It was bad enough for some Republicans that Mitt Romney couldn't close the deal against a wounded incumbent in the presidential election. But his not so private remarks to friends and fundraisers this past week that he lost in strong part because Obama gave out "gifts" to blacks, Latinos and young voters has given a free pass to members of the GOP to openly trash the just vanquished candidate.
Beginning with the qualifier that Romney was an "honorable and exceptional" man, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who may have presidential ambitions in 2016, told Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace, "I absolutely reject what he said. Look, we as the Republican Party have to campaign for every single vote."
"If we want people to like us, we have to like them first," he added. "And you don't start to like people by insulting them and saying their votes were bought. We are an aspirational party."
On ABC's This Week, Newt Gingrich said "I just think it's nuts," remarking on Romney's comments. "I mean, first of all, it's insulting."
“The job of a political leader in part is to understand the people. If we can't offer a better future that is believable to more people, we're not going to win,” the former House Speaker added.
That seems to be the point that Republicans like Jindal have been making in the wake of the Romney collapse — that the GOP is not the party for the rich, a perception that has taken hold if you believe the exit poll data showing President Obama with a big lead over Romney on the question of who cares more about the middle class. Watch the pivot.
JINNDAL: Chris, two things, one, we as a Republican Party need to make it very clear and we're going to make it very clear. We're not the party of big — big businesses, big banks, big Wall Street, big bailouts.
When it comes to the tax code, we as the Republican Party have to make it very clear — we are for a lower, flatter, simpler tax code. And you can maintain progressivity, for example, there have been ideas to limit deductions for the wealthy. There have been ideas to get rid of some of these carve-outs. But we need to make it very clear — we're not the party trying to protect the rich. They can protect themselves.
We are the party that wants growth, pro-growth policies. Let the Democratic Party be the party of growing — a government growing revenues. We want to grow the private sector and so, that starts with lower, flatter, simpler tax codes. And, again, it can still be progressive. Let's — there are ideas to get rid of carve-outs, special treatments to limit the deductions to the wealthy.
As the discussion about whether or not to eliminate the Bush tax cuts grows more intense in the coming weeks, Republicans will use this point as the reason why they won't bend on the issue — because they're for the middle class, and raising the tax rates on the top 2 percent of taxpayers will hurt that middle class.
Jindal added that what he's calling for is more than a simple readjustment. "It's not just a marketing campaign. It's not just having better PR folks. We're going to go and convince and fight for every single vote, showing them we are the party for the middle class, upward mobility. We don't start winning majorities and winning elections by insulting our voters."
On CNN's State of the Union, Carlos Gutierrez, Mitt Romney's top Hispanic advisor, said he was "shocked" by Romney's comments, but doesn't say it was that attitude that doomed him in the general election.
"I think we lost the election because the far right of this party has taken the party to a place that it doesn’t belong," he told host Candy Crowley.