Nov. 15, 2012 -- It's been just over a week since his defeat at the hands of President Obama and already a chasm between Mitt Romney and some prominent members of the Republican Party seems to have opened up.
The failed GOP presidential hopeful's candid assessment of why he lost the race, which he offered on conference calls with donors yesterday, instantly drew a sharp rebuke from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal who called Romney's take "absolutely wrong."
Romney told top donors he came up short on Nov. 6 because "what the president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote, and that strategy worked."
According to Romney some of the best "gifts," went to Hispanic voters, a group that voted overwhelmingly for President Obama.
"One, he gave them a big gift on immigration with the DREAM Act amnesty program, which was obviously very, very popular with Hispanic voters, and then number two was Obamacare," Romney said on a conference call, audio of which was obtained by ABC News.
Romney added, "It's a proven political strategy, which is, give a bunch of money to a group and, guess what, they'll vote for you."
But speaking at a Republican Governors Association meeting in Las Vegas, Gov. Jindal dismissed Romney's explanation during a press conference yesterday.
"I don't think that represents where we are as a party and where we're going as a party," Jindal, a potential 2016 GOP presidential contender, said. "If we're going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly: One, we are fighting for 100 percent of the votes, and secondly, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream."
And Romney's appraisal even sounds discordant when compared to the words of his own campaign spokesman, Kevin Madden, who spoke on a panel at the Atlantic's Washington Ideas Forum yesterday.
"I don't think the Obama campaign gets enough credit for actually changing the electorate," Madden said. "I think their turnout model is extraordinary. They did very well, and they made sure they had the exact model of the electorate that they needed to win."
Back at the gathering of governors in Las Vegas, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour didn't mince words, calling for a "brutally honest assessment of what we did," and recommending a "a very serious proctology exam" for the GOP.
While his Republican counterparts were recommending the political equivalent of a colonoscopy for their party, Romney ended the conference call with donors yesterday on a wistful note.
"We're still having a hard time, just contemplating what could have been versus what is, and it just doesn't seem real, we're still in the stage of denial at my house," Romney said chuckling. "We still think the campaign is going on."