By Erik Wasson
Conservative leaders on Wednesday lashed out at Mitt Romney, saying his attempts to paint himself as a centrist and hide his principles cost him the presidency.
They vowed to wage a war to put the Tea Party in charge of the Republican Party by the time it nominates its next presidential candidate.
“The battle to take over the Republican Party begins today and the failed Republican leadership should resign,” said Richard Viguerie, a top activist and chairman of ConservativeHQ.com.
He said the lesson on Romney’s loss to President Obama on Tuesday is that the GOP must “never again” nominate a “a big government established conservative for president.”
Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots said Romney failed to make the kind of strong case for conservatism that would have won the election.
She described Romney as a “weak, moderate candidate hand-picked by the country club elite Republican establishment.”
“It should have been a landslide if Romney had run as a true conservative,” said Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center.
“Romney took all the right stances, no question. The problem was not communicating them on the national stage with President Obama,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, the head of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.
Martin argued that there was no repudiation of the Tea Party by the electorate because Tea Party values were not firmly articulated.
“This is not the death of the Tea Party,” Martin said.
“Tea Partiers will take over the Republican party in the next four years,” Viguerie said.
In the meantime, conservatives will work to ensure that congressional Republicans do not compromise their principles in fiscal talks with Obama, he said.
“Conservatives and Tea Partiers are just sick and tired of Republican leaders compromising on the state and national level with Democrats that grow the size of government,” Viguerie said. “We are going to hold their feet to the fire.”
Bozell said conservative groups need to up their financial pressure on GOP lawmakers unless they agree to a series of demands, including again vowing to approve of no tax increases for anyone.