Republicans detail 'autopsy' efforts after election losses
December 10th, 2012
02:57 PM ET
10 years ago

Republicans detail 'autopsy' efforts after election losses

(CNN) – Republicans provided more details Monday of their effort to determine what went wrong in last month's election, which saw the GOP lose both the race for the White House and seats in the House and Senate.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who last month said his party was planning an "autopsy" to locate problem areas, said the effort would "recommend a plan to further ensure Republicans are victorious in 2013, 2014, 2016 and beyond."

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The RNC said the effort, termed the "Growth and Opportunity Effort," would focus on assessing and improving eight points of the GOP's campaign strategy, including ground game, fundraising, and the GOP primary process.

The party also said it would look at learning lessons from Democrats' successful campaign methods, which helped secure a second term for President Barack Obama and propelled the party to a net gain of two seats in the U.S. Senate and eight seats in the House of Representatives.

Republicans will also gauge the impact of third party groups, which played a major role in television advertising and organizing in the 2012 election. Conservative super PACs like Restore Our Future and American Crossroads raised and spent hundreds of millions of dollars, both during the GOP primaries and the general election contest that followed.

Heading up the effort are five well-known Republican operatives: National committeemen Zori Fonalledas and Glenn McCall; Sally Bradshaw, a Republican strategist in Florida; Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary and a CNN contributor; and Henry Barbour, a major Romney fundraiser who is the nephew of that state's former governor, Haley Barbour.

Asked Monday on CNN's "The Situation Room" if the RNC plans to adjust positions on key policies, such as immigration and same-sex marriage, Fleischer said such changes fall under the purview of Congress, not the Republican Party.

"Parties don't make the policies and we're not going to go down that road," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, adding that there are many ways to attract voters and grow the party without changing ideology.

He said as the country undergoes demographic changes, Republicans must learn to make their ideas "more sellable, more believable, more heartfelt to people." Otherwise, he said, "you're not doing your job."

"We cannot be a party of just white people," he said. "That's not going to cut it."

Such change in messaging includes the way candidates present their viewpoints on social issues, he added.

"You have to have candidates who don't make tragic mistakes," he said, pointing specifically to GOP Senate candidates in Indiana and Missouri who made controversial comments about rape. "We repelled women, our candidates there did, with the statements that they made."

Fleischer stressed that Republicans "have the best ideas" but need to find better ways to get their message out.

"You have to let people know you care about them, you have to let people know that their life is important to you," he said.

Henry Barbour said Monday the group's first report would likely come no earlier than March 1, but that initial findings would be discussed at the RNC's winter meeting in January, scheduled to take place in Charlotte.

"I look forward to working with these outstanding Republicans as they conduct rigorous analysis and engage in important conversations," Priebus said. "The work of the Growth and Opportunity Project will be critical as we move forward as a Party and take our message to every American."

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • RNC
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Randy, San Francisco

    Denial will continue for many election cycles because the GOP/Tea Party remains the captive of ideological extremists. They will continue to place blame on the messenger and not the message.

    December 10, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. Strategic Bob


    I would not mind an "All or Nothing" Republican Party if it weren't for the fact that the "All" that the current Republican Party wants is pretty much everything that is bad for this country – fundamentalist religion crammed down everybody's throat, endless wars as far as the eye can see, increasingly unequal distribution of wealth, taxes shifted onto the backs of workers and away from those with wealth, profits over the environment and public health, denial of science, disregard for facts, etc.

    Reibus and his fellow-traveling fools can't understand that it was not their campaign method that cost them the election. It was their policy madness. Hopefully, they will continue to wither until they either vanish into oblivion or come to their senses.

    December 10, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. k9z

    "What went wrong?"
    To answer that question, all you have to do is listen to the line from GOP leaders saying "We don't have to change our ideology, we just need to change the way we present it to the American people."
    The GOP is whistling through their own graveyard. If they seriously think they can continue to promote their anti-American, religiously fascist, extremist ideology and just change the packaging then they deserve irrelevence.

    December 10, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
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