SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — Many Republicans, with eyes trained on the presidential election in 2016, have sorted through the wreckage of the 2012 elections to figure out how and why the GOP suffered such heavy losses, including the White House.
But at the Republican Governors Association conference in Arizona on Wednesday, one theory dominated at an early panel discussion: That the X-factor Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney lacked might have been a more compassionate tone.
"People have to know that you care about them," said Ohio Gov. John Kasich, one of the governors believed to be weighing a presidential bid in 2016. Voters, he said, have to believe that "if they’re stuck in a ditch, you’ll ... push them out."
"If we can demonstrate more of that, people will say, 'That’s a new kind of Republican.' Create jobs, compassion and care."
Alex Castellanos, a Republican consultant, echoed Kasich's remarks, saying that in the eyes of voters the GOP has become the "pass-the-Grey-Poupon party."
"At our hearts, we're the very opposite of that," Castellanos said. "The Republican Party has been the bottom-up party, where everyone gets an equal opportunity. ... We used to speak that way, we used to advocate policies like that."
The remarks suggest that those Republicans who believed Romney to keep the campaign against President Obama focused on jobs may have left voters wanting. It also suggests that the GOP candidates who succeed in the future are likely to be those who can relate to voters on both an emotional and practical level.