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. Thomas One

    The Republican Party needs to reinvent itself as it did over ten years ago. The Tea Party focus on smaller government is positive but their influence on he Republican Party has been very negative and indeed they cost Romney and the Republicans the presidency. The country's majority is moderate and for the extreme right of the party to dictate its future will destroy the party and an alternative to the Dems, which we sorely need. The Republican Party likely needs the establishment to take control and move to the center- be strictly smaller government with less regulations, strong enforcement of regulations that exist and hep to small business. They should drop the social issues, drop the gun lobby, drop opposition to healthcare reform , be supportive of immigrants. There is no great leadership in the Tea Party, it smacks of a titled class of the past . It is a bad idea – the contract with america was good approach ten years ago.

    November 8, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. Movto Middle

    The fact that there is a "Tea Party National Coordinator" is the problem, she should coordinate dumping them into the harbor. The party needs to get back to the middle and focus on being a responsible party for the people. Open up to people other than middle age white men (which I am). Stop pretending to be my morality compass on social issues. And stop putting a whole flock of candidates who all claim God told them they would be president. I voted Dem for the first time in two races. I even voted for Sharrod Brown who's more communist than Democratic because the RNC propped up a terrible choice and completely under-experienced candidate when we need thought leaders. The RNC is fielding far right zealots and this will not help my middle class family survive. This party is over. It's time to throw out the fringe and put common sense planks under our feet.

    November 8, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. Already seeing massive layoffs

    "In a Nutshell , Obama cares about people, and Romney cares more about Title and Money and folks understand things like that, believe it or not!"

    I would challenge you to examine the difference in their charitable contributions (not the photo ops). I appreciate that Romney used his own money and not taxpayer money to run. I also appreciate that he didn't knowing accept foreign contributions illegally. I also have a feeling he would have used his own money, rather than taxpayer money to pay for vacations, etc... I don't perceive Romney as a saint, by any means, but his quiet and humble charitable acts are without question.

    November 8, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |

    It does not matter who is in the White house. Goverment cannot run a profitable buisness . You want them to control are health issues? They cant even help people in the northeast, they had plenty of time to come up with a plan, so get real and help yourself.

    November 8, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. Jim Hahn

    I hope the tea party will take over the Republican Party. Then we can kiss them goodby as the percentage of older white Americans continues to decline.

    November 8, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. anon-i-mouse

    Wow! The GOP really is clueless. They didn't lose because Romney wasn't conservative enough. They lost because what they stand for doesn't represent the majority of the country. Additionally, when you have a candidate like Romney who was 100% etch-a-sketch on top of trying to pretend he supports a platform that he does not, it's not going to end well for him.

    The GOP needs to take a new look at their platform. Remove protecting wealthy people from being their centerpiece. Stop pretending to care about abortion and gay marriage just to rope in evangelical voters. THEN maybe they can stand a change. Otherwise, they'll go the way of the dodo bird.

    November 8, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. Jack Duggan

    Goodbye GOP.

    November 8, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  8. JJ

    The same was said 4 years ago that the republicans had to change their mindset and they obviously didn't. It doesn't take a genius to realize this country is progressing quickly to a more liberal country with more visions and more ideals relating to progression and not the reserved attitude so many republicans view as critical to their party.

    I'm not saying it's the correct path and I'm not saying it's the right one but this country is going to continue to move forward with the rest of the world and if republicans don't change it will be a very long time before they represent this country on a national stage again.

    November 8, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. Both sides are full of it

    The sooner the GOP ignores the Tea Party as the absurdist fringers they are, the better.

    November 8, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. Edmund Dantes

    Anybody heard anything from Glenn Beck? I think I heard his head explode Tuesday night. Americans do not want to go back to the 50's. America saw thru the hypocrisy that saturates the GOP. Let the TT Party and the moderate GOP duke it out. Meanwhile, America moves on without them.

    November 8, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. SBK

    I think it is high time that the republican party breaks into two, conservatives and moderates, and will have three parties going into the national election. Democrats have a coalition that works for the majority of the population. We have to be realistic, after all these are the Tea Party folks who don't believe in compromise, it is a dirty word for them..

    November 8, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. Tex71

    The Tea Party has already taken over the GOP – which is why the GOP is on its deathbed. Watch for sane, moderate, well-educated Republicans to form a new conservative party over the next four years. The GOP is going the way of the Whigs.

    November 8, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. NameNC_Right

    We should have put Newt in instead of Romney

    November 8, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. Wellywellup

    Grover deserves a lot of the blame, between him and the Tea Party Taliban the GOP is doomed.

    November 8, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  15. Expat American

    The GOP needs to re-evaluate who they want to make up the base. The Tea Party Christian Fascists are no longer the solution for the future. The sooner the GOP expels the anti-intellectual, racist, bigot fringe that justifies its hatred by hiding behind a Holy Bible; the sooner the GOP will start attracting new voters. To name only a few: Martin, Palin, Bachman, Murdoch, Akin and even Ryan are pure poison!

    November 8, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  16. Frank

    "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"
    Oh, abortion was a central part of the dialog all right, just not in the way they wanted. Go ahead and nominate more Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks and see where that gets you. Republicans need to get OUT of their comfy little world and talk people other than those that support their narrow issues.

    November 8, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  17. ronvan

    A VERY SIMPLE ANSWER: Put ALL the upcoming meetings on national TV! Then WE, the people, can see for ourselves, just WHO, and where the problems are!

    November 8, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  18. fastrack1

    This is behavior typical of a dying person... There's a great book called "On Death and Dying" by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. She talks about how people always think "it" will happen "...to thee and to thee, but never to me..." Denial and finger-pointing are wonderful ways of refusing to accept your own disease. They will keep insisting on having it all their way, and will continue to be outvoted. We may not see a Right Wing president for many, many years.

    November 8, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. CSD

    Give it 8 years, the only people left in the GOP will be Rush, O'Reilly, Palin, Hannity and a few racist rednecks from the '50's who haven't dropped dead yet. This party is about as relevant and the Whigs.

    November 8, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. David Moolten

    Romney was not a "weak" candidate. He was a moderate. But he was forced to run to the far right during the primaries, and then flip back during the campaign against Obama. This cost him the votes of people who were afraid of extreme points of view they worried he might not really have discarded. Had he run as a true moderate ( which he is historically), he would have had a better chance. He also needed to expand his agenda beyond the economy, and avoid taking so many "cheap shots" at Obama. A little less negativity and more magnanimity, and a strong focus on the middle to peel off moderate and conservative blue collar democrats (particularly women), might have put him over. A tea party extremist or equivalent, on the other hand, would have been walloped. I mean, does anybody really think Santorum or Palin would have won or come closer?

    November 8, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. TruthsBeTold

    I truly hope the Tea Party takes over the Republican Party in the next four years, it will make the job of electing a Democratic President that much easier.

    November 8, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. 4sanity

    Just accept it. President Barack Obama was the way better candidate all around and our best choice. Out of all the candidates, Romney had the most credible chance since the President would have trounced any of the others. Remember Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman (!!), Rudy Giulliani and Donald Trump as the shining beacons of Republican greatness. Good grief ! Get a clue. Dump the crazies, stay fiscally conservative and move back to the center on social issues. It's not that difficult to comprehend. And the Party might want to consider taking a rational pragmatic approach to immigration reform (including another amnesty program) to resolve this issue. Hispanics are not a lost demographic and have a natural inclination to Republican core values – family values, conservative religion, small business and entrepreneurship. But you can't persuade them for support if at every opportunity second rate Tea Party politicians publicly treat them like dirt and enemy #1. Even George Bush and Rick Perry – not exactly bastions of intellectual rigor – realized this.

    November 8, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. peety

    There was something a little strange about thar Romney guy.Ha,ha,ha,ha,ha! Moderate that!

    November 8, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. g.r.r.

    Hopefully, next time the republicans will run a strong conservative. That would be interesting to see what America does.

    November 8, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. Ken

    "The Party of Personal Responsibility." LOL
    "The Party of Fiscal Responsibility.” LOL
    “The Party of Family Values.” LOL
    “The Party of Patriotism.” LOL
    “The Big Tent Party.” LOL
    It’s the party of blame; the party of the rich by the rich for the rich, the party of tax-cuts and wars paid for by our children, the party of sticking their noses in everyone else’s personal business, the party of chicken-hawks, the party of prejudice and the party for whites-only.
    Voters see right through Republican lies. It’s all packaging and no product.

    November 8, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
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