GOP calls 2012 "a wakeup call"; vows outreach, reform

Today, the Republican National Committee will unveil a detailed report - a post-mortem, if you will - attempting to explain the GOP's failures in the 2012 election and lay out recommendations to try to improve the party's electoral fortunes.

The RNC's chairman, Reince Priebus, laid out many of the report's conclusions on "Face the Nation" Sunday, telling Bob Schieffer, "This is unprecedented, and it's something we had to do."

Citing the drubbing Mitt Romney took among women and Latino voters last November, Priebus vows the GOP will make a concerted effort to reach out to those groups, among others. President Obama won Latinos 71-29 percent, according to national exit polls, and won single women by 36 points and women overall by 11 points.

Women are not a 'coalition,'" the report said. "They represent more than half the voting population in the country, and our inability to win their votes is losing us elections."

With regards to Latinos, the report pays particular attention to the immigration issue and the Republican Party's messaging surrounding it.

"[I]f Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence," the report said, adding that the party needs to "embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform."

Interestingly, the mention of "self-deportation" is a direct reference to Romney's stance on immigration, one that many observers suggest was the reason for his poor showing among Latinos.

The report went on to say, "The Republican Party is one of tolerance and respect, and we need to ensure that the tone of our message is always reflective of these core principles. In the modern media environment a poorly phrased argument or out-of-context statement can spiral out of control and reflect poorly on the Party as a whole."

While this was listed as a "recommendation" under the Hispanics section of the report, it's also relevant in light of Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's comments about "legitimate rape" last summer, which did no favors for Republicans among women and was to blame for Akin's loss in November.

Outreach to Latinos, women and other groups will ultimately help the party overcome messaging problems such as Akin's and Romney's, Priebus argued.

"If you're not in the community, if you're not talking to people and the level of familiarity isn't there, then things -- silly things like Todd Akin and some of the goofy things that are said, the caricature becomes true if you're not there," he said on "Face the Nation."

"If we have unscripted moments and no relationship to explain anything, obviously, I believe you're a sitting duck," Priebus said.

Some of those moments led to some harsh criticism of the party from focus groups conducted for the review.

Priebus, in quoting some of the responses, said: "We're a little too bit mass focused and not focused on people's hearts that we don't relate to I think, average Americans more than we should. Stuffy old guys too much and it really is painful to hear, because reality is we have a very young party. 

"You just had Paul Ryan on ["Face the Nation"] he's 42. Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, I mean it's a young party. But it just kind of shows you we've done a really lousy job of branding and marketing who we are."

  • Steve Chaggaris

    Steve Chaggaris is CBSNews.com's Executive Editor, Washington.

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