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. lsboogy

    Get the tea party out of my party – let them have their own "super-conservative" wing and they will consistently get 10% of the vote

    November 8, 2012 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  2. AP Jr

    This is a party whose collective members embrace the Leave-It-to-Beaver version of Americana. They continue to fail to grasp the notion that the country has, indeed, changed into the melting pot of faces seen in pro President Obama ralleys. Ignoring this simple fact, and moving the party even further right of center, may score the Tea Party folks some brownie points within their local area, but will guarantee failure on a national stage. The majority of voters say so...again.

    November 8, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  3. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    Blame ourselves, if conservatives would get a little backbone and play intimidation like liberals do, then we may have bipartisanship.

    November 8, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  4. squirrelhollowfarm

    The Tea Party is their own worst enemy. Blessed are the self righteous for they think they know everything.

    November 8, 2012 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  5. Vic

    I guess the Tea Party got SOAKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 8, 2012 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  6. Dave R.

    The country does NOT want Tea Party extremists!! Obama would have won by and even larger margin had it not been for the Republicans trying to rig the election with voter suppression tactics and trying to buy it as well. Obviously the people recognized that and voted accordingly.

    November 8, 2012 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  7. Canuck

    "It should have been a landslide for Romney, had he embraced a truly conservative agenda,"

    They just don't get it – America is changing with or without them.

    November 8, 2012 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  8. Hogan's Goat

    They should have gone with Herman Cain as POTUS. He could have had The Noid© as his running mate and given all the voters free pizza. Or maybe The Newt© with Doctor Doom as his running mate would have captured the meanspiritedness of the current party better? GOP, cleanse thyself before returning to the arena; you stink right now.

    November 8, 2012 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  9. Jack

    The more the extreme right gains control over the GOP, the more marginalized the party will become. You need to face the facts: the majority of the country doesn't agree with the hard-line, almost fundamentalist Christian right views that are being floated around. If you insist on imposing your faith on people who don't share yours, you will lose. Get over the anti-gay, ant-abortion hysteria.

    And PLEASE keep the Tea Party folks under control. Look at this idiocy in Indiana: you had a wonderful candidate – Richard Lugar – who would have won hands down. But no, you had to replace him with this new dude. How did that work out for you?

    November 8, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  10. Aaron

    Until the Republicans recognize that the majority of voters want a fiscally conservative/socially progessive platform . . . they will remain out of step with American values and interests. Conservative social agendas driven by the "Religious Right" are generally viewed as divisive, backward, hateful, and alienating. The more the party feels the need to build a coalition with these extreme elements of the society, the further they distant themselves from the majority. The GOP sold it's soul and now is paying the price.

    November 8, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  11. Pedro

    Really? Are the republicans that thick... They move conservative and they would've lost most of the votes that Romney got... The core of the party must be check because the country has changed and the party remains the same as in the 50's...

    November 8, 2012 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  12. Jules

    The far right wing should maybe learn a lesson about working together for the good of the nation instead of trying to get someone out of office so they can consolidate power. We'll see what happens with the fiscal cliff. If there is no compromise and everything is a fight – well midterm elections are only 2 years away. Let's work together to solve these major problems that face us.

    November 8, 2012 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  13. John

    The Tea Party needs to come out of the closet and identify themselves as the Libertarians they are. Once they do that, they can become the voice of the Libertarian Party and have an actual place on the ballot. Pretending to be Republicans does not move their cause forward.

    November 8, 2012 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  14. tom

    What the Tea Party doesn't seem to understand is that if they had had a "true conservative" candidate, he would have gotten creamed in a landslide. The Tea Party represents a dying minority of Americans. That time is over, and it's never coming back.

    November 8, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  15. Jules

    Egads people, wake up – the majority of Americans do not like today's far right wing agenda. The only decent person running in the Republican primary was John Huntsman and he wouldn't tell the far right the lies they wanted to hear. John Huntsman would have won, but he wasn't socially conservative enough for the far right. And I say that as an Obama supporter.

    November 8, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  16. Rationalintn

    These tea party people sound like teenagers, "it's someone else's fault". They also sound like they are suffering from the delusion that they are the only people who matter in this nation. Are they completely unable to realize that most Americans don't agree with them, because most Americans are reasonable centrists? Maybe the tea party people should pack up and find a new place to live. The rest of America cannot afford to let these extremists hold the rest of us hostage. They will regret it if they wreck our economy in the coming year.

    November 8, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  17. Larry in Houston

    as a former democrat – now turned Independent – I've read most of these comments – the bottom line is this : if the GOP continues to "embrace" the Tea party, they will end up losers in the future. Hate to be a bearer of bad tidings, but the Tea Party is has an extremist right wing view of practically everything. If you've noticed, most of the tea party people are 98% white. They don't seem to want to hear other people's Views, or they don't want to embrace other people's anything, for that matter. Seems like they have their own agenda, and that's going to kill the GOP party in the future.

    November 8, 2012 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  18. Gary

    I hope they take her advice. We're a lot smarter than they give us credit for; Tuesday's vote proved that.

    November 8, 2012 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  19. tom

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

    If that is the case, then we will have a one-party system, because the Republican Party will be out the door in Washington for a long time.

    November 8, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  20. asm_ith

    Arguing that Romney was "a moderate candidate, hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country club establishment wing of the Republican Party" is absurd. He may have been the preferred candidate by those groups, but he won individual primaries in individual states by getting enough votes from people on the ground. To argue that those people were wrong means that either they were too easily influenced by the establishment wing of the party, or that too many of the "right" people didn't vote in the primaries. Neither of these says much about the way that those who were in this article think about the voters.

    November 8, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  21. Bryan

    Haha....I sincerely hope that Tea party/Christian conservatives believe that the reason they lost was "Romney wasn't conservative enough"! Please nominate an even more conservative candidate next time.....you people will be relegating yourselves to afterthought status for the next 50 years...and beyond.

    November 8, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  22. toad

    The Tea Party with it's Todd Akins, Richard Murdocks and Allen Wests is the Republican party problem! Let the Tea Party have it's own party and quit ruining the Republican party!

    November 8, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  23. kathy

    The voters were polled and only 21% had a favorable opinion of the Tea Party....sorry, you will not win at any time with those statistics!!!

    November 8, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  24. Aimleft

    It should have been a landslide for Romney, had he embraced a truly conservative agenda." WHAT? So this guy thinks if Romney had been even more conservative, that a bunch of people who voted for Obama would have voted for Romney instead?!? How crazy does one have to be? You Republicons STILL don't get it. Unbelievable.

    November 8, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  25. frank

    The tea party has cost the republican party 6 senate seats and control over the past 2 years. Romney gained zero traction in the general election until Moderate Mitt showed up. The problem was not that Romney wasn't conservative enough. The problem was he had to be too conservative to survive the republican primary.

    November 8, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
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