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. Tulsa

    @Jon May 8th, 2009 4:38 pm ET
    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.
    HHHmmm, let's try it! You gain 500lbs, get the fat suctioned out , we'll put "the Death of America by Obama" in there, sew you up and off you both. Sound good to me!

    May 8, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  2. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    Could be irrelevant? Sorry to be the one to tell you Huck, but you and your guys are already there.

    May 8, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  3. Proud American

    Now that was funny...

    May 8, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  4. S Callahan

    Oh stop with attacking those of faith....that's irrelevant to chosing a party... The party is needed to survive, or a new one to emerge, but some of the old values are important to keep..a legacy of American values..change doesn't mean compromising virtues (or it shouldn't) .

    May 8, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  5. StuckinmoderationMari

    REALLY??? Mr. Huckabee....... the GOP IS already irrelevant! All one has to do is read the comments posted here daily by the far-right, to 'smell' the fear.

    America has shifted to the sane-left-of -center. After EIGHT long years of having our patriotism questioned, being spied and LIED to, having our Nation's economy devastated......... over 4000 Troops killed ........ two flipping wars.......... and a president who sanctioned......... TORTURE !

    Are the GOPers still uncertain that America rejected their vile politics?
    With leaders like Limbaugh, Hannity-the-hater, Coulter, Bill-O-the-Clown....... do you seriously expect Americans to vote GOP????

    May 8, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  6. Think about it.


    It seems as though someone has missed the bus.

    May 8, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  7. David S. Robins

    Not "could become." It already is irrelevant.

    May 8, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. StuckinmoderationMari

    @ Henry Miller........ Well said! The GOP has become the party of the religious-fascists, all you have to do is listen to Coulter, or read some of the comments posted here on the CNN blog........ its scary.

    May 8, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  9. really?

    "What's wrong with the republicans is the hate they spew, their attitude that their way is the only right way"

    You think your way is the only way, too, Mr. hypocrite.

    May 8, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  10. James A.

    So, the GOP wants to stay in the wilderness?

    Oh well.

    May 8, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. Barbara

    Could be irrelevant? The GOP already is. Wake up and smell the roses.

    May 8, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  12. tony

    already are irrelevant

    May 8, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  13. Robert

    They already are. End of story.

    May 8, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  14. Moderate Democrat

    it's not a matter of 'if'...nor even 'when'...republicans ARE irrelevant. They offer NOTHING to society other then whining and complaining. They have demonstrated, beyond the shadow of a doubt they are a worthless lot of complainers.

    The real question is when will THEY realise they are irrelevant? The educated world already knows it. But then again, they are still working on that idea of the world being 'round' we can expect it to take quite a while.

    May 8, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  15. Richie

    "They'll basically be a party of gray-haired old men sitting around the country club puffing cigars, sipping brandy."

    Make it WHITE gray-haired old men and you've got the party NOW.

    May 8, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  16. Moderate Democrat

    @Jon May 8th, 2009 4:38 pm ET
    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.
    As long as the operation carries a great deal of risk...then I would be more then happy if you actually tried it out. TWO birds with ONE stone is what I always say!

    Here's another thought, if took a gun and shot it in the head as soon as it was born, could we call it 'pro-active' capital punishment and you would be happy?

    May 8, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  17. Randall in Torrance - Welcome to the end of the era of dumb ass republicans in power

    Could become irrelevant? Ha Ha Ha! What a joke. They ARE already irrelevant. They are over forever. No thinking rational person would ever agree with the party of No. Republicans are prick losers without any brains.

    May 8, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  18. Dante

    it wont matter who the republican leader is........if this country doesn't get a handle on its 1. energy policy, 2. national defense, 3. spending, and 4.incessant childish bickering, it just won't matter who's in charge.......we will all be boned.....face it, we have an incredible titer of IDIOCY in DC......left vs right.......dem vs repub........liberal vs conservative........those idiots in washington have no clue......most of us just want a chance for our children to be successful and lead happy and productive lives..........
    but it ain't going to happen with our current fearless leader.......before you all flame me hear me out....
    1. green energy is a great idea and i'm all for it....but we need liquid carbon based fuels for the foreseeable future and our economy will only recover when we all realize that and start developing every domestic oil and gas resource we have, especially natural gas....let the clean coal, solar, wind, etc make their mark but really they're at least a decade away.....meanwhile, china, india, brazil, etc will be cranking out the particulates and CO2 no matter what we do.....
    2. we are at war no matter what napolitano says and obama is making us vulnerable....he is putting your family and mine at risk....this fretting over torture would be hilarious if it was a SNL skit but we've been safe for 8 years....something must have been done right......
    3. it is laughable that dems complain of bush' s spending and increasing the deficit and then push for spending 10X worse.........
    we are hosed if the spending on obama's socialist agenda actually proceeds full steam ahead.......and its clear that obama is incredibly talented at saying one thing and doing another in order to achieve his incredibly misguided agenda
    4. let the bickering begin.....
    have a nice day

    May 8, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  19. bess

    as long as the Republicans continue to let Democrats and media bully them around and determine their (Rep's) fate, they will continue on their path of undetermined future and divided ranks.

    May 8, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  20. marcus

    hold on to those religious zealot, white toast, haters.... that'll guarantee the republicans a 30 % vote everywhere except those cesspools of hatred, the ever-diminishing red states. there aren't enough alabamas and oklahomas for the republicans to make a dent in the democratic strongholds of california, new york and pennsylvania. i hope tunnel-vision speakers like huckabee and limbaugh keep telling the republicans to do exactly what they've been doing for the past 4 years. that'll keep them out of national politics. by the way, watch for snow and collins to defect from the party too !!!

    May 8, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  21. Kyle C.

    As a Republican, I would be called moderate, I will never vote for the GOP again, as long as they continue to be the party of 'morality'. I believe in small government and as such there should not be federal laws outlawing gay marriage or abortion or whatever liberal agenda. That should not be a federal law because as we've seen, there are places where the supporters of those 'rights' are in the majority, and by living in a democratic society, the majority vote should rule. Let the states, or even the counties, vote and decide if these 'socially conservative' values are to or not to be allowed. That way there is no cry of foul, if you live in a liberal area and are conservative, around half of the country would be a good fit and vice versa.

    Until the GOP returns to fiscal conservativism and drops the social conservative I will continue to vote third party, as it seems that many other 'moderate' Republicans feel the same way. And that Mr. Huckabee is why the Republican party will become irrevalant. I'm not say to throw the social conservatives under the bus, but if they left or quieted down a bit, I would return

    May 8, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  22. Karen - Missouri

    The Republican Party is a disgrace to this country...PERIOD. GOP stands for themselves, NOT the rest of this country. And I thought Nixon was a headache...he's nothing compared to the current Washington Republicans!

    May 8, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    "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."

    Whoever said this showed an amazing lack of understanding of the FACT that the FEDERAL CONSTITUTION applies to EVERYONE IN THIS NATION and the civil right GUARANTEED thereby cannot be treated differently depending on where you live. Anti-choice is anti-constitution.

    May 8, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  24. aaa

    could become???? isnt already???? wow

    May 8, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  25. Hotti4BHO

    Rush answer will be 'become a dmocrat'

    May 8, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
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