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. kevin

    The Tea Party is it's own worst enemy. They will fade away in oblivion and irrelevancy politically. It's really not rocket science. They do bring real problems to the forefront but their "face" is one of lunacy no one can relate to.

    November 8, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  2. sharoom

    Seriously Republicans you need to ditch the tea party right now. They keep pulling you towards the right and hijacked your message with evangelical social rhetoric. That's NOT what the rest of America wants.

    November 8, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  3. Claudia

    Please – did ALL of the Republicans forget the video of Romney disparaging 47% of all Americans as being free-loaders?? That was the spark that lit a fire of outrage, coupled with outright fear of people like Akin, Mourdock etc. controlling our future....additionally with the promises of noObamacare, deporting all illegals, getting rid of Planned Parenthood, overturning Roe v. Wade, etc., etc. WITH the overzealous Tea Party Right in control, which does not believe IN separation of church and state, BUT PROMOTES total Christian religious right dominance in the bedroom?as to who can marry whom, and setting Wall Street and big corporations free, with NO government boundaries or checks and balances in sight. Bullying and hating, and condescending arrogance is not attractive anymore for any Party, Republican or Democrat. Corporations are NOT people, and they tried to buy this campaign, and lost to all the little "freeloaders" 47% rallied with another 5% and WON without ridiculous Florida that still can't count their ballots on time, like the rest of the country managed to.....without SuperStorm Sandy in the way. Maybe this is time for reflection and redirection - as we have a lot of work to do, and it's time to be one country, under god, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Money and jobs need to be on our shores, the balance of tax paying needs to be corrected.... and we need to value the process of communicating and discussing the path to our future, respecting our President and all elected to office, and work as a team. Please! Whether Republican or Democrat - work as a team! Go America!

    November 8, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  4. Mike B

    It's laughable that these hard right wingers, in one breath, decry the fact that Mitt Romney wasn't conservative enough then, in the next breath, talk about being more inclusive for minorities. These are the same people who used illegal immigration as a wedge issue, questioned President Obama's place of birth, questioned the President's academic record (despite the fact he was the first black head of the Harvard Law Review), yabbered endlessly about how the "real Americans" are in the rural areas and not the cities, and made blanket statements about how minorities voted overwhelmingly for Obama because they wanted a government handout (see Bill O'Reilly's "stuff" comment on Election Night).

    The only way the GOP is going to be able to broaden their base is by kicking the extremists and Tea Party people out of the party or at least by letting those with common sense and a desire for bipartisan debate with the Democrats take control of the Republican brand once again. But every time the GOP loses an election we hear the same mantra that their candidate(s) lost because they weren't conservative enough, ingnoring the fact that many times it was the hard right stands those candidates adopted that swung the election to their opponent. The GOP just won't get it until they nominate a Sarah Palin, a Rick Perry, a Michelle Bachmann, a Paul Ryan, or some other fire-breathing right wing standard bearer whose extreme views will result in an electoral wipeout for the Democrats. Then, maybe, just maybe, the GOP will finally realize that the politics of division, fear, and "no" won't allow them to grab the brass ring any more.

    November 8, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. L Thornton

    Republicans have to understand that just getting the white vote won't cut it anymore. To hear their explination for the loss they just don't get that their policies don't play well with an increasing deverse electorate. The party bashes gays, insults blacks, dismisses hispanics, belittles women and trashes union workers all of whom helped re-elect Obama and will be needed to win any election going forward. Bill O'reilly, Dennis Miller and the Fox gang crying about the the country is turning into a European model where people just want stuff shows their ignorance to the situation and why people who get their information from these people are ignorant too. Republicans better hope that the Dems dosen't get this new eloctorate coalition to the polls in the midterm cycle or they are in big trouble! The gop should start by nominating strong viable candidates instead of weak and flawed ones like Alan West, Richard Murdock, Todd Aiken and yes Willard Mitt Romney. The gop needs to get with the "new" program!

    November 8, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  6. Starman

    To join the chorus, Romney's attempts to appeal to hardcore conservatives had more to do with his loss than anything else. The hard conservatives still don't get it.

    November 8, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. Jon

    My conservative family voted in its entirety for Obama because even they found the Tea Party too far-right extremist and found Romney's rightward shift during the primaries to be extremely troubling.
    The Tea Party can whine about Romney being not conservative all it wants; all it will accomplish is to drive reasonable people (and reasonably conservative people at that) like so many that I know away from the Republican party.

    November 8, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. Rick

    This meeting explains exactly what is wrong with the Republican Party. The Tea Party and ultra-conservatives only belong because they know they don't have the strength by themselves to have any influence or power. They truly are a splinter group. I listened to a conservative talk-show last night and the commentator was ranting about the "unbelievers" and "sham conservatives" and saying they needed to be removed from the rolls of the party. The party will only become relevant again if it looks back and adopts the true principles of the Party. Only then will the moderates who became estranged because of the huge shift in philosophy to the right come back. Until then the party, on the national level, is irrelevant.

    November 8, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Packman

    The GOP need to trashcan the Tea Party Wingnuts before they undermine the 2 party system altogether. Had Romney spouted out Tea Party rhetoric he would have lost several more states then he did. Indiana, N. Carolina, Missouri would all have been lost.

    November 8, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. RAWoD

    To the religious right: If you truly believe in a "higher power" picking what happens and what doesn't then how can you not understand that your "god" doesn't want "your perversions towards your fellow man" to dominate. It is, as your members so often said, "gods will". Do you understand the errors of your ways yet?

    November 8, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  11. Lindsey

    Romney wasn't conservative enough? LOL! You think you would've won a "landslide" with a more conservative candidate like maybe, Rick Santorum?? LOLOL!!!!! You guys got to be kidding. Romney believed in different views through his political career, but his RUNNING MATE Ryan was the most extreme ideologically conservative candidate the GOP has ever put forth. Maybe Romney would've WON had he chose Portman instead, but no, he had to choose a Christian Taliban Ayn Rand-worshipping Harry Potter-without-the-glasses lookalike who was hell-bent on controlling women's bodies, peoples' sex lives, and enshrining Catholic dogma into American law. Even CATHOLICS didn't vote for Romney-Ryan, believing them to be too extreme.

    You guys just do not understand that this country is NOT and NEVER WILL BE FAR-RIGHT. Those who embrace far-right principles and policies are NOT the majority here and you never will be.

    November 8, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. Thomas Long

    I'm very excited about the prospect of the tea party taking over the republican party. This will equal unequivocal Democratic rule for the next generation. GO TEA PARTY! These dummies don't even realize the glaring problem, which is that nobody cares about their ridiculous agenda, but hey, I support them 100%! Did they notice that every MAN who voiced his strong conservative opinions about abortion LOST his race??? So, yeah, I can see how they would think that the party needs to be a stronger advocate for these views... definitely makes sense.

    November 8, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  13. shan

    Jenny Beth Martin – who did you vote for? Funny to hear this Tea Party outrage NOW. You all were right behind "Democrat-Lite" Mittens when you thought he could win!! Hypocrisy-much?

    November 8, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  14. Cindy

    What turned me off from the Republican was the negative ads. Especially the one from Thomas Peterffy who was showing pictures of WWII and telling people this would be them if they voted for a democrat. This man did not grow up in socialism but in communism. Shame on you Mr. Peterffy.

    November 8, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. ruth

    Well the people of this country picked obama,good luck ,this will all backfire on everyone that did vote for him,lets just say you have been warned,the people that voted for him are not well educated and have no idea what this country is based on,certainly not his ideas, the people that voted for him are the ones who want free stuff ,want into this country by waving a wand and not have to go through the process of becoming citizens people have waited 10 years and this man comes along and well we know the rest of the story,so good luck but can you LIVE through another 4 years of him....let me know!

    November 8, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. shan

    Jenny Beth Martin – who did you vote for? Funny to hear this Tea Party outrage NOW. You all were right behind "Democrat-Lite" Mittens when you thought he could win!!

    November 8, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. Rich

    GOP has the Tea Party to get its base fired up, but this same base, when pushing its views isolates most of America. GOP stands to go extinct at this point, either having too small of a base with the Tea Party leaving, or ticking off too much of America.

    November 8, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. Barry DeCarli

    These Tea Party people just don't get it! Had Romney acted more "severely conservative," President Obama's margin of victory would have been greater. Most American voters endorsed Obama's view of things, not the Republican conservative one. As for the Tea Party taking over the Republican Party in four years – if that happened there would definitely be room for a new third party that would prove how irrelevant the Tea Party is becoming. The Republican Party needs to throw out the TP and the fundamentalist religious zealots and try to appeal to the wider population or they are doomed to failure. Well, that might be the best thing.

    November 8, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. Ron

    Republicans are terrible students of history. Ronald Reagan won the White House by capturing the vote of moderate Democrats!!!! Two days after the election they can't believe that Romney had fewer votes than McCain, but they fail to understand that McCain was less of a conservative and more of a moderate, and moderates appeal to Democrats and independents. If a candidate leans to far to the right (yes that's you Tea Party people) he or she will lose their ability to capture enough of the electorate.. Maybe if Republicans wake up some day and quit pandering to their extreme wing, get off the pro-life band wagon, leave the evangelicals in church, understand that if two people, regardless of their gender decide to marry- let them, you might get a few more votes. Until that day happens- good luck getting to that White House on the hill.

    November 8, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  20. Vishwa Bhargava

    Here is a worthy cause for long term prosperity of the US and the rest of the world.
    From Wikipedia: “On January 15, 2009 the idea to appoint a secretary of peace in a Department of Peace was voted as one of the top 10 Ideas for Change in America. This project was part of a nationwide competition following the election of Barack Obama to identify the best ideas for change in America. A total of 7,875 ideas were submitted and 675,943 votes were cast. On January 16, 2009 the idea to appoint a secretary of peace in a Department of Peace was one of 10 ideas delivered to President Obama's transition team. The online community and media network for social issues Change.org and the Case Foundation co-hosted this event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to announce the top 10 rated ideas.”
    “The 2009 U.S. military budget accounts for approximately 40% of global arms spending. The 2012 budget is 6-7 times larger than the $106 billion of the military budget of China, and is more than the next twenty largest military spenders combined.” Per Wikipedia.
    This is our biggest expense and needs to be reined in.
    When you examine the effect of this bloated military budget, you come to realize its resulting misery. With this kind of huge budget, you’re looking for opportunities to get into trouble. You get into meaningless wars- Vietnam and Iraq come to mind. The difficulty is that the results of war are irreversible. Those who got killed cannot be brought back to life.
    Whosoever was closer to the above position of cutting military spending gets my vote.

    November 8, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  21. Voice Crying In the Wilderness

    An extreme party will never last. It's in their nature to self destruct. Parties such as these are never happy until they have total domination-- which will never happen.

    November 8, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  22. Yuri

    They simply refuse to learn, don't they? This obstinate and intractably delusional grandiosity of the teabaggers hermetically seals them in an alternate universe. They need to shed their inane ideology and try to embrace some practical isues, else, they will continue to meet the same fate, because the headwinds of pragmatism will emerge as an inexorable force to reckon with. Nutjobs like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock have tried it and were jettisoned, justifiably.

    November 8, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  23. TexaSAM

    Sadly, the far right wing of the Republican party, be they Tea Party folks or religious folks, have painted the entire Party into a corner. Their hatred of the civil rights decisions and anti-abortion stance alone prevents then from attempting to be an inclusive Party. They are solidly standing with their beliefs which are the antithisis of a Democratic or Progressive movements. America is a melting pot. Now it's melting into a browner shade which makes the old white man frightened. Why? Because they are afraid this new America will treat them the way they treated others in our history. This is a good reminder to always treat others the way you would like to be treated.

    November 8, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  24. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    Where to start. Tea Partiers will take over the Republican Party in four years sounds great to me. The total destruction they would bring to the Republican future would be fun to watch. However the most likely situation is a break off of the Tea Party into its own party. That way they could move forward with their own agenda without having to appease moderates.
    The truth is that every time Romney came out sounding like a Tea Partier (47% speech, make things so bad Mexicans will self-deport, anti gay remarks, anti-womens rights remarks, etc) he cost the Republicans votes. The United States is becoming a nation with nearly 50% minorities. If your party is not going to be inclusive you are doomed. The only way for Republicans to become more viable is to dump the far right wing, bigots and hate mongers and transition into a conservative to moderate organization. One that wants to have a balanced budget, build the economy in America instead of outsourcing, take pride in all Americans regardless of gender, sexuality, race or religion. Not a national pocketbook for Rich White Old Men.
    Unfortunately for America I don't see any of that as a possibility. So, goodby Republicans, you were fun while you lasted.

    November 8, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  25. Mete Krop

    Do you forget that Romney won the most conservative basis of the GOP in thr primary thanks to his modern personality. The more you guys are conservative the more you lose ground in the US. Being conservative is the issue of the 1920's and 1930'. You need to think in turms of the 21 century. Silly

    November 8, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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