Rumored 2016 presidential hopefuls in the party saw an opportunity to distance themselves from Romney.
"I absolutely reject what he said," said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on "Fox News Sunday." "We as a Republican Party have to campaign for every single vote. If we want people us we have to like them first. And you don't start to like people by saying their votes were bought."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), an on-again, off-again advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, said Romney's comments were especially damaging among Hispanics. He said Romney fueled the fire of their disenchantment with the GOP that grew when the ex-governor pushed a policy of "self-deportation" for illegal immigrants and their children.
"We're in a big hole, we're not getting out of it by comments like that. When you're in a hole, stop digging. He keeps digging," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We're in a death spiral with Hispanic voters because of our rhetoric on immigration, and our candidate Romney and the primaries dug the hole deeper."
Carlos Gutierrez, a top Hispanic surrogate and adviser to the Romney campaign, said he was "shocked" by the comments. "I don't know if he understood that he was saying something that was insulting," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."
Romney was never beloved by the GOP establishment. But the Sunday show pile-on indicates that any good will he had among the party faithful is rapidly vanishing, and that he's well on his way to pariah status with the party that so recently anointed him to lead them and the country.
"It's been well said that you have a political problem when the voters don't like you, but you've got a real problem when the voters think you don't like them," said conservative columnist George Will on ABC's "This Week." "Quit despising the American people."