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. Streamwood Bill

    Bob Barr is wrong.

    The Republican Party does have leaders, one is a charismatic overweight male entertainer who has never held office and is subject to bouts of substance abuse; another is a skinny blond gal who believes that anyone who is of a different religion should be "purified."

    The Republican Party does have a philosophy, it's "borrow and spend" (which for some unknown reason is better than "tax and spend"); along with "agree with me all the time on every issue or leave the party because you are not a 100% Republican and not a REAL American."

    I'd like to come back to the GOP, but not with those leaders and not at those prices.

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

    That party has become even more the party of fear, hate, secession and division. Until that changes, they will not ever again be a political force in the US. Thank God.

    However, all of the Republican big talkers who seem to know how PA voters feel about Sen. Specter–spare me, OK? The Democrats (like me) voted for Specter before, and they will again.

    It's more wishful thinking on their part. They are just hoping that the right wing nut candidate who they support for the nomination gets more than 10% of the vote.

    May 2, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Keith

    I am so disgusted with the Republican party, it is an embarrassment for me to carry my voter's registration card in my wallet. If they don't get their crap together, and soon, I will be jumping ship as well.

    May 2, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. IndependentfromTexas

    Republican party with Rush Rascal as the leader has turned to a Party of Hate and a Party of Thugs and Illiterate. Sad to see this transformation. If POS Palin is a VP candidate and Joe the Plumber is the spokesperson and Rush the KKK leader is the leader God bless the Old Party (of thugs)

    May 2, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  5. Had It

    Did he check with King Rush before he spoke? Barr may be in trouble if he didn't ask permission.

    May 2, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. Larry

    It's my understanding that 250.000 people changed from Republican to Democrat in Penn. in the last cycle

    I don't think Penn. will mind at all what Specter did ...

    May 2, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  7. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    I would suggest. 1.Finding middle America,2. dump people like Rash Limpballs,etc. 3. Inclusion of all! 4. Separate from the religious fanatics and other intolerate people.

    Just look at how the Dems have done it and use that as a model. If the "base" dosen't like it..too bad

    May 2, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |

    The republican party has been hijacked by some people in the fringest of their party: Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, O'reilly, Savage, Coulter, Gringich, Cheney, Palin, This is a very scary group of neofascists whose only goal is to see those who oppose them destroyed. Their brand of politics is fear, warmongering, blame minorities, more guns, anti-abortion, religion in our lives, etc. The republicans should abandon these individuals and instead persue issues that are of great concern to the rest of us. However, I must say that I am enjoying their implosion.

    May 2, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. Peace

    Everybody is noticing this! GOP has no vision!

    May 2, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. charles

    The GOP can start by curtailing the Obama is Hitler/AnitChrist/fascist/marxist nonsense. Deal with the issues that you dumped on the nation, and come up with something sensible.

    May 2, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  11. Pat T

    I think Specter needs to retire at age 79, but not until Obama can pass the legislation that will help this country! The Republicans not only nearly caused our nation to capitulate, but actually care only for themselves, the wealthy, in everything they believe. We have a bright, articulate man at the helm now, who also knows the Constitution--thank God!

    May 2, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. Claire


    You hit it right on the head of the sentiments exactly.

    One additional comment – I know the media and a lot of Americans have a poor perception of Texas right now because of our impotent Governor ...... trust me, there are many, many, many Texans that are not old, white, hick cowboys. I am a native Texan as are 4 generations of people in my family and we have never been Republicans and would never even think of suceding from this wonderful Union, the United States of America.

    Please don't blame all of us right thinking Texans....uhm, I mean correct thinking Texans !

    May 2, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. Scotty

    The Republican party does not understand that the U.S. is made up of more that just white people. They can go kicking and screeming or they can just go. Fear tactics don't work anymore!!

    May 2, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  14. All4One

    Mt greatest fear is that some radical right party will take it's place, although I think that has already become true in essence. As long as the term Republican Party exists, we can at least hope that it returns to a more moderate and conservative path, that the party of Nelson Rockefeller and Barry Goldwater will reemerge. This monstrous cadaver we now must confront bears no resemblence to the GOP that people used to feel comfortable with. Yopu have to really squint and look at it sideways to think it is anything like it was.

    May 2, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. Ken in NC

    The Republican Party needs to go out behind the barn and get it on and the last man standing should be the leader of the party and he shall formulate a plan for the party to move forward.

    Just a piece of friendly advice from a Democrat that believes in a two party system. I know you still call yourselves Republicans but you are not organized so you are not a party. Get it together and be somebody again. Just remember that the world is changing and if you are to survive the change you must be able to adapt. If you cannot adapt then you are doomed.

    May 2, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. Steve

    What happened to Rush limbaugh's proposal of shipping McCain of to the Democratic. Would not this solve all the Republican problems in one stroke.

    May 2, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  17. Chugiak Observer

    I think George Bush sank the Republican Party as a result of his reaction to 9/11. After that, their approach seemed to be that the end justified the means, and much of what America stands for was a causality. In a very real way, he let Osama bin Ladin win.

    May 2, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. Joe Chang

    The GOP is in trouble. One word comes to mind when I think of the GOP: Bush. The typical white male with conservative religious values that cater to the conservative rich, which supports the oil and pharmacy industry.

    In a diverse America with diverse cultural backgrounds and increasing diversity in religion, you will not survive. The majority will speak as evident with the electing of President Obama.

    New thinking and direction should focus on the middle and lower class. How can we improve America? How can we reduce our dependence on foreign energy consumption? How do we reduce healthcare disparities and improve healthcare costs in our nation and improve healthcare access?

    I highly doubt the GOP will follow that direction.

    May 2, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  19. PJF

    I too am a former republican since Reagan. The Bush administration cured me of the disease. The only one these present day republicans represent is the right wing religious extremists; Rush is their defacto leader. The grovel before him and must pay homage for going against his radio drivel. Conservatism failed America, otherwise we wouldn't be in this horrible mess. I know the democrats aren't angels, but I trust them more than any republican.

    May 2, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  20. Byrd

    With the conservatives now turning on Gingrich it means that they're now eating their own. I wonder if Newt is better fried or roasted on a spit. And do you think they fight over the eyes? Complete meltdown should be just around the corner.

    May 2, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  21. Subhash Dutta

    One should be judged by others – and not yourself or by a few arrogant, power-hungry and selfish people of their OWN group. Why can't GOP realize this simple truth? Ask others and not the people only within your own inner circle – ask ANYBODY ELSE other than you. All, including the rest of the world, would say you are NO GOOD. You have no brain, no solution, no principle and above all nothing, nothing at all for THE PEOPLE. You only have coined WORDS like 'low tax', 'liberal', 'national security' and 'bomb, bomb and bomb'. Just think – what is it that you really stand for? NOTHING!

    May 2, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  22. Lisa

    If the Republican Party really wanted to change, get new ideas, and connect with more people they would start their "tour" somewhere else than in the south. They would go to San Francisco, Mass, N.H., places that they are not popular.

    May 2, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  23. steven harnack

    my advice to the republicans: when in trouble or in doubt run in circles, scream and shout.

    May 2, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  24. reggie

    The republicans were down in the 90's druing the Clinton administration, too. Then, they came back and won the Senate and the House with ease. Obamas policies are going to ruin the dems and much of their may take a few years for the people to realize it, but it will happen. People will not continue to BLINDLY follow Obama.

    May 2, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. Mama_Bear

    The GOP could begin with one simple axiom: no hate policies. This is one of the most hateful groups in the world. Their corruption is rampant and they make no apologies for their xenophobic, racist, sexist, anti-semitic and frankly, "anti" anything behaviors!

    May 2, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
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