Massage message, don’t abandon core beliefs, GOP leaders say
While the Republican Party is talking about whether it should retool itself in the face of several losses after this month’s elections, don’t expect the Grand Old Party to turn its back on its core beliefs, state GOP leaders say.
That’s because it wasn’t the party’s conservative values that Americans rejected when the party failed to win the White House, lost seats in the U.S. House, didn’t win a majority in the U.S. Senate and lost its majority in the Colorado House.
No, it was a matter of not getting its message across to enough people, particularly minority voters, said Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call.
“We as a party do not need to abandon any of our core principles, but we do have to do a better job in communicating those principles in ways that connect with the citizens of Colorado and that address the issues that are important to them,” Call said. “Clearly, we need to make better inroads into the minority community in a way that really is sincere and that truly listens to the concerns that they have.”
Every party and political candidate who loses an election questions what went wrong and what they could have done better.
But for the Republicans, losing the presidential race against a candidate they felt was very vulnerable, and then by a landslide as far as the Electoral College vote was concerned, was particularly stinging.
Some Republicans credited the Democrats for building a particularly effective get-out-the-vote drive. Others blamed down-ticket GOP candidates for uttering “rape gaffes” that diverted voters’ attention.
Still others said it was because the party catered too much to extremist talk that even now is grabbing the headlines.
Over the past two weeks, petitions from all 50 states have been posted on a White House website calling for each to secede from the union. Many have received thousands of signatures, though not necessarily from people who live in those states.
On right-leaning blogs, including here in Mesa County, others are going even further by calling for armed revolution.
Grand Junction resident Jerry Hunsinger, a retired pilot and the husband of Mesa County Republican Party Secretary Phyllis Hunsinger, posted a lengthy message on the local GOP blog Reagangirl.com saying the nation is at a “tipping point.”
In the posting, Hunsinger claims the Democratic Party stole the election, but he doesn’t say how. Then he says the only answer is outright sedition, calling for the creation of a new republic, the boundaries of which primarily include western and southern states.
“A new republic begs to be formed,” Hunsinger writes. “These boundaries include all of our people. They think as we do. A more God-fearing, gun-toting, conservative, hard-working, patriotic and fiscally responsible bunch cannot be found anywhere else on this continent.”
On the same blog, Grand Junction resident Marjorie Haun posts similar missives, one of which offers a list of foods and medicines — and firearms — people should start stockpiling in preparation for the coming “storm,” which she said is only weeks away.
Call and other leading Republicans are quick to reject such talk, saying it’s not what people should be listening to right now.
“Talk of seceding from the union is absolutely ridiculous,” said state Rep. Mark Waller, a Colorado Springs Republican who will be the next minority leader in the Colorado House when the Legislature convenes in January. “At the end of the day regardless of who’s in control, we live in the best country in the world.”
Call said opinions uttered by such people as Haun and Hunsinger don’t reflect the view of state or national Republicans, adding that such talk is based more on an emotional reaction than a thoughtful one.
“That sort of talk has no place in an honest dialogue about how we move forward to make our communities, and our state, and our country a better place,” Call said. “America and our party has gone through elections where we have won and where we have been defeated, but America is still America.”
State Sen. Steve King cautioned everyone to step back. This is no time to try to determine a course of action right now, particularly while emotions are so high, the Grand Junction Republican said.
No one makes good decisions in such a state, he said.
“We all can understand that there’s a lot of angst out there,” King said. “We’ve been hearing about all of these issues during this campaign season, and nothing seems like its changing, in tone or direction on both sides.
“The problem that we have right now is we’re too close to the election,” he added. “Your emotions and your perceptions become skewed. Right now it still hurts, it still stings. We haven’t stepped back yet. When we do, we’ll see the direction that’s good for the Republican Party, but it’ll be one based on principles, not emotions.”