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October 24, 2014

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GOP asks ‘why’ and ‘where do we go from here?’

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Leila Navidi

Danette Schmidt, center, plugs her ears during Barack Obama’s victory speech during a GOP election night watch party at the Venetian in Las Vegas on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

GOP Election Night Party in Las Vegas

Dorothy Abate of Las Vegas puts her head in the hands after hearing the election called for Barack Obama during a GOP election night watch party at the Venetian in Las Vegas on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Obama wins re-election; Romney concedes

President Barack Obama is shown at his Election Night party Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Chicago. Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Launch slideshow »

WASHINGTON — Having lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, Republicans plunged Wednesday into an intense period of self-examination, blame-setting and testy debate over whether their party needs serious change or just some minor tweaks.

The fallout will help determine whether the GOP might return to heights approximating the Ronald Reagan years or, as some fear, suffer even deeper losses as the nation's Democratic-leaning Hispanics increase in number.

"The party is clearly in some sort of identity crisis," said Rick Tyler, a past aide to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Hard-core conservatives, furious at President Barack Obama's re-election in the face of a weak economy, called for a wholesale shift to resolutely right positions on social and fiscal matters. Some demanded that party leaders resign.

Establishment Republicans largely shrugged off the tirades. But they split into two main camps themselves, portending potentially lengthy soul-searching, especially in Congress.

One group calls for calm and a steady course. It emphasizes that the party still controls the House, and notes that Obama's popular-vote margin was smaller than in 2008.

"The Republican Party is exactly right on the issues," said Terry Holt, a veteran GOP strategist with close ties to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The party mainly needs to nominate candidates who can relate to average Americans better than multimillionaire Mitt Romney did, Holt said.

Some other Republicans, however, see bigger problems. The party must shed its "absolutism on issues like tax increases," which congressional lawmakers oppose at virtually every level, said John Ullyot, a former Republican Senate aide.

"The only way the party is going to move more to the middle is when we get sick of losing," he said.

That's essentially what Democrats did in the 1990s. Demoralized after big losses by presidential nominees Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis — and still mindful of George McGovern's 1972 disaster — Democrats turned to a centrist Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton. He won two elections, repositioned the party and served as Obama's top surrogate this fall.

Some activists in both parties say Republicans eventually must follow suit to survive. But their primaries are dominated by staunch opponents of tax hikes, abortion, immigration reform and government regulations. Until and unless that changes, a shift toward the center may be impossible.

"It's harder for the Republicans, because they are more ideological than Democrats," said Democratic strategist Doug Hattaway. "The religious fervor of the Republican base makes it hard to change or compromise, even though that's what's needed to remain viable as a party."

While Holt and others say the Republican Party is aligned with most Americans on big issues, Tuesday's exit polls raise doubts in some areas. Six in 10 voters said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, the highest share saying so since the mid-1990s. Two-thirds of voters said illegal immigrants working in the United States should be offered a chance to apply for legal status.

Nearly half of all voters supported Obama's plan to raise taxes on couples' incomes above $250,000. Thirteen percent said taxes should be increased on all Americans, and 35 percent said no one should pay higher taxes.

Boehner and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell will stand at the center of the intra-party debate. Within days they must decide how to negotiate with Obama and Democratic lawmakers on the looming "fiscal cliff," a package of major tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled for the new year.

McConnell issued a defiant statement Wednesday. "The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the president's first term," he said. "They have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington."

Boehner was more conciliatory in tone when he addressed reporters Wednesday. But he recommended Romney's tax package — including rate cuts for everyone and the elimination of yet-to-be-named deductions — which he said would create a net increase in government revenue.

Obama has insisted that the wealthiest Americans pay higher tax rates, as they did under Clinton. Many Democrats in Congress agree.

Republican insiders, meanwhile, nervously focused on an approaching problem that could produce even bigger presidential losses in future years. The GOP relies overwhelmingly on white voters, a steadily shrinking share of the population. Hispanics, the nation's fastest-growing group, have bristled at Republican attacks on illegal immigration, which some people consider a slap at all Latinos, legal or not.

Republican campaign pros said the party must find a way to temper the talk about immigration without infuriating conservatives who oppose "amnesty" for those who entered the country illegally.

"You can't just say 'If you fix the tone, you fix the problem,'" said Republican consultant Terry Nelson. "We have to figure out what kind of policy solutions we have for this."

Ullyot said congressional Republicans should embrace more lenient immigration policies immediately.

On still another front, many Republicans said their party must find ways to appeal to women, who voted heavily for Obama. The party cannot give people the impression that opposing abortion is its top women-related issue, said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.

"Single moms are part of our American fabric," she said. "Let's not keep thinking that the American family is made up of a mom and a dad and two kids and a picket fence and a dog and a cat. It's made up of a lot of single moms struggling to make ends meet. ... We need to get a program to say 'we care about you.'"

Associated Press writers Ken Thomas, Suzette Laboy and Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

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  1. The Republicans would be in control of the Senate right now if it were not for the religious right faction. The idiotic comments that prompted the charge of them waging war on women can be placed squarely at the feet of religious fanatics.

    The biggest political mistake made by the Republican Party was when Reagan brought the so-called Moral Majority into the mainstream Republican fold. The party has been consistently losing ground ever since.

  2. I still identify "fiscally" far more with the Republican Party, but can not support them or their candidates until they quit taking their marching orders from the religious zealots and ultra-social conservatives. They've got to open the tent, not further circle the wagons. Today's Republican Party is a group of mad, old white people and won't win national elections again unless they broaden their appeal.

  3. They will go the way of the Whigs if they don't stop letting the crazy Teabaggers hold the more moderate members of the GOP, and our Government, hostage.

  4. notacon,

    Strange you should mention the Whigs. The Whigs are returning in large part due to how both parties have lost sight of their guiding principles (albeit to differing extents.) I submit that neither Eisenhower or JFK would be pleased with where their respective parties stand today. Lincoln would be furious.

    The Whig philosophy, when looked at in the context of over 400 years of history, is as valid today as it was in Scotland back at the beginning. Take a look at the Modern Whigs if you want to see how it can be applied now. Keep in mind that almost to a man our Founding Fathers were all Whigs.

  5. Instead of saying "Founding Fathers" I should probably have said the signers of the Declaration of Independence. By the time the Constitution was signed the Whigs of the Revolution were merging into other groups, only to be reborn in response to "King" Andrew Jackson.

    It now time for the Whigs to come back yet again, as they always do.

  6. The party needs to run a social moderate. And it isn't as if there are no candidates to choose from. Being from the Northeast, I can tell you that we have plenty of fiscally conservative, socially moderate politicians. The GOP needs to let go of their passion to control people's private lives and stick to running a tight economic ship. Don't preach "less government intrusion" and go on to demand legislation that intrudes mightily in people's private choices. Government is for the benefit of citizens NOT souls.

  7. The Republicans thought they could use religion as a weapon. They also thought it was a good idea to take away a woman's health care choices, and that women wouldn't mind making less money just because they are women.

    They also ignored the Third Rail in politics because they thought that there was no longer any energy in it.

    The Republicans haven't yet realized that the demographics of this country has changed and that THEY are now in the minority...at least as far as their thinking goes.

  8. Take out the abortion issue. You aren't getting the women vote by having the second in command want to force a woman who has been raped carry that baby. It's just not going to happen. Ryan was a poor choice for the lady vote. Romney would have been better off with a much more moderate candidate.

    Find a way to appeal to minorities.

    Stick to economic issues and leave the religious right outside. They aren't doing you any good. Look, you can keep your ideals but I'm going to guarantee you will likely lose more elections with that stance. Change or die. Your choice.

    Support gay rights
    Woman's right to choose
    Healthcare reform

    I do know if you continue down the path you are on you will become even more marginalized than you were last night. Look at it this way..if you can't win with 8% unemployment, record debt and deficit...what election can you win?

  9. I heard the white vote was about 72%, so the rest was the minorities, and many going to the democrats. With these kind of numbers and it will only decrease white, the future is the same path as Greece... I await the burning or cars in the street... it could get interesting in several years as the Latino minority a divide may come in time.. I am only citing government work documents on African American workers, so many unemployed vs Latinio.

  10. In other words "Group Therapy"

  11. The GOP got shellacked because they couldn't field candidates that could actually WIN! Todd Akin? Richard Mourdock? Tommy Thompson? Allen West? Joe Walsh? And the list of losers goes on and on. Danny f'ing Tarkanian, for the fourth time? At least this teabag loser is on the shelf for good. Michael McDonald as state GOP honcho? This geek can't get out of his own way. The Democrats won nationally by fielding better candidates, specifically Senate candidates, and most of all, President Barack Obama. Deal with it.

  12. (1)Stop the crazy talk.

    (2)Stop letting people like Donald Trump and John Sinunu define the Republican Party.

    (3)Recruit candidate who have a strong ethical track record.

    (4)Stop you candidate from telling lies, like Jeep is going to move US production to China.

    (5)Stop trying to pass laws telling Woman what to do with their bodies.

    (6)Stop letting Karl Rove, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and the entire Foxnews Channel speak for you.

    (7)The real Americans who believe in the Republican Party (we all use to know) need to speak up and be heard.

  13. truthserum...

    DUDE!
    You are the very epitome of the problem with the right.
    Good grief, man!

    Longtimevegan put it down quite well for you.

    And remember, when you place your orders...
    NO NUTS!

  14. This is an issue for a party that is in transition to becoming a party masquerading as Republican.

    Bohner & McConnell are artifacts trying to hang onto control. Other Republicans are thinking about how they can appeal to Democratic voters. They are what they are, so why put on a facade?

    The Modern Whig Party is coming into it's time. Maybe others will as well. Anything is possible.

    The Democrats will continue being Democrats. However, they too may find changes ahead if they venture too far from who they have been in modern history.

    I think authenticity is the best thing, even if it brings more competition.

  15. peacelily,

    First, thank you for the shout out to the Whigs. :)

    We all can see that the Republican Party of today is something that those of us who grew up with "duck and cover" are not familiar with. That being said, I think it is reasonable to say that the Democrats of today are not the same as the party of JFK, who told Americans to "Ask not what your country can do for you ..."

    Both the Democrats and Republicans today have lost touch with what made them great in days gone by. They are both nothing more than a Mardi Gras mask.

  16. When the Republicans get that taking the country back to the 1950s does not make them Eisenhower Republicans, they'll be getting somewhere.

    I miss the old GOP and the wisdom it contributed to the country.

  17. Dear Republicans,

    I understand you're dismayed at your recent losses. Let me offer a couple of ideas...

    1. Get off your religious high-horse. God doesn't take sides.

    2. Quit being so philosophical. Most of you haven't even read Ayn Rand, so don't start spouting her views like you're smarter than everyone else. OBW: Your candidate for VP was what kept this registered Democrat from voting for Romney.

    3. Give the Tea Party a boot back to the 50's. Times have changed, and the world is a "collective" environment now.

  18. Truthserum,

    Your words are false and hateful. Your approach is a small minority with a loud voice. A small minority that is shrinking and becoming a non-factor.

    The words you write are from someone who is afraid of change you do not understand. Your words show a lack of social interaction with America's diverse population.

    Your scared and afraid. Many Americans feel the same way you do, but many Americans are patriots and understand they need to learn from others. Your words suggest your desire to keep America in bondage and shackles.

    The Country was never taken away. So no one had to get the country back. The man in the White House is an America, as his Wife and two lovely daughters. Jeep is not moving US production to China. And the Country is not in decline, instead, the Country is getting better because of President Barack Obama.

    Because of him,...President Barack Obama, this country,... The United States of American, is getting better!

    The majority of Americans made it clear with votes and voices on November 6, 2012 that we do not believe as you do.

    Truthserum, based on your words, you need to change your name. Or start living up to the name, of Truthserum. The bubble is no more, all people who think like you must face reality.

  19. GOP needs to REMOVE FROM THE PLATFORM any mention of abortion--it's a non-issue but was used to inflame women voters. Ditto the warmongers. High profile Senator McCain caused thousands, perhaps millions, to run from the GOP slate. We are soooo war weary and do NOT need to be involved in every squabble on the globe. (Except nukes / Iran.) GOP needs to VISIBLY SUPPORT a safety net for WORKING AMERICANS. Unemployment Comp runs out and all that's left is Food Stamps--unless you're a career dependent type with several underage kids--so you qualify for endless benefits in other programs.

  20. Just look at some of the comments by these people - they've been warned - keep up the rhetoric bigoted ideology and you'll relegate yourself to a regional influence.

    Tuesday's results show this.

    Ultimately, I prefer these people to continue on the path of destruction. It is about time this bigotry is shut out of American politics.

    My recommendation? Faux News live on! Tea Party don't stop your pursuit of...."love of country."

    Please, do us the favor and continue on that path.

    I would rather have a party of Republicans who will tell us up front they are bigots - than have a party who "tones down the rhetoric" to impose their bigoted views.

  21. <<you live in a drug induced marijuanna delirium>>

    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!

    Yeah, right..... I'll be polite - anyone of either party want to take a drag?? We could all use one! Especially after reading truthserum's intelligent comments.

  22. Roselenda:

    I again don't always agree with you but your post is spot on.

    <<GOP needs to VISIBLY SUPPORT a safety net for WORKING AMERICANS. Unemployment Comp runs out and all that's left is Food Stamps...unless you're a career dependent type with several underage kids--so you qualify for endless benefits in other programs.>>

    There are MORE using the safety nets that ended up in that position thru no fault of their own and are NOT "career dependenet types". But most people don't realize that especially the Republican party.

  23. GOP still in full control of the House. No need to fret. Demand that all legislation that passes through the house lower taxes, kills obamacare, and adheres to the principles of conservatives or vote NO. The nation gave the house a mandate, they must exercise it! They only gave Barry 49% of the vote on the other hand, meaning 1/2 of the people wanted Romeny. No need to do anything but keep the course and watch the economy wilt under obamacare and the end of the bush tax cuts, growing deficits because we all know obama won't cut any programs. That's where the house comes in and saves the day. CUT CUT CUT!

  24. I should be the voice of the Republican party because I am all knowing, have a 145 IQ, can debate well, and have the answer to everything. Here are the things that REP's could have done to win the Lation vote this past election: 1) Immigration. All the GOP has to do to win the Latino vote is delineate the facts regarding money, abortion, family, and religion that favor the Republicans. For instance, this time, I would have told them that if they vote Democrat, their paychecks starting Jan 1 will do down from around $350 a week to $290 because of the end of the "Bush Tax Cuts" which mandates those making under $34,000 will go from 10 to 15% tax bracket and the child deduction will go from $1000 to $500, as well as other cuts in deductions that will take about $60 for every $350 earned starting Jan 1. Also, pound home the fact that the DEM party is the party of degenerate homosexuals, atheists, communists, anti-family values, and the people who killed Jesus. Really want to hand with those scum bags? Really want your kids to grow up gay or using birth control in the 7th grade? Then don't vote DEM! As for dealing with illegal immigration, pat them on the back for gaming the system and milking the system but tell them that you only want to prevent other Mexicans from doing the same and taxing the system any more because then they won't be able to get what they already get from the gov in the future. As long as they obey the law, they'll be find, the Feds don't have the cohones to throw them out, but we can all benefit from preventing any more illegal immigration, and that's something most Mexicans (at least half) can live with. 2) Welfare State. Most Mexicans are hard working family people, conservative and god fearing, go to church. Point out that they are already conservatives and the party of the conservatives is Republican! They are hard working folks that only care about earning a paycheck. If they knew their paychecks were going to shrink so that the gov can give the money to the lazy blacks, they would have revolted and voted Republican. That's a fact. They didn't know. They only knew the rhetoric they heard on TV. Nothing will change come Jan 1st except lower take home pay and possibly less hours, loss of full time employment in preparation for Obamacare, and oh yeah, higher gas prices. Gas was $1.83 with Obama took office, have them google "Obama wants higher gas prices" to learn why gas is going above $5 in the next year, another cruel tax on the Mexicans and poor.

    If the Republicans would have hammered home these 2 point, they would have won.

  25. Let me "bottom line" this for everyone. "The people" voted for stalemate by allowing the Republicans to remain in control of the House. PERIOD! In the past, Republican mandates swept DEM's out of office and gave full control to the REP POTUS. That didn't happen this time. This time, The DEM POTUS barely won. Congress remained basically the same. I'm not sure "the people" spoke, more like the DEM's tricked the conservative Latino's into voting their way to win the Presidency, but who cares? All that matters is that the DEMS don't have control of Congress and can't force their agenda on the American people. Conservatives will DEMAND that their elected officials in the house BLOCK any attempt to raise taxes to cut the deficit, and NO MORE BAILOUTS! The only thing the working class wants is CUTS CUTS CUTS to EVERYTHING including the military and the unconstitutional wars being fought by Obama and previously by Bush. That's what we will get in the next 4 years if the voice of the people is respected, and I believe the REP's in the house will act accordingly (except for my military desire, most Reps are war mongers sad to say, so is Obama)

  26. The Repub's don't have a chance in the next election, period. The house will change hands in 2014, and the senate Dem's will add more seats in 2014. I don't understand why we're helping these clowns fix their party. Let 'em do it themselves. For the Religious right, we are not a Theocratic country. We are a secular country that allows everyone to practice their religion as they see fit.
    Also the Repub. base is shrinking. In 1992 the White voting base was 87% White, in 2012 it was 72% white, And is projected to be under 70% in 2016. Their base needs to expand to the minority(of which the White male has become). I think the Repub's are too stupid to grasp this point.

  27. Republicans need to dump the religious fundamentalists, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Fox News. Once they do that, they'll be able to focus on reality and come up with great ideas like they used to. Right now the tail is wagging the dog.

  28. Republicans should stop believing their own hogwash and face reality. Republicans ignore the high percentage of low, medium and high wage earners, including college-educated, intelligent and successful men and women who voted for Democrats. We want everybody in this country to have good jobs and opportunities, healthcare and a happy healthy retirement. Nobody here resents or hates successful people. America is not all about business owners, corporations and big bucks. The 1% is not entitled to have it all in this country. What did they think would happen when they destroyed so many jobs here, their unmitigated greed caused the collapse of the global economy, they hoard their fortunes overseas, evade paying taxes, and they care for nobody but themselves. It is not OK to use egregious lies, fearmongering, bullying, intimidation, rigging and voter suppression to win elections. Republicans just don't get it and from what I've been hearing this week after the election, I believe they never will.

  29. Billy Graham's full page ads fed the media moguls but few others. The poor are still waiting for whatever they can get and the line keeps getting longer. Donate to religion and it will put the money were the most dividends are foreseen - in winning elections, not restoring power and heat to homes. The Evangelical's solution is to pray for Armageddon, where those who don't have the faith will be wiped off the face of the Earth, but before that happens, the cows will return to the ocean and swim with the dolphins.

  30. boftx,

    "Democrats of today are not the same as the party of JFK, who told Americans to "Ask not what your country can do for you ..."

    You are correct, but many of the circumstances have changed as well.

    Changes occurred, consciousness was raised, and following Kennedy, there was increasing hope, until Nixon.

    Kennedy dropped the top tax bracket from 91% to 70%. That is a very big difference from today.

    There was no Medicare, but a doctor's routine office visit was $10, a Complete History & Physical $25, a Urinalysis $3, a Complete Blood Count $5, a Chest Xray $10. Compare that with today's charges and you will see a huge difference.

    Our economy was very different as well. Much better, more equity.

    I bought a new Mustang the year they were first released and paid $2500. I could afford it on my medical assistant salary of $300/mo.

    I lived my youth in a time of more economic balance, even with Social Security, Medicaid, and county aid for indigents.

    Living in the past is a mistake. Each of us needs to embrace change, or our evolution, and find ways to contribute "...what you can do for your country", and right injustice.

    By country, my reference is to the People, and the environment that sustains us.

    The divide has become obscene! All of us must find our hearts AND minds and apply both to how we can do for our People.

    Our economy is out of balance, and I don't speak only of our government. We have to get back into balance.

    We have to understand that everyone in this country wants a better life, and most will work for it. However, they expect justice in the pay they receive for their labor.

    I wonder how many people would have supported Obamacare if health insurance was subject to anti-trust laws, rather than state regulation? There may be a very different reality if healthcare insurance was not exempt form federal anti-trust laws.

    That was opposed by Republicans, so, now people seek someway to allow them to health insurance in the only way they can, with government help.

    The whole healthcare industry is one big swamp of quick sand for the pocketbook.

    When I listen/read to Republicans talk about cutting or privatizing safety nets, they almost never include any solution for those who have no other means of living. It is like some abstraction. No option given for people but their assumed death on the streets. This is totally unacceptable, and immoral.

    Any solutions must be realistic, not limited to some fiscal ideological perfection in the mind of one party.

    The reality is that there are so many dysfunctional areas in business and society, including the ethics and morality of both, today compared with the time of Kennedy, with many causes that have been ignored or protected.

    Personally, I don't see an acceptable solution that can be arrived at quickly. Some of this must truly be seen as needing a fix that will take a long time to accomplish.

  31. Sorry, I made an error. My new Mustang cost about $1600. It was my VW Camper Van that cost $2500 in 1967. It was a great life, even for a low earner.

    I worked, like most people, and had benefits that were great, compared with today. I got a Christmas bonus of 2 weeks of my salary. Some people got a month's salary.

    It was a very different time!