By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
To say that the GOP needs to do some soul-searching in the aftermath of the 2012 election may be putting it mildly.
Mitt Romney failed to connect with the majority of American voters, but the Republicans' problem is much bigger than Romney.
As one longtime Republican leader told Politico, the GOP needs to realize it is too old, too white and too male. He might want to add "too rich." This Republican said the party must figure out how to catch up with the demographics of the U.S. before it's too late.
It's well-known that Romney lost big among key voting blocs such as Latinos, women and young voters in the states that decided the election.
That might be because as conservative CNN contributor David Frum put it, "The Republican message is no longer relevant to middle-class America."
Frum told MSNBC that it's not just that Romney lost, but that in the past six presidential elections, the GOP has lost the popular vote in five of them. Frum said that over a generation - a "once majority" party has become a "nonmajority" party.
Republican positions on issues such as women's rights and immigration are big factors here.
And it doesn't help when you have Republican candidates such as Todd Akin making completely ignorant comments about rape.
If Republicans want to start winning elections instead of losing them, they're going to have to make some changes so that they don't continue to look like they're stuck in the 1950s.
Here’s my question to you: What does the Republican Party have to do to become more relevant?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
With Isaac drawing a bead on the city of New Orleans, the Republican National Convention is no longer at the center of this week's media storm.
Nonetheless, the GOP needs to shine during its abbreviated three-day convention if it wants to recapture the White House.
And while national conventions these days are highly scripted affairs, there's still a little room for a politician to surprise us, in a good or bad way.
Politico takes a look at past conventions and how they've been the breeding grounds for both rising stars and unintended screwups.
Barack Obama's keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention propelled him into the national spotlight and started talk of him as presidential material.
At the other end of the spectrum was Bill Clinton's 1988 convention speech. It went on for twice the allotted time, and delegates didn't pay much attention - except for cheering when Clinton finally said the words "in closing."
As for the Republicans' Tampa convention, there are high hopes for keynote speaker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and the candidate's wife, Ann Romney.
This convention could be the Republicans' last best chance to introduce Mitt Romney to the country on their terms.
New CNN-Opinion Research Corp. poll numbers show that although the race is a dead heat between Romney and President Obama, likely voters believe the president cares more about people and better understands their needs while Romney is perceived as better able to handle the economy, always the most important issue in any presidential election.
And while the temptation might be to try to make Romney seem warmer and fuzzier, he is resisting, saying, "I am who I am." At the end of the day, it's probably easier to be true to yourself than try to be someone you're not.
Here's my question to you: What's the greatest risk Republicans face at their convention?
Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 5 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.
And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
"It's time for Mitt Romney to man up, pick up the phone, and ask Sarah Palin to the dance."
That's a quote from a Daily Beast piece that argues Romney should invite Palin to speak at the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, next month.
Palin is complaining to Newsweek that she hasn't been asked to attend the convention yet. She said, "One must remember this isn't Sadie Hawkins and you don't invite yourself and a date to the big dance."
Maybe the Republicans are thinking the downsides to inviting Sarah Palin - anywhere - are pretty obvious:
The former VP candidate and half-term governor of Alaska is a wild card and her off-the-cuff remarks could create headaches for Romney. Palin is polarizing and she could turn off independent voters. Plus she doesn't seem to have much love for Romney so there's always the risk that she could go "rogue."
Never mind all that. Romney might be making a big mistake by not inviting her. It's not like he has this thing wrapped up.
Sarah Palin can do something Mitt Romney can't: fire up the base.
The party faithful went wild when she delivered her "pit bull-hockey mom" convention speech in 2008. And let's face it: Romney could use something to spice up his campaign. So far, electric it ain't.
There are few, if any, other Republicans in 2012 who generate the kind of enthusiasm Palin does.
Plus Mitt Romney was never a tea party favorite. As Newsweek describes it, party activists "feel stuck with a guy served up by Republican elites who speak conservatism with an establishment accent."
Bringing Sarah Palin on board in Tampa might help in this department, too. Her accent is anything but establishment.
Here’s my question to you: Should Sarah Palin be invited to speak at the Republican Convention?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
Mitt Romney might have a shot at a game changer that actually works in his favor.
Speculation has been rampant for the last several days that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice might be on Romney's short list for vice president.
Unlike Sarah Palin, who all but destroyed John McCain's chances, Rice might be just what the doctor ordered for Romney.
She's smart, has foreign policy credentials that are unquestioned and would certainly make the race a lot more interesting than it is now.
Romney is getting his nose bloodied by President Obama's incessant pounding on Bain Capital and his tax returns. Unable to seize the initiative and make the race about the economy, which by any measure should make Obama unelectable, Romney needs a spark.
Rice would immediately tap into African-Americans and women, two areas where Obama holds substantial leads.
Whether she would agree to be on the ticket remains a question. She has said she is not interested. But if your country comes calling ...
Anyway, barring putting Chris Christie on the ticket, you gotta love the idea of Rice. She would erase the memory of Palin and immediately energize the race.
With the start of the Summer Olympics fast approaching, Obama and Romney are going to be hard-pressed to get media coverage.
Rice would help in that department, too.
Here’s my question to you: How much would Condoleezza Rice as v.p. help the Romney campaign?
If Mitt Romney wants to be president, he's going to need help from voters who aren't old white men.
He's got his work cut out for him.
A Politico piece headlined "Barack Obama's group therapy” describes how the re-election campaign has been reaching out to key voting groups by focusing on issues like the contraception fight, equal pay for women, gay marriage, student loans and immigration policy.
Many Republicans find the president's strategy "very crass." Hey, politics is a crass business.
One GOP pollster told Politico that Romney can win if "Republicans decide that it's OK to look outside the country club for some votes."
For his part, Romney is sticking to his message of the economy, hoping it will appeal to all voters.
The traditional Republican base of white voters is shrinking, and if Romney wants to win, he needs minorities and women.
According to the Politico piece, Republicans traditionally get 87% of their votes from whites.
The problem is, the proportion of white voters in the electorate has dropped from 88% in 1976 to 74% in 2008.
At the same time, minority groups grew from 12% to 26%.
Which explains the Obama camp's targeted voter outreach to groups like women, Hispanics, African-Americans, gays and students.
To be fair, Romney is also doing some outreach of his own.
He'll speak Thursday in Florida to NALEO, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Later this summer, he'll address the National Convention of the NAACP.
The question is how much credibility he has with these groups. Marco Rubio or Condoleezza Rice could help.
Here’s my question to you: How can Republicans attract voters other than old white men?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
There are a couple ways to drop out of a political race.
A candidate can withdraw gracefully.
Or there's Newt Gingrich.
The guy just can't take a hint. And at this point he's likely hurting not only the Republican Party, but his own political legacy.
As Politico describes it, "the former House Speaker has decided to cap off a historic career by spending the final weeks of the campaign in a sort of political purgatory."
But that won't stop Newt. He's pledging to stay in the race all the way to the convention in Tampa. He's hoping against hope for some extraordinary situation where Mitt Romney can't get enough delegates and Rick Santorum is seen as unelectable.
The problem is he's out of money. His big Super PAC donor Sheldon Adelson - who has donated more than $15 million - says Gingrich is "at the end of his line."
There are no debates left to boost Gingrich, he can't afford to travel, he's fired much of his staff and even the media attention is dwindling.
People are using words like "laughingstock" and "delusional" to describe the former Speaker of the House. Sad really.
For his part, Gingrich insists he's staying in the race to shape the political conversation. And talk about his ideas like $2.50 a gallon gas. But no one is listening anymore.
CNN estimates Gingrich has 134 delegates compared to Romney's 559 and Santorum's 262.
A CNN/ORC Poll shows 6 out of 10 Republicans say Gingrich should drop out of the race. Also, a majority of Republicans say their party's nomination should be determined by the primaries - not the convention.
Here’s my question to you: Why won't Newt Gingrich face reality?
It's just about over.
While Mitt Romney didn't score a knockout in Illinois, to borrow a boxing metaphor, but he landed enough blows that his opponents may soon be unable to answer the bell for the next round.
And it's a bit ironic that the Republican primary fight may have been decided in the Democratic president's home state.
Romney's win was impressive – double digits and, in just about every exit poll category that was measured, save evangelicals and very conservative voters.
Rick Santorum's showing was far from impressive. He got little support from beyond his base. But more importantly, he showed again he is incapable of winning a large midwestern state. And there simply are not enough Louisianas, Alabamas and Mississippis to get him to the nomination.
Newt Gingrich finished dead last. He has now gone from contender to curiosity to nobody cares. He's toast.
Ron Paul, who may have the best set of ideas for solving some of our big problems, has just not been able to connect with enough voters to make a difference.
Finally, if Romney goes on to win the nomination, the Republican voters will have settled for the moderate in the middle. Sort of what the vast majority of this country has always been about. And his victory will be a slap in the face to the Tea Party.
Romney's now looking past these tune-up fights toward the big title bout in November, and the rest of the country is starting to do the same.
Here’s my question to you: Was Illinois the turning point in the Republican race?
Another Tuesday, another Republican presidential primary.
And if the candidates have their way, there could be many more to come, before it's all over.
But some GOP heavyweights don't see it that way.
They're worried this long, drawn-out, bare-knuckle blood letting may wind up hurting the party in the long run.
Karl Rove, the so-called "architect" of George W. Bush's 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, told Fox News the "scales have moved from the long process being a positive to being a negative."
And he thinks some of the "worst moments for the Republicans" have occurred just in recent weeks.
Senator John McCain - who knows a thing or two about how ugly it can get on the campaign trail - calls this race the "nastiest" he has ever seen.
He's stumping for Mitt Romney this time around, but that didn't stop him from telling NBC "everyday that goes by" with these candidates attacking each other is "a day that President Obama wins."
Doesn't matter. At this point there's no end in sight.
Romney won big in Puerto Rico over the weekend.
But who can forget last Tuesday's embarrassing losses not only to Rick Santorum, but Newt Gingrich as well in Mississippi and Alabama.
The pundits say Illinois is a "must-win" state for him. Aren't they all?
They said the same thing for Ohio and Michigan, the state where he grew up and his father was governor.
He won, but just barely in those two states.
Santorum, meanwhile, is banking on another big surprise tonight.
He's done it before, but if the polls are right, it might not happen this time.
Oh, and then there are Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
Neither one apparently willing to read the writing on the wall and throw in the towel.
It may be March, but it seems like we've only just begun.
Here’s my question to you: Is a long GOP primary good for the party?
It was all there for the taking, but once again Mitt Romney came up a little short.
Romney's inability to score a knockout on Super Tuesday means the Republican blood bath continues - much to the delight of President Obama and the Democrats.
Romney scored a key victory over Rick Santorum in Ohio and won five other states as well, but his losses were far more telling.
For starters, the former Massachusetts governor has problems in the South, where he couldn't top 28% in any of the contested states. He lost both Georgia and Tennessee.
And as we've seen from the start, Romney has serious issues with the base. Some will never see him as a true conservative. They'd rather back Santorum, who is still fighting the culture wars - talking about birth control, religion and how JFK's stance on the separation of church and state made him want to vomit.
Independents are another sore spot for Romney. One poll shows his unfavorable ratings 16-points higher than his favorable ratings among them.
CNN's Howard Kurtz writes in The Daily Beast that there's something distinctly unimpressive about Romney's performance against Santorum - an underfunded former U.S. Senator who lost his last re-election bid by 18-points.
Kurtz says Romney, "projects competence but does not inspire."
Romney is still the party's likely nominee, but it could take a couple more months to wrap it up.
By the way, there is no way Gingrich, Santorum or Paul is going to be the next president. So isn't it past time for them to put their party ahead of themselves and drop out? Apparently not.
Here’s my question to you: Why can't Mitt Romney seal the deal?
Super Tuesday may finally bring some clarity to the messy Republican Primary race. Or not.
Mitt Romney could be able to wind this thing down with a strong showing in tomorrow's 10 races.
For starters, he's racking up endorsements from influential conservatives - a sign that the party is ready to rally around him.
Today - former Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft threw his support behind Romney.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn - both fiscal conservatives - are backing him too.
Romney is also sitting back on top of the national polls.
But to capitalize on all this momentum, he needs to deliver tomorrow.
The biggest prize is Ohio, where Romney is neck-in-neck with Rick Santorum after trailing him by double digits.
A Romney win in Ohio would help consolidate his support among working-class voters in the Rust Belt. However, a Santorum win could mean the race will drag on longer.
Also at play tomorrow are a couple of Southern states. If Romney manages to win in Tennessee or Georgia, it would give him a big boost.
Newt Gingrich is staking the future of his campaign on Georgia, his home state.
As for Ron Paul - he acknowledges his chances are slim but he seems to be in it for the long haul.
Meanwhile top Republicans are spreading the message that a long nomination battle could weaken their chances of defeating President Obama come November.
But as we've seen since the first contests back in January, Republican voters are capable of surprising everybody - including themselves.
Here’s my question to you: Will Super Tuesday clarify the GOP situation or further confuse things?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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