WASHINGTON -- Act 1, Scene 1 in the drama over who will run for president on the Republican ticket in 2016 has a clear theme: reject Mitt Romney.

Two of the Republican party's brightest young stars have made comments in recent days clearly repudiating the 2012 Republican nominee.

Second-term Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, 41, went first, telling The Huffington Post on Tuesday that Romney's campaign was "too much about biography" and did not lay out a compelling and bold vision of conservative governance.

But then, after Romney told donors on a call Wednesday that President Obama won by giving "gifts" to African-Americans, Latinos, young voters and women, Jindal -- the first Indian-American to be elected governor -- really let loose.

"I absolutely reject that notion, that description. I think that’s absolutely wrong," Jindal told reporters at the Republican Governors Association annual meeting in Las Vegas. Politico described Jindal as "visibly agitated" when asked about Romney's remarks.

Jindal, in his interview with HuffPost, had repeatedly remarked how the GOP should "compete for every vote," but never really explained what that meant. His repudiation of Romney's comments about Obama's "gifts" may have been a more concrete demonstration, though it is also worth noting that it is easier politically to kick Romney after his loss, than it would be to criticize someone currently more powerful in the party, such as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), if they were to say something similar.

On Thursday morning, another top 2016 prospect for the GOP, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla), 41, was asked by National Journal's Major Garrett at The Atlantic's Washington Ideas Forum whether the idea of "self-deportation," a term used by Romney during the primary, was now "nullified" in the wake of Romney's loss.

"I've said publicly before and backstage: it's really hard to get people to listen to you on economic growth, on tax rates, on health care if they think you want to deport their grandmother," Rubio said. "It's very difficult to get people to listen to anything else you're saying. So I think it's critical, there's just common sense involved here in terms of how you portray it. Policy matters too but rhetoric is important."

Rubio, whose parents left Cuba in the 1950s, went on to describe how he knows people who are in the country without documentation, and how his kids go to school with other children whose relatives are in the same position. He concluded with this:

"You know this not as a statistic. You know them as a human being, a walking, talking person who is in pain, and who came here because they were hungry and because their kids were starving and their family was hurting, and they did what any parent would do when faced with that circumstance. They did whatever they had to do to provide for them. And you have to always remember that when you talk about this."

It was not new rhetoric for Rubio. But in the wake of the election, and in response to a question about the positions Romney took on immigration and the way he talked about it, Rubio's comments were a rejection of Romney.

The flight from Romney has come just over a week after he strode to a lectern in Boston and delivered a gracious, five-minute concession speech a few minutes after 1 a.m. last Wednesday. It has been a rapid loss of political capital that risks marginalizing him permanently in a way few former nominees have experienced.


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  • 2012 -- Mitt Romney

    Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, speaks at the podium as he concedes the presidency on November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

  • 2008 -- John McCain

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., gestures to his supporters, while his wife, Cindy looks on during his concession speech at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • 2004 -- John Kerry

    Former Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) stands on stage with his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry after delivering his concession speech at Faneuil Hall on November 3, 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

  • 2000 -- Al Gore

    Democratic presidental candidate Al Gore leaves the voting booth after casting his vote at Forks River Elementry School in Elmwood, Tennessee on November 7, 2000. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 1996 -- Bob Dole

    Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole lowers his head while making his concession speech to supporters at a Washington hotel, on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 1996. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • 1992 -- George H.W. Bush

    U.S. President George Bush concedes the election on Nov. 3, 1992 after losing to President-elect Bill Clinton. (BOB DAEMMRICH/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 1992 -- Ross Perot

    U.S. independent presidential candidate Ross Perot delivers his concession speech on November 3, 1992 after Democrat Bill Clinton won the presidential election. (Photo credit should read PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 1988 -- Michael Dukakis

    Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis wipes his upper lip during the first presidential debate with his opponent U.S. Vice President George Bush in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Sept. 25, 1988. (AP Photo/Bob Jordan)

  • 1984 -- Walter Mondale

    Defeated presidential hopeful Walter Mondale addresses supporters at night, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 1984 at the St. Paul Civic center, conceding to President Reagan. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

  • 1980 -- Jimmy Carter

    U.S. President Jimmy Carter concedes defeat in the presidential election as he addresses a group of Carter-Mondale supporters in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 1980. (AP Photo/Barry Thumma)

  • 1976 -- Gerald Ford

    President Gerald Ford speaks in the White House Press Room in Washington on November 3, 1976, conceding defeat to Jimmy Carter. (AP photo/ stf)

  • 1972 -- George McGovern

    Sen. George McGovern and his family in Sioux Falls, election night, Nov. 7, 1972 after he was defeated by Richard Nixon, and conceding the election. (AP Photo)

  • 1968 -- Hubert H. Humphrey

    Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey spaks at the Alfred E. Smith memorial dinner in Waldorf Astoria on Oct. 16, 1968 in New York. (AP Photo/John Lent)

  • 1964 -- Barry Goldwater

    A contact sheet of Republican senator Barry Morris Goldwater of Arizona concedes the 1964 presidential election to President Lyndon Johnson at a press conference held at his campaign headquarters at the Camelback Inn, Phoenix, Arizona, on November 4, 1964. (Photo by Washington Bureau/Getty Images)

  • 1960 -- Richard Nixon

    Vice President Nixon points to home-made sign at airport as he arrives in home state to cast his ballot on Nov. 8, 1960 in Ontario, California. (AP Photo)

  • 1956 -- Adlai Stevenson

    Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts talks with Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson on August 12, 1956 in Chicago. (AP Photo)

  • 1952 -- Adlai Stevenson

    Movie Actress Piper Laurie (left) is wearing a donkey head beauty spot on her cheek as she chats with Gov. Adlai Stevenson of Illinois, Democratic presidential nominee in Portland on Sept. 8, 1952. (AP Photo)

  • 1948 -- Thomas Dewey

    Dewey ran as the presidential candidate of the Republican Party in the elections of 1944 and 1948. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

  • 1944, 1948 -- Thomas Dewey

    Thomas Dewey (1902 - 1971) Governor of the State of New York broadcasting over the 'Crusade of Freedom' radio. Dewey was the presidential candidate of the Republican Party in the elections of 1944 and 1948. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

  • 1940 -- Wendell Wilkie

    Wendell Willkie, rehearses a report to the nation at a New York City radio station on Oct. 26, 1942. Willkie was President Roosevelt's personal representative, and his Republican opponent in the 1940 presidential elections. (AP Photo/Murray Becker)

  • 1936 -- Alf Landon

    Gov. Alf M. Landon, G.O.P. presidential nominee, voting in Independence, Kansas on Nov. 3, 1936. (AP Photo)

  • 1932 -- Herbert Hoover

    Herbert Hoover is shown leaving Madison Square Garden, Oct. 31, 1932 in New York City, after delivering his major campaign address before a crowd estimated at 22,000. (AP Photo)

  • 1928 -- Alfred E. Smith

    Governor Alfred E. Smith speaks in New York on Nov. 2, 1928. (AP Photo)

  • 1924 -- John W. Davis

    John W. Davis, Democratic nominee for President of the U.S., and his wife, are pictured on the estate of Charles Dana Gibson at Seven Hundred Acre Island in Dark Harbor, Maine on July 21, 1924. (AP Photo)

  • 1920 -- James M. Cox

    Democratic candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency of the United States, Governor James M Cox and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 - 1945) are seen at the head of a nomination parade in Dayton, Ohio on Nov. 1, 1920. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

  • 1916 -- Charles Evans Hughes

  • 1912 -- Theodore Roosevelt

    Theodore Roosevelt during the progressive campaign of 1912. (AP Photo)