The polite praise initially showered upon Mitt Romney for having waged a good fight against President Obama has given way to a plea from some Republicans: Please stop talking.

A week after the election, as Republicans examine how to recalibrate and regain their footing, Mr. Romney’s suggestion that he lost the race because of the “gifts” that Mr. Obama gave to black, Latino and young voters did not sit well with some party leaders gathered here for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association.

A handful of prominent Republicans criticized Mitt Romney for his disparaging remarks about President Barack Obama’s “gifts” to core constituencies, saying that it was the wrong message to send voters as the party tries to rebuild itself after a bruising defeat.

“I don’t think it’s helpful,” Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad told POLITICO at the Republican Governors Association conference on Thursday. “I guess my feeling is that we need to turn the page, and we need to focus on the future and not make excuses for the past.”

In Las Vegas to attend the RGA conference, Florida Gov. Rick Scott called Romney’s comments “inappropriate.”

“It’s wrong, it’s not true,” Scott told POLITICO, adding: “What we’ve got to do is say we want every vote, we want to take care of every citizen in our state.”

“I don’t want to rebut him point by point,” Rubio said of Romney. “I would just say to you, I don’t believe that we have millions and millions of people in this country that don’t want to work. I’m not saying that’s what he said. I think we have millions of people in this country that are out of work and are dependent on the government because they can’t find a job.”

Rubio added that the economy is not producing jobs and many unemployed workers don’t have the required skills for vacant positions, “and therein lies the challenge for the conservative movement; how do our ideas help change that.”

The White House today said Mitt Romney is “at odds with the truth” for the belief, as he told donors on a call, that “extraordinary financial gifts” from the administration to minority voters won the election for President Obama…

“Making it easier for Americans to go to college, that’s good for America. It’s good for all Americans. It’s good for the economy,” Carney said. “Making health care available to young people who can stay on their parents’ plans. That’s good for those families it’s good for those young people so they aren’t bankrupted in their 20s by an illness.

“The president pursues policies that have at their core a desire to build the middle class, strengthen the middle class, make the middle class more secure because that’s what makes America more secure,” said Carney. “It’s just not the view we take about the decision the American people made last week.”

Most everybody agrees that Obama’s decision to exempt young illegal immigrants from deportation helped him win a massive victory among Latinos. But Romney’s inartful comment about “gifts” belies a more serious long-term problem for the GOP in appealing to Latinos.

The problem: Whether you call them “gifts” or “government services,” they are very popular with Latinos. And that doesn’t jibe with the core principles of the Republican Party…

This is a big reason why we’ve seen such a swift GOP backlash against Romney for his comments. The “47 percent” and “gifts” rhetoric can be hugely harmful to this effort, and Republicans want to put it behind them in a hurry.

The GOP may correct its course on immigration reform in the coming weeks and months; convincing Latinos to buy into its small-government philosophy will take considerably more time.

The conference call underlined what I have been saying for well over a year: that Mr. Romney has no idea what conservatism offers 100 percent of Americans who believe that freedom leads to prosperity and centralized planning is a road to serfdom. That message led Margaret Thatcher to an unlikely victory in 1979 and Ronald Reagan to a historical landslide a year later. And if Mr. Romney believes that message is no longer relevant to Hispanics and African-Americans, he should’ve stayed in La Jolla to oversee the building of his car elevator.

The future belongs to conservatism. It’s time Republicans start electing leaders who actually believe it

1. Stop looking backward. We have to boldly show what the future can look like with the free market policies that we believe in. Conservative ideals are aspirational, and our country is aspirational.

2. Compete for every single vote. The 47% and the 53%. And any other combination of numbers that adds up to 100 percent. President Barack Obama and the Democrats can continue trying to divide America into groups of warring communities with competing interests, but we will have none of it. We are going after every vote as we try to unite all Americans…

6. Quit “big.” We are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, or big anything. We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys. We have to be the party that shows all Americans how they can thrive. We are the party whose ideas will help the middle class, and help more folks join the middle class. We are a populist party and need to make that clear.