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. somebody

    Today's GOP is apparently incapable of introspection. I think a big part of this is a tendency to cling to their ideology even when facts clearly indicate the opposite. Facts that are easily proven are challenged or ignored by the conservative movement. The fact free/fake fact bubble is pushed hard by the right wing media.

    The conservatives think they lost the election because the candidate wasn't conservative enough. Polling data shows the rigid conservative positions play well to the GOP base but is not at all atractive to those in the middle or left. You don't win elections pandering to only a small base. The math doesn't work.

    I'm also reading various articles which indicate the GOP says they have a messaging problem. That's partially true. The GOP is very good at getting a "message" out there. Unfortunately for them, more people are looking at what their actual policies are rather than just believing the talking points spewed in a disciplined manner in front of the cameras. Deep down, the GOP doesn't have a messaging problem. They have a policy problem. They can no longer win elections with good public messaging but bad policies behind the curtain.

    November 8, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. nancy

    Great idea! In 2016 let Mourdock be the Republican nominee! He's a sure winner!

    November 8, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  3. Rick 7809

    It is laughable that the Tea Party believes that had Mittens run far right he would have won. These people just don't believe that the majority of American's believe that they are nuts. Why not take over the Conservative party and become a true third party. If they take over the GOP, they will just become a third party anyway.

    November 8, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  4. Expat American

    The national electoral demographic is changing and evolving. Because of this a ‘pure’ conservative will never win the White House. That is fact. Paul Ryan may have aspirations of running a campaign of his own in 2016 but a victory will never, ever happen.
    This being said, the Tea Party fringe is toxic poison to the Republican Party.
    How does the Republican Party plan on attracting new voters if their TEA Party wing discriminates and looks down upon these same people?
    For example, look at the 2008 videos of Palin rallies. Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are the darlings of Conservatives; and the Leaders of the far Right to many. Why would new voters from ‘minority’ demographics want to join the GOP when Republican Conservatives like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann spew out such blind ignorant bigotry?

    November 8, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  5. Bruce Eder

    Romney's stances were pretty clear, though it was unclear how much he actually believed what he was saying about some of them. The big problem with the notion of his "defining" President Obama is, how do you define someone who has been out there as president for four years - love him or hate him, the public had a very clear vision of who Mr. Obama is, and not all of Mr. Romney's money, even if he had been willing to commit all of it to the task, would have changed that.

    November 8, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  6. Tim

    As an independent voter, I liked Romney four years ago, than the Tea Party reshaped him (and the rest of the right) into extremist. Obama secured my vote this year, as soon as Huntsman dropped from the republican primaries. The problem is not that Romney wasn't right wing enough, he became too right wing. The right extremist scare me, as does Fox news (reminds me of state-ran media), as long as they are in power, I am voting a Democratic ticket. I'm sure I'm not the only independent, white male voter, that feels this way...

    November 8, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  7. Pliny

    This is SOO MUCH FUN.

    Watching these hate-mongers bicker with each other.

    Pleaes....let them take the republican party furthur and furthur to the right. Let these frightened old white people keep on damanding that we invent a time machine and take America back to the 1800s.

    November 8, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  8. ClarasBeau

    Somebody needs to sit the Tea party people down and tell them that America, along with the rest of the world, is changing: "You can't 'take your country back', because it is moving on, and you can't stop it, for any number of insurmountable reasons. You may not LIKE the fact that it's changing, but you DO owe it to yourselves to face that reality. And if you won't or can't deal with reality, well... I think you know what that would make you, then."

    November 8, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. Dan, Tx

    If republicans nominate a pro-choice candidate, they win. It's that simple.

    November 8, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. Debra

    I hope the tea party does take over the Republican party – then the Democrats will win everything by a 80% to 20% majority.

    November 8, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. blindbear

    I'm an old white guy from the deep south. Brought up and raised as a racist in Georgia and Texas. My parents are probably spinning in their graves seeing me cast my second vote for Obama. But these Republicans and Tea Partiers are an embarassment to all of us. They're giving racism a bad name. Now all of us old white guys are getting painted with the Republican/Tea Party brush. We're not all the same. Some of us at least know that it's not seemly to BEHAVE as a racist. Sure, when some bozo nearly crashes into me in traffic you're liable to hear the N-word under my breath but no way would I actually say something so hateful to another. Even George Wallace was able to overcome his conditioning by the end of his life. There's a big difference between "old white guy" and "sociopathic old white guy".

    November 8, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  12. SKR

    If Republicans want to win, they need to:

    1. Get religious fundamentalism OUT of their creed. Most Americans are NOT fundamentalist Christians, and they do NOT want one in a position of authority, other than in a church – where it belongs.

    2. Drop the abortion argument. Obviously, they are NEVER going to win a presidency when the candidate says "if elected I'll reverse Roe v Wade". Most Americans don't want that to happen. The argument over whether abortion is moral – or, when does life begin etc. – is an argument for the church, NOT the government.

    Abortion was made legal back in the early 1970s, and it needs to stay that way. Otherwise you guys had better figure out what you're going to with all of those unwanted babies, not to mention the rise in deaths from back-alley hack jobs.

    Here's the trick: keep abortion legal, but raise young women to be the sort who don't NEED to make that kind of decision, except in rare cases. And guess what? Raising moral young women is a job for the CHURCH – not the government.

    November 8, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  13. parnell in canada

    These folks are crazy...Santorum would have been kicked by Obama. If Romney had actually run as the moderate governor he was, he's have had a better chance. But, it's a measure of the man that he chose to abandon his true beliefs to get the nomination – something he started back in 2007-8. Kind of sad, really. I thought the was a very good governor of Massachusetts and was impressed with what he did during the Olympics.

    November 8, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. Amphiox

    A HUGE part of Obama's win was a reaction against the Tea Party. There were lots of voters who were disappointed in Obama and a reasonable alternative might have swayed them away from him.

    And it wasn't even fully a vote against Romney specifically. The thing about his flip flopping was the fear that once elected he would cleave right to the Tea Party. People voted for Obama because as dissatisfied as some them might have been about Obama they were TERRIFIED of the consequences of legitimizing the Tea Party agenda through a Romney win. Romney's 48.5% of the popular vote would have been enough to win in most years as a few percentage of the vote always bleeds to third party candidates. But not this year. Many who normally vote third party voted Obama specifically because they did not want the Tea Party agenda to win.

    The Tea Party is delusional if they think a more conservative candidate would have had a chance. Romney was being utterly buried until he cleaved to the center after the first debate. His entire bump was a result of him trying to appear more moderate. If he had stayed conservative he would have been buried in a landslide.

    The Tea Party continues to refuse to accept the simple fact that their principles are utterly unacceptable to the majority of American voters, and the discrepancy will only get worse for them going forward with demographic trends.

    So let them run a truly conservative candidate in 2016. They'll be buried in a landslide and utterly and totally discredited.

    November 8, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  15. jbird68

    No matter how bright an idea they thought Citizens United was, you still cant forcibly grab a voter's wrist, and make them mark the ballot your way. There is the fault with their system.

    November 8, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  16. Jules

    Americans want moderates to govern this country. As long as the GOP thinks that their nominees lose, or fail as in the case of Bush, because they are not consrvative enought they will continue on this loser path. If the moderates of the party don't wrest control from the far right, you will all end up losing in the end.

    November 8, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  17. moreparties

    The moment the GOP chose to ignore Ron Paul's representatives at the GOP convention, they lost themselves the election. We Paul supporters went to anybody but the GOP candidate after that slap in the face. I myself voted for Johnson. The GOP leaders have to stop being so arrogant and start listening to the more conservative, non-religious, non tea party members or face oblivion.

    November 8, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  18. david

    "Tea partiers will take over the Republican Party within four years"

    Well, If that happens, we better get ready for another civil war!
    These people think we are still in the 19th century!

    November 8, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  19. D. Miller

    The Republican Party needs to tell the Tea Party to create their own Party, and stop trying to take over the Republican Party. You can't have two factions within the same party and expect people to know what your platform really is.

    November 8, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  20. SnehDavis

    "Tea partiers will take over the Republican Party within four years,"

    November 8, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  21. Kansan

    Okay so you can't be a 'true' conservative unless you require self deportation and harassing anyone that isn't white or in Sherriff Joe's words "American", you belive that the only purpose of government is to have something to complain about, you want government out of our lives except for when it should say who can get married or who wants to be a mom; you have to be willing to hold the rest of the nation hostage with a "just say no" policy to compromise; and Oh yeah.. and you have to absolutely hate having an intelligent African-American for President. Gee.. seems to me thats a receipe for success in 2014. Go GOP..

    November 8, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. Sy2502

    The problem is that the people who elect the GOP candidate don't represent most of the GOP to begin with, and certainly don't represent the majority of the country. They are rabid, foaming at the mouth evangelical bigots who would bring about a Christian theocracy complete with "I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet." That's why they went wild for a nut job like Santorum while the rest of the country watched in complete disbelief as this throwback from the middle ages went on his personal crusade against contraception.

    November 8, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  23. maggie

    "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."

    Romney had his own issues but these people just really don't get that the majority of the country just isn't buying what they are selling....Romney or otherwise.

    November 8, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  24. Pablo

    THIS IS PERFECT! Americans are fed up with talk like this and the Tea Party's extremist drivel. That and the fact the Republican Party keeps moving to the right is what's hurting them. Now the Tea Party thinks Romney wasn't far enough to the right. Keep on pushing, Tea Party. The more you push the less likely a Republican will win ever again. You might win some midterms, but your extremism is dooming the Republicans. Keep it up!

    November 8, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  25. g

    I think they should grab their women by the hair and drag them back to their caves, and stay there for the next 30 yrs

    November 8, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
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