Spin Cycle

11.19.128:40 PM ET

GOP Strategist: Time to Talk Back to Rush

John Feehery says Republicans are a "flawed party"

John Feehery, a veteran Republican strategist, has a blunt message for his party: It’s time to stand up to “the Rush Limbaughs of the world.”

Taking aim at conservative talk show hosts, Feehery tells me in a video interview, “we cannot be cowed by them. When they say things that are culturally insensitive and stupid, we need to go after them.”

Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, among others, have a strong following on the right. But Feehery, a former House GOP official, says there is too much “inflammatory” rhetoric: “We can have honest, open discussions about the future of the country without unnecessarily jabbing our fingers in the eyes of Hispanic voters, African-American voters, Asian voters.”

What do voters think, Feehery asks, “when they hear right-wing luminaries say things that are completely outrageous and offensive, and you don’t stand up?” He also says some conservatives should knock off the “racial undertones” in criticizing President Obama.

Feehery believed Mitt Romney was going to win, but now says “he made so many mistakes during the campaign that were self-inflicted errors,” including the infamous 47 percent comment.

“We had a flawed candidate; we have a flawed party,” says Feehery.

One proposed solution: strike a bipartisan deal on illegal immigration, which Feehery calls “a festering sore within the Republican Party.”