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. NickAnast

    So everyone agrees that the GOP needs to bring in minorities, then in the next breath they say that the GOP needs to be even more conservative. The two don't mix. And if the Tea Party really does take control of the GOP within 4 years, then the Republican Party will cease to be a major party.

    November 8, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  2. Rob b

    I did not vote for Mit, but man the GOP just switch on Mit..

    November 8, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  3. Donald Gordon

    Of course those Tea Party folks think Mitt Romney should have been more to the right. Oh, just imagine if the Tea Party actually takes over the GOP by the 2016 election. Imagine them running a super far-right candidate.....Someone who wants to runs on getting rid of Social Security, Medicare, food stamps and the rest of the safety net. Someone who would drastically cut the public work force, gut workplace safety regulations, and abolish the minimum wage. The Democrats would be salivating at the prospect of facing that candidate, just watch what would happen if that candidate got the GOP nomination.

    November 8, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. Blue Rhino

    Grip all you want but at the end of the day, the better man won. The GOP is an old tired party that doesn't have any ideas other than to run on hate, fear and deceit. That is why they lost handily.

    November 8, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. Guest

    CNN , where is the breaking story about Iran attacking our drone 2 days BEFORE the election. The American people are so hosed. Obama is the biggest fraud to ever sit in the White House-I mean, on Letterman. The media hid that from the American people just like they hid Benghazi-gate.

    November 8, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  6. Resurrection Joe

    If the GOP is serious about "changing" and "reaching-out" it would behoove them to begin so by going to see "Lincoln" this weekend and learn!!! They've forgotten and lost their way to what once made their party great-shame on them...

    November 8, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  7. CosmicC

    I think the result was as much an indictment of the house repubs as a rejection of Romney. You can't really tell because the congressional districts are so screwed up by gerrymandering by both parties that very few are really contestable.

    November 8, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  8. TheFatherofLies

    That's why he lost. He wasn't conservative enough... Wow.

    The country has been scooting from center-right to true center for the last 80 years and conservatives think Mitt wasn't conservative enough. Ideological fringes scare the public and at present, people are more afraid of the far-right than the far-left.

    November 8, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  9. Guest

    Obama is already talking borrowing 2T more and now raising more taxes. When obamacare taxes kick in American workers and then more taxes on top of that, we are sunk. WHERE ARE THE JOBS.

    November 8, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. bill

    Keep up the (not so) good work GOP and I hope you don't change a thing! It makes these elections so much easier to win by letting Americans see you for what you truly are!

    November 8, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  11. Dennis

    Keep eating yourselves from the inside out, so you'll go the way of the Dodo, Whigs & Federalists – woo hoo! Tired of you lot trying to take us back to the days of the witch-burning zealot Puritans that colonized the joint in the first place – you guys go ahead an party like it's 1659. We are soooooooooo in need of a "Second Enlightenment" and quickly!!!

    November 8, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  12. bill

    Stay classy GOP

    November 8, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  13. Randy, San Francisco

    Stop pointing the finger at Romney. Just look in the mirror. Tea Party and evangelical social conservatives are part of the problem and not the solution to the GOP election woes.

    November 8, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  14. paul

    I think Mitt was probably a fiscal conservative and a social moderate which puts him in with the majority of Americans. In campaigning to the social conservatives (read tea party) in the primaries he had to paint himself as a "severe conservative". In doing so he alienated the majority of the country. In the general election he tried to swing around back to the center but by then after seeing him reinvent himself so many times we didn't believe him anymore. Most people believed he would change his story to appeal to whatever audience was in front of him and frankly in the end it came down to trust. We can trust what Obama says he believes and what his aims are. We no longer had a clue about Romney. If he had been farther right of center than he was then the social conservatives may have trusted him more but he still would have lost to the majority. We don't want your "Christian" version of sharia law here.

    November 8, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. bill

    "It should have been a landslide for Romney" – BWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAH snicker snicker OOOHHHAAHAHAHAH that's a funny one HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA snort chuckle chuckle.....

    November 8, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  16. Nick

    I blame the voters. Most are too uninformed to know why they voted for Obama. My wife asked 3 of her co-workers who were voting for Obama "why" and not one of them could come up with a coherent reason. It will become very clear in a matter of months why the term "bread and circuses" now applies to the US. Now that the photo op is over we're hearing about Sandy relief complaints and Obama is nowhere to be found. Benghazi will turn out to be an anchor around the administration unless they sacrifice Hillary. Already the policies are causing economic upheaval since they won't be overturned. But those Obama voters will remain happy no matter what. Bread and circuses for sure.

    November 8, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  17. Patriot

    History is littered with failed, fanatical, movements. Add the Tea Party to the likes of the Flat Earth Society, Luddites, Communists, Fascists, the Ku Klux Klan, Americans Elect, the Know Nothing Movement, Secessionists, John Birshers, Libertarians, White Supremacists and the American Nazi movement, Bolsheviks.... you get the idea. Sad, deluded and paranoid people..

    November 8, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  18. GK

    Jenny Beth should rename herself as Jenny On Meth. That would imply what she is on truly.

    November 8, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  19. Jean

    Mitt Romneys polling numbers only started to grow as he showed a more moderate face to the public. Only then did he seem to gain ground against President Obama, before that "Severely Conservative Mitt' lagged behind. SO, the T Party people want us to think that they are the voice of the real Republican Party and all the party needed was a MORE conservative candidate to win.... Really? It doesn't seem to make sense to me, quite the opposite .. it's time the Republican party quit dancing to the Tbaggers tune, , shut Rush Limbaugh up and take a look around at who they have been turning themselves inside out for...a loud, group of radical outsiders.

    November 8, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    But, but, but, Rasmussen, Hannity, O'Reilly, and Dick Morris told us we were going to win! Karl Rove said he was going to find us a way! HOW????????

    Maybe people just don't like the Tea Party.....has that thought occurred to the Tea Party members who flunked their Social Studies classes in high school, then opted for the " Constitution for Dummies" CDs approach they saw late one night ( available for 4 easy payments of $39.99) as the basis for deciding that only they possessed the truth? Whatever merit their arguments originally had was squandered 2 years ago with picking loons like Angle and Miller, adn was sealed earlier this week when Mourdock, Akin and West went down to defeat. Acting like a secular Taliban is no way to run a democracy. They don't want democracy, they want a Tea Party theocracy, complete with their madrassas where they can brainwash young kids with their alternate history and vew of the Constitution that would make Bill Buckley blanche with disgust.

    November 8, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  21. romnesia

    Wow the Tea Party and the ultra conservatives really now believe the GOP is their own party to run. My goodness these people are absolutley out of their damn minds. They represent such a small portion of the and not one of them even knows it. Looking back on Mitt's speach on Tuesday night I really think the poor guy was glad to be done with it.

    The GOP is on life support and will be lucky to ever win the Presidency again unless everyon in the Democratic party dies of the plague.

    Can't wait for mid term elections as the nuts the Teaheads put in in are gonna come flying out so fast it will make your head spin.

    November 8, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  22. FLIndpendent

    @Chris – "If Romney had campaigned like he governed Mass (pro-choice and at least ambivalent about gay rights), he would have demolished Obama at the polls"
    If you truly believe this please explain why the people of Massachusetts overwhelmingly voted for President Obama over their past Governor Romney. Face it, Romney was a flawed candidate with a lot of baggage and really couldn't hold a candle to our President. After all, he was the first candidate to ever lose both his home state, the state he governed, and the VP's home state!

    November 8, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  23. Patriot

    History is littered with failed, fanatical, movements. Add the Tea Party to the likes of the Flat Earth Society, Luddites, Communists, Fascists, the Ku Klux Klan, Americans Elect, the Know Nothing Movement, Secessionists, John Birchers, Libertarians, White Supremacists, Bolsheviks.... you get the idea. Sad, deluded and paranoid people..

    November 8, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  24. cbp

    The conservatives lost. It appears that people did not side with Mr. Romney or the conservatives. He would have done every so much better if he had stuck to his original positions. As soon as he changed positions he was not electable.

    The Republican Party has embraced people like Karl Rover, Rush Limbaugh, the Koch Brothers, Fox News commentators, etc. The TEAPARTY and Grover Norquist were very much welcomed. In fact people were required to sign a pledge with Norquist not to raise taxes. In the end the Republicans lost the presidency because no one person or group should be invited to control any candidates. That is not how democracy work and unfortunately the GOP does not subscribe to the notion that majority does rule.

    November 8, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  25. Patriot

    History is littered with failed, fanatical, movements. Add the Tea Party to the likes of the Flat Earth Society, Luddites, , the Ku Klux Klan, Americans Elect, the Know Nothing Movement, Secessionists, John Birchers, Libertarians, White Supremacists, Bolsheviks.... You get the idea. Sad, deluded, people..

    November 8, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
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