Stupid comments and the personal beliefs of some Republican candidates have tainted the party going forward, a prominent GOP senator said in the wake of a series of stinging election night defeats.
In an interview with CNN's Soledad O'Brien, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) also said that the Tea Party "muddled" the party's message by deviating from its core advocacy of limited government and fiscal responsibility and foraying into divisive social issues.
"We had Republican candidates who got very high profile and said some very stupid things," Sen. Hutchison, who is retiring after this year, told O'Brien. "I think that really tainted the party."
O'Brien mentioned two GOP Senate hopefuls, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, as examples of candidates whose shocking remarks not only doomed their own campaigns but also harmed the Republican party, which was accused of waging a "war on women" by Democrats and others.
Rep. Todd Akin sparked widespread outrage in August after he opined that a woman's body has ways of rejecting pregnancy resulting from "legitimate rape." Incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, once considered beatable, demolished Akin on Tuesday by a margin of 54-39 percent.
In Indiana, Tea Party-backed state treasurer Richard Mourdock lost by more than 100,000 votes to Democratic opponent Rep. Joe Donnelly. The tight race may very well have been decided during an October debate when Mourdock said that pregnancies resulting from rape were part of "God's plan."
It wasn't just Republican Senate hopefuls who badly damaged their chances of victory by making alarming statements. Wisconsin assemblyman Roger Rivard, who said that "some girls rape easy," lost his reelection bid to Democratic challenger Stephen Smith by just 582 votes.
And in Troy, Michigan, incumbent Republican Mayor Janice Daniels was ousted from office in a recall election organized after a series of shockingly homophobic comments. Last December, Daniels wrote on her Facebook page that she was going to throw her 'I Love NY' tote bag away "now that queers can get married" in New York. She also said that "the homosexual lifestyle is dangerous" and compared being gay to smoking cigarettes.
Sen. Hutchison told CNN that Republicans must "stop acting like the woman is a throw-away in elections."
"People have personal beliefs, and what we need to do is fashion a party around the economics and the long-term viability of the economy of our country," she said. "When people start trying to go into such personal issues and then try to form a party around it, it's very difficult."