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. Glo

    Aw...poor things. Why can't they just admit that they messed up and stop pointing fingers

    November 8, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  2. DaveM

    What these ultra-right wing zealots fail to realize is that it was the extreme stances Romney took to please THEM that doomed his bid. In doing so, he damaged his credibility and integrity when he took positions completely opposite of what he supported as a moderate governor. The American people are weary of the rigidity of these one-issue groups and the toxic partisan rhetoric they produce. The Republican party has a stark choice: free itself of the unbending extremists and become more mainstream; or face severe damage to the franchise and watch their supporters pull away and become Independents.

    November 8, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  3. Nholler

    How can they blame it on him not being conservative enough? Do they really think people voted for Obama because Romney wasn't conservative enough?

    November 8, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  4. Rhonda Rahn

    As a woman voter, I say stay out of my bedroom.

    This article is telling me something I already figured: The Republicans have learned nothing from this overwhelming defeat.

    The GOP only cares about children BEFORE they are born. Afterwards, not so much. The GOP expects women to have 12 children each, yet they hate welfare, so somehow they expect those women to go to work despite all the children that no birth control would bring.

    Sure, I do care about the economy. But I also do not want Planned Parenthood defunded and I do not want Roe vs. Wade reversed.

    GOP = anti-women. It not the Grand Old Party, it is the Geezer Old Party of white males.

    November 8, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  5. lou

    Romney represented modern"conservatism" just fine. He even tried to soften it up a little. They just have to get over the fact they they are outnumbered and have to change something so that they are viewed as a reasonable alternative.

    November 8, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  6. AnnieM

    If they hate it so much, they should all get together, buy a deserted island and move there. Currently they have the right to assemble and rant and worship just as they want. Unfortunately what they want is for no one but them to have "freedom" (to do things THEIR way)...

    November 8, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  7. Dr Matrix

    Who do they point their fingers at? Republicans nominated Romney during their primaries. From my moderately left of center observation point only Romney or Huntsman could have had a broad enough appeal to even be in the race. All the others would have been 30-40 percent and a chunk of that wouldn't have been approval but more anyone but Obama. You are going to have to wait to take your country back from us Americans.

    November 8, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  8. WaitForIt

    Shocker! The republican party will become irrelevant if it doesn't adapt. My goodness, I am shocked! Shocked, I say!

    November 8, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  9. Josh

    If the election was just based on the economy then Romney would have won, probably pretty comfortably. It's the fanatical social policies that Romney tried to pander to that really killed him, though he wouldn't have been the candidate if he hadn't. 2 out of 3 people support legal abortion for example and their answer to losing this election is calling Romney a moderate and push even harder on imposing Evangelical values? Seriously, how dumb can they get?

    November 8, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  10. Mike

    Wow, these folks really are living in their own fantasy world. Romney's numbers went UP after he began to move toward the center/left in the general campaign. Had he stayed with the extreme right messages he was delivering during the primaries, the President would have been re-elected by an even larger margin.Voters supported marriage equality in four states, legalization of marijuana fro personal use in two states, and in exit polls a majority supported a path to allow non-registered immigrants to become citizens. While many folks, myself included, feel a fiscally conservative but FAIR approach is needed, the social pendulum is swinging further to the left. As long as the Tea Party continues to champion the wrong side of issues such as equality, immigration reform, abortion, and the like, they will remain a small, very straight, very white, extreme fringe group.

    November 8, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  11. SSNS4EVR

    The TEA party is a group of losers, with a losers agenda. "He should have made abortion a central issue?" Really?! While abortion is an important issue, it is certainly not on a level to base a national political campaign on. "Romney should moved more to the right?" The only way to be "conservative enough" for the TEA party, is to start the day in a white robe and hood. The TEA party movement is a bunch of well-off money grubbers, racists, and the morons who are influenced by them.
    Besides, as retired veteran, I would never vote for a Romney. His grandparents enjoyed Mexico, until the revolution – instead of committing anything either to support their government, or the revolutionary movement, they fled to the US. Mitt's father did not serve in WWII – he was in his 30's, and possibly made contributions in the conversion of the auto industry to wartime production though, I did not really research though, as my main concern is Mitt. the GOP candidate for Commander in Chief enjoyed 5 (five) (V) deferments when the rest of the nation's sons went to Veitnam, including my father. Mitt went to France instead, to hand out the Book of Mormon. He finished, conveniently, just as the troops began to return home. None of the Romney sons serve either. While Obama never served, he also never overtly avoided it either. As a father, and a vet, there is absolutely NO WAY I would ever vote for a person so devoid of committment to anything but his own needs, especially when that vote could give him the authority to send my children into harm's way. Here's hoping that he sticks to the idea of never running again.

    November 8, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  12. Looking Ahead

    While I admit that these far right maniacs are likely never going to be pleased with any outcome of any race that doesn't involve a hyper conservative victory, I feel I must also point out that this election was not really a referendum on "evolving progressive policies". When almost half of the country votes against someone, that person does not have a clear mandate.

    I feel I must also point out that for every rabid, insane Tea Party member, there are just as many on the far left who are just as psychotic about attacking people they disagree with. You can see plenty of evidence of that on numerous CNN posts. I ask everyone to remember that too far to any extreme is unhealthy for our country, and that we need ALL the views to at least hope to keep our country balanced. (Admittedly, this is a tall order, and balance is likely not going to happen when any extremists – be they a Barney Frank or a Michelle Bachman – have any kind of power) I believe it should be possible to gauge where our country is by looking at and learning from the extremes.

    Id est, extreme liberal=communist. Extreme conservative=fascist. Don't forget, extreme libertarian=anarchist. Ask yourselves "Which one are we closest to?" and therein lies the answer of who really has too much power, and who needs to be voted out. Freedom is the greatest commodity that any of us will ever have, and that is what needs to be protected.

    November 8, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  13. GoodGrief

    The Tea Party folks have been extreme, to be sure. Now they are proving themselves to be certifiably crazy (though that really isn't news, eh?). In my mind, this election was about social issues - moderate and liberal positions. Is is opposite day and no one told me?

    November 8, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  14. BigSir

    This is absurd. If Romney had represented the right wing fanatics, the republican would have received fewer votes.

    November 8, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  15. high315

    These folks need to drive around the country sometime, talk to people that don't believe the earth is 9000 years old, that think science is our future, that government, in some cases, actually is necessary: for farms, banks, schools, sick folks, old folks, veterans, etc. Drive around and meet some of the 50% of our citizens who don't trace their ancestry back to Europe and maybe then they' ll realize how of touch with today's America they are.

    November 8, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  16. Amniculi

    Is it just me, or does the Tea Party resemble the early years of the National Socialist Party?

    November 8, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  17. Ztom

    Yes. In 2016, the GOP should nominate a radical right person who loves to talk about why abortion is God's plan. While they are at it, they should continue to alienate Latinos, and refer to them in derogatory terms, telling them to "swim back over the river". Never mind the fact that they are one of the fastest growing minorities. You don't need their votes.

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

    wow talk about delusional. the reason romney lost is because of these right wing nut jobs that he had to appease in the primary. you can't hope to sway independent voters by becoming more conservative and right wing. at the end of the day people simply picked the more moderate candidate.

    November 8, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  19. Alger Dave

    A few facts: 1) our last GOP president was an evangelical white guy who got elected twice; 2) he did well among Latinos; 3) he was hated by the left, but that didn't matter in the end. Facts about the guy who lost: 1) he was a Mormon billionaire who had a very spotty record on social issues – in fact he had once held nearly the opposite position on every social issue that matters to conservatives; 2) evangelicals still see Mormonism as a cult; 3) the primaries clearly pointed to likeability factors. Let's face it, Romney needed to buy every vote he got in the primaries at a dear price – often 10 times or more than his opponents were spending. He simply could not outspend his opponent in the election at that rate. Why did he have to work so hard for votes? Because the GOP primary electorate naturally gravitated towards other candidates (Santorum, Gingrich, etc.). Either party should be very wary of candidates that need to buy votes at high multiples to stay in the race or win. For the future, the GOP needs to embrace a coherent and compassionate immigration strategy so they stop turning off Latino voters. As Latinos move up the economic ladder in this country they'll vote more and more GOP over time, but the GOP also has a stronger social/moral connection with Latinos, who don't like gay marriage or abortion. This is the easiest 'swing' demographic for the GOP and we need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot over it.

    November 8, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  20. NSL

    Ms. Martin is so out of step with the mainstream of American society it's amazing. Her hero (I assume) is Rick Santorum, and he couldn't even get reelected senator in PA once people understood what he stands for. If the Republicans had put up Santorum, then it's likely we would have seen a presidential election landslide on the order of Johnson-Goldwater.

    As to Romney's nomination, I though he was chosen through a series of caucuses and primaries. Martin's candidates kept getting blown away.

    November 8, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  21. cnnmembuh

    Until the conservatives field a viable, magnetic, minority/woman candidate, the GOP is done in the White House.

    November 8, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  22. Steven

    I sure hope that the Tea Party takes over the Republican Party - will make the next election easier for Democrats.

    November 8, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  23. LOL@TP

    So Mitt Romney lost because he wasn't conservative enough? What about Todd Akin? Richard Mourdock? Allen West? Joe Walsh? Maybe next time you can find some true believers who will repulse even more of the MAJORITY.

    November 8, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  24. ROFL

    Willard had too much baggage. He had a history of changing positions on issues important to conservatives depending on which way the wind blows. I think the idea that nobody but conservatives voted for Romney and that the election shows they are a minority is a misinterpretation of what happened Tuesday. Willard ran for the Republican nomination for about six years, pouring millions of dollars into it, yet the primaries showed he had about 35% of party support. He appears to have dropped out four years ago to give McCain a shot with the promise he could have it this year. Most of the primary / caucus results indicated the conservatives wanted anyone but Willard.
    Nevertheless, Willard got the nomination, crushing any party opposition at the convention. He went into the general election campaign with about 35% of the party behind him and about 40% giving him grudging support because they feared Obama more.
    The "crazies," as people on this board call them, went into a debate over whether four years of Willard with an option for eight was preferable to a limited four of Obama and an opportunity to nominate someone with bona fides in 2016.
    The "tea party" and "Christians" stayed home or voted third party. The "anybody but Obamas" voted for Willard.
    That was not enough. The neocon chicken hawks thought it was. They thought that at the end of the day, the conservatives would vote for Willard. They didn't. For the conservatives, Romney is Obama-lite. It didn't matter what he said. His past actions and the people he had around him said something else. If elected, he would have had more luck expanding the welfare-warfare state than a lame duck Obama in the next four. Think Clinton vs. Dole.
    The conservatives shot the GOP chicken hawk nominee down in the general election. You all may believe the general election was a repudiation of the right, but you are mistaken. The message is the beltway RNC cannot take the conservatives for granted and expect them to vote for any old candidate they serve up. Sorry, Sheldon Adelson. You should have saved your money.

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

    as always, the repub party is pointing fingers at the wrong people. they should be pointing at themselves. they are not capable of learning lessons, they just look and listen to themselves. they do not hear the rest of us. we need a second party, but not them as they are

    November 8, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
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