can't believe they still don't get it! They need to wake up and realize that its their ultra conservative social issues which have hurt the GOP the most. That's what alienates sane, moderate voters, who are the ones that swing elections...

    November 8, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. ThaGerm

    "The presidential loss is unequivocally on them,"
    And that may be true, but the worst Congress in US history "as shown by approval ratings and blocked bills" is on you Missy, on YOU!

    November 8, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. columbus

    This is exactly why Romney lost, he was trying to be all things to all people, and he was not convincing. I would rather see a right wing maniac run because you would know where they stand without question. I predict that by the next election, the GOP will fracture, the Tea Party will have no choice but to separate from them and establish their conservative agenda uninhibited by GOP moderates. Not likely they will win on a national level, but locally and statewide, they may become an imposing force. Could an extremist party take control of our government? Historically look at how Hitler came to power in Germany. Similar circumstances.

    November 8, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  8. keeth

    The Tea Party just does not seem to understand that this is a slightly-center-right country, not an extreme right country.

    November 8, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  9. Mike

    I find it incredibly funny that the Tea Partiers think the election was lost because Romney wasn't conservative enough. Would a conservative truely skip voting altogether ensuring an Obama win or would they vote for Romney and hope to influence him to be more conservative after election? To blame the loss on Romney not being conservative enough is true insanity. The loss is purely because the GOP message did not resonate with enough voters to cause them to vote against the incumbant. If you look at the demographics of the Tea Party, it is abundantly clear why they lost.

    November 8, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  10. hoosierwolf

    I've grown a little weary the ridiculous idea that some GOP backers have regarding liberals. I would like to share some info with you. I have worked my entire life as has my wife and all of my liberal friends. For most of my professional life I have worked either two jobs or one with 60 plus hours a work week. So we are not liberal because we do not want to work. In fact 2 out of three times I was laid off (all during the George W administration..but which I do not think he was responsible,) I declined to even accept unemployment because I had enough to live on without it. My mother and brother are on food stamps and are die hard GOPers btw.

    I am a liberal because I don't feel like government has a place in the bedroom of consenting adults, I support freedom of religion and freedom from religion if that is your choice. I support human rights including those of any race, both gay and straight men, women, and children.

    I am a liberal because I do not care if you teach your children creationism as long as you do it at home or in your church setting but I don't want it in the science class at my kids school unless I enroll him in a religious school since that is my and your choice to do if you like.

    I am a liberal because I recognize that there are and their need to be other options for energy other than just coal, oil, and gas.

    I am a liberal because I care about the environment more than I do paying an extra 50 cents a gallon fuel in my automobile.

    I am a liberal because I support programs and the causes that I realize benefit the quality of life for Americans even if it costs me a few extra dollars a year on my taxes.

    I am pro gun and pro gun owners rights, I am pro death penalty, and I have the utmost respect for and un-ending support of our troops even if they are in a war I do not support, they are OUR troops and I have their back and so should you.

    November 8, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  11. Kris

    Typical Conservative, tired & out dated attitude. “We were not Conservative enough, that’s what cost us”?? Really? It’s why the Republican Party is dying. They refuse to accept that their hateful, discriminatory attitudes are NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE. That is why they will continue to lose A LOT. I mean come on, they don’t even believe in science. Why would we ever think they would wrap their minds around any abstract idea?

    November 8, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  12. sputnick1

    That's what Republicans do. The point fingers rather than solve problems. Good bye to the GOP

    November 8, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  13. Facts don't Lie

    if Romney would have won he would be the Tea Party's hero......typical fickle

    November 8, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  14. GatorDude

    The answer for Republicans is not going further to the right and not being more socially conservative. If Republicans want to do well, they need to be pro-freedom, pro-economic development, pro-hard work, strong on national security, and fiscally responsible. They need to stay out of private family matters like gay marriage, abortion, and religion. Fewer Americans are participating in organized religion. Religious zealots make everyone nervous. I'd prefer to vote for a GOP candidate who is less religious. The Republicans also need to look at the business community and figure out how to incentivize private companies to hire and train Americans for jobs in America. If a company is going to outsource or hire an H1B workforce, they need to be penalized in the tax arena. Tax breaks are intended to spur economic growth in America. It's America so live and let live. Protect all of the rights in the bill of rights. That's it. It's not complicated.

    November 8, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  15. Hanna

    OK – I don't get this portion of the article: "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."

    So Bozell is saying is that if Romney was super conservative, the people who voted for Obama would have voted for him? Or that the people who would have voted for a more conservative Romney chose instead to vote for Obama? Cause that makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. None. I am pretty sure that every super right wing conservative out there voted for Romney, even if they would have rather had a super right wing conservative running. And I know for a fact that a lot of more moderate friends of mine – fiscal conservative/socially liberal – would have not voted for Romney if they thought he was a religious fanatic; they would have voted for Obama. So my thought is – Romney got way more votes from moderate conservatives and a more conservative candidate would have gotten even less.

    November 8, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  16. Tommy G

    The Tea Party needs to stop sabotaging sure Republican winners for Senate seats because they might not live up to every single on of their standards. These fools have cost the Republicans at least 4 Senate seats in the last two elections and almost cost them more. They cost Republcians control of the Senate and put Harry Reid back in his leadership spot.

    They need to start looking at all of the damage their idiocy has caused. If you can't be team players then they need to find another team to play for, or start their own. Otherwise, all they do is help the Democrats maintain control and destroy this country.

    November 8, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  17. mark

    The GOP lost because the well of angry white voters is dry. There are no more of them. If there were, that super PAC money wouldn't have been wasted, and would have drawn them out. There are physically and existentially no more voters out to the right. They don't exist There are only voters in the center.

    The number that should ABSOLUTELY terrify the GOP is 39. All of the pundits said Obama couldn't win with less than 40% of the white vote. He did.

    November 8, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  18. JimA

    I think it would be a great historical lesson for Republicans and political pundits if the Tea Party were to gain control of the Republican Party. Moderates would abandon the party and we would see a historic low in popular votes and elctoral votes for the "Grand Old Party". In my opinion it would be shocking. The finger pointing at that time will be "How could anyone have been so stupid to believe that this strategy would work". Oh, sorry, that's being said today.

    November 8, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  19. ghostriter

    Well folks, she is kinda right. They didn't get a tea party candidate. A real conservative. But that's their own fault.

    See, the tea party started on this whole shrink the government kick. Always sounds good and attractive. But what did they really do? Go after everything but attempts to shrink the government. And when they did try, it was to areas they don't like (Planned Parenthood) or areas that didn't "support" them (unions, NPR).

    They cried like children during the debt ceiling debates, praised Beohner for the deal in which he got 98% of what he wanted, then blamed Obama for the resulting credit rating drop. The set a record for number of filibusters, blocking democratis legislation.

    November 8, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  20. Hogan's Goat

    "Wake up Republicans and move to the center! We aren't making angry old white guys fast enough to keep up." You are a Republican In Name Only now. Time to move on, since your party has moved on without you. If you are a moderate Republican, welcome to the Democratic Party . . .

    November 8, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  21. Dennis

    Why are they all pointing fingers. If you want the truth it is the fact that America is tired of Bigotry and Hatemongers like Limbaugh, Rove, Palin and the like. No one ever said that both Romney & Ryan weren't good men, just that they were not really in touch with Middle Ameica and could not relate to us, only to other wealthy people. If all would Silence the likes of Limbaugh, Rove, Palin and the like and hold to what used to be the true Republican path it might not be so appalling to so many.

    November 8, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  22. ytman

    I agree with Karen. First things first;

    Tea Party gets kicked out. of the GOP
    The GOP concedes certain social progress.
    The GOP creates a constructive, not obstructive, opposition.

    November 8, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Stop with the finger pointing.
    You LOST, and here is just a sampling of the MANY reasons why:

    1. You mothers alienated just about EVERYBODY who wasn't White, and quite a few Whites to boot as per the popular vote breakdown.
    2. You enraged a large segment of the electorate not only with your blatant and unprecedented disrespect of the President over the course of 4 years but also with your emboldened attempts at voter suppression.
    3. Your boy Mitt got a bunch of boozy billionaires together and tried to buy the Oval Office. THAT pissed a whole lot of us off. You'd think they know that trying to disregard our vote in that manner would go over like a lead balloon.
    4. When you tell a growing segment of the population to self-deport they're probably going to make it their business to have you do so FIRST. And we did.

    I could go on but I'm at work in an auto industry related business and business is BOOMING so I've got to go!!

    November 8, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  24. Name

    The tea party is bad for the republicans

    November 8, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  25. Gary C

    The tea party is the American taliban (too extreme) the rebuplican party needs to be more moderate, you dont have to change your religion or moral views no one is going to make you have an abortion or marry a gay person, part of being free is not having to have someone elses beleifs shoved down you throat. God gave us freedom of choice the tea party gives us our way or the highway. The Republican party would have picked up millions of democratic votes if they would have told the tea party to get lost. The tea party and its extremist nuts lost the election not Romney.

    November 8, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
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