CPAC: Mitt Romney’s return and a post-mortem on 2012
In his first major public address since losing the November election, a warmly received Mitt Romney urges the youthful CPAC crowd to 'learn from our mistakes and my mistakes.'
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He gave shout-outs to numerous GOP governors, citing the actions of some.Skip to next paragraph
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“Gov. Nathan Deal in Georgia secured a constitutional amendment that makes sure they can have charter schools,” Romney said. “Gov. Rick Snyder – [cheers, applause] – got in place right-to-work legislation in Michigan. [Cheers, applause.] A number of these Republican governors were able to secure tort reform, and a whole horde of Republican governors inherited budgets that were badly out of balance and have replaced deficits with surpluses.”
Romney also spoke fondly of his former running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin. But earlier in the day, when Congressman Ryan spoke from the same podium, Romney’s name did not come up. Instead, Ryan wore his hat as chairman of the House Budget Committee, lampooning the budget released earlier this week by Senate Democrats.
“When you read it, you find that the Vatican's not the only place blowing smoke this week,” said Ryan, a possible contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
It was the job of a CPAC panel Thursday morning to examine what went wrong in the 2012 race. The segment was called “CSI Washington, D.C.: November 2012 Autopsy.”
Tucker Carlson, the moderator and editor of The Daily Caller website, called the Romney campaign “a totally mediocre effort.”
“Some of it was the consultants, but ultimately the candidate selects the consultants,” said panelist John Fund, a writer at The American Spectator.
On Thursday, the first day of CPAC, one of the panels was called “Should We Shoot All the Consultants Now?” Friday’s autopsy panel agreed it wasn’t necessary to go that far. But panel members didn’t struggle to put forth other ideas. For starters, they agreed that the Democrats cleaned the Republicans’ clocks with their use of data, technology, and micro-targeting.
“I would suggest the Republican Party probably needs a more gritty, populist approach to dealing with the electorate,” said Mr. Fund.
Former Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R) of New York, who lost reelection in November after serving one term, made a plea for more outreach to women and minorities – but not to apologize for being conservative.
“[Republicans] have to understand that the days of the good old boy party, the days of the establishment … are forever gone,” said Ms. Buerkle, who was elected in 2010 on a wave of tea party support.
“If they don’t embrace change,” she added, “the party will become extinct.”
Fund suggested this year’s gubernatorial race in Virginia, which is expected to be competitive, is a good place to start.
“The road to 2016 is through Virginia,” he said. “The way to come back is to win, the way to win is to absorb the lessons of 2012 and use them in 2013. The best place to begin that is right across the river in Virginia.”
On Monday, the Republican National Committee will release its own “autopsy” on what went wrong last November.
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