November 11th, 2012
02:42 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN panel reflects divide in GOP on party's future

(CNN) - Mitt Romney's loss in Tuesday's election has prompted a flood of opinions on the future of the Republican Party, many of which were on display Sunday during a panel moderated by CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley and senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

On one side was former Romney campaign adviser Carlos Gutierrez, who pushed for a move to the center by saying the election results were the consequence of the "far-right wing of the Republican Party."

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The former Commerce Secretary said on "State of the Union" that Republicans like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock made voters nervous with their comments about rape and abortion.

Blaming the party's predicament on the "incredibly ridiculous" primary process, Gutierrez said the GOP nominating contests forced candidates, including Romney, to say "outrageous things."

"It's almost as if though we [Republicans] are living in the past," Gutierrez said.

Agreeing with Gutierrez's push to the middle was Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor who made a bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

Huntsman argued his party lacked a vision for the future, saying that rather than "moralizing to people" and focusing on social issues, people wanted to be "left alone." Like Gutierrez, Huntsman said the party needed to recognize "the cultural and demographic shifts that are profound in this country."

Huntsman said the tone of how Republicans talk about controversial issues like immigration was very important and had not been helpful for the party.

"Words matter," he said.

Headed in other the direction was Gary Bauer, the president of the conservative group American Values.

Bauer disagreed with Gutierrez and Huntsman, saying he wanted the party to continue pushing its conservative views, especially on social issues. Bauer said he believed social issues had helped the party net millions of evangelical and socially conservative voters since the Reagan era, and thought that these issues could appeal to Hispanics.

"America's not demanding a second liberal party," said Bauer, who also faulted Romney for not focusing more on these issues, believing that it could have helped his campaign.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington said that the election resulted in a "status quo" since the president and balance of power in Congress went unchanged in Tuesday's vote.

Saying the exit polls showed voters "were with us" on many of the issues, McMorris Rodgers said the GOP needed to modernize by tailoring its message to groups like Hispanics and women, rather than moderating the positions themselves.

"I don't think it's about the Republican Party needing to become more moderate; I really believe it's the Republican Party becoming more modern," the former Romney surrogate said. "And whether it's Hispanics, whether it's women, whether it's young people, the Republican Party has to make it a priority to take our values, take our vision to every corner of this country. To every demographic group, and I am confident that we can do it."

At the end of the discussion, the panel was asked for their solution to the party's electoral woes. None of the panelists agreed on any single answer, or whether a solution was even needed.

Bauer said Republicans should be "bold and confident" in their economic and socially conservative views, while McMorris Rodgers said she didn't believe any changes were needed in the party. Huntsman said a solution would be to "get our economic house in order" and tack libertarian on social issues, and Gutierrez said the party needed to "welcome immigrants."

Filed under: 2012 • Cathy McMorris Rodgers • Jon Huntsman • Mitt Romney
soundoff (141 Responses)
  1. David Algarin

    To who ever reads this, I've been watching cnn, all year and all i hear is about white votes, black votes!!!! We are all Americans , and to think that , we are all suppose to be united as one!!!! Some people can let the past be, no one cares about colors, just that the best person for the job, won the election!!!! United States of America , God Bless America !!! Thanks for your time

    November 12, 2012 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  2. Derek

    I disagree... When I look at that picture I see "Outdated". Old...White...Men. If you were watching the election and looked at the Republican Headquarters, it was ALL WHITE OLD PEOPLE (except for their kids). You looked at the Obama Headquarters, there was Young and Old, White, Black, Asian, Latino, Men and Women.

    Republican's are going to loose from now on EVERY election because they are outnumbered verse they're outdated idea's. They need to come to grips the year is 2012, and people's views have changed in the new generation on abortion, gay rights, religion being involved in governing, cannibus.

    I DO agree what the one did say "Get our house in order and STAY OUTTA PEOPLE'S LIVES!" Sir, I couldn't agree more with that statement, stay outta my life, mind your own life.

    November 12, 2012 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  3. J.V.Hodgson

    Huntsman is right you have to stay out of peoples personal life and morals and not bring religious concepts into politics especially as most of those concepts relate to 17th century not the 21st century concepts or ideas.
    The problem with the Republican party today is that its right wing of 45 to 55 representatives ( tea party) very right wing conservative ideas and Boehner et al cannot get the genuine Republican ( normal center right) view passed.
    Thier morality and thier economic ideology is all they will support. The fiscal cliff awaits.
    They will take us over it. And I have sneaking/ conspiritorial view that our voters see that as the only way to get Bi partisanship back in the House and Senate!

    November 12, 2012 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  4. Tim

    The GOP is in trouble. They are divided with the extreme far right to the more moderate republican. They came together because of their dislike
    ( to put it mildly) of Obama. That won't happen in the next election. The far right has ruined the GOP, Reagan would be a lib in this version . The party could split into two, either way the Democrats could be in power for a long long time.

    November 12, 2012 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  5. JonHuntsman2016

    Carlos Gutierrez is spot on. I have follow Mitt's career for years. He was a fiscal conservative and social moderate...until the primaries. Then he tried to sway back towards the middle but the damage had already been done in the eyes of many voters. I voted for Mitt Romney because I saw through the primary process and looked at his potential for fixing the financial issues while leaving the social issues alone. Social issues play no role in politics. I voted for Obama in 2008 because the US did not need another George Bush in John McCain. I am one of those coveted independents voters, and I will NEVER vote for the Rick Santorum type. So, Republican Party, if you want my vote in 2016, and I would love to give you my vote, I would put more Mitt Romney's on your roster and fewer far right extremists. Jon Huntsman 2016!

    November 12, 2012 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  6. LisainSC

    Huntsman is the smartest one of all of them...He pretty much summed it up:
    "People don't want to be moralized to; they don't want to be lectured to. They want to live their lives. They want an economy that works, they want jobs and opportunity, schools that educate the next generation, and they want to be left alone."

    November 12, 2012 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  7. fernace

    The GOT-Party views aren't just detrimental to social issues, but fiscal as well! Historically, they have "preached" being fiscally concervative, while spending more $$, on average, than democratic administrations! These days they make no secret of their loyalty to corperations & the 1%, hence Citizens United (corperations are people, my friend) & congress' refusal to end W's taxcuts for the rich (you got 2 years of tax returns, that's all you people get)! When you throw in all the people they want to marginalize, you can only deduce that that this new GOT-Party is the "private club of the political elite," a party for the rich, by the rich! They wont change, but I think ending the t-party ride on GOP coat tails would be the 1st step in the right direction (which is right of center)!! 🙂

    November 12, 2012 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  8. Thinking Texan

    1) the republican party is the anti-science party. Good luck finding anybody to help understand physical reality and run the complexities of the country. Bet against it and pray for it; then measure.

    2) putting a bishop of a religion as the presidential candidate. Are they kidding? What are we going to call the new theocracy? This is an elephant in the room nobody wanted to talk about. I do not believe any major party has ever fielded a candidate who is a church official, anytime in the history of the country! I get it, this is conservative thinking. The word "conservative" has become such meaningless joke, an ad hominem. Keep working that base.

    3) But now that the Republican party has created precedent: next time get a Church official from Scientology. They are more into science denial than the Mormon Church; a perfect double-down progression to where republican party is heading. Hasta la vista, baby.

    November 12, 2012 04:24 am at 4:24 am |
  9. North Carolina

    I am an independent and from most of these comments are correct, First I agree stay out of the American’s lives and right. Second Get rid of the T.E.A party let them be a political party on its own, they are hurting you with the young vote. Also I see the comments of “Bauer said he believed social issues had helped the party net millions of evangelical and socially conservative voters since the Reagan era,”. ??????? This is the dumbest thing that I have hers in a political setting in my life. The issues back in the 80’s is not the same issues now, nor are the voters the same now. Between the younger vote most of your voters are middle class or poor, African American, Hispanic, Asian and white. The biggest issue is that America is more educated now than back then, so when you say you have a “ tax plan “ We want to see the numbers, let us tell will it work or not after all this is our money, and we know taxes cannot remain the same they will go up at some point but who can afford it?

    November 12, 2012 05:48 am at 5:48 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Good Republicans. Keep this foolishness up to 2016 so the Democrats can win again.

    November 12, 2012 05:56 am at 5:56 am |
  11. GuyinVA

    So, you have Jon Huntsman and Gary Bauer on the same panel, and you have a "divide". Who would have guessed?

    November 12, 2012 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  12. GuyinVA

    The republicans have the same problem they've always had. John Boehner had it exactly backwards when he said republicans must learn to speak to all Americans. THAT has been the problem for years. These days, a party must speak to particular segments of society. View every issue through the prisms of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and especially RACE. Identify a specific demographic, convince that group that some other group is out to get them, and that only you can save them. Politicians must continually pit one group of Americans against another. Whether you think it's good or bad, that is how elections are won and the democrats are better at it.

    November 12, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  13. Marie MD

    I wouldn't trust the rethugs if they now come out of their den of slime to tell us that they no longer want to suppress women, blacks, gays or anyone who is NOT them.
    If this is what is going to get them elected they will lie through their cigar stained teeth to get elected then take away all our freedoms once they are in power.
    It will take at least two generations or maybe never for these backwoods rethugs to eg with the program. Until then vote Democrat!!!

    November 12, 2012 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  14. Steve

    Keep thinking you just need to go FURTHER crazy right... We look forward to the Republicans continued irrelevance.... Bye Bye....

    November 12, 2012 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  15. Mark

    The GOP is fighting to restrict the rights of gays, immigrants, non-Christians, and women. As long as that remains a priority of any kind, the GOP will continue to wither into the minority. You cannot have a primary season where candidates get cheered when they say they'll send all the "illegals" back home, and expect to win any significant slice of the Hispanic vote. You also can't rely on hoping that Hispanics dislike gays or non-Christians too, so they'll turn Republican too. You can't cater people who love Michelle Bachmann and get anyone to vote for you east of crazy. Sorry, guys, you need to make a choice. Is it crazy, talks-to-God types, or is it rational debate?

    November 12, 2012 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  16. clarke

    I would of voted for Jon Huntsman, but the far right, didn't want him. I agree with Huntsman, people do not want the Government in their personal lives, no matter what. The far right wants all American's to believe as they do and have no problem imposing that belief. Our Nation is made up of many different races, colors and greed's and they all have to be included. Republicans can't just speak to white males who believe in the 1950's. . A person religious belief's belongs to them and does not belong in how the Government. is run. Mitt was a man in a suit, being run by others, and that scared me, because I had no idea who would be running the United States. He was there puppet.

    November 12, 2012 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
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