Former RNC chair points to 'highly stupid' election year mistakes
November 15th, 2012
12:43 PM ET
8 years ago

Former RNC chair points to 'highly stupid' election year mistakes

(CNN) - It's the season of election post-mortems, and one former Republican National Committee chairman offered his perhaps blunt thoughts about why his party "got outplayed and outflanked" in 2012.

Michael Steele was swept in as the RNC chairman after major GOP losses in 2008, then ousted after some GOP leaders thought the Republicans' gains in the 2010 midterm elections came in spite of his leadership and at great cost. Some saw him as unconventional and others considered him damaging to the party.

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"You can't put the blinders on and say this was a status quo election," Steele said at the "Washington Ideas Forum" on Thursday. "This was not a status quo election at all. From the ground game to the get-out-the-vote, to the messaging, nothing was status quo."

Among the major changes to the political landscape was the influence of super PACs, Steele said, which changed the way money was raised and spent in politics.

Some money that would have gone to party committees was instead contributed to super PACs, he said.

Super PACs, a new type of political action committee that came about after a January 2010 Supreme Court decision, siphoned off money from the political parties and campaigns, Steele said. Those groups primarily funded massive television ad buys, rather than the get-out-the-vote efforts often spearheaded by parties and campaigns.

"The reality of it is, you can run campaign commercials all day long, but you have to get Joe Six Pack off the couch and into the polls," he said. "The ORCA clearly beached and did not deliver what needed to be delivered."

ORCA was GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's Election Day get-out-the-vote software that crashed and underperformed, according to numerous news reports, though some accounts quote Romney staffers as saying the program was not a significant part of the candidate's loss.

Steele also described election year changes to voter laws as "highly stupid."

"It was highly stupid and it was made up by a lot of ham-handed actions by state legislatures," he said. "When a voter - however ill-informed or wise they may be in their understanding of the facts before them, if they feel put up on, oppressed, suppressed, or refused the opportunity to participate in the franchise - pull away from it."

Steele's criticism builds on recent comments by Republicans, who have sharply warned that the GOP must become more inclusive and adapt to demographic changes in order to stay competitive.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, appeared alongside on the panel with Steele, and said the Republican Party would not be able to win in the future by simply "running candidates who are brown, black, and that are female."

"They've gotta change different policies," he said.

Filed under: 2012 • Michael Steele
soundoff (157 Responses)
  1. FactCheck

    I shudder every day to think how close this fool of a mittens came close to the Presidency. That office is reserved for people who care about this country, not for someone who wants a shiny new toy.

    November 16, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  2. Robert E. Lee

    "Let them become solely the party of the old Confederacy–who cares?"
    Mitt carried the entire Confederacy and is now President of the Confederate States of America. His first move will be secession.

    November 16, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  3. tony

    White man he speak without forked TAX returns. No vote for him.

    November 16, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. texasnotea

    Obama hasn't cheated on anything nor has he intentions of cheating on anything. You gop'ers have made all this up out of your hatred for him. You talk about Obama not leading but the truth is your party leaders have failed miserably in leading anything or anybody! What Romney, Ryan, Cantor and Mcconnell should do immediatly is grab a microphone and tell all of you to calm down, Obama won fair and square and the world is not going to end because he was re-elected. They should also remind all of you that nobody ever wins by acting like they were screwed and blaming all of their misfortune on everything and everybody. Take the high ground! You are all better than what you have been showing. Stop whining in public where everybody can see and hear you. Take one of those responsibility pills you cry so loudly that everybody else should take. No one is going to ever side with you as long as you continue this behavior.

    November 16, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  5. FactCheck

    Soledad O"Brien's take-down of the GOP over their fake outrage at Susan Rice was EPIC. I'm glad that CNN still has some responsible journalists on board.

    November 16, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  6. CarolinaGirl

    The American citizens of this great country are not stupid and it is time the Republican Party realizes that.

    November 16, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. Michael, Chapel Hill

    Obama and his propaganda wing could butcher Romney as a person. They did it early enough. Obama could divide the people into two classes the the rich and the poor though Democratic party is filled with rich people. Obama was portrayed by the media as the savior of the Women. So, on small issues Obama capitalized women's votes. From the Treyvon Martin incident onwards, Obama solidified hi stand with Blacks (Obama behave like a Racist). Health care bill -takes from the rich and gives to the poor. Executive order supporting illegals just 3 months before the election. MOST OF THE TAKERS IN THE COUNTRY AND THE YOUTH ARE NOT BOTHERED ABOUT THE NATIONAL DEBT. Obama team should have understood thru data mining. So the GOP message on debt was ineffective. Civility was lost in this election.
    N\ow we are going in the way of Greece, oblivious of our economic condition. Some one else may have to dictate it to us. It may be China. The bliss of socialism will end when we are hit like Greece.

    November 16, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
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