The Tea Party Patriots, one of the most prominent organizations within the fiscally conservative tea party movement, says Mitt Romney lost the election because he was a "weak moderate" candidate that was "hand-picked" by the establishment GOP.
"For those of us who believe that America, as founded, is the greatest country in the history of the world – a 'Shining city upon a hill' – we wanted someone who would fight for us," Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin wrote in an e-mail, quoting 40th president and conservative hero Ronald Reagan. "We wanted a fighter like Ronald Reagan who boldly championed America's founding principles... What we got was a weak moderate candidate, hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country-club establishment."
Romney made efforts in the campaign to reach out to the tea party—especially in his choice of right-wing ideologue Paul Ryan as running mate. But as the election drew closer, the GOP nominee tacked closer to the center, and in the final debate he made few contrasts between himself and President Obama.
The Tea Party Patriots said it had to work harder going forward to stop the "mushy-middle" members of the GOP from "getting rolled" by the left.
The group also told followers that they were "not going away," despite losses Tuesday night by tea party congressmen Allen West in Florida and Joe Walsh in Illinois, as well as a near-loss by Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota.
Martin said the group would now turn its attention back to Congress, where it has been more successful in pushing its message of fiscal conservatism, where it would battle over the budget, the debt and against Obamacare.
Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.