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. Craig in Seattle

    Like small government?.. well I'm gay and plan to get married... STAY OUT OF MY LIFE.

    May 2, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. Willow

    In speaking of Specter's actions and leaving the republican party Barr says, “I don’t think that the people in Pennsylvania will really appreciate what he did,” he said.

    I disagree, for those voters may see Specter's actions as taking a stand in fleeing an oppressive and draconian political party, where he cannot truly serve his constituents. If Specter were my representative that is exactly how I would perceive his move. Is the move politically expedient as some "bitter" GOP have tried to imply? Only to the point of his recognition of the necessity in taking such drastic actions in order to fulfill his duties to the voters in his state and the nation.

    Barr fails to give the citizens and voters of Pennsylvania credit for their intelligence and appreciation of Sen. Specters years of service to them. I believe they will appreciate Sen. Specter and will support him in the future.

    May 2, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. jeff p

    The Republican Party is almost completely insignificant at this point. It's about time, they've never acted on what they "stood" for in the last 20 years.

    May 2, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. Carl

    For many of the liberal attack bloggers on here, Ron Paul is a proper conservative, and you must remember that. You'll be hearing his name more and more in the future, especially now he has over 100 co-sponsors of his HR 1207 bill which plans to audit the Federal Reserve banks to find out what is really going on in this country.

    For those that don't know, the Federal Reserve is a private bank with an unknown list of owners. If you take my words as crazy, well either do one of two things: continue to be a mindless sheep, or learn about it.

    May 2, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. Stevo

    The Republican party is trying to "remake" itself I heard. Yeah right. You can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig.

    May 2, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. Hugh USARMY coldwar vet

    When the GOP's unofficial party leader is Rush Limbaugh, you can see why their image has become to look like a bunch of angry old whites guys–no wonder the party's in deep trouble and no wonder Arlen Specter left. “(Democrats) have a charismatic leader and they have party discipline. The Republican Party has none of that,” Bob Barr is right.

    May 2, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. ladyearth

    The GOP needs to take a long, hard look at itself, litterally. Look at the photos of these men. There is a universal hateful scowl on each face., as if they are trying to frighten children into submission. They are spending all of their creativity on obsession with war and destruction. Just look at the videos they produce. Our Nation's citizens are above you, GOP. Perhaps better said is that the GOP is below our pay grade. We don't want your tax cuts for the rich. There has already been a "redistribution of wealth" under your watch. The wealth of this Nation has been directed to the rich and powerful because of greed. There is nothing wrong with wealth. There is nothing right with greed. We want peace, prosperity, universal health care, educational opportunities, and no more corporate interests taken above our citizens' interests. The GOP has created this financial mess we and the world are in. As long as they continue to waste their creative energies on fear, hate and war, there is no hope for them.

    May 2, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. Wolf

    No kidding GOP is in trouble. I've abandoned the Republican Party almost two years now. However, I also do not endorse the current administration. I'm an American lost without any real representation like many others I know. I'm glad the GOP finally figured it out. The fact they are recongizing the issue may be a sign that they finally get it and realize they are out of touch with the real world.

    Low taxes and small government is an ideological statement. Maybe if the GOP actually proposed something that might work to address the real issues they might be able to build a following again. A first step is to look for competence versus cronyism. A second step is to make teh tax code simpler and more transparent to prevent politicians from selling out the taxpayer.

    The real issues are value for our tax dollar and effective government, and competence versus cronyinsm. We can deal with what the tax burden adn size of government is after we get a handle on the three underlying issues.

    Oh by the way GOP the free wheeling financial system your backed so strenuously sold you, me and the globe down the river.

    May 2, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  9. Bryant

    I am fairly certain the Democrats will be in Power for the next 8-12 years – perhaps even more. The Republican Party has screwed up so badly that I don't see them in power for a very long time. And that's a beautiful thing.

    May 2, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  10. Jay

    The party still has the same leaders and vision that it's had since the 90s, it's just a matter of they were given a chance, and proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that their leaders were worse than the other guy, and that their ideology is complete crap. Might as well start a new party at this point, if I were running for office, I wouldn't want myself labeled as "Republican" after the last 8 years... it evokes too many memories of corruption and hypocrisy

    May 2, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  11. JD

    I think it's incorrect to think of certain class of "pundits" as leaders of the Republican party, I recall a poll which placed the number of Republicans that think if them as their leader at 2% for each given person, and about half of the Republican voters polled basically said that the party has to real leader. So a given pundit like Rush might have his audience, the people that consider him their leader is really a sliver of the Republican voter base.

    May 2, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. Hellokitti

    They can start by telling Coleman to give it up. They can start by getting behind the repeal of the tax cuts to the wealthiest 5 per cent.
    They should admit their past wrongs and their "borrow and spend" errors, assume repsonsibility and not leave it to the democrats to think up things to pull us put of this mess that was created on their watch. Their single minded mantra of tax cuts as solution to everything economic has not worked. Their total criticism of the new president is making us all tone deaf to it. And what are they doing except scrambling to assign blame to everyone but themselves and all jokeying to be the most blameless of helping their new Commander in Chief of getting things going thinking that will get them elected..

    May 2, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. DaBird

    The Republicans are in trouble now, but after the next terror attack due to Obama's decisions, things will change quickly. Remember the murdered people of 911.

    May 2, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. Sarge

    I just heard Pat Roberson on MSNBC this morning talking about the republican party that they need to look back at 1966 when it was a strong party. Just goes to show you that the party is looking in the past. They have no vision of the future...I hope they all drown in the cesspool of the old ways..This is the 21st century..Wake up and smell the new ways of living.

    May 2, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  15. geoff

    Any clear thinking American is probably finding the Libertarian philosophy an attractive alternative to the thugs in the Republican party who want to control your life and the weenies in the Democratic party who want to manage your life, both of whom are out of touch with American values of individual responsibility, tolerance, minimal government, personal freedom and liberty, and equal opportunity for anyone willing to do the work.

    May 2, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  16. tonycerv

    They had the presidency, both houses and a conservative majority on the Supreme Court and it only took them 6 years to mess it all up.

    I mean, how many Bob Neys, Jack Abramoffs, Tom Delays, Curt Sheldons, Larry Craigs, Mark Foleys, Ted Haggards and George 'makaka' Allens scandals did they need before they figured out they were messing up?

    How many Iraqs, Abu Ghraibs, no-bid Halliburton contracts, warrantless wiretaps, hurricane Katrinas, exploding defecits and economic meltdowns did they need before they figured out they were messing up?

    All they can do now is wait for Democrats to screw up just as bad and hope it's sooner than later.

    May 2, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. Political Calculation Won't Add Up

    Spector will have his re-election problems no matter what party he's in. His switch was based solely on a political calculation that he had no chance in a Republican primary but some chance in a Democratic primary – and then some chance if he could win the Dem primary. But maybe as Spector comes up on 80 years old he should have just remained a Republican and announced his retirement. Rep. Joe Sestak is the real deal, and will beat Spector in the Dem primary.

    May 2, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. California Dreamin

    In response to Johnny DC: in regards to Arlene Spector, the reason why he left is because if a republican does not follow the RNC to philosphy and act independent in any way they come after you! Toomey does not have a chance to win because PA is just a huge Blue state! Spector will only win if he supports the Employee Free CHoice Act! If not, the democrat will win the primary and then win the election!

    May 2, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  19. Jeff W.

    At this point Rush Limbaugh is my idea of the typical Republican; bloated, white, male, and intolerant of everyone. I love reading stories about the downfall of the GOP, I can't get enough of this stuff!

    May 2, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. paranoid

    Nobody else sees it?

    The Republicans make a big show about being divided. They even "officially" fission into two or more parties. These "new" parties draw in undecided, disaffected, and Democratic voters. This erodes the Democrats' power base.

    Then in the 2012 elections, at the very last second, these "splinter" parties "reconcile" and their electoral votes get thrown behind the most ultra-conservative candidate! A naked power grab, and America is locked-down.

    I hope I'm wrong. I can already hear people telling me I'm paranoid. But they told me that in 2001 and 2004, too.

    May 2, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. max pargament

    I bet you ask any self proclaimed conservative, what conservatism is about you would hear nothing about actually conserving.

    The republican party is not about conservatism, most of its ideas are about hate/ignorance.

    Most supporters of the party remind me of someone from the middle ages, someone who believes what their "leader" says and don't travel much.

    May 2, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  22. Joe

    I thought ROSEANNE had something to say!!

    May 2, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  23. Dave

    For starters, how many people in this country care what Bob Barr thinks? This is the kind of bias that exists in the press by asking someone who is irrelevant a question that they know will give them the response they want.
    No question the Repulicans have not done a very good job of following and marketing core principles while the Dems have been very effective at doling out the goodies and making more and more Americans dependent on government. Hopefully, the Republican party will get its act together and Americans will eventually realize that too much power in Washingtron and too much in entitlements and government dependency will hurt America and our grandchilldren in the long run.

    May 2, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  24. Jerry

    Mr. Barr is correct about the Republican Party; interestingly though, he seems to forget that it was even more so when he was in the party. The problems with this parth began when Pat Buchannan sopke at the convention and he was a loyal foot soldier, only for the wrong god.

    May 2, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  25. harold

    Do YOU.. think maybe Bob Barr left the GOP because he wanted to do something about 50 Million USA people NOT having health care insurance.. and the republicans did NOT want to do anything about PEOPLE NOT having health insurance.....?.. You figure it all out....They to let 50 Million continue to go without health insurance for another 100 years....huh?

    May 2, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
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