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Donna Perry: The GOP’s Severely Wounded Brand

Thursday, November 08, 2012


As the assessment of the bruising 2012 Election gets underway, the sense of going “forward, seems more out of reach than ever. The Obama win, despite his handlers’ (which includes all hosts of MSNBC) post victory efforts to now position the President as the figure who can “bring everyone together”, seems to have only further enflamed a severely divided nation. The dust has a long way to go to settle, but here are a few observations.

Romney’s years long, tireless and heroically waged battle for the White House ended with his heartbreakingly decent and gracious acknowledgement of defeat on a stage in Boston. Obviously multiple factors caused the loss, but the national Republican Party’s own earlier activities should not be forgotten if the Party is to recover for future elections. The national GOP must now have a serious conversation with itself about two key things: how its messages are conveyed, especially to Independent voters (females and yes, Hispanics); and its handling of its own Primary system and the damage it inflicted on Mitt Romney. Let’s face it: Newt Gingrich did more damage to Romney’s private sector success and career at Bain Capital than any ammunition that was hurled by the other side.

It took Romney all summer to recover from the false and negative images, and many observers felt it wasn’t until September, at the pivotal first debate, that many independent voters, especially women, had the chance to finally glimpse a smart, very decent, and high quality candidate with a true economic recovery plan, who did not seem at all like the caricature that had been drawn. Much damage had been done by then. Furthermore, creating a campaign climate where Obama’s team managed to change the subject from its colossal mishandling of the U.S. economy, and push high decibel, and never favorable arguments over abortion and birth control into the mainstream debate, (aided by several notable toxic remarks by clumsy congressional Republican candidates) was a gross disservice to Romney.

Abortion, defense of marriage laws, and gay rights issues may excite certain elements of the base, but mainstream Republicans have got to demand the Party get back to its strength positions of pro-business, pro-taxpayer, and capable handling of the economy, the military, and foreign affairs, if there is any hope to again capture the White House. A responsible but realistic plan for handling the influx of illegals must also be developed and better communicated.

Here at home, the RI Pizza Party (Democrats) marches on. It’s too simplistic and blatantly unfair to start hurling charges at the state GOP for across the board losses when they do battle in a state where the Board of Elections sees no harm in the fact that “free pizza” was allowed to be delivered to a crowded and chaotic inner city polling place by the campaign of David Ciccilline Tuesday night. The state GOP’s high quality candidate Brendan Doherty, in Romney like fashion, delivered his own set of gracious comments at a difficult moment of defeat Tuesday night after waging a wall to wall, tireless and hard fought campaign. Like Romney, Doherty also battled the relentless rhetoric of class warfare, (“tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires”) senior citizen scare tactics, (the other side will “take away your social security”) and distortion of his record and positions on women’s issues (“the war on women”……”they want to take away your birth control pills.”)

As for the General Assembly races, there was an intermingling of forces who managed to use the 38 Studios debacle and revenge for the statewide pension reform vote to knock out certain Republicans and reformer Democrats, as well as rattle Speaker Fox who only narrowly held on. It should be noted that first time GOP candidates for U.S. Senate (Barry Hinckley) and Congress Second District (Mike Riley) were far from empty suits and both managed to raise critical arguments against incumbents Jim Langevin and the deeply partisan Sheldon Whitehouse. Riley’s unapologetic remarks after his defeat on Election night that states like Rhode Island are in fact dying, and headed for economic disaster, represented an authentic declaration of reality whether you felt the setting was misplaced or not. Both Riley and Hinckley deserve recognition for waging credible campaigns against very high odds.

Make no mistake about it, the state GOP, like its national Party, leaves 2012 not just wounded, but a severely damaged “brand”. It’s not that the product is faulty. The problem lies with the consumer, so frighteningly and easily fooled by the competition’s distorted sales pitch.


Donna Perry is Executive Director of RISC, RI Statewide Coalition



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You must be doing something wrong Donna, I went o for on election day and I blame all you negative people.

Comment #1 by tom brady on 2012 11 08

maybe its you Donna. Maybe it's just you.....

Comment #2 by Malachi Constant on 2012 11 08

Great analysis, Donna.

A couple of things:

1. I think the voters who think that the progressive handout fantasy land will just continue forever are in for an abrupt intrusion of reality -- maybe in a year or so. Sadly, some "Greece" is what we might need to wake more people up. Young people who will not be able to find jobs (maybe handouts, but not sustainable jobs) I think are going to grow disillusioned with the Obama promises.

2. The Republican party does need to be the party for business, fiscal responsibility, personal freedom, opportunity, balanced budgets, and other aligned issues. It needs to get out of the social issue business -- leaving personal decisions to individuals.

Comment #3 by Art West on 2012 11 08

"It’s not that the product is faulty. The problem lies with the consumer, so frighteningly and easily fooled by the competition’s distorted sales pitch."

And in that one sentence lies the answer. As an independent who splits his ticket, the choices (with the exception of Daugherty)were not appealing. The inability of the local Republican leadership too see beyond its own rhetoric is appallingly incompetent. Ok blame it on the voters who don't buy your message, that must be very reassuring to you, after all it wasn't your fault you got squashed in this election cycle in RI. With that attitude and leadership (or lack of)no wonder your showing is pathetic, even with all the acknowledged problems we have in our state.

Comment #4 by Doug MacPherson on 2012 11 08

Donna, I can see that you are bitterly disappointed by the election outcome. Perhaps it was caused by Romney's lack of a real economic recovery plan. If he really had any good ideas, why didn't he suggest them much earlier instead of holding out for his own election before putting all those unemployed people back to work? I believe he is truly a smart and decent person. I hope he shows that again by revealing his secret economic recovery plan.

Comment #5 by Victor Morgan on 2012 11 08

Doug calls out the right line. Donna, this piece warrants a response. Watch out for my Mindsetter tomorrow.

Comment #6 by Aaron Regunberg on 2012 11 08

The real reason that the Democrats pulled off their two biggest surprises--the defeats of Beth Moura and Frank Maher--is that they ran two exceptionally strong candidates: Ryan Pearson and Cathie Cool Rumsey.

Comment #7 by Samuel Bell on 2012 11 08

To the Democrat and progressive supporters here:

Okay, it truly is your show. RI is more solidly Democrat than ever. Will you lead us out of high unemployment, crushing taxes, debt and cronyism?

You have zero excuses now. Time will tell.

Comment #8 by Art West on 2012 11 08

Rhode Island may have a Democratic majority, but it certainly doesn't have a progressive majority.

Comment #9 by Samuel Bell on 2012 11 08

"The problem lies with the consumer..."

Wow, and if you're working for a firm that thinks like that, best get your resume in order.

"I readily suppose my opinion wrong, when opposed by the majority." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1788.

Comment #10 by Russ C on 2012 11 08

There was a slim chance of winning due to the womens vote. Women were easily manipulated about birth control (as if it weren't going to be available anymore) abortion, etc. They could not concentrate on the big picture. So much outrage over nonsense. The dems convinced them that the Republicans were going to set them back 50 years. So women voted for their own interests which were never in jeopardy and they voted against the best interest of the country.

Comment #11 by Dave Barry on 2012 11 08

Spot on, Dave. The Democrat machine is expert at manipulating the "consumer" through emotion -- and always about some issue that the consumer takes personally. That's why seniors are scared that the bogey man with an (R) after his name is going to take away their Social Security, or that Big Banks are oppressing their families, etc.

The tactics work, but it takes a certain dishonesty to use them. But if you want to win with the masses...

Comment #12 by Art West on 2012 11 08

art west... the dems now own ri.... congratulations...now fix it!!!!

my guess.... never happen... they just want to keep feeding out of the same trough....and anyone in a leadership position that tells the dems to change will no longer be in a leadership position.

Comment #13 by jon paycheck on 2012 11 08

I find the final statements in this piece extremely insulting. Shame on you, Donna. I'm disappointed. This is not believing in America, or my home state that I love. Your party needs a serious look in the mirror, and to quit the arrogance.

Comment #14 by Michael Roles on 2012 11 08

I voted Romney-Ryan because Obama's anti-business, anti-wealth, bloated government model has never appealed to me. It's socialism however you slice it, but when 50% of the nation are tax dodgers and the direct beneficiaries of socialism, they only need 51% to win the race. Easy win for the dems and, based on US demographics, it will always be a much easier path for the dems than the GOP. If the GOP wins, it needs to shift a bit more to the middle. Villanizing the 50% and not supporting immigrants, women's rights, students, etc is just not going to result in a national election win...EVER.

Comment #15 by Captain Blacksocks on 2012 11 08

Here's the thing....the dems succeeded nationally by being rather far left socialist, yet presenting themselves as centrists. That is a distorition, and the uninformed masses ate it up. The GOP failed nationally by being rather far right yet NOT presenting themselves as centrists. The lesson is...if a political party expects to win, it better get real good at distorting itself to appear centrists. The USA voter will only elect those who portray themselves as centrists. GOP blew it by catering to the far right, while Dems wisely disquised their socialist agenda by claiming allegience to the middle class...who they continue to rip-off.

Comment #16 by Captain Blacksocks on 2012 11 08

Smart people vote Republican; everyone else votes for Santa Claus.
Merry Christmas: Santa Claus is out of money.
The Grinch

Comment #17 by Allison Westhaver on 2012 11 17

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