May 2nd, 2009
01:52 PM ET
5 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. Jack

    After 4 years of Obama and his Marxist policies, people will be running from Democratic/Communist party. If anyone is truely going to be in trouble it is not the Republicans. Things have gotten real bad over the past 2 years with a Democratic Congress in charge. Now with the entire show being run by the Obama/Franks/Dodd/Peloci etc.. This country will be worse off in another couple years then it ever has been. Just wait and see... All of this spending is going to do nothing but tank this country as they raise taxes on corporations who will end up out of buisness or moving out of the country. They are a party of morons.

    May 2, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  2. Keivn

    I don't think that the Republicans are in nearly as much trouble as Barr thinks. The last two elections were largely a refferendum on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the failing economy. History shows that parties almost unilaterally lose ground or majority when the economy slumps.

    There are a lot of people (I am not one of them) who identify with the brand of conservatism that the far right espouses – I would prefer that they abandon the war against the failing family values in America and concentrate on the original Republican ideals of small government, state's rights, low taxes, and keeping government's nose out of my personal life.

    I would challenge anyone who hopes the Republicans collapse to tell me who will oppose the Democrats once they are gone? Countries of a single party are destined for failure (Russia, Germany, Cuba, France); you may not like the other side of the fence, but our country is doomed without them.

    May 2, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. Mike, Syaracuse, NY

    @Chipster, everyone was scared after 9/11, not just Republicans. The security measures put into effect had broad bipartisan support. Why don't you check the votes for the Patriot Act, the authorization for Iraq, and funding for these and other measures? As much as you'd like to blame Bush, EVERYONE approved, including those now whining the loadest about 'torture'.

    Your theocracy comment is just a joke. The religious fundamentalists represent mainstream Republicans as much as Al Sharpton and Barney Frank represent mainstream Democrats. Both are on the fringe.

    May 2, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. larry

    The GOP has bigger problems than merely image, image is just the advertising. they are lacking (IMHO) in integrity, inclusion, attitude, ideology and civility. The, thinly disguised, anger of the minority leaders in House & Senate are not childish, they are not good for country as a whole. We learned from both Reagan and Clinton that, if you want too get anything done, that is productive, you don't dictate you seek common ground. The could also learn this lesson from Obama, as he is a master of diplomacy and political compromise.

    May 2, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  5. francine, Quebec

    Don't look too much farther than Bush for the major reason behind the Republican's demise..

    May 2, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. Bill

    For 30 years the Republicans succeeding with a coaltion of corporations with rich white people and a religious middle class. They got the middle class to vote their cultural values rather than their economic interests – they were told that breaks for corporations and rich people would "trickle down". It never did. Now that the 2008 financial crisis has hit the middle class hard, they realize that while cultural values are still important, they pale in comparison to economic issues which hit them directly every day – affordable health care, alternative energy, affordable education, etc. The Republican coalition has fallen apart, I'm not sure how they glue it back together.

    May 2, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. argee

    Touching on this same subject is an op-ed piece by Bob Herbert which appears in today's on-line edition of the New York Times. Entitled "Out of Touch" it opens by commenting that Abe Lincoln, a Republican, supposedly said that you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

    If both parties can read this with open minds, they just might learn what we average Americans really want from our politicians.

    May 2, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  8. Dan

    The Republican party has some very solid core American beliefs, but they are hurting right now because of the Bush disaster. Time will heal the party, but this is most certainly not cause for the Libertarian party to overtake them by any means. Time will tell, and the Republicans will be back.

    May 2, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. Dave

    Sit tight repubicans, just a few more months and everyone, well except the mindless lib drones and dependants, will see that everything you have been saying about Obama and his national socialism is true. Most Americans are good hearted hard working people, Obama is completely against them and will take thier money and rights.

    People will begin to wake up and they will want to stop the destruction of this great nation. Bancrupting our nation, targetting our military members and trying to scare New Yorkers is just the begining, Americans will see that the libs and their media are decieving them and that they need to get the socialists out of power.

    May 2, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. Paula

    Only the right wingers in PA are upset with him. The middle of the road R are furious that the PA repubs threw Spector under the bus. Ad a D in PA, he can have my vote :-)

    May 2, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. arijon

    No need for new palrform for GOP. It's written all over Fox.

    May 2, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. Gary

    Forget the Republican Party, the whole country is in trouble! The Obama Administration and the Democrats in congress have set into motion a spending plan that will bankrupt the country. $1.5 Trillion dollar deficit this year. Doubling of the national debt in the next 5 years. This spending is worse than Bush (or any other previous president for that matter). If we don't do something quickly our economy will be crippled.

    May 2, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  13. Rich Heithold

    The GOP is toxic. Their response to every item discussed is fanatical and non stop. There is nothing positive the GOP has to say. They are talking about abortion, homosexuality, etc. Social issues that were in many ways settled 40 years ago. Eight years of tax cuts, wars, isolation, etc. It did not work. I am sorry, but it did not work. We have to try something new. There is no reasonable logic to repeat the same behavior.

    GOP you are hurting the morale of the country and many people are not going to give these new policies a chance. They negative response is not acceptable. And when you go home and see something positive you take credit for something you did not want. That is wrong. The public knows this and is tired of it. They do not want to be around you. Time for a change.

    May 2, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  14. Carolyn

    The Republican Party became the party run by big business while using the iconic Hollywood imagined hero, Ronald Reagan, as a foundation to attract voters. Then they controlled the god-fearing, xenophopic masses with threats of wild liberal lifestyles, terrorists blowing us up and immigrants stealing our jobs. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the wealthy elite abused our financial system, destroyed our environment possibly beyond repair, ruined our health with cheap junk food, sent our jobs to China and cut education budgets to keep the average worker in his or her place for a generation. Great job, Republican Party. Wonder what they'll dream up next.

    May 2, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  15. The Unshrub

    It's not the republican's fault. It's all those Democrats and the liberal news media who insist on telling the truth.

    May 2, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  16. scott

    GOP is really in trouble, I agree, because look who is trying to improve their image. Georgre Bushs brother, Mitt Romney and a bunch more that supported the Bush administration that got us in this mess. There are going to have to be some true Republicans that is going to step up to the plate and support their fellows Americans. There is no way that the Bush supporters is going to take over again; unless they can come up with a good deception plan to tell the American people, but even than i think the voters are smarter than them. It would be good if Romney, Jeb, Alexander,McConnell would all retire and let America be America again. I support President Obama for defending the people against these big corporations that the past administration supported.

    May 2, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  17. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Finally, a Republican saying something that makes sense and is true! The GOP is in serious trouble and has no one to blame but itself.

    May 2, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  18. david

    spector is an opportunist and out for himself which anyone of us can understand and perhaps relate to in life. as old as he is, spector should just retire and take mccain with him into retirement. but it is voters who are at fault for continuing to elect these career politicians. as for the career politicians, they just laugh all the way to the bank.

    May 2, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  19. Danny S

    Thank you Bob Barr for all that you have done to fight for liberty. I hope in 2012 you run for your old congressional seat; that would be awesome.

    I think that if we could find a charismatic leader, we could make a new party called the Constitutional Liberty Party. It would have to be led by someone like Ron Paul Or Gary Johnson, and wouldn't be feasible today without some mass exodus from the parties and a formal wedding of the Constitution and Libertarian Parties. Sadly, I think the American people are too comfortable with the status quo deep down inside of them. We declare for change but really seek "pragmatism," "consensus," and "compromise" to water down any bold new action.

    May 2, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  20. Da Professor

    OK everyone, this is Newt. Everyone form a circle and on the count of three from Dicky, fire your automatic weapons straight ahead. Dicky will show you how to lock and load and hit what you are not aiming at. He is good at that and, besides, we Republicans really need to thin the ranks like we did during the last two elections.

    We will make a come back! All we have to do is cut a few more taxes for the folks earning over $1 million a year and, like we did under good ole Bushy, we need to outspend every democratic controlled congress for the past 50 years.

    Ready aim fire!

    May 2, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  21. muffy

    The Repubs make me ill, they are the nastiest most hateful cretins alive. I see that even in my own neighborhood, nasty, nasty, nasty. I wonder if they will ever change.

    Specter makes me nauseated, he is so egotistical and only changed for his own good, I hope it backfires on him. In the meantime, maybe, just maybe, he will help get the Healthcare program passed. If not then what a waste. He need to take Byrd with him to the OLD, OLD folks home. There should be term limits and age limits for serving in Congress.

    May 2, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  22. Jack Kinch(1uncle)

    It is the left-wing media who does the nominating and electing by controlling the news and the 'debates' before the election. President 'Boy' would not have been elected with out them. He had no qualifications for the job. He takes credit whenever he can and passes the blame otherwise. He's a little 'boy' in "Toys 'R' Them'.

    May 2, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. person

    why is Barr the only one who says the rethugs are in jeopardy, dont the rethugs know they are in hot water. The world is laughing at them. Keep talking about Palin and they laugh harder. Saw her on American Chopper and found her to be dumb as usual.

    May 2, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  24. Not as much trouble as Obama is in....

    N. Korea and Iran continue their nuke programs because they know Obama is weak and has taken no action. The nukes will be flying soon enough--afterall, man has never invented a weapon he didn't use. What will Obama's excuse be as your whole body turns green from the radiation????

    May 2, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  25. Andy D

    I don't understand why the libertarian party isn't taking this opportunity to highlight themselves. So many people don't trust Obama's economic plan, so why not start electing third party representatives to step up and replace the republican party. They have proven that living with old policies is not going to make our world better. We need to benefit the world economically, and our nation morally. The best of both worlds.

    May 2, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
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