Retiring Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas is offering some advice to her party on her way out the door: “Stop trying to act like the woman is a throw-away.”
Appearing on CNN Thursday morning, Hutchison joined the second guessing after GOP losses in the presidential race and in other winnable contests, like Senate races in Missouri and Indiana.
Hutchison said Republicans have failed to approach abortion, contraception and other social issues with a proper level of sensitivity.
“We had Republican candidates who got very high-profile and said some very stupid things,” Hutchison said. “I think that really tainted the party.”
The GOP Senate candidate in Missouri, Todd Akin, said in a local television interview in August that he “understand[s] from doctors” that rape-induced pregnancies are “really rare.”
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” he added.
In the Indiana Senate race, Tea Party-backed Richard Mourdock said during a debate last month that “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said that unlike Akin and Mourdock, he supports abortion as an option for rape victims, and he publicly called for Akin to drop out.
But Romney maintained his endorsement of Mourdock, for whom he had appeared in a TV ad, and he was linked to Akin by Democrats who noted that Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, had joined Akin in co-sponsoring a 2011 bill that would have permitted federal funding for abortions only in cases of “forcible” rape.
Hutchison said her party should focus less on social issues and more on economic and fiscal issues, where she said she believes Republicans have an advantage over Democrats.
“People have personal beliefs, and what we need to do is fashion a party around the economics and the long-term viability of the economy of our country,” Hutchison said. “When people start trying to go into such personal issues and then try to form a party around it, it’s very difficult.”
Other Republicans are privately blaming Romney’s defeat on his advisers and on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s praise of President Obama after Hurricane Sandy, according to a Washington Post report.Callum Borchers can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.