Republicans after Romney: Rebuild or revamp?

Or strip the Republican brand down to what the Ron Paul revolution advocates? Photo: Gov. Mitt Romney concedes on election night AP

WASHINGTON, November 19, 2012 — The Republicans are going through some serious soul-searching, following the defeat of their candidate Governor Mitt Romney. For the last two weeks, the sounds of “Woe is me” have echoed through the land as they try to come to grips with the voters’ repudiation of their candidate and agenda.

Of course, it didn’t help to have Mitt being caught talking off the cuff to top donors last Wednesday, saying such things as “What the president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote.

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift. Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.” He also said Obamacare was a gift to African Americans and Hispanics.

Republicans are furious at his “blame the voter” talk just as they were trying to chart a new course to be loved once more by the electorate. The kind of love President Ronald Reagan engendered.

Republican Party?

GOP Public Hand Wringing

Republicans have been undergoing a public catharsis over the last two weeks with five schools of thought emerging by Republicans strategists, pundits and politicians about just where the Party went wrong and what to do, Rebuild or Revamp:

1. Problem: The Republican message was garbled by the messenger and if Romney had been a better salesman, Americans would have loved it. Or as Rep. Raul Labador (R-Idaho) said on “Meet the Press”: “Romney talked about Conservatism like it’s a second language to him.”

Solution: Reframe the message so it’s more clearly understood and get a better messenger next time. This is the Revamp crowd.

2. Problem: Republicans had a lousy message that alienated voters.

Solution: Themes of anti-immigration, anti-contraception, anti-social safety nets, and anti-tax cuts on the wealthy turned off large swaths of voters from Latinos to women to minorities to the middle class to the young. So change. Get on board with the DREAM Act. Quit acting like social safety nets are some kind of handout. Quit moving the GOP into the bedrooms of America. And for heaven sakes, cease worrying about the wallets of the wealthy. This is the Rebuild crowd.

3. Problem: The GOP had a lousy candidate. And the folks running in the primaries were no winners either, driving the GOP further into the weeds. Now after Romney’s latest remarks, Republicans are putting greater distance between him and themselves. Romney who?

Gov. Susana Martinez

Solution: Start grooming some new guys. Vice-presidential candidate Congressman Paul Ryan? Naw, not after voters got a good look at him and what he stands for. Too conservative for the American palate. Governor Chris Christie? It seems lots of people like the swaggering, tough-talking guy from New Jersey, who made nice with the President and showed bi-partisanship. Plus he was great on “Saturday Night Live.” So he’s a real possibility. Florida Senator Marco Rubio? He’s young, affable with Tea Party roots, and best of all, he’s of Cuban descendant. Or how about New Mexico’s Governor Susana Martinez, first female Hispanic governor in the U.S.? Hola, amigos! This is Rebuild the GOP with better candidates.

4. Problem: Republicans didn’t swerve far enough Right. They should have double-downed on their conservative values instead of hanging out to dry candidates Senate candidates Todd Aikin, Missouri, and Richard Mourdock, Indiana. This is the new Republican Party, for Pete’s sake, with real family values.

Solution: Return to the base. Return to Tea Party principles. Ante up the Pro-Life rhetoric. No taxes, no way, no how. Time to bring back a real social conservative like former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Sure he lost the primary, but he gave Romney one heck of a run there. Newt Gingrich? Nope, like Romney, he says what you want to hear, not what he believes in his heart of hearts. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann? You got to be kidding. She’s lucky she held onto her Congressional seat. Rick has the inside track on this one. He’s proven he is Right for Republicans. This is the Revamp crowd, taking the party back to its real values.

Rick Santorum

5. Problem: The Republican Party is basically history: yesterday’s news, old hat, an old white guys party. Time to wake up to reality before it’s too late.

Solution: There is a new and vibrant core emerging within the GOP, one that Congressman Ron Paul tapped into when he ran in the presidential primaries. But it is not the status quo. Time to shake things up. Or as Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) put it: “The Ron Paul Revolution is the last best hope for saving the GOP from oblivion. The message that attracted the youth, the message that combined the fiscal conservatism and limited constitutional government of Republicans and a more restrained foreign policy sometimes exhibited by Democrats.

“When the GOP examines itself to try to regain its mojo, I hope Republicans will look at the message of Ron Paul, because as it stands now, the GOP is a dinosaur that can’t compete on the West Coast, in New England or in the Great Lakes region.” This is the Rebuild crowd, digging a new foundation and starting over.

Is Sen. Paul right? Do the Republicans have a future or are they about to go extinct like the dinosaur? Are there younger candidates out there, with fresh ideas, ones that don’t insult half the electorate, ones who don’t just talk about freedom, but practice it, or will the GOP stick with the same slogans of no more taxes, shrink the government, kill regulations, and limit our choices in life?

So far, the GOP has offered five ways of coming back from the 2012 debacle. But denouncing Romney and making him persona non grata is not enough. After all, he did what the Republicans asked him to and look where that got him.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.


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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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