May 2nd, 2009
01:52 PM ET
13 years ago

Bob Barr: GOP in ‘very deep trouble’

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Former Rep. Bob Barr says the Republicans lack a 'coherent philosophy.'"]
(CNN) - Former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr said Saturday it’s hard to “overestimate the damage” that’s been inflicted on the Republican Party - not only with this week's defection of Sen. Arlen Specter, but also the “lack of any coherent philosophy, vision or leadership.”

“The Republican Party is in very deep trouble right now,” Barr said in an interview with CNN.

Barr, who was once a loyal soldier in the GOP, joined the Libertarian Party in 2006 and was the party’s presidential candidate in 2008.

The ex-Republican said he doesn’t feel like he relates to Specter's reasons for switching to the Democratic Party. “Where I came from there really was a philosophical basis for leaving the Republican Party,” Barr said.

Specter, who announced Tuesday he’s switching from a Republican to a Democrat, is making the move for political reasons, Barr said.

Specter said he had found himself increasingly "at odds with the Republican philosophy," but he also admitted the decision was driven partly by a desire to keep his seat.

The senator, who has represented Pennsylvania in the upper chamber since 1980, said he was "anxious" to stay in the Senate - and he did not want to face a Republican primary in order to keep his seat next year.

But Barr said he doesn’t think switching parties will give Specter an automatic win. “I don’t think that the people in Pennsylvania will really appreciate what he did,” he said.

Barr added that Specter’s decision is “just another sign that the Republican Party nationally lacks any semblance of leadership.” Democrats, he said, also don’t have a coherent agenda, but they have “something that Republicans absolutely lack.”

“They have a charismatic leader and they have party discipline. The Republican Party has none of that,” he said.

Asked if he ever considered returning to the GOP, Barr said, “That would make no sense as all, either from a philosophical standpoint or from the standpoint of wanting to join a party that knows what it’s all about.”

Filed under: Arlen Specter • Bob Barr • Popular Posts
soundoff (315 Responses)
  1. bill

    GOP please take your fanatic right wing someplace else-your lack of America comes first makes all of us sick.

    May 2, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. Qui-Tam Relator

    Who Cares ! More importantly, Go to PBS FRONT LINE Website type into their Search engine "Sick Around America" for the next battle, HEALTH CARE. A MUST SEE !

    May 2, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. Johnny DC

    Coming from a devout Conservative and Republican, I can honestly admit that Bob Barr is a true American. If only he had the support of more people.

    Arlen Specter is a joke, and represents everything wrong with this country. He's senile and only interested in his own legacy, and it's never been more clear than this week.

    May 2, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. Ray Fisher

    They need to write a new party platform and stick to it!!!

    May 2, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  5. Rick C.

    Republican Party: Banish the militant fundamental religious sects among you. Banish the war hawks. Remember the middle class in your 'dealings' with corporate America–be fair and balanced. Then they will return to you.

    May 2, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  6. Chipster

    The Republican Party should be in trouble. They have abandoned the principles of fiscal responsibility, doubling the deficit in the past 8 years. They became so gripped by fear after 9/11 that they discarded the U.S. Constitution, using 9/11 as an excuse for torture, privacy violations with no judicial review, due process, equal protection - all constitutional protections from an abusive government. What good is the Constitution if it isn't employed under the most challenging circumstances. That is the purpose of it. They used fear and cherry-picked information to manipulate the public perception.

    They have become the Party of extreme religious fundamentalists, coming very close to proclaiming an American theocracy. I fear them more than the terrorists. Terrorists can only kill us. The Republican Party came very close to destroying the constitutional principles that have served us well for over 200 years.

    May 2, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. Dave B

    There is no republican party , they are trying to be the old democrat party, The new democrat party is now the old communist party .....are the old communists now going to become the old republican party ????

    Wecome to change

    May 2, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. Alex

    Bon Barr is right. The GOP does not have a leader, let alone a "charismatic "leader. Personally charisma scares me. All you need to do is learn from history and remember some of the "charismatic" leaders who had people lead into a hell on earth.

    May 2, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. pmobama

    Yes the GOP is failing and the only ones seem to see that is outside the party! But not shedding any tears here!

    May 2, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  10. Sue M

    I don't think he will have a problem in Penn. that state went Blue this last election and I think Specter will win...we need more senators like him that can either vote along with Repblicans or the majority of the Republicans vote NO on everything and anything the President puts forth........that is what is killing the GOP, they have got to be more receptive to this Administration and coming up with ideas to get this country United once again and back on its feet.......

    May 2, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  11. Strangeworld

    "Republican Party: Banish the militant fundamental religious sects among you. Banish the war hawks. Remember the middle class in your 'dealings' with corporate America–be fair and balanced. Then they will return to you.", we already have a party that's doing those things. The Democrats.

    May 2, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  12. Rickymo

    What goes around comes around. They are getting this payback for the last 8 years..the worst 8 years in our history. If they would drop the right wing loons and hateful social policies they would be better off. It is all about money and power not what is right. Pity.

    May 2, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  13. MD

    I remember a time when the GOP was the party of traditional conservatives who fought to cut spending, were for less government, and embraced American values along with the Democrats. Now, they have become a parody of neoconservative values. And, as their numbers grow ever smaller, their members grow ever more fanatical. It appears their membership is rapidly become 2 groups: whites who are confused and scared because they see the US becoming more and more of a mixed race country, and those extremists who ultimately want to see our nation's government fail so they can create their own twisted tribes. It's sad because we really do need at least 2 viable parties. Maybe Barr's libertarians will step up to take the mantel. Though a dedicated Democrat all my life, I sadly think the GOP may be on it's death bed!

    May 2, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Purple Spider

    The Republican Party has been in hiding since the Bush Administration went out. If they want to be represented, then they need to "grow up" and get their act together. This country should have more than one party, but Republicans are actiing like "whiney little kids"! They complain, but they don't back up their complaints. They don't have anyone to blame but themselves!

    May 2, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. Bob Trumbo

    Bob Barr

    You are correct on what The Republican Party is not. Yes the last 8 years have destroyed them and turned the party over to the Neocons who have predominated. Let them go down in smoke and start over with a new party within keeping of the true intentions of The Constitution. I have two suggestions for names 1) The Constitution Party 2) The Conservation Party.

    The only way this will happen is if The Libertarian as well as all other like parties get together with the true conservative members remaining in The Republican Party. Ron Paul, who was torpedoed in the last election, comes to mind.

    May 2, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. Gave Up on Republicans

    Sad to give up on my family's party, but no real choice. GOP is now the party of anti-science, anti-environment, anti-human rights, and pro-ignorance, pro-bigotry, pro-torture, pro-divine-right of dictators, pro-unrestrained greed, and pro-war. I hope it either redefines itself or disappears to be replaced by something 21st century, because we do need intelligent critique as a check to protect the future of the human race.

    May 2, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. Lefty

    Thank goodness that right wing crapt is losing its appeal. Trying to stop progress is a fruitless and futile effort.

    May 2, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  18. Brittany

    The Republicans have become so out of touch with reality that nothing they do is relevant to mainstream American anymore. They can lay claim to one of the most disastrous administrations in the history of our country. Even though I usually vote Democrat, I'm not all together happy about this. The Democrats could become complacent and belligerent without strong competition to keep them in check. Honestly, I hope to see Barr's party use this to their advantage, maybe its time for a real shake-up of the two party system.

    May 2, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. deb in Glenside PA

    The Republican party will eventually bouncesback. This see saw back anfd forth between each of the two parties getting more popular has gone on for some time. The Libertarians make some good points. But he is misguided about Arlen Specter. We moderates in PA apprecaite what he has done. His own party was ready to turn against him after decades of service to his country. If they have no room for an independent moderate in the R party then lert the Dems welcome him. Its our gain.

    May 2, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  20. Tulsa L

    The GOP is the ones to fear, not the terrorists of the world.......the GOP out of fear ruined this doing this they almost distroyed our Constitution........they have made us Hated around the World.......they broke the Laws and went against everything this country stands for.........I have more fear of the GOP than I do of the terrorist around the world.....

    May 2, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. Jon

    It does not matter. The party in charge always screws it up anyway. The democrats will vastly overreach and take this as some sign to do "great" things and we will then vote them out of office because they too are idiots. It always happens this way. Both have grown way too big and unruly. They are a danger to us all at this point, because all that matters is staying in power. Good bye republicans, now if we can just get rid of the democrats too, we'd be fine.

    May 2, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  22. JD

    As it is, the Republican party just sound like sore losers. They've wandered far from their ideals in the last decade that it's a little hard to make a principled stand, especially on spending. While Democrats probably went too far with spending, Republicans were big spenders too, if it had anything remotely linked to terrorism, it's as if they welded the money spigot open, and the money went to groups not known for frugality. Frugality was allegedly a conservative trait but Republicans did not represent that well.

    May 2, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  23. Wanderer

    I used to be republican. After the elder Bush, I changed to be independent. Now I am still independent and have no intention to be republican again at any time, no, not anytime soon. I think the GOP needs to wake up. It is 21st century. The people are seeing things through a pair of glasses of their own choice now.

    May 2, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. BrianR

    The moderates and extreme wing of the Republican party need to fight this out ... perhaps two parties is the answer? If I were a moderate Republican I'd be pretty ticked off at the combination of religious extremists w/ their irrational fear of things like gay marriage combined with blowhards and nativists like Limbaugh, Beck, et al. That path only leads to increased marginalization ... they won't gain 'membership', only push people away.

    May 2, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. Marge

    And if the republicans continue on the path they have chosen they will soon be a party of NO where. They push rush limbaugh to scream and whine about the smallest petty things. They have Coulter who does the same thing, even calling for people to kill democratic judges.

    And then when you have Boehner and McConnell at the leaders in congress who obstruct and deny any and every bill put forward what kind of position are the putting forth.

    I think it is time the republicans kicked THOSE TYPE OF REPUBLICANS out of the party and let they form then own. And get back to the things real republicans have fought for, for years.

    May 2, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
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