2012 Election: A Manual on What Not to Do for the Republican Party

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From left to right: Trey Garrison, Ron Christie, Kerry Healey, Karen Hughes, John Murray, Ana Navarro

By Tram Dao
BU News Service

The Republican Party was anything but a boys club last Wednesday. Despite an absence of conservative female voices in the last election, Kerry Healey, Karen Hughes, and Ana Navarro dominated Harvard’s John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, “The Future of The Republican Party” on Wednesday, Feb. 6.

Ron Christie, John Murray, and moderator Trey Garrison also joined the conversation that covered reshaping the language of the party, uniting under core Conservative policies, and including 100% of Americans.

“Take the 2012 campaign and make it a manual on what not to do,” declared Navarro. The CNN contributor and pro-gay rights conservative blamed the party’s poor messaging for making “gays believe we wanted to neuter them” and “immigrants believe we wanted them to deport themselves.”

According to a New York Times exit poll, democrats defeated conservatives in gaining votes from minorities, women, young people, and LGBT individuals.

Healey, an advisor for Mitt Romney’s campaign, envisioned a “coalition of conservatives” that eliminates the right wing’s “glass ceiling” that now effectively excludes libertarians, young people, and moderate Republicans in the northeast.

“People always whisper about being Republican in Massachusetts,” joked Healey. The former Lieutenant Governor of the blue state suggested conservatives unite under the core values of states’ rights, foreign policy, and economic reform.

Taking an inclusive approach, the forum welcomed questions from audience members. One non-partisan woman asked why more conservative women did not speak out against the party’s offensive rape comments.

Hughes, who wrote in a Politico editorial she would “cut out the tongue” of GOPers talking about rape, said she did not initially go after the remarks to avoid harming the Romney campaign.

Navarro criticized her party for “massaging” the ridiculous comments and the Sandra Fluke fiasco.

Flaunting her Spanish accent, Navarro advocated micro-targeting, citing President Bush’s attempt at speaking Spanish, despite “butchering” the language, in front of Hispanic crowds.

Former Bush advisor Hughes identified education as key to moving the Republican Party forward.

Healey echoed similar sentiments, calling on conservatives to be the party that helps people achieve the “American Dream.”

Hughes championed “finding a common ground” on issues like abortion and immigration. She argued offering the 11 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship, without letting them “cut lines.”

All panel members rejected litmus tests.

“If you consider yourself a conservative, you are a conservative,” said Healey.

Republicans need to stop using litmus tests to nominate candidates, said Murray. The Young Guns Super Pac leader criticized his party for investing in candidates who cannot win in their districts.

A young student at the Kennedy School asked if the 2012 defeat represented a rejection of conservative economic ideas.

Navarro blamed the loss on the GOP’s inability to appeal to voters’ hearts.

“Often times, the political class gets disconnected from real working families,” Murray later said in an interview.

“I think people voted for Obama despite the economy,” claimed Hughes.

A New York Times exit poll shows 60% of voters who believe the economy is in a poor state voted for Romney.

Healey described this year’s Republican National Committee as “encouraging” for the future. “They were bringing in people who had done outreach to African Americans, Hispanics, women, young people, and Asian Americans,” recalled Healey.  “The second part of what needs to be done is those folks need to get funded.”

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