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. Get Real

    I do not blame political parties when you have a lot of unintelligent voters who are the majority of the population.

    May 8, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  2. Video Guy

    The are already irrilevand, and they should take Nancy Pelosi along with them.

    May 8, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. yep

    tigerakabj pretty much summed it up.

    May 8, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  4. Renee

    What neither party realizes is that the majority of people fall somewhere in the middle. If the moderates from both parties created their own party, the other two would just be radical fringe options and wouldn't get elected beyond their localities.

    May 8, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. GOP = 21st century dodo

    Thanks, Mike, for removing any doubt as to what the Republican party is:
    a scheme to dupe the dumbest Americans into voting against their own interests in order to get as much money into the already-bloated pockets of the entrenched plutocracy.

    The social conservatives that Huckabee is saying are indispensable to the party are the very same group of people that alienate everyone else with their xenophobia, hatred, superstitious beliefs, and all-around repulsiveness. Go ahead, let them continue to be the face of the GOP. By the end of the year you'll be talking about "the good ol days" when a whopping 21% of Americans identified themselves as Republicans.

    May 8, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  6. Kenneth

    To Death of America by Obama-

    Please do not breed.

    May 8, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  7. Ray Fisher

    Too late, they became irrelevant during Georgie's Reign of Terror!!!

    May 8, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  8. Chenna Benna

    Hey Huckster, the GOP is already there. When they offer no new ideas and say no to everything, the GOP becomes irrelevant.

    May 8, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  9. Only 21% of Americans trust republicans to lead them into the 21st century!

    Top notch advice from both Huckabee and Cheney!

    Wrap those flags tighter around you and hold that bible closer to your chest.

    That is just the ticket.

    America has been looking for a good 'christian' party to step in...

    May 8, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. fella from Chicago

    It's all cyclical. Whether it's the economy or politics. Leave it alone and they will change on their own. Today it's big government, lots of spending, and the Dems. Once America has had it's fill of that, it will be small government, tax cut,s and Republicans. Be patient.

    May 8, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    HA! Huckabee who? Speaking of irrelvevant, pie is good.

    May 8, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  12. Dave

    The Republican Party is not irrelevant....Yet.

    If they would just follow the TRUE Republican belief of Lower Taxes, Fiscal Responsibility, Strong Military (hopefully, not have to use it) and less regulation and Limited Government then the Party would be the party of choice for most Americans.

    Get off the Abortion train...That is NOT the federal Government's problem, that is an issue to be dealt with on the local levels.

    I think the majority of Americans are conservative to a point...Some more than others, but we ALL want the beliefs mentioned above.

    We also, need to get away from the social policies that reward the lazy and punish the hard workers. However, I think some social policies are great, ONLY if used in a non-biased way...Again, reward the hard workers.

    May 8, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  13. Accountability

    Whaddya mean "could become" Mikey?

    May 8, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. JG

    Huckabee, Limbaugh & Steele have been so entertaining! Who said politics is boring? This is good stuff. Can't wait to see all the repulicans turn on each other and have a big fist fight live on CNN!!!

    May 8, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  15. blakecr

    I could say the obvious "could?" but I think we are past that. I mean you have Hannity and Ingram talking about the condament choice of Obama while the GOP leadership say one thing one day and come back to say the opposit the next. Then there is Beck over there like it slooney toons hour and some movement that leads most to think of high school locker room talk. I mean is this for real? Are we living in the age of idiocracy?

    May 8, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  16. Kwesoe

    Hey Mike,
    Call the priest, republicans are coming for confession. Wake up from your slumber Mike, your GOP is already irrelevant and will stay that way for a long, long time.

    May 8, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  17. silk

    woow....hunkabee...your ranting is begining to bore us...just like rush, boner, palin's and foxnoise...jargin at it's best kept to themselves.

    May 8, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. Jim in San Jose

    "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."

    I thought that was the entire Republican party? Truthfully, America is very tired of the hypocritical "you can have all the individual freedom you want as long as you do it our way" attitude from the social conservatives.

    Fiscal conservatism is OK as long as it isn't tainted with a holier than thou attitude that you get from 99% of Republicans. Even as a life long Democrat, I don't want to see the Republicans fail.

    I just want to see them grow up.

    May 8, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  19. Chris - Denver

    He ought to know: he already is irrelevant.

    May 8, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  20. Johnny

    Jerry must have a short memory. Former President Bush and
    a republican lead congress has almost ran the county into the ground.
    I'm not as worried about gays and some of the other social issues, because the issues have is little or no effect on my daily life. I have no interest in trying to tell others how to run their lives. Just let people make the on moral decisions. The social issues isn't the biggest for with republicans. The problem is the complete failure in running our country.

    May 8, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  21. Randolph Carter (Formerly Some Guy)

    Jerry Wrote: Conservatism will NEVER become irrelevant. It is the only thing that actually works!

    Yeah it makes all kinds of things work. Things like Illegal wars, wrecking the world economy, trampling the constitution, polarizing the nation..... Need I go on? Keep alienating the centrists, republicans, you're doing our work for us. Have a nice day!

    May 8, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. Ruty

    In my opinion–Huckabee is a fool.Someone needs to smack that silly grin off his face.

    May 8, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  23. James

    The Republicans were voted out because they ARE irrelevant. And incompetent, narrow-minded and condone torture, something truly un-American!

    May 8, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  24. jason

    This probably won't get posted unless I actually say it won't get posted because CNN is too liberal, but now they might because I said they won't...unreal!!!
    To the moron that wrote the wonderful paragraph below: ARE YOU SERIOUS? Yes ANTI-ABORTION....why is that so alien to you baby killers. If you are pro -choice you are, plain and simple pro-baby murder. How is that not the case? Let's say a woman gives birth to a pre-mature baby at 20 weeks and it is still alive....if you stab that baby in the head with a coat hanger until it bleeds to death is that murder or choice? Can someone please explain this to me? Further, conservatives don't say a child has to pick themselves up by the bootstraps, that is their parents job!!!! Of course when you are hooked on drugs and have more babies so you can get a bigger welfare check, why would the parents help their own children, right? Oh and by the way...I don't go to church or believe in god, just common baffoon.

    1. Pro-life? You mean anti-abortion. You can't simultaneously say less government, then say, "Oh, by the way, we are going to tell you what your wife can and can't do with her body." Huckabee and like-minds only care for the baby before it's born. After that, pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

    May 8, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  25. Jim El Paso Tx.

    COULD become irrelevant..???? They ARE irrelevant!

    May 8, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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