Mitt Romney, who just two weeks ago was the Republican Party’s standard-bearer, seen by many as the all-but-elected president of the United States, has turned into a punching bag for fellow Republicans looking to distance themselves from his controversial “gifts” remark.
“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,” Romney said during a call with campaign donors Wednesday.
Whether it’s an instance of politicians smelling blood in the water as the party, following Romney’s defeat, finds itself without a figurehead, or genuine outrage, a number of Republicans have eagerly castigated their former nominee.
“We as a Republican Party have to campaign for every single vote. If we want people to like us, we have to like them first. And you don’t start to like people by insulting them and saying their votes were bought. We are an aspirational party,” Jindal said.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker echoed Jindal’s remarks, and offered the recent success of Republican governors as an example for the party as a whole.
“We have to show that we are serious about reaching out and helping everyone, not just a group here, not just a group there,” Walker said, “but everyone in the country, live their piece of the American dream. And I think that starts with our governors as great messengers.”
Former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who made several memorable comments of his own on the campaign trail, deemed Romney’s remark “nuts.”
“I think it’s nuts. I mean, first of all, it’s insulting. The job of a political leader in part is to understand the people,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “If we can’t offer a better future that is believable to more people, we’re not going to win.”
And South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” tied Romney’s remarks to a Republican “death spiral.”
“When you’re in a hole, you stop digging. He keeps digging,” Graham said.
The party’s new outreach efforts, it appears, are first aimed toward Latino voters, who overwhelmingly supported President Obama over Romney, 71% to 27%. Republican leaders have begun toting immigration reform as a new objective, evangelical leaders have requested a deadline for Congress and Obama to take action on the issue, and the co-founder of Romney’s top “super PAC” is founding another PAC: Republicans for Immigration Reform.
As for the future of the party, perhaps all one has to do is look to a rerun of the latest episode of “Saturday Night Live,” where New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made an appearance capitalizing on his bipartisan displays alongside Obama following Superstorm Sandy. Or look toward Iowa, where Florida Sen. Marco Rubio delivered a 24-minute speech during Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s birthday celebration today, a trip that has sparked early speculation about his 2016 presidential aspirations.