May 8th, 2009
04:16 PM ET
4 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. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    So in other words, to remain relevant, the republicans need to become a bunch of spend-thrift, self-serving, irresponsible, pandering morons just like the democrats.

    Boy, I'm feeling really good about the future of this country. How about you?

    May 8, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  2. AK R Woman

    So, let me get this straight. We've got two old white guys claiming that if the Republican party moderates itself and joins the 21st century, aligning itself with younger (lifelong Republican) social moderates like myself, no one will be left but old white guys sitting around a country club. Yeah, right., that makes sense! Get back to the basics, stay out of people's private lives, and maybe the party will grow again!

    May 8, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    "Throw the social conservatives the pro-life, pro-family people overboard and the Republican party will be as irrelevant as the Whigs,"

    So Huckabee is saying the GOP should pander to those folks to stay relevant? Too funny. That is the main reason they are irrelevant.

    May 8, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  4. David

    "Throw the social conservatives the pro-life, pro-family people overboard and the Republican party will be as irrelevant as the Whigs,"

    So Huckabee is saying the GOP should pander to those folks to stay relevant? Too funny. That is the main reason they are irrelevant.

    May 8, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  5. Allen in Hartwell GA

    If the Republicans would stop listening to idiots like Limbaugh, Hannity and their ilk, and get rid of idiots like Cheney, and prove that they know what middle Americans want and need, then they don't have to give up their "social conservatism". I'm a social conservative, but I'd rather have socialism than have another president like Bush.

    May 8, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  6. Pedro A Delgado

    It is nice to hear from Huckabee.
    He was a very good governor and even got the acclamation of being the best one while he was one.

    He was a Republican Governor in an State where most people were Democrats and still he was able to achieve much more than most governors.

    How do I know?Well, I spent many hours investigating him before I gave him my support for and worked as a volunteer (no pay) during the primary and even voted for him on November 4 because he was the best candidate.

    Most of the charges against him were baseless coming from Democrats and also indirectly by Republicans like McCain and other Republican bums scared stiff of him when he won the Iowa primary.

    He is a capable man of wisdom and our country would be in much better condition if he was the president today.

    Presently he is an anomaly in his Party and please do not place him with other Republicans like McCain, Romney, Thompson, etc. because to do so it is certainly an offense against the truth.

    May 8, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  7. jphilly

    Could become irrelevant?? that happened awhile ago

    May 8, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  8. FlyingGirl44

    I come from a family of conservative Republicans. My parents voted for Goldwater and I was a member of teens for Nixon. But midway during the Reagan administration, the women fell away from the fold and started voting Democratic. My father was the last holdout. More conservative than Cheney, he voted for Obama. How did they lose us? By demonizing us whenever we didn't agree with them 100% of the time. Here's what finally got my father: he's is a decorated WWII hero and when he expressed reservations about the war in Iraq, they called him anti-American. Boy, did that stick in his craw. Almost every boy in his high school gave his life in WWII. Republicans are not better than God. They need humility. Seriously.

    May 8, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  9. kenny cole

    Americans can not be fool no more we know where we from and where we are going to its no more a white mans country

    May 8, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  10. Ted Tartaglia

    Huckaby and Cheney are right on; Republicans should stick to their values. Oh, I forgot; they have no values. Republicans are already irrelevant except in Texas.

    May 8, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  11. economist

    Ironically, if the republicans fail to reign in the social conservatives, they will drive away all the social moderates that have really made them a significant party. Business interests don't care about "family values", but they do care about who holds the purse strings.

    May 8, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  12. Ian

    Lets all hope and pray that the GOP does just go the hell away. All the morons running the conservative GOP (Limbaugh, Cheney) are UnAmerican, and should not be living in this country. We have a democratic president now, if you dont like it then leave! This is America, love it or leave! If you are not with the president then you are against America! ....... God it feels good to use some of there own saying against them now.

    May 8, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  13. Slash

    lol Huckabee, like the rest of the disgruntled GOP, doesn't get it. Moderating isn't what will doom them.

    If they don't abandon this hypocritical and bigoted platform of theirs, then they will be like the Whigs. Seriously, "pro-family"? Who the heck is anti-family? Oh...oh yeah, gay people, I forgot that they're scheming to destroy marriage and family and all. It's things like that behind the GOP's death, Huckabee.

    May 8, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  14. larry

    Hulkabee is irrelevant to everyone except the fox news watchers.

    May 8, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  15. Paul

    ...said Mike Huckabee as he combed his gray hair, puffed on his cigar, and sipped his brandy.

    May 8, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  16. WaxEm Brows TanBoner

    I think Democrats are pro family too Gomer\
    What will make you irrelevant is spouting crud like this

    May 8, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  17. Richard-Arkansas

    Huckabee was "called" to be a minister. Then he was "uncalled" and became a politian and governor. So God either made a mistake (wow! ) or Mike isn't as good at listening to God as he thinks he is. And if he was wrong on something like that, how many other things is he wrong about.

    I have an issue with politians telling me what God wants done. I think he is in the wrong country-he needs to be in Iran.

    May 8, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  18. troy

    The Republican party's march towards irrelavancy when Regan began pandering to the Evangelical devils.

    May 8, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  19. Rush

    Republican Who? What and don't know who they are.

    May 8, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  20. DonTampa58

    "Throw the social conservatives the pro-life, pro-family people overboard and the Republican party will be as irrelevant as the Whigs,"

    Ummmmmm, Huck.......You're pretty much there now WITH those groups. In fact, those groups are pretty much the reason you are there.

    Just a thought.

    May 8, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  21. John from California

    Too late Mr Huckabee, they are already irrelevant and have been for quite some time.

    The only chance they have to use the right wing media to create stories that put the republicans in a good light but, most of us have already seen through that and Fox News is just as irrelevant as the republican party.

    May 8, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  22. Charlie in Maine

    Right diagnosis. Wrong remedy.I nevered liked Ronald Reagan's policies but the guy didn't have a mean bone in his body. He woul not even recognize the GOP of today. Want to be relevent? Act like adults

    May 8, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  23. Jim

    Seems to me that the "social conservatives" are the ones driving everyone else out of the party. Without the moderates the GOP is a minority party.

    May 8, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  24. Matt

    If the Republican party had picked Mitt Romney (a man that understands the economy), I think our country would be in much better shape today. The republicans just need MORE leaders that will stand for their fiscal conservative principles.

    Those that keep calling the republican party racists and haters are fooling themselves. Although there are nut cases in every group, the majority a good people. (Democrats don't want all of their followers compared to the eco-terrorists that currently burn down buildings and bomb car lots).

    May 8, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  25. Expat American

    As long as the Palin mob remains the most vocal entity of the GOP electorate, then yes, the GOP is in trouble. Them along with Jabba the Rush, Annie the Trannie and co. are poison. Steele would help himself by not embarrassing himself any further with comments like 'Off Da Hook' and his 'mama' references....he sounds like he should be on some failed 70s sitcom.

    May 8, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
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