After the 2012 United States Elections have been done and over with, the GOP seemingly finds itself in an identity crisis due to losses the party as suffered in the White House and United States Senate races. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, had lost the White House race to Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama. While there were more Democrat-held Senate seats than Republican-held Senate seats up for grabs, Republicans took major losses. There were two Senate seats that were considered major losses: Missouri and Indiana. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, two Tea Party Republicans, lost those races because of their comments about abortion in the case of rape.
Akin, who lost the Senate race in Missouri, made a comment about “legitimate rape” and how the woman's body has the ability to terminate the pregnancy as a result. That comment would haunt Akin for the rest of the campaign. Despite pressure from other Republicans, Akin refused to drop out and kept on campaigning while insisting he can still win.
Mourdock, who lost the Senate race in Indiana, made a comment about a rape baby is still a “gift from God.” That would haunt Mourdock for the rest of his campaign. Perhaps that also contributed to Romney's loss in the Presidential race. Despite those remarks from Mourdock, Romney continued giving his support.
While the Republicans have maintained control of the US House of Representatives, there's still the 2014 elections where there are more Senate and House races up for grabs. In the case of Florida, the 18th District House seat is still being contested. Allen West, the GOP incumbent who is backed by the Tea Party, is trailing behind his Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy. In a recent recount, West is trailing by more votes
. So far, West refuses to concede the contest. With West highly likely to lose, the Democrats gain a seat in the House.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who's set to lead the GOP Governor's Association in 2013, said that the GOP needs to stop being the “party of stupid.” When on Fox News Sunday, Jindal said that remarks by people like those two have done much harm to the Republican Party
. Jindal, who is pro-life, said that other people of other beliefs need to be respected and not demonized.
Apparently, the GOP is planning some changes. One of the major changes that the GOP plans to take is this: prevent future Akin-like candidates from getting chosen
for general elections. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who is tapped to be the Senate's minority whip, said that people like Akin and Mourdock messed it up for themselves
. Cornyn said that to get principled conservatives elected and not get nominate a candidate in the primary who's highly not going to win come November. In this respect, Cornyn may have been talking about the primaries.
According to the leadership amongst GOP senators, the Republican Party needs to put an end to the kind of “savage primaries” which inevitably nominated people like Akin. Romney, who lost the Presidential race to Obama, also blamed the primary races as one of the reasons he had lost. This was in the same phone call made to campaign donors; but, the media focus was on his “gifts” comment. Romney received much political heat from both Democrats and Republicans as a result.
They say that the approach to finding promising candidates needs to be more assertive. However, this is going to be difficult for the GOP because of the Tea Party factor. Akin and Mourdock both had support from Tea Party Republicans. By going that approach, the GOP will more than likely come across opposition from the Tea Party.
According to the National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC), they are going to engage in primaries as long as they they get cover support from the local level. GOP Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri said that if and when you find the best candidate, you have to do the following: find the candidate, encourage the candidate, support the candidate, and protect the candidate. You want to make sure the candidate remains strong for the general election.
The article talks about Akin in the GOP primary in Missouri. Akin beat both John Brumer and Sarah Steelman; both Brumer and Steelman were seen as strong candidates who could have won in November. Instead, Akin ended up winning the primary. There was also talks about the Democrats having a role in that. As a result, Akin lost in November.
In this respect, the Tea Party can be problematic for the mainstream GOP. Conservative columnist Michael Barone spoke Hillsdale College's Kirby Center and addressed GOP losses in the Senate. Barone said that the GOP lost because it had bad candidates. He said that while the Tea Party can bring some strong candidates, it brought in some major “duds.”
Barone talked about the Missouri and Indiana Senate races in regards to abortion. He questioned why those candidates had to talk about that stuff.
Back in 2010, there were Tea Party candidates that won GOP primaries but ended up losing in the general election. Two such candidates were Sharron Angle of Nevada and Christine O'Donnell of Delaware
In a Washington Post blog, it asks while the NRSC hasn't been doing this already. It does say that regardless of the input given by the NRSC, insiders, etc, it's ultimately up to the primary voters
. The blog says that it's up to those voters to use their best discretion when picking their candidates.
In a blog
on Indecision Forever, one person bluntly says that perhaps the GOP can tell their candidates to stop saying stuff on abortion and rape. In short, the blog implies that the GOP should tell those candidates to keep their mouths closed before giving those answers.
Salon, in a recent article
, reports that the GOP has bigger problems than just the Tea Party. While Akin and Mourdock lost their races, Salon points out that those two were the only candidates that had plausible connections to the Tea Party Movement. It said that Steelman got support from the Tea Party Express, one of the arms of the Tea Party Movement. The article further points out problems, besides the Tea Party, that the GOP has to deal with. The article said that the GOP needs to rethink their policies and stances.
Former GOP Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas came to Akin's defense
. He blamed the GOP for completely turning their backs on Akin. Huckabee accused the GOP of allowing Akin to be thrown to the political wolves without any means to defend himself. Huckabee even had a critical response to Romney's “gift” remark.
While the GOP wants to prevent more candidates like Akin from getting chosen, it seems easier said than done. Ultimately, the chosen party nominee is in the hands of the voters that participate in the primaries. The GOP has retooling as Jindal said. Plus, as the Salon article says, the GOP has to look carefully at and reexamine its policies.