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. THE REPUGNANT PARTY

    that what they get for being divisive, running dirty campaigns filled with lies, and trying to manipulate people into voting, first with Sarah Palin, and then with Michael Steel, Sarah Palin did not get the Hillary voters and Michael Steele will not pertsuade the african american community
    at least he is not doing a good job in reaching out to them, perhaps Mitt Romney will, and where did this fat piece of meat, Rush Limbaugh take it….up the creek without a paddle!
    it's ashame, that the party of Lincoln is ..like Nancy Polosi said, not the grand ole party anymore.

    May 2, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. Rufus Leakingrufus.leaking@gmail.com

    The GOP is in trouble because they are committed only to their party's power and not to the success of America. Imagine: they screwed up everything there was to screw up over the last 8 years, and they think that they should play a role in the dialog of fixing things, other than to say no?

    Repubs are the party of Joe the plumber, katherine bachmann, norm coleman and the idiot woman from Alaska.

    It is a failed, incompetent, negative, fear-filled party - one that happily is on its last legs.

    May 2, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. C W

    All that's happened with the GOP is its policies, attitudes, priorities, strategies and tactics have been tested by time – and failed. And the American people, having experienced the failure of the GOP, have rejected it.

    That the GOP has failed is no surprise, given:

    – its coddling of the wealthy at the expense of the Middle Class;

    – its naivete about the consequences of completely unregulated capitalism;

    – its obsession with trying to regulate the private lives of Americans (religion, sexuality and reproduction);

    – its arrogance and naivete in foreign policy;

    – its unwillingness to be accountable, take responsibility and *gasp* learn from its mistakes;

    – its lust for greed and power over the welfare of the country as a whole

    May 2, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  4. Craig Simpson

    The party of corruption and lies is dead! Bush, Cheney and Lumbug have destroyed the republican party.

    The is a great time to be an American!

    May 2, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  5. Big Swami

    If the GOP compiles a coherent platform that doesn't contradict itself, routs out the paranoid evangelical end-timers, decisively smacks down the racists in their midst, openly disavows the conspiracy theories, goes back to their financial tightwad roots, abandon their anti-gay policies and rhetoric, actually makes a sincere effort to be inclusive of blacks and latinos, embraces the protection of personal rights that they have tossed out the window, stops beating everyone over the head with the Bible, tosses Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin overboard, and starts acting like a party that the country should take seriously, they'll STILL be wrong about their approach to government. That's what wrong with the GOP.

    May 2, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  6. Sam I Am

    Americans hate extremists, both abroad and at home. We also hate liars. If the Republican Party doesn't cast off the extremists and move more toward center on the political spectrum, they will do nothing but continue to deteriorate. if the Republican Party continues to allow liars like Hannity, O'Reilly, Coulter and Limbaugh be their surrogate spokesmodels, they will find nothing more than empty halls and voting booths in the next round of elections. If the party keeps trying to seek only those with political "purity" they will find fewer and fewer candidates who will fit the bill.

    We Americans are sick to death of the hate, fear, and other nonsense the Republicans are trying to peddle. Get over it. Those who continue to support the Republicans (in fewer numbers by the minute) will hopefully someday realize that their political position is one which is very quickly losing its voice on the national stage. And rightly so.

    May 2, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. mim

    as usual, in cnn comments, the left hatred comes out. sure is nice to know that these commenters know and speak for all republicans. as an independent, the hatred coming through here coupled with obama trying to nationalize every company so he can pay back the unions makes me want to vote republican!

    May 2, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  8. Thomas

    "That party has become even more the party of fear, hate, secession and division. Until that changes, they will not ever again be a political force in the US."

    Ever? Hardly. Voters have an extremely short memory and if the economny doesn't get going in the 12 to 18 months and Obama can't fix it, the mood will shift yet again.

    May 2, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  9. The Repugnant Party

    That's what they get for being divisive running dirty campaigns filled with lies, and trying to manipulate people into voting, first with Sarah Palin, and then with Michael Steel, Sarah Palin did not get the Hillary voters and Michael Steele will not persuade the african american community
    at least he is not doing a good job in reaching out to them, perhaps Mitt Romney will, and where did this meat head, Rush Limbaugh take it….up the creek without a paddle!
    it's ashame, that the party of Lincoln is like Nancy Polosi said, not the grand ole party anymore.

    May 2, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  10. gop Lost in space

    The confederated GOP has lost it way. they are really conservative ( no change at all). I am a Democratic and has most of the time voted that way. As for our party stay humble and do the people business. listen and keep listening. The Gop is big spender they buy all the latest gadget need or not for job like defense contractor they believe in big government to just in another way. In Georgia where Iam from that State GOP leader will not change on thing like rail service and Marta. they are so so Backwards .
    They believe in Big business and tax cut as if they were Jesus. The stat is in the hole because of the latest roung of tax cuts .working people issue not even on the table. The F22 was only a job issues and welfare for defense contractor.. One Issue I think the GOP is right on is nuclear power (until) we find a better source that is clean. But we As nation mush move to keep energy prices cheep that is how we keep good job . The GOP is old and white male and few of color. If the GOP were young and white and of color and women they would win. until then they will keep on losing because this is the new America and they refuse to change!

    May 2, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  11. paul

    Just from reading the comments I would assume most of those commenting are Dems, and fairweather types. If those who claim to have been Repubs but are not now, or are wavering or "ashamed" thus keeping their options open, really want to change anything (as opposed to the fictitious HOPE and CHANGE being marketed by the present administration, then they need to roll up their sleeves and get with remaking the party into a true reflection of bedrock American values. Either that or support the Libertarians – at least they are for Liberty – supposedly what your nation was founded on. If anyone was really interested to know the truth of how you got where you are, they should start by reading "Liberal Fascism" by Jonah Goldberg. His facts are impeccably researched, and he shatters more than a few illusions so pervasive today. Just so ya know, I am Canadian and am an outside observer ...

    May 2, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. Mark

    If the Republicans were guided more by the U.S. Constitution and less by the Bible, they wouldn't have this problem.

    May 2, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  13. Terry Freeman

    It's all so sad. Repulicans have lost touch with the American people. They wont budge one bit. This attitude will continue to ruin the party. Lets be real......Osama bin laden attact us and we start a war in Iran. Cheaneys contruction company is robbing us blind. Heed this the American people are not stupid only those who think we are.

    May 2, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  14. Jean-Pierre Harrison

    The Republican party is the political equivalent of the Heaven's Gate cult. Maybe a comet will show up soon with a UFO trailing closely behind and we will finally be rid of these idiots.

    May 2, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  15. southernyankee

    Claire, I really like TX. My youngest sister was born at Fort Bliss back in 1960. We left 3 yrs later for another tour and retirement for the military. Some people think just because you are in the military you are a republican. I come from a long line of military retirees and not one of them ever voted republican. I know with the republican party they changed the districts around to where they get more of the votes. That is how they won and lied their way to the top. God don't like ugly and I think now he is giving the republicans there time in the dessert. They belong there. They have done alot of damage to this country.

    May 2, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  16. Beesus

    Is this the same Bob who convinced his girlfriend to have an abortion while leading the morale charge against the Democrats? Yes, I really really care what he thinks. Thanks CNN!

    May 2, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  17. bobojor

    arlon spector just sold out his republian supporters to save his skin. lets push for term limits since no one will vote these morons out of office. if the president is limited to 8 years lets place a time limit on these bozos

    May 2, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  18. John

    People were saying exactly the same thing about the Democrat party not that long ago, and look what happened. All it will take is for a few ridiculously inept Democrats to spend enough non-existent money and raise enough taxes and take away enough personal freedoms, and America will not be able to vote the GOP back into office fast enough. What the GOP really needs to do is stop the thrashing and hand-wringing, and bide their time. All you folks who keep insisting that it should move to the right are ignoring the basic fact that most of America is nowhere near as far left as Obama and his cronies are, either, and yet he made it into office. The GOP will rise as the Anti-Obama, just as the Dems rose as the Anti-Bush.

    May 2, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  19. jeremy

    You idiots in PA, the Republicans targeted him becuase of his huge vote on the spending (stimulus) plan. A vote for Specter is a vote for borrowing WAY to much money for a country already in debt..

    But I suppose you agree with that kind of spending. Obama is on track to spend and borrow more mone y than the last 43 presidents COMBINED!!!! But, I'm sure you all spend liberally around your own homes, file for bankruptcy, and repeat the process. So i understand why you support Arlen, The democrats, and their "lack of responsibility" ethic.. Us "right wingers" want to have nothing to do with that kind of behaviour...

    May 2, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  20. Vincent

    There are many, many good people that belong to the Republican party. However, the party had been hijacked by Bush, Cheney and Rove; and the hijackers have done untold damage to America and the Republican party.

    The Republican legacy is now linked with rendition, torture, illegal spying on American citizens, invasion of a sovereign nation under false premises, and near economic collapse will haunt the party for many years to come. It will be very difficult to redeem the GOP brand, and very difficult to sell that brand to the young and emerging voting blocks.

    May 2, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  21. John

    People were saying exactly the same thing about the Democrat party not that long ago, and look what happened. All it will take is for a few ridiculously inept Democrats to spend enough non-existent money and raise enough taxes and take away enough personal freedoms, and America will not be able to vote the GOP back into office fast enough. What the GOP really needs to do is stop the thrashing and hand-wringing, and bide their time. All you folks who keep insisting that it should move to the center are ignoring the basic fact that most of America is nowhere near as far left as Obama and his cronies are, either, and yet he made it into office. The GOP will rise as the Anti-Obama, just as the Dems rose as the Anti-Bush.

    May 2, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  22. richard in chandler az

    As a former republican, who has been ind. for years, Barr speaks some truth. Until they get rid of the Hannitty, Beck, and Limbaugh nuts, I will never go back. My father is 86 and voted for Obama because he is so sick of listening to the republicans talk about abortion and how we should torture. First time in over 50 years for him! All republicans talk about are social ills and as a moderate who cares about many others things, the way the party is going my entire family will be gone from the gop soon.

    May 2, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  23. older and wiser

    Over the years, the Republican party has changed dramatically.
    It's time they took a really long look at themselves. They've become a bunch of egotistical 'me, me, me' types and a bunch of religious zealots. When they begin be inclusive instead of exclusive of most Americans, they may begin to have more followers. Right now, they seem to hate everybody who doesn't think and do exactly as they do. Let them stop mixing religious ideals with politics. Let them start thinking about ordinary Americans instead of cooperate America. Then, maybe they will be a party people will want to associate with again. Right now, they just look like a bunch of sore and arrogant losers.

    May 2, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  24. VirginiaMom

    My husband and I should be the GOP's target demographic: married 15 years, 2 kids in public schools, fiscal conservatives (up-to-date on our mortgage, don't carry credit card balances), upper-middle class professionals with 6-figure household income, weekly church-goers, involved in our community, vote in every election, mowing the lawn at our home - a seeming portrait of "conservatism." If the GOP cannot make its case with us, they are so off the rails.

    But there's no way we would vote GOP when we survey the ridiculousness that the GOP has become: anti-evolution (pray tell, how will this help U.S. students' slipping international science standards?!), anti-gay (our girls' godfathers are a stable, loving, upstanding, happily-married gay couple), global-warming deniers (what the heck?!), theocratic goons who think they know what's best for everybody, fringe yet must-be-placated GOP mouthpieces pandering to bigots on the radio and at Palin rallies (oh, did I forget to mention? We're an interracial couple who count immigrants among our friends. Yes, U.S. life certainly is more complex these days...) I could go on, but my blood pressure is rising.

    Thank God the Democrats are the grown-ups who are handling things so pragmatically. It would be good to have a credible opposition party to keep the Dems honest, but at this moment, there doesn't seem to be one.

    May 2, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  25. vicky

    I am another Pennsylvanian who will step up to say that the people of this state won't mind at all that Specter switched parties. I am a die-hard democrat, but have voted for Specter in the past and will again now that he has switched parties. He has always been one of the few Republican politicians that I genuinely like. Those in the Republican party that think he is done and that their right wing-nut will win are just engaging in wishful thinking.

    As a side note, what would our former Senator John Heinz think of this new Republican party? I'm sure he would do just what Specter has done.

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