Cole made the statement during a conference call following the GOP's third straight loss in a special election, this time in the Mississippi seat vacated by Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
"When you lose three of these in a row, you have to go beyond camapign tactics," Cole told reporters.
He added: "A large segment of the American public doesn't have confidence in the Republican Party to deal with the issues in front of us. What we have to do is look in the mirror bit and ask how we lost our way."
Cole defended the use of NRCC ads trying to tie Democratic candidates to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), saying this approach will produce results for Republicans in the long run.
"I think that's a useful tool. Do I think it's a substitute for an agenda? No," Cole said.
The Oklahoma Republican also noted that President Bush's record low polls ratings "is a challenge for us to some degree" heading into November.
Cole has faced serious doubts from within the House GOP Conference on whether he knows how to win in November following the Mississippi defeat, but as of now, there has been no change in senior NRCC staff. There are rumors that Cole might be ousted, but Cole and Republican leaders downplay that possibility.
Cole said he would not get rid of his senior aides, saying that's an old "Washington parlour game."
"I think the problem is our message and a lack of confidence by the American people that we will do what we say we'll do," Cole said.