May 2nd, 2009
01:52 PM ET
6 years ago

Bob Barr: GOP in ‘very deep trouble’

Former Rep. Bob Barr says the Republicans lack a 'coherent philosophy.'
Former Rep. Bob Barr says the Republicans lack a 'coherent philosophy.'

(CNN) - Former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr said Saturday it’s hard to “overestimate the damage” that’s been inflicted on the Republican Party - not only with this week's defection of Sen. Arlen Specter, but also the “lack of any coherent philosophy, vision or leadership.”

“The Republican Party is in very deep trouble right now,” Barr said in an interview with CNN.

Barr, who was once a loyal soldier in the GOP, joined the Libertarian Party in 2006 and was the party’s presidential candidate in 2008.

The ex-Republican said he doesn’t feel like he relates to Specter's reasons for switching to the Democratic Party. “Where I came from there really was a philosophical basis for leaving the Republican Party,” Barr said.

Specter, who announced Tuesday he’s switching from a Republican to a Democrat, is making the move for political reasons, Barr said.

Specter said he had found himself increasingly "at odds with the Republican philosophy," but he also admitted the decision was driven partly by a desire to keep his seat.

The senator, who has represented Pennsylvania in the upper chamber since 1980, said he was "anxious" to stay in the Senate - and he did not want to face a Republican primary in order to keep his seat next year.

But Barr said he doesn’t think switching parties will give Specter an automatic win. “I don’t think that the people in Pennsylvania will really appreciate what he did,” he said.

Barr added that Specter’s decision is “just another sign that the Republican Party nationally lacks any semblance of leadership.” Democrats, he said, also don’t have a coherent agenda, but they have “something that Republicans absolutely lack.”

“They have a charismatic leader and they have party discipline. The Republican Party has none of that,” he said.

Asked if he ever considered returning to the GOP, Barr said, “That would make no sense as all, either from a philosophical standpoint or from the standpoint of wanting to join a party that knows what it’s all about.”


Filed under: Arlen Specter • Bob Barr • Popular Posts
soundoff (315 Responses)
  1. Michael C

    Fellow voters,
    Don't give Arl Spec a free ride.. On Supreme Court votes, he helped saddle us with Clarence Thomas (remember Specter's harassing confirmation hearing interrogation of Anita Hill?) and backed Alito.
    To his credit, he opposed Robert Bork. Just recently he flip-flopped on Employee Free Choice, and appears ready to caucus with the Blue Dogs to oppose necessary strong action on the climate crisis.

    I also credit him for his residual functioning opportunism while his deluded ex-colleagues rejoice in their wilderness.

    But PA Dem's should rise up and force him to compete in the primary with an actual and relatively more liberal Democrat. It could keep Slippery Arl on his new reservation for a while, and prevent DC power-brokers, Senate club boys and Gov. Rendell et al from subverting the democratic process.

    May 2, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  2. tarheel4ever

    What people are calling "having a vision" and "becoming moderate" is just another label for "Abortion on demand", "Gay Marriage", and "Wealth Redistribution in the form of higher taxes", In other words, a moderate Republican is nothing but a Democrat. Do we really want a one party political system? We're pretty close to that right now and I only hope we don't go so far in debt that we can't be fixed. A few more years of anything goes morally and financially and we may go past the point of no return. Hopefully the nation will start to wake up by 2010.

    May 2, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  3. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Wishful thinking, Mr. Third-Party-President-Wannabe. The fact of the matter is the republican party is just fine. It's going through a bit of an identity crisis right now, thanks to the lousy leadership that was provided by our last president. As soon as the dumb-a-crats self destruct and the American people wake up and realize how corrupt and idiotic they are, the republican party will be back stronger than ever. The republicans just need to get back to the basic principles which made them a great party to begin with–limited federal government, strong national security (which means strong borders), and the realization that the free market (when left alone) is far more efficient than government will ever be.

    May 2, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  4. ck

    Well, evidently Souter realized Obama is a one term president, why do you think he is stepping down. Get a new liberal on the court while they have the control, because they wont have it for long as people realize what a mess Obama is creating.

    LOL Enjoy it while it lasts sheep!

    May 2, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  5. Richie

    Republicans are pulling all the stops....
    To me till they apologize of illegal war!

    May 2, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. Arizonan for Obama/Biden

    Johnny DC this is the problem with you and your party it is all about the GOP first, revenge, self-indulgence and America comes in somewhere dead last, that' is why Arlen Specter changed parties.

    Johnny DC May 2nd, 2009 11:24 am ET

    Coming from a devout Conservative and Republican, I can honestly admit that Bob Barr is a true American. If only he had the support of more people.

    Arlen Specter is a joke, and represents everything wrong with this country. He's senile and only interested in his own legacy, and it's never been more clear than this week.

    May 2, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. Mike D. in San Diego

    One of the biggest problems in the Republican party is that the far right wing doesn't realize how much they resemble the very extemists they claim they want to protect us from. Ann Coulter once stated about Muslims "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." How is that language any different from the language Osama bin Laden uses?

    May 2, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. Rhonda Johnson

    it is a amazing that we have leaders that act like gang members instead of serving the best interest of American citizens. I am sick and tired of people focusing on a party. The party does help me get a job or create jobs. A certain party does not send my child to college, create affordable healthcare. I wonder if our so called leaders can focus on american interest instead of their personal agendas, like getting rich. I am just sick of it. I am glad to wake up everyday and have a strong feeling and evidence that we have a president that is working for us everyday.

    May 2, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. NorCal man

    Until the Republican party begins exorcising some of its cancers ... Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, religious right ... it will continue its steep decline. Instead of attacking the Obama administration, which continues to receive high marks in recent polls, the Republicans would better suit themselves by adopting a more inclusive approach. The days of elitism vanished when Bush left office. Many Republicans haven't realized that yet.

    May 2, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  10. vicky

    Also, there is a very good reason that Specter switched affiliation to the Democratic party, here in PA you can only vote for Republicans or Democrats in the primaries and you can only vote for candidates in the party you are registered as, we have closed primaries. If you are registered as an Independent or any other third party you can not vote in the primaries at all. Those parties are not given any chance to win anything in Pennsylvania.

    May 2, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  11. Carolyn Solomon-Napier

    I am not surprised by the recent deflections from the Republican Party. As a former Regan Democrat, I can understand both the need for change and the unwillingness of the religious fanatics within the current Republican Party that change. Perhaps if they spent a little less time trying to enforce morality on the general population, they would see the absolute need to change. As long as people like Rush Limbaugh, Shawn Hannity, etc. are permitted a greater voice in the party than the actual duly elected candidates, the whole party is in danger of becoming irrelevant. This is America. It is not fascist Germany (right) or Communist Cuba (left). Maybe it's time for the Republican Party to take a long hard look at the things they really stand for and forget the rest.

    May 2, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  12. go dems

    I knew the Republican Party was in deep trouble when McCain announced his V.P. pick. It made his whole campaign theme of "Country First" a total mockery of itself. If McCain truly was a patriot who always put "Country First," he would have selected someone with the deep intellect, experience and education to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. The choice also mocked McCain's reputation as a maverick. Clearly he was coerced into choosing Palin for purely political purposes.

    That is what is scary about the current Republican Party. The "puppeteers" are more concerned with keeping all their politician-puppets "in line" and obeying Party edicts than allowing them to be independent and vote the way their constituents at home would prefer them to vote. That in itself makes a mockery of our democracy and the freedom and values we hold dear as Americans. Is it any wonder no one is voting for them any longer?

    The politics of fear and manipulation no longer work on our electorate. Thanks be to God.

    May 2, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  13. Paul

    Good Bob. You have some conviction. In the case of the Republican Party re-making itself at that so called event in Northern Virginia. It is like putting embalming makeup and lipstick on a dead corpse after about 10 years. It still is putrified and still stinks.

    May 2, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  14. Matt

    I don't understand how everyone can hate Rush Limbaugh so much when he's not even in office and the liberal version of Rush–Al Franken–is a United States Senator! Rush Limbaugh isn't a threat: the people we've put in office are. The GOP's done some bad things, but most of the people commenting here in favor of the left don't make me want to vote for them, either. You're making it easier and easier to be an Independant, or a Libertarian, like Barr.

    May 2, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  15. Carolyn Solomon-Napier

    I am not surprised by the recent deflections from the Republican Party. As a former Regan Democrat, I can understand both the need for change and the unwillingness of the religious fanatics within the current Republican Party to change. Perhaps if they spent a little less time trying to enforce morality on the general population, they would see the absolute need to change. As long as people like Rush Limbaugh, Shawn Hannity, etc. are permitted a greater voice in the party than the actual duly elected candidates, the whole party is in danger of becoming irrelevant. This is America. It is not fascist Germany (right) or Communist Cuba (left). Maybe it's time for the Republican Party to take a long hard look at the things they really stand for and forget the rest.

    May 2, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
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