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. Thinking Texan

    Act one: 2008 elections
    Act two: 2012 elections
    Act three: 2013 Teabag Suicide March off the Fiscal Cliff
    Act four: 6000BC, Heaven is in Republistan

    November 8, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  2. Rob Ryan

    What makes the Tea Party think it can win the presidency when it can't even win the GOP nomination?

    It's as if they don't know that all Democrats and even some Republicans just laugh at them.

    November 8, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. Mike

    If it's true that the "Tea partiers will take over the Republican Party within four years", that will doom them for sure. That would further prove that ultra conservative ideas are not popular as the Tea Party believes. I saw where someone said that the republicans need to start watching news other that what they get from FoxNEWS. That's very true. FoxNEWS is slanted and they even believed Romney would win in a landslide. they are so out of touch woth rality. If the tea party does take over, there will be several who will turn independant.

    November 8, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. Luke Brown

    Tea Party is dead.

    Ohio and Florida were the most aggressive in trying to surpress turnout ... and it backfired bigtime. Gov. Rick Scott spent so much time trying to defeat Obama that he ignored the needs of the state and - once again - made Florida a laughing stock.

    November 8, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. 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, the court rejects challenges.

    Constitutionally protected minority totalitarianism.

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

    November 8, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    The extremism (and hate) of the tea party is a turn off. We need more "mouthy moderates" not "terroristic tea partiers" in the Republican party. I think the young people of this country would rather hear something positive, rather than be constantly pummeled with messages of how bad everything is. The GOP also has to acknowledge that there are problems with health care and our climate; then present some agenda to address these issues. Simply stating distaste of the Democratic plans stops short. When our children are taught about global warming in school, do you really think that they are interested in voting for a party that claims it is a myth? How does a hard working minority relate to a GOP base that appears racist part of the time? Another thing, the Republican party has to stop looking like the old person who can't figure out a smart phone and be relavent for the younger generation. Wasn't it Thomas Jefferson who said, "In matters of style, swim with the current, in matters of principal, stand like a rock."?

    November 8, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. David from Nor Cal

    What we are witnessing is the transformation of the GOP from moderate social and fiscal conservatives into the deepths of the religious right nut jobs. The fiscal conservatives (aka the sane adults of the bunch) will eventually say "enough".

    The future of America is to be more socially "liberal" than in the past. The GOP, if this plays out, will become the party of the religious right, living in delusion and fading to oblivion. The fiscal conservatives who are more moderate / liberal on social issues will drift to the Libertarian party. It has already begun.

    The GOP is quite literally (in the case of their strongest demographic) dying before our eyes. If Rick Santorum is nominated for president in 2016 (or Palin), the transformation will be nearing completion. He will never win, but it will signal the final death throes of the once powerful Grand Old Party.

    November 8, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  8. jeffonbass

    The Tea Partiers are dead wrong. Romney's only real momentum was after the first debate when he suddenly pivoted away from the right wing and painted himself as a moderate. If he kept up his right wing tactic or even went more on the offense with it, he would have buried himself even more. These people are scary because they don't except reality and they think they are right 100 percent of the time. If we ever loose our right to vote, it will be because of groups like this.

    November 8, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  9. Dave T

    The GOP needs to be more inclusive, the country's demographics are changing, you can't just appeal to cranky old white people. In the house and senate, 5 of the 6 tea party candidtes lost, that wasn't because Romney wasn't far enough to the right.

    November 8, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  10. Bryan

    Americans as a whole DON'T WANT ultra conservatives. The country...the WORLD is changing and Republicans refuse to change with it. This isn't the 1700's anymore. Stop trying to legislate morality. Someone said that the reason the race was close was because Mitt became "Moderate Mitt" during the debates. That's probably a true statement and what should that tell the GOP?!

    November 8, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  11. Jimh77

    This election proved 1 thing. We the American people can not be bought off by these billionaires throwing money around at us like products on shelves. I hope they all lost billlions in this process. The Tea Party, started off on the right foot,m then diviated from their path into the wrong way. The GOP has lost touch with the American people years ago and now can't even find the people.

    November 8, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  12. CraigRB

    The conservatives picked the wrong candidate and they don't have the b___s to kick the "Tea Party" out and the "Tea Party" doesn't have the b___s to form their own party because they'd never win anything. They're just a weird minority after all.

    November 8, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  13. MBW

    The Republican Party just doesn't get it. Their philosophy is summed up in the declaration by Romney, ' I'm not interested in the bottom 47%'. However, from the results of the election, that 47% he is not concerned about is actually 51%, and growing. Romney would not have even gotten as many votes as he did if he didn't start moving toward the center as he did. Of course by then, we all knew he was just lying to get more votes. But it almost worked. The Republican Party has allowed itself to be swayed by the most vocal and radical conservatives epitomized by the Tea Party nit-wits. As a result, the Republican Party is just a reactionary, obstructionist impediment to sensible, balanced and constructive government. But don't listen to me. I'll just keep voting Democratic until the Republican Party offers a rational choice that is beneficial to all Americans, not just their vision of who the top 53% is.

    November 8, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  14. Rachel

    Wow – 4 more years of stupid with Joe and Barack

    November 8, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  15. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    People understand hate more than they do politics and they miss the whole picture. There's a possibility President Obama will be appointing 3 more Justices, that will make 5 Justices appointed by him and 4 by previous administrations. All of these Justices will help bring about changes that are needed and necessary in order for this country to survive as a World power and equality for all. We will move FORWARD.

    November 8, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. Doug Lynn

    Romney lost by about 2%. That is not a lot. I think Romney would have won if he had proposed setting the minimum income tax rate on income over 1 million at 20% and had a plan to scale back military spending. Most people are tired of wars and tired of us paying to protect the world. Most people are tired of working middle income people paying a higher percentage in taxes, after adding income and FICA together, than the rich. Wake up Republicans, or you will keep losing, and, in effect, contributing to the destruction of our economic and moral future by Progressive big government policies.

    November 8, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. jim

    Behold the power of denial.

    November 8, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  18. Political-Capital...Talk

    Some Politicians talking of "We have Political-Capital to spend" Like the country being Money-broke so is Washington Politically"BROKEN"...Maybe the Dems think they won...but where does this put the Country...both Parties are guilty for the deep division...!

    November 8, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. JustMe

    "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. "

    But yet they voted for Romney with bells on instead of trying to stand by their principals and nominate a third party that the Tea Party could fully get behind. I am sorry, but she is just full of it as is the rest of the Tea Party. And Romney didn't lose because he was too moderate (nor did he lose because he was too conservative). Romney lost because quite frankly he's Romney, a void, hollow, unprincipled person who believes in nothing and stands for nothing except for himself and advancing himself.

    November 8, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. Melissa

    rick from Texas – you nailed it. I was so excited by Huntsman's candidacy – he appeared fiscally conservative, yet fairly liberal socially. His viewpoints certainly resonated with me, and, I think, would have resonated with the majority of the country. And he had tremendous domestic and international experience – governor and Ambassador to China. China!! He was crucified by the right wing for accepting the Ambassador role under Obama. When questioned about why he accepted the role, he essentially said he was raised to believe that public service was a duty, and that it didn't matter that Obama was a Democrat. The President of the United States asked him to serve the country and he felt it was his duty. Regardless of party. This country is in desperate need of Huntsman and other leaders like him. People who set aside party for the sake of the benefit of the country. I hope Huntsman runs again in 2016. It wouldn't matter to me if he was on the Republican or Democratic ticket. Or was an Independent. We need a moderate like him!!

    November 8, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  21. GBfromOhio

    Republicans love to eat their young. So, the answer is to double down on the anti-abortion stance? Wow, the far right social issues folks just don't get it. It hurts when I pound my thumb with a hammer, maybe if I hammer harder it will start feeling good.

    November 8, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    "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.

    There's a dilutional comment. If Romney embraced the TP/GOP platform in the general election he wouldn't have gotten 20% of the vote.

    November 8, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  23. ThisThatnTheOther

    So, the Tea Party really thinks that if the Republican party had nominated a candidate that is anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-gays in the millitary, for tax breaks for the wealthy, for continuing to send troops to Afganistan indefinitely that they would have gotten the majority of Americans to vote for them?

    I have an idea, let's nominate a Tea Party candidate in 2016. Then when the lose the electoral vote 469-40 maybe the will stop yapping and go away for good.

    November 8, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. headlessthompsongunner

    Ooh... I guess it's everybody's fault EXECT the Tea Party. Too funny! This most recent Republican failure is squarely on the back of the Tea party. Hate and blame is no longer an working asset in the Republicans' tool box.

    November 8, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  25. rrogers

    The Republicans' great mistake was in using God to define themselves as "true Christians" (they never accepted that Obama could be a Christian – even though he is) while running a campaign based on blatant lies and changing positions on issues. Lying is an abomination to God (Proverbs), and God hates double-minded people who blow every which way, as Romney did. Ultimately, they made a mockery of God and, as the bible says "Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord; I will repay!...and He did!!!

    November 8, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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