Top GOP Leaders Reject Romney's Election Day Assessment

Maine GOP chair blames losses on alleged voter fraud by 'dozens of black people.'

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State party chairman Charlie Webster conducts the Maine Republican Convention at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta, Maine, Saturday, May 5, 2012.
State party chairman Charlie Webster conducts the Maine Republican Convention at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta, Maine, Saturday, May 5, 2012.

The nationwide drubbing of Republicans is reverberating across the country, from state party chairs to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney himself. But the lessons GOP-ers are taking away vary, from leaders ready to do an about face on issues like immigration, and others who blame losses on "gifts" from President Barack Obama or voter fraud by "dozens" of black voters in rural Maine towns.

Charlie Webster, chairman of the Maine Republican Party, recently alleged his party lost its legislative majority due to rampant voter fraud observed on Election Day.

"In some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens, dozens of black people who came in and voted on Election Day," he said in a local television interview. "Everybody has a right to vote. But nobody in town knows anybody that's black. How did it happen? I don't know, we're going to find out. I think it's a problem."

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Maine is one of the whitest states in the country, and according to the U.S. Census boasts an African-American population of 1.3 percent. Residents may register to vote on Election Day, but need to show proof of residence. Some Maine Republicans are already pressing for Webster to step down from his chairmanship.

Romney, in a recent conference call with donors, blamed his loss on policies promoted by the Obama administration he said were targeted at winning certain voters, "especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people."

"With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift," said Romney, according to reports by the Los Angeles Times and New York Times. "Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents' plan, and that was a big gift to young people."

The remarks are remniscent of what Romney told donors during a private fundraiser during the campaign that were eventually made public and left the candidate having to repeat that he was a candidate for "100 percent" of Americans, including the infamous "47 percent" he said were dependent on government and would not vote for him anyway.

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These reactions to Republican electoral losses are contrary to most other aspiring Republican politicians. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is taking over leadership of the Republican Governors Association, said Romney's reflections on why he lost are "absolutely wrong."

"I don't think that represents where we are as a party and where we're going as a party; that has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election" Jindal said at RGA gathering in Las Vegas. He added that in order to be competitive with Democrats, Republicans need to "go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote."

In the days after the election, conservative thought-leaders such as Charles Krauthammer and Sean Hannity also both sought to open the doors to Hispanic voters, whom Romney lost nearly 3-to-1 to Obama, by saying they support comprehensive immigration reform that would include some form of amnesty.

Others, including pollsters and Republican campaign operatives across the country, say the GOP must change its tone when addressing groups such as Latinos, blacks, and women, if not actual policies. But for now, it appears Romney and others are stuck in their pre-election mentality.

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  • Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at rmetzler@usnews.com.