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. MKBL

    "Tea partiers will take over the Republican Party within four years," and will take GOP into oblivion.

    November 8, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  2. Beverly - NYC

    Hopefully Mr. Boehner will realize he may have to leave some of his parties wingnuts in the wilderness and vote with Democrats on what they can agree on. To continue this embrace of the bagger nuts will make Republicans irrelevant. As a Democrat that prospect makes make me happy, there is work to be done.

    November 8, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. JS

    I love my liberals and Democrats!

    November 8, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  4. Mikem

    I "severely"wanted Gov Romney to win this election, but the Tea party better get its head out of...the sand. Their constant drum beat for philosophical purity cost Gov Romney the election and reduced the Republican membership in the Senate. One by one, the most conservative Republicans in the primaries were defeated.

    November 8, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  5. Boisepoet

    The only reason the election was as close as it ended up was because in the first debate he transformed into "Moderate Mitt". If we had seen the same Mitt we saw in the primaries, I think he would have lost another 2 million votes or so, as many people don't even start paying attention to the race until that first debate.

    November 8, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. Joe Smith

    What is it with you people? The election is over, and now it's time for us to work TOGETHER to solve the problems our country faces. We all have to give up something so that we can ALL gain something. To the conservatives, there are plenty of liberals who are willing to work with you to help get this country back on better fiscal ground, even if it means cutting some social programs. To the liberals, there are plenty of conservatives who are willing to save the vital elements of our social programs if we do it in a fiscally responsible way.

    November 8, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  7. Until The Wheels Fall Off

    Dennis Myers & VinnieUtah~

    You got it right.

    Tea Party = Good idea gone way bad

    Obamanos Amigos!

    November 8, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. Bubba10

    Dems better walk the walk with the Latin community for the next four years and they can rest assured that the GOP will find a token candidate or spokesperson (a Latin Michael Steele or Alan West).

    November 8, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. JoeW

    Please, in the future make sure that the Republican party listens very carefully to the concerns of these Tea Party leaders. It is only through following their enlightened understanding of the issues, the electorate and the needs of this country that we will ever succeed. Seriously, no I really mean it, seriously. You said what? You want me to do what? I can't do that! It would not be at all appropriate to ask them to take a few logic courses. And, no, what. Have them take an IQ test and publish the results? No, I could never ask them that!

    November 8, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. Dback

    There's already a Constitution Party on most of the ballots in this country that's starved for hardcore social conservatives –indeed, they talk about more adherence to "biblical principles" along with Constitutional fidelity. Let the extreme conservatives peel off and join them, and the Republicans can go back to talking about fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, less government, etc. The Republicans might even pick up some Blue Dog Dems that way. (Eventually, when the extreme left gets tired of always compromising with the Democrats,some of them will peel off and join the Greens; then if the Libertarians get a little more respect, we actually might have a decent 5-way debate and election instead of the endless 2-party see-saw.

    November 8, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  11. NC Mom

    A more Conservative candidate will get more votes? Are they saying that the highly Conservative voted for Obama because Romney wasn't Conservative enough? How on earth does this article make any sense?

    November 8, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  12. MotherBear64

    I must have missed something? Are they suggesting that Millions and Millions of voters sat at home rather than vote for Romney instead of Obama. There was not a significant number of votes siphoned off by any of the 3rd party candidates that would justify suggesting that a more conservative candidate would have wound up attracting those votes, and pushed Romney to victory. And, of course, they are not suggesting that Romney could have won with those unquantified votes and without the centrists who voted with him in his election.

    And, how can they justify their anger in light of the results of the Senate elections? In at least 2 cases, they got their candidate (Aiken and Mourcock) and then wound up losing – and probably propelling other candidates in other states in the bargain – I know Warren was helped by candidates who were not particularly repelled by Scott Brown but could not stomach the thought of a Republican majority in the Senate.

    I think the Republican Party is about to have a very interesting internal conversation which will, in turn, make the mid-term elections highly entertaining. If the Tea Party continues to pick off moderate Republicans, President Obama may find himself with a very friendly House of Representives in his final term in office.

    November 8, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. Tony C

    Come fellow conservatives either we are all in with Grover Norquist or not. He eloquently makes the case that this election was a solid gain for us conservatives and we are at least better off than we were at the end of the last election in 2008. So come on lets celebrate and continue the course!

    November 8, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. apssen

    Tea party and republican party need to realize that they live in the 21st century, not in the dark ages.

    November 8, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. J hicks

    When will they learn that women do not want government telling them what they can and cannot do with their body

    November 8, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  16. craig

    Ah, the implosion begins. Here, have a ring-side seat!

    November 8, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  17. Calcommuter

    Wow. The GOP and tea partiers spent the last 4 years blaming Obama and the Democrats for everything. Now that the American people were actually able to tell them what WE think, the conservatives are blaming each other! A group way out of touch.

    November 8, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. Lisa

    What I will say is that I am an African-American woman and I consider myself to be a moderate conservative. On one side I do not agree with same sex marriage or abortion and on the other side I want the poor taken care of and I want healthcare for all Americans. I am an educated Christian, middle class and my friends are as well and yet when I hear about conservatives we are not included. When you see the face of conservative women I don't see one black face as if we do not have morals or standards of what we want. I voted for President Obama because there was no choice. What I hear from Republicans are monkey jokes and welfare jokes in which my family was never on or my friends. Hearing that language and not hearing one Republican with courage to stand up what choice did I have but to vote for President Obama. All I see is the white conservative Elizabeth Hasselback as the standard of being a conservative??? She didn't have the courage to say Romney was not a good choice. They have left conservative African-American women out of the discussion once again as if we do not exist. Where are the Jack Kemp's?????

    November 8, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. Oneslydragon

    Bill O'Reilly, your argument that 50% voted for Obama cause they 'want' something is an argument is sophistic at best, it is tired, old and shows the lack of insights you and your old white guys elitist have. the 50% of which you speak are not wanting handouts as you so ignorantly say, they want a chance. They want the playing field leveled, not skewed, they like the truth not the spin to encourage fear and hate that spills out of the right's media (yes, a generalization, but to make a point)

    As smart an individual as you are, you show noting but ignorance in this statement, lowering yourself to the level of Rush, Beck and Hannity... and some of the Blonde Fox's that show the intellect of an ameba. Or is it simply that you are making a lot of money doing what you do and as Libeace said, I laughed all the way to the bank.

    Hmmm, maybe I am wrong about you, if you actually meant, the 50% want a better America where congress will work together for the good of the country, not the next campaign.

    November 8, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. Therese

    If the GOP becomes more conservative they will will lose by a bigger margin in the next election. Wake up people! Issues are no longer left or right!

    November 8, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  21. Lokn70de

    "Is this just math that you do as a republican to make yourself feel better, or is this real?"
    Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly questions Karl Rove
    Election Day 2012 (Nov 12, 2012)
    Priceless 😉

    November 8, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "When will they learn that women do not want government telling them what they can and cannot do with their body"

    When their daughter comes home from freshman year in college with a black babby in her belly.

    November 8, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  23. Travis

    @ Joe Smith
    " We all have to give up something so that we can ALL gain something."

    I agree with everything you said. However, therein lies the problem. Nobody seems willing to give up anything. Hopefully that will change someday.

    November 8, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  24. gmermel

    Quit insulting them. They are a blessing. The fundamental principals of democracy were at risk this election. And as the demographics aligned against their agenda the country is protected from a radical right wing regime imposed via a supposedly democratic process (also known as a "regime").

    Radical Left wing paranoiac ideation? Well.....

    First, institute voter suppression of minorities in the name of nationalism (ID laws, reduce the days and hours of early voting.....):

    Put Romney in office.

    Stop the Justice Dept from challenging future voter suppression laws.

    Add a conservative Supreme Court Justice, and the court rejects challenges.

    Constitutionally protected minority totalitarianism.

    We were that close to the slippery slope.....

    November 8, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. Kent

    If Romney had been as gracious during his campaign as he was with his concession speech I think he would have had a better chance. It's so hard for a Republican to be civil these days when you have people like Ryan, Limbaugh, Trump, Boehner, O'Reilley and others actually leading the party with so much bluster. Obama has a lot of class and I think Romney does on occasion but the Republicans have been infiltrated with low class bluster and name calling that they just cannot seem to be able to shed.

    November 8, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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