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. Alex

    I wish, but way to drastically lower expectations so that you can say how surprised you are when the party does come back. how frustrating you guys are.

    May 8, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  2. Allen in Hartwell GA

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    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 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  3. Jim

    Jerry May 8th, 2009 4:33 pm ET

    "Conservatism will NEVER become irrelevant. It is the only thing that actually works!"

    Um, who's watch was it when the economy tanked?

    May 8, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. Texas Teacher

    Could become irrelevant? Now that is a laugh... richie, where have you been... they've all been screaming.... screaming NO... no matter what the issue.... didn't you see Rush Limbaugh bounced up and down and flapping his arms like a bird and yelling his stupid blather? Now that was screaming...irrelevance! *LOL*

    May 8, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  5. Hopeful in America

    Huchabee says the GOP is "a party of gray-haired old men sitting around the country club puffing cigars, sipping brandy and wondering whatever happened to the country."

    He conveniently...convenient for him...left out that they are also a bunch of religious wackos who want to make sure we all live and worship God the way they think we should!

    They "might" become irrelevant???? That happened some time ago and they just found out last Novermber.

    May 8, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  6. Jim

    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."

    Seek therapy.

    May 8, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  7. P from CA

    The GOP is split. Hence they are losing members. For me they moved waaayyyy to far left and so I changed parties. No matter what they do now move back toward center or stay for left they will lose members.

    May 8, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  8. Kristina, Seattle

    Haha... what does he mean, BECOME irrelevant?

    May 8, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  9. Barbara

    It is not government's business to decree who someone can marry. Did you ever hear of the division of Church and State? We certainly have bigger issues you should be focusing on. And by the way-why are you all so negative and defensive all the time? Putting President Obama down every minute of every day is bad politics. And could you tell Cheney to go home to his easy chair. He's old news-bad news at that.

    May 8, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  10. harold

    The Republican party certainly is irrelevant .... to the 50 Million USA PEOPLE who have NO HEALTH CARE.... are they NOT...?..Republicans stand up for health care industry and the private insurance industry.. to continue to fill thiri coffers with money.... is he reason...

    May 8, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  11. Donatella

    What planet has he been on, they are already irrelevant, I love how they call the president a socialist, It's always those old fogies that are sucking the system dry who listen to Rush all day, what hypocrites.

    May 8, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  12. Skeeve

    Well, may be but with "the social conservatives the pro-life, pro-family" religious fundamentalists this party is irrelevant now

    May 8, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  13. BeCareful!!!!

    Mike Huckabee says the GOP is at risk of becoming "irrelevant as the Whigs."Now you know Rush is going to take you to the wood shed !!!
    How about already Already irrelevant!!!!

    May 8, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  14. Rewards

    What neither party understands is that a growing number of us can't identify with either the democrats or the republicans - and independent just doesn't cut it either. To which party should a fiscal conservative/social liberal/anti-big government voter belong? We need new blood in Washington, but it needs to be people who will do the right thing for the country and owe no loyalty to party, campaign donors, lobbyists or the others that get in the way of what is right.

    May 8, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  15. gl, Pittsburgh

    The Republicans party is the party of the white men only. Your party have turn their back on blacks, latins, asian and they think they can win the white house back. Just let Repubicans destroy themself becasue the have become irrelavent to the minority race. The only race that still listen to them his white people and they are keeping tried of them as well. Until you love all races and not just talk that talk you will continue to lose people from your party. Repubicans are like a drug user that contine to use drugs knowing it is killing them. Repubicans continue to move far and far to the right even though they know it is killing them. I want a Repubicans that is on the board to tell me why will any blacks, latins, are asian vote for your party when you keep showing us you don't want to reach out to us by moving to the center.

    May 8, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  16. Did anyone read past the headline?

    Despite the confusing headline, Huckabee is actually saying that to prevent from becoming irrelevant, the GOP needs to stay true to its base. He's NOT saying that the base beliefs or the base voters are becoming irrelevant (which is what the headline would lead you to believe) ... he's arguing that the GOP should stay on course.

    May 8, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  17. Frank, Las Vegas

    Could? The GOP is already irrelevant. If you need further proof besides the landslide elections, just look at the profits of News Corp (Fox News and their paper sisters), their profits are Down 99%. Does that say anything, advertisers don't want to associate with the right wing anymore, why advertise to 21% of the people. Having Huckabee join Fix News hasn't helped either, 21% is 21% no matter how you slice it. Then there's Hannity and O'Rilley. What a line up! Well a line up of irrelevant idiots.

    May 8, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  18. Bud Burgoon-Clark

    Mike Knucklehead better wake up and smell the hemlock.

    May 8, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. Greg

    GOP, The party of the bullies, liars, hypocrites, arrogants, has been irrelevant for years. Rush Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, Gingrich, Cheney, and O'reilley have done such a great job in destroying the party. With these haters, there is NO HOPE.

    May 8, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  20. Lori

    Let me say it again. 21% of the American people support you, Mr. Huckabee. 21%!!! You have an uphill climb with most voters and yet you still think America identifies with social conservative Republicans? I, and I know many others too, who would never put an X by any Republican candidates name because of the hold the so-called 'Christian' Republicans have on that party. Mr. Huckabee, you already are irrelevant, honey.

    May 8, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    I've got news for this hate filled, Bibled banging bigot -Republicans already are irrelevant. Due in no small part to this idiot's hate filled rantings.

    May 8, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  22. LibertyQueen

    Huckabee and the retro repugs are irrelevant.

    May 8, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  23. Emma, San Jose

    Let's not plan to have Huckabee as our next President. He would twist the constitution and make it a religious anomaly.

    May 8, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  24. James of Colorado

    I was a fourth generation Republican. I never even knew a Democrat when I was growing up in central California, but the big R party that I remember doesn't exist anymore. Reagan was the first and last Republican president that I voted for, because ever since 1980 the GOP has continuously moved away from the party of personal liberties and fiscal conservatism and moved toward social/religious intolerance, limited personal choice, government authoritarianism, and fiscal policies that only benefit the richest among us. The Grand Old Party so proudly supported by my father and grandfather has become completely irrelevant.

    May 8, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  25. This is sadly amusing...

    Of course Huckabee doesn't want to alienate the anti-choice, anti-tolerance faction of the GOP... and as long as the Republicans continue to focus on and cater to the far right, they're going to alienate everyone else. Ironic that in Huckabee's fear-mongering, he's now advising the action that will make the GOP irrelavent faster than anything else!

    May 8, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
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