The Maryland Republican and former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell had some harsh words for the party as they considered the 2012 election.
The 2012 election taught the Republican party three lessons: Invest in the grassroots. Don't insist on ideological purity. And don't introduce laws that make voters feel personally threatened.
So say television regulars former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who weighed in on the election's takeaways at The Atlantic's Washington Ideas Forum.
"You can't put the blinders on and pretend that nothing happened" this cycle, Steele said. House seats were lost, Republicans couldn't take the Senate, and President Obama won re-election. "There was nothing status quo about this election, at all," Steele said.
This election proves that investing in the grassroots matters, Steele said. "You can run campaign commercials all day long. but you've got to get Joe Six-Pack off the ground and into the polls," he said.
Rendell and Steele agreed that Republican candidates have to be state-specific, particularly when it comes to swing states or states that lean left. "How do you win in a place like New Jersey?" Steele asked. It takes a good candidate -- like Governor Chris Christie -- and a good grassroots network, able to deliver a Republican message that resonates in a blue state.