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. Jim Miller

    I'm a life-long Democrat who is sad to see the Republican Party wandering off in search of the mythical elephant graveyard. My party needs a loyal opposition, just like they need us. There was a time – a few decades ago – that there were Republicans I respected because they articulated a rational and reasonable alternative to the positions taken by my party. They were able to temper the inclinations of liberals like me into more workable and practical solutions to the issues we faced as a nation. They kept their eyes on the pocketbook of the country and they argued their positions with intellect and concern. Today the Republican's are willing to let the Limbaughs Hannitys and Savages of the country do their taking for them, and their voice of moderation has been silenced...too bad for all of us.

    May 2, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  2. Becky

    The GOP knows they have to recreate their image. Whether embracing Separation of Church & State, we'll see. Actions speak louder than words. Definitely need to drop the hate speech and divisiveness... (Hence, why Sarah Palin should never be their leader.)

    I'm not a Republican, but for the sake of our country, they need to shape up. Time will tell.

    May 2, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. JimT

    I disagree with Bob Barr that neither party has coherent philosophies. Democrats believe government can make a positive difference in people's lives and are generally more progressive on social issues than Republicans. Republicans (at least the ones in charge nowadays) are the ones who have no coherent philosophy except to obstruct the Obama administration and to wave the flag and/or the Bible in other people's face. The difference is the Democratic philosophy is more in line with what reasonable people want and the Republican philosophy is not.

    May 2, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. Karen

    Bob Barr is quite right. He seems to be saner and more on point lately. What gives?

    May 2, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  5. Kiva

    the problem with the GOP is pride, or rather, the absense of humility.

    they have stuck with their fundamentalism, and have been too rigid and proud to acknowlege the changing nature of things. especially evident after this whole palin thing last year. they have kept their bread in the oven too long and it is burnt. you cannot unburn something, you just make more bread. the nature of their pride is steadfast to the extent that entertaining this is viewed as a threat to their existence – BUT – it is NOT – because the good news, is that the new loaf will still be bread, just something now that people can eat and digest.

    the only thing to break the cycle of their pride is humility.

    May 2, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. ken m

    i remember when i as a democrat use to have respect for some of the republican positions and when republicans were willing to listen to the dems and their ideas and compromise in most areas but now they eat their own and the price they are paying for their right wing side of their party the gop has been hijacked and is now coming for a crash landing the passenger list includes some of the following
    palin, foley, gingrich, cantor, bohner, savage, limbaugh, hannity, coulter, etc. etc. just one question who's flying the plane

    May 2, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. Jim C

    The nationalist wing of the GOP needs to split off and form its own party – call it the "Real American Party" if they want. It's apparent that ideological purity and 100% goose step formation is going to be a requirement for membership, along with a double-digit IQ.

    May 2, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  8. Richard Thomas

    Personally, I don't have much sympathy for today’s GOP when they make it so obvious they'd do anything to stay on top including openly supporting the torture of prisoners. (or "enemy combatants" which is somehow supposed to make the idea sound better.)

    I'm tired of these political parties, they don't care about the people they only care about themselves. To think otherwise is only to play one of their fools.

    May 2, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. TBA

    Limbaugh, need to be un-invited to the RNC. Limbaugh is one of the primary issue with the RNC, he keeps on opening his mouth which brings him down to a new LOW draging the RNC with him.

    May 2, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  10. Perusing-through

    NOT until "real & pragmatic" Republicans acknowledge the GOP has been hijacked by "brutally abrasive clinched-fisted Christian-Evangelical zealots", will the GOP begin to truly understand what it would take to turn the party around.

    May 2, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. Honorable Kansas Vet

    I was a life long Republican, I lost my desire to be associated with the Republican Party in the late 90s and had it totally reinforced during the Bush White House. The Party of today does not resemble the GOP in any fashion. Like it or not I really do not care, the GOP today reminds me of the old Southern Democratic party of the 50s and 60s. It has gone to the extreme and actually is scary. My views have not changed since Nixon when I was considered a Conservative, today I am considered liberal by many in the GOP, problem is I have not changed, but the Party sure has.

    May 2, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. Mary Beth

    I was all set to vote for McCain until he picked Sarah Palin. The other reasons were that they had no PLAN. Obviously the only plan they have now is hoping, praying and doing anything in their power to see President Obama fails. What they seem to forget is if Obama fails, we ALL fail. While I do agree with pro-life, no gay marriage, conservative spending, I will not join a party that is now wanting me and this country to fail. Nor will I join a party of religious zelots. Can't we all move a little to the center and TRY to work together for our common good. Anything Obama does wrong we can fix in the next election cycle, Until then let's try to get behind him and bring ourselves back to prospetiry.

    May 2, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. JC

    Good on you Claire, however, some of us "old white guy Texans" are not Republicans either. I will admit to voting for Eisenhower but he was the first and LAST rep. for me. I am entering my eight decade here in the Lone Star State and totally embarrased by our so called "National representative" not to mention our pathetic excuse for a governor. Dear God I miss Molly Ivins!

    May 2, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. Mike

    The GOP has a philosophy. They hate gays, blacks, poor people, workers etc. They also "borrow and spend". They also pre-emptively start wars based on lies and then call anyone who questions them traitors. However I believe the party is more dangerous than ever. If the GOP does come back, it will be even more hateful, full of disdain for the US worker and minorities. And oh yeah, they will tax the middle class more so the rich may pay even less than they do now. And for the capitalists out there, when the top 10% control 90% of the wealth, they don't pay 10% of taxes. They pay 90%. That is fair and equitable. If you don't like it, get your traitorous self out of my country. Then go find the magical land that will let you keep all your money.

    May 2, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. southernbutnotstupid

    I'm a native Georgian; I had tremendous respect for Bob Barr when he was a US attorney in Atlanta; however, then he went into politics and the rest is history – I am no fan of Bill Clinton; but the money that went into trying to impeach Clinton back in the 90's when it could have been better spent on America and Americans was so obviously a hyper partisan bunch of bull. Barr was a Republican back then; he sure didn't seem to worry about limited spending and small government back then–

    May 2, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. Perusing-through

    Libertarian Party 2012

    May 2, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. harry j. shafer

    The Republican Party of irrelevance is doing just the right thing, putting itself on the endangered species list. Let the party wither and die–good riddance to the American people.

    May 2, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. Common Sense

    Where are the Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jeffersons of our time?
    I am not a Republican and not a Democrat.
    I am Pro Choice, Pro Second Amendment, believe in a strong adherent to a liberal interpretation of the Constitution (by liberal I mean free from prejudice or bigotry) and believe in extreme fiscal control and limited government. Government should stay out of what comes out of my mouth and what goes into my mouth.

    May 2, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. DawnS

    Barr is right, the Republican Party is in deep trouble. But Barr was part of the problem and did enough damage himself.

    May 2, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. fearful for my country

    I think it's time for all moderate republicans to switch over to the libertarian party and lets change this crappy 2 party monopoly going on. We need a viable candidate for 2012 and now is the time to start preparing. There's a lot of ex dems and reps out here, myself included who want a more moderate government and house full of statesmen rather than politicians. It's time that we the people took this country back!

    May 2, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. Howard

    Just what America needs ... another asinine observation from Boob Barr.

    Oh, and Alex, would your list of charismatic leaders also include G. Washington, A. Lincoln, and FDR? What about R. Reagan?

    May 2, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. maria papi

    Any republican who wants to join the Dems are welcome. We don't march in lockstep and we don't demonize those who disagree. There is no place for reasonable, moderate republicans and we want you with us.

    We have a wonderful leader who wants to help everyone. Join us.

    May 2, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  23. Dave in Illinois

    For my money, Bob Barr's comments are one step above Megan McCain's (and Joe Biden's).

    May 2, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. Jarrod

    The repubs dont need a makeover. They need ideas. As the country deals with many issues, the GOP continues to be a throwback, banking on racial tension, and outdated social ideas to get votes. Face it, younger voters dont care about gays getting married, they care about jobs, clean energy, fresh solutions. They dont want a war on marijuana, They dont want to be told how to think or believe, they want to see America's prominence restored, and education is a major component. They also havent forgiven the gop for the Bush years, nor should they. And the entire socialist arguement is stupid. If affordable healthcare is socialist, then sign me up.

    May 2, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. Kate in SW Fla

    These Republicans really don't take any responsibility for the damage they have done. Nor do they really care. that is apparent when their entire goal is just how to win again. they never talk about helping to solve the problems whihc they helped create. Everything they think, say and do is all about them. How can we win again?

    May 2, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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