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. Steve

    We need in the republican party someone fiscally conservative and socially moderate. With the changing demographics, that is the only way we will see another republican in the White House. As a republican I am very concerned about the deficit and we need to cut back on some programs. On the other hand I am pro choice and realize we need to come up with some mid ground policy on immigration. While I do not believe illegal immigrants have the right to live here I need to be practical about it, We need to come up with a rational approach to the problem as there is no way we are able to deport them all. Some will need to stay. The question is who and how.

    November 8, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  2. HappyAtheist

    If I was a believer I would pray my imaginary god that these fools pick the next Republican candidate. I mean, running again Bachmanns, Santorums and the like? I don't even have to volunteer and donate next time. We can run Mickey Mouse and win handily. Seriously, do these people live in the parallel fox-iverse or what?

    November 8, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  3. Out-to-lunch-bunch

    ..."tea party is losing steam." Instead it should read – The tea party is a losing team.

    November 8, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  4. Cobra6

    I knew it. Completely divorced from reality in la-la land, the ultra conservative fringe has already convinced themselves that Romney lost because he wasn't fringe ENOUGH. They are totally convinced that there is this huge "silent majority" of Americans out there who want to forcibly deport immigrants, end all social programs, abolish taxes, and impose evangelical Christianity as law. In their up-is-down world, every loss just deepens the conviction that the path to victory lies in being even more extreme, because that will finally "wake up" this mythical conservative behemoth that would rahter have four more years of Obama than vote for a "moderate" like Romney. Republican elite, if you're reading this, jettison these kooks! Let them become the Green Party of the Right, garnering 1-2% in every election, while you get back to a winning and forward looking center-right agenda in line with what a majority of Americans actually think.

    November 8, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  5. clarke

    I had to go back and re read the article, The tea party is really out there, I am still shaking my head. Maybe I just can't close my mind enough to understand there politics. I felt that the tea party hurt Mitt, much more than helped him and you can't even tell me that anyone from the tea party voted for Obama. Either that or they stayed home and didn't vote at all because someone didn't believe as they do. WOW AND WOW.

    November 8, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  6. sqeptiq

    True conservative values simply means telling everyone you want government to shrink and leave us alone while having government ban every behavior you don't like. You can't win by angering the majority of Americans...but please keep trying.

    November 8, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  7. Tod

    "Tea partiers will take over the Republican Party within four years." If this holds true, the Republican party will never win another general election. How do they not get it? Still.

    November 8, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  8. Amazed

    Becoming more conservative is the last thing you need to do. You still don't get it after losing 2 elections.
    The Tea Party is like american Taliban. They scare the pants off of half the country. Wake up!

    November 8, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  9. Ancient Texan

    So all the folks who believe in less spending, low taxes, more respecting of the Constitution, and obeying the laws on the books are radical old people who will die off soon? Well some will, but there are young people that believe the same way and will continue to stand up for those values, so the GOP and TP will survive.

    November 8, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  10. Bocephus Moonshine

    We Democrats need to stop gloating. You Republicans need to stop playing the blame game. The political dichotomy in the U.S. is a swinging pendulum. Right now it is swinging to the left. Soon, it will swing back to the right. It's inevitable, and it's predictable. Get over it.

    November 8, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  11. Joe B

    You Republicans keep trying to blame this loss on Romney and Chris Christie. Christie's actions actually represented the more positive side of the party. It was the hateful partisan and racist ranting that lost the election for you Republicans. Slogans like "lets put the white back into the White House" and other insipid craziness is what killed Romney's bid. IIt gave Obama supporters much more incentive to get out and vote in higher numbers. Until the Republicans and Democrats get a clue and put a lid on this stupidity, both will suffer mightily in future campaigns.

    November 8, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  12. Harrry Baxter

    Romney had NOTHING to do with the nomination of tinfoil-hat wearing candidates like Akin, Mourdock, Allen West, Joe Walsh and many other right-wing idealogues. In Indiana, Richard Lugar, who the Tea Partiers dumped for Mourdock, would have won easily. The Tea party is in denial The longer they stay that way, the better it will be for the country.

    November 8, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  13. mdenis46

    Romney got at many votes as he did because, in the end, people actually considered him more moderate than right-wing. If the ticket had been reversed - Ryan-Romney - or had Romney stuck to the points he made trying to get the nomination (when he would say whatever he had to say to win) it would have been a total disaster - because the tea partiers have talked themselves into believing that they are a majority in this country. They are not. Neither are liberal Democrats a majority. Most people are squarely in the middle.

    Romney is a businessman who will do whatever he needs to do, will take whatever shifting position he needs to take, in order to win. People saw through that.

    If the GOP wants to win a future election, they need to disavow the Tea Party and move back toward the center. I am a liberal Democrat who has often voted for moderate Republicans, even over liberal Democrats. But I can not and will not vote for ANY Republican who is to the right of Atilla the Hun.

    November 8, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  14. Facts don't Lie

    right wing just doesn't get it and as long as they worship the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and support Donald Trump they will stay stuck in their own little world of hate, fear, ignorance, and paranoia they never will get it.

    November 8, 2012 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  15. GOP is missing it

    If the Tea partiers take over, I'm out! The problem was not that Mitt was not conservative enough, problem is there are a lot of of people in the GOP who are still stuck in the past. If the GOP want's to survive, they need to do more then just catch-up, they need to figure out where our future is headed in terms of demographics. If not, they'll die like the rigid regimes of old. Maybe I'll go independent, but the Liberal agend of Democrats will forever keep me away.

    November 8, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  16. wendy

    The core values are what had voters voting for anything but Republicans.

    I felt, going into the election, that the Republicans were better able to handle the economic issues facing our country....BUT Mitt Romney was unable to articulate how he would implement these changes. He could not give a concrete answer for what his direction would be for the economic future of our country.

    Couple that with Romney's complete inability to not lie, stick to one position or give honest answers to questions and he did not add up to a credible candidate.

    Add to that the Republican platform planks regarding limiting marriage freedom, personal choices, and some obscure plan to legislate family values and I was completely turned off by the Republican party.

    The Republicans need to look outside their window....the world has moved on....we no longer need old white men to take care of us (not that we really ever did).

    Do we really want these men defining values, marriage and family for us? For our children? These are issues I don't have the right to make for my own children, why would I let the government decide for them??

    Republicans need to go back to what they do best, economic decision making and leave our personal lives alone....then I might consider leaving the Libertarian party....

    November 8, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  17. elperro

    Um, if you want to appeal to the minority voter, it might be a good start to repudiate the racists, xenophobes, and misogynists in your ranks. It ain't rocket science. But then again, such an action would alienate most of the TPer's.

    November 8, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  18. Kay

    I believe that with a more conservative social agenda, the Republican Party will go the way of the Whigs. Those of us who are fiscally conservative, but socially progressive need to energize the Libertarian Party as a viable alternative to the overspending Democratic Party!

    November 8, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  19. Anonymous

    I could given dozens of examples and site a variety of missteps in the GOP philosophy, but simply put – they have no one to blame but themselves....they do NOT think about all of the people only themselves...

    November 8, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  20. Rick

    How stupid are these Tea Party people? Romney lost because he painted himself as too conservative. If he had stayed the moderate he was in the past, he might have won.

    November 8, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  21. GetOverIt

    Frankly, I'm still amazed that the election was even as close as it was.

    November 8, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  22. NickieN

    Wow – how clueless are they? I am an independent voter and I would NEVER vote for a MORE conservative rebuplican. The entire Republican has bowed down to the Tea partiers and if they EVER hope to win an election, they have to move closer to center. The Tea Party movement is seen by many as an angry mob mentality. I want someone who wants to work across party lines. period. Mitt Romeny was just a puppet for the elite Rebuplicans and the tea partiers. McCain was a much stronger candidate. I actually was going to vote for him until he picked ultra-conservative Palin for his running mate!

    November 8, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  23. midwest3

    What planet are these people on who think there would have been a landslide for Romney had he continued as a "severely conservative" candidate? The only reason Romney got the votes he did was because he switched gears and presented himself as moderate. The "Tea Party" fanatics are hardly a majority of the voting population. If Romney had been someone they could rally for, he would have lost a lot more votes from moderate Republicans.

    November 8, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

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

    Yeah. TeaPers tried that in our Minnesota State Legislation in 2010. After being voted in and literally taking control of our State and Local Legislation, they forced a Government shut down with their constant demands and foot stomping temper tantrums, and in 2012 they were all promptly voted back out. TeaPers also bankrupted the Republican Party here in Minnesota with their incessant "let's primary our own candidate" demands.

    November 8, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  25. Doug

    "Reality has a well-known liberal bias." – Steven Colbert. Conservatives deny everything scientific (evolution, big-bang, global warming...) So why shouldn't they deny that Obama won because the average American doesn't live in the 1500's like they do?

    November 8, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
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