MICHIGAN CITY | Stephen Hayes, a columnist for the Weekly Standard and a commentator on Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC, was the speaker Sunday at the fourth program of the Purdue University North Central Sinai Forum at Elston Middle School.
Hayes, a DePauw University graduate, said early on he knew he was “not made of a life in politics,” so he decided to go into journalism “where you can insult people for a living and get away with it.”
Hayes delivered his take on the recent presidential election and what he felt “is likely to happen next.”
Mitt Romney lost in “the most winnable year in a century for the opposition party” because “he ran badly and he ran in-authentically as a conservative,” Hayes said.
“The problem was that he wasn’t a conservative and when he tried to be one, it just didn’t work,” Hayes said. “He’d say things he thought would appeal to conservatives, that didn’t appeal to conservatives and some found them offensive.”
Additionally, Hayes said, the Romney campaign “ran small,” hammering on one issue — the sluggish economy — when it should have been talking about debt, deficits and leadership.
“The original plan was to focus on talking about economy and nothing else,” Hayes said. “Voters wanted something more than that, something bigger than that.”
Issues that hurt Romney, Hayes said, also included immigration, on which he “used language that made him sound like an uncompromising restrictionist.”
Photos of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with President Barack Obama comforting victims of Superstorm Sandy and Romney’s “47 percent” remark also hurt Romney, Hayes said.
“Mostly, he failed to win because he didn’t provide a clear, consistent and compelling case,” Hayes said. “This election was a rejection of Mitt Romney and his campaign rather than a rejection of small government.”
Hayes said that despite the talk of achieving congressional bipartisanship, partisan politics is likely to continue. However, those divergent opinions could help elected officials find the best solutions, he said.
“We’re likely to see a return back to the red jerseys and the blue jerseys,” Hayes said. "We’re in a period of incredible political volatility in the U.S., but I think if we’re civil to each other, that can be a good thing.”