May 8th, 2009
04:16 PM ET
9 years ago

Huckabee warns GOP could become 'irrelevant'

Huckabee says the GOP must not lose social conservatives.

Huckabee says the GOP must not lose social conservatives.

(CNN) - Days after national Republicans launched a new campaign to broaden the party's outreach, former upstart presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says the GOP is at risk of becoming "irrelevant as the Whigs."

In an interview with the California newspaper The Visalia Times-Delta, Huckabee said the GOP would only further decline in influence should it alienate social conservatives - largely considered the most energetic and loyal faction of the party.

"Throw the social conservatives the pro-life, pro-family people overboard and the Republican party will be as irrelevant as the Whigs," he said in reference to the American political party that largely disbanded in the mid 1800s.

"They'll basically be a party of gray-haired old men sitting around the country club puffing cigars, sipping brandy and wondering whatever happened to the country. That will be the end of the party," he said in the interview published Thursday.

Huckabee's comments come the same day former Vice President Dick Cheney warned his party's leaders not to moderate their views as they launch an effort to regain control in the nation's Capitol.

"The idea that we ought to moderate basically means we ought to fundamentally change our philosophy," Cheney also said. "I for one am not prepared to do that, and I think most of us aren’t," he told conservative talk-radio host Scott Hennen.

The comments come after longtime Republican Sen. Arlen Specter formally left the GOP, igniting a fierce debate among Republicans over what type of candidates the party should embrace going forward.

On Saturday, three prominent GOP leaders - Rep. Eric Cantor, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney - kicked off a campaign to reshape their party's image, gathering at a restaurant in northern Virginia for the first of a series of town hall meetings. The goal of the initiative, called the National Council for a New America, is to connect Republican leaders with voters across the country to help get the party's electoral fortunes back on track.

But in the interview Thursday, Huckabee said it's too early for the GOP to look for a leader.

"I'm frustrated with all these people who are jockeying for the position to be the 'leader,'" he said. "It's almost like we're worried about who's going to be the drum major and we don't have a piece of music yet."

Filed under: Mike Huckabee
soundoff (248 Responses)
  1. Jerry

    Conservatism will NEVER become irrelevant. It is the only thing that actually works!
    Obama is turning the US into an impoverished Third World country.

    May 8, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. Bubba

    The Republicans became irrelevant when they couldn't play fair against the black guy. Huckleberry's as guilty as the rest of them. I pay them no more attention than I do the chirping of birds.

    May 8, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. thomas, michigan

    ...Gosh, it's like watching an anthill being scuffed. Just desserts,
    indeed , for the highjackers of the GOP. Remember when they were
    so nauseatingly arrogant? Our tattered democracy has proven itself
    to be beautiful in spite of it all.

    May 8, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. Jon

    The key is true fiscal conservatism. Start a process to get rid of all the unconstitutional spending like social security, medicare, education, etc. and this country can get back on track. We could cut out 75% of federal taxes if our lawmakers would simply follow the constitution. This will take years, but it needs to be transferred back to the state level where multiple ideas can be implemented and competition can be used to produce the best results. Lets spread the eggs out instead of putting them all in Washington's greedy basket.

    May 8, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. Keefe in Florida

    I would have to add that the Republican party is already somewhat irrelevant.....

    Due to the fact that people like Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter, Sean Hatenaty and fox news has become the IMAGE OF REPUBLICANS...

    Republicansism has become synonomus with WHITE SUPREMACY.......

    They might as well just have OPRAH WINFREY host a show for them, and have her give gifts to all the REPUBLICANS.....

    I can see OPRAH now telling the REPUBLICANS, we have gifts for everyone......


    May 8, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. shucks

    This is why the republican party is becoming irrelevant, just because of the people he is referring too. They are the right wing conservative evangelicals that have poisoned the tone of this great country with their divisiveness, their blatant racism, their desire to legislate through religion, and their desire to diminish the rights of other Americans through their bible thumping. They have become the party of hate and anger, and the defacto leaders of the party are responsible. They will never again see the White House if they continue on their current path of destruction.

    May 8, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. Jon

    Since abortion is being brought up, I've started a new interesting idea. I get really fat (say 500lbs). I do some liposuction so I've got some spare room where my stomach fat used to be. I then sow up some human being in there (get pregnant), to then kill that person. Is that legal? Seems like an abortion to me.

    May 8, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. Kevin -- Evansville, Indiana

    The religious extremists are a big reason the GOP has become irrelevant.

    I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home, and let me tell you, limited government is the last thing these groups want. They want a Christian version of Iran. A Christian theocracy.

    But it's incoherent to push a libertarian philosophy, and at the same time, shove your religious opinions down everyone's neck. It's a big farce. They don't even pretend to be fiscal conservatives anymore, except for photo ops.

    The GOP is irrelevant. They need to split into the fundamentalist Christian party, and a libertarian party.

    May 8, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. noGOP

    Huckabee is right. Well, they are already irrelevant!

    May 8, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  10. Frank

    Let them go further right (Dick) as if that wasn't bad enough and fall straight through the cliff. We will all be better off.
    Huckabee, wouldn’t you be glad to become the leader of it fragmented Christian fraction (AKA: useful idiots)?
    Help me on this one, how low should one IQ be to still claim republican membership?

    May 8, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. Pluto

    Could? Should. MUST!

    May 8, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. Flex

    Religious zealots should start their own party. If they have so much energy and charisma, what do they need moderate republicans for? I would vote for Republicans if they stopped espousing homophobia, and negative controlling laws that restrict our liberties.

    May 8, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. m gaspard

    Jon, you an idiot and very naive.

    May 8, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. mario

    Would someone please share with Mr.Huckabee that he is a little behind the curve in his observations on the future "relevance" of the republican party!

    May 8, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  15. Walt

    Yes people are leaving the GOP. What is not getting mentioned. Is that people are also leaving the dems. The only party that is actually growing is the Independant Party. People on both sides have had enough of this insane spending and politicans not watching out for the United States.

    May 8, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. Jim

    Another Republican preaching to the choir of social conservatives! You don't win converts and grow the party by preaching to the choir! Wake up Republicans and realize that the majority of Americans are not social conservatives any more.

    May 8, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. Moonbeam

    Party that believes that abortion, gay marriage and owning as many guns is possible are the ONLY issues the whole world is concerned with, is already irrelevant!

    May 8, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. Tim

    Days after national Republicans launched a new campaign to broaden the party's outreach, former upstart presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says the GOP is at risk of becoming "irrelevant as the Whigs."

    Sorry Huch old boy, too late!!!! LMAO!!!!

    May 8, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. JonDie

    Huckaby certainly is an expert in irrelevance.

    May 8, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |

    Very true Mr. Huckabee if they become the democrats-lite party they will be nothing. They need to be the conservative party once again.
    Traditional family values and small unintrusive Federal Government is still a strong selling point to so many people.

    May 8, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. Pluto

    Jerry, I just saw eight years of conservatism not working, and so did everyone else in America. It's over. We've all gone back to being Christian Capitalists. You should try it, especially the love your neighbor part.

    May 8, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. Dan

    BOTH parties need to realize that the extremists in their parties are the biggest threat. The nation has moved closer to the center or even center left, and the parties should grow with their constituents and the needs of the people, not outdated ideologies!

    May 8, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  23. Grog in Ohio

    Sounds like a good plan to me...

    May 8, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  24. Kevin in Ohio

    @David in Dallas May 8th, 2009 4:32 pm ET

    What an idiot. Doesn't he understand that the main reason so many have turned against the Republican party is because of their insistance in imposing their sect of evangelical dogma on everyone else.
    I think YOU are the true idiot. Mr Huckabee sent an entire class of young minority students to attend the inauguration of President Obama. No "imposition" there...... I seriously doubt any left wing liberal would have done the same had the shoe been on the other foot.

    Huckabee is a DECENT MAN. You paint him with your brush of liberal vitriol.

    May 8, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  25. S.Positive

    They are already irrelevant. Thats why they were kicked out of power and will stay out for at least a decade...

    May 8, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
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