Quote of the Day: the Republicans Try to Rebuild Despite Comments of Mitt Romney

Our political Quote of the day comes from NBC’s First Read which notes how the Republican Party is seriously pondering how to rebuild — despite the backward looking and downright backward comments of unsuccessful GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who basically says Obama won because he bribed key Democratic constituencies with free stuff:

*** Rebuilding time: As National Journal’s Ron Brownstein writes, the Republican Party now finds itself in the same position that Democrats were in after 1988: searching for a way to broaden the party’s appeal and message. (Or as former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour puts it, the GOP is in need of “a very serious proctology exam.”) Back in 1988, a former Massachusetts governor had just lost — decisively — to a vulnerable opponent, marking the fifth time in the last six presidential elections that Democrats had lost the popular vote. Flash forward to now: Another former Massachusetts governor has just lost — decisively — to a vulnerable opponent, marking the fifth time in the last six presidential elections that Republicans have lost the popular vote. Brownstein notes that Democrats, after the ’88 election, looked inward, created the centrist New Democrat movement, and turned to Bill Clinton to rebuild the party’s image. And the question for the GOP becomes: What does it do to turn around its presidential fortunes come 2016? Or, as the Wall Street Journal reports of a growing narrative among Republicans, was the loss simply Romney’s fault?

This shows how out of sync Romney’s comments were with the GOP’s actual situation: it needs to analyze the results, then see in cool, analytical, political science terms, what it needs to fix it. Simply making statements that might make nice rants on conservative talk shows or sound like an audition for a Fox News political commentator slot won’t do. MORE:

*** But no easy fixes: On Wednesday, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus delivered a presentation of exit poll data to GOP senators that pointed to several reasons why Republicans lost. (And by the way, none of those reasons mentioned the word “gifts.”) They included changing demographics (the white share of the electorate has declined from 81% in 2000 to 72% in 2012); George W. Bush (who was blamed more for the current state of the economy than President Obama); and a failure to be perceived as the champion of the middle class (44% of voters believed Obama’s policies favored the middle class, versus 34% who said the same about Mitt Romney’s policies). The problem for the GOP is that there are no easy fixes to those challenges. Republicans could sign on to comprehensive immigration reform as a way to better appeal to Latino voters, but which party would get credit for that legislative achievement — the GOP or Democrats? In addition, this election proved that it’s difficult for the Republican nominee to break away from the Bush brand, even as Romney kept his distance from the former president. And as the debate over the fiscal cliff negotiations is proving, it’s hard for the GOP to be perceived as the middle class’ champion when it’s fighting against taxes being raised on the Top 2%.

GOP governors are distancing themselves from Romney’s seemingly bitter comments that echo his famous 47% remarks. The latest to repudiate Romney’s comments that Barack Obama won by giving “gifts” to women, minorities and young people: New Mexico governor Susana Martinez.

“That unfortunately is what sets us back as a party — our comments that are not thought through carefully,” Martinez told Yahoo’s Chris Moody. Martinez, who previously criticized Romney’s “47 percent” remarks in September, added that his fundraiser video was a “ridiculous statement.”

“You want to earn the vote of every single person you can earn, whether they be someone who relies on,” she said. “Why would you ever write off 47 percent?”

As I (and others) have noted: it’s safe to say now that not just America but the Republican Party in the long term dodged a political bullet by Romney’s defeat.

Time’s Mark Halperin on the task facing the GOP:

It’s very easy to criticize Mitt Romney right now because of where he stands in the party after his loss. The harder thing, which Republicans have not done — we’ve talked about this so much — is take on the media freak show and the circus. Take on the party who doesn’t want to be a leader on immigration. You know, people are talking about immigration now and, of course, it seems like Republicans are ready to take that on. But when there’s actual legislation, when you actually have to join arms with the President and be a leader the way President Bush was on the issue and for Senator McCain was, for a time, on the issue, that’s going to be really hard. That’s when you’ve got to take incoming from the Right and it’s going to be difficult to do. You take on the big banks, same thing. Take on Afghanistan, same thing. That’s what the party is going to have to do to change its brand and its image and to be confident that they are standing in the right place to broaden the party rather than to stay a narrow party.