Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said Mitt Romney's defeat doesn't mean the Republican Party should abandon its conservative message.
"I think the problem that Romney had throughout the campaign is that he couldn’t talk about conservatism like conservatives talk," Labrador said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday. "As I heard somebody say, he talked about conservatism as if it was a second language to him."
The GOP is too closely tied to big business, said the maverick freshman lawmaker. "I didn't become a Republican to defend the rich."
Labrador was responding to GOP strategist Mike Murphy, who noted that Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last presidential elections. Murphy said the GOP faces an "existential crisis" and Republicans must have a "brutal discussion about it," or face extinction.
"We alienate young voters because of gay marriage, we have a policy problem," Murphy said. "We alienate Latinos -- the fastest growing voter group in the country because of our fetish and so-called amnesty when we should be for a path to immigration. And we have lost our connection to middle-class economics. We also have an operative class and unfortunately lot of which is incompetent. We don’t know how to win. So, this isn’t about new software in the basement of the RNC. It’s not about a few Spanish language radio ads. It’s a fundamental rethink that begins with policy because the country is changing and if we don’t modernize conservatism, we can go extinct. The numbers are the numbers."
Moderator David Gregory then called on Labrador, who was making his fourth appearance on the show in his first two years in office.
Said Labrador: "Let’s start out by saying that Romney was a good man. Anybody who knows Romney understands that he is a good man, that he would have been a good president. But he didn’t know how to communicate the message of conservatism. And I agree with Mike a little bit but we need to be careful that we don’t completely shift the party. We don’t need two liberal parties in Washington, D.C. We need one conservative party and one liberal party. I think the problem that Romney had throughout the campaign is that he couldn’t talk about conservatism like conservatives talk. As I heard somebody say, he talked about conservatism as if it was a second language to him.