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

Bob Barr: GOP in ‘very deep trouble’

Former Rep. Bob Barr says the Republicans lack a 'coherent philosophy.'

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. Rick in Atlanta

    It's sad, really. Not the fact that Republicans are on the outs with America / Americans, at least for the time being. But the fact that so many of us believed Reagan when he said, 'come on; you can be one of US! A big guy, just like the Big Guys that run Corporate America! Just vote our way and you, too, can join the "opportunity society"!'

    What crap. Once they got in power (the White House, US Senate, US House), they literally looted the country. Think about it: the US Treasury, gone; American world standing, gone; budget surpluses, gone; our children's and grandchildren's futures, gone. The social conservatives and economic conservatives screwed us to a fair-thee-well and are laughing at our gullibility.

    We have no one to blame for this profound Republican mess except ourselves ....

    May 2, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  2. gary crum

    the GOP bus is broken and only turns to the right. It's no great secret that politicians and voters have chosen to not go in that direction. the exception is a small, but very high-profile, cadre of "old white guy politicians", hate-radio talk show hosts and ignorant red-necks who, let's be honest, are focused on the "God, guns and gays" issues. Fortunately for the rest of us, this small group is getting smaller and less revelent with each day. The GOP is self-destructing and they're either too dumb or too stubborn to realize it.

    May 2, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. Charles

    The current GOP leadership has nothing constructive to offer. They need to stay out of the way.

    May 2, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. JC

    Republicans brought this on themselves, by letting Right wing ideology and neo-cons hijack their party. To satisfy their lunatic fringe they have alienated thousands of moderates and millions of voters. So far the best they have done is sneer the term 'RINO'! at these folks and cause them to leave the party, and display a classic case of sour grapes. Well Republicans, your chickens are home to roost and your party is just a whisker from total irrelevance. Even as it stands, Obama can trample all over you and pass almost anything he wants without any of your cooperation. As long as Dems stay unified you might as well take your ball and go home:)

    May 2, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. S Callahan

    It's becoming persusive lately to move to the LIbs....if only to lighten the negative story telling.

    May 2, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. Simpliticus

    Is it any wonder that the GOP is so low in people's minds. Kind of reminiscent of the Great Depression and how Republicans, responsible for that event, were no longer in demand. Now the GOP has to perform a rapid makeover in order to put any best foot forward.

    May 2, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. Tom

    The GOP is irrelevant except as an obstacle to progress. The very idea of them gathering a bunch of "experts" to come up with "ideas" is ludicrous. They are an intellectually and morally bankrupt organization that should just wither away.

    May 2, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  8. OG

    As much as I despise the Democratic Party, the Republicans (esp with Limbaugh as a powerful symbolic figure head) are just plain scary.

    A pox on both their houses!

    We need a third party who can steal the mantle of the opposition from the 21st century Whig Party.

    May 2, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  9. Peter

    I need to ask...Bob Barr was a congressman, but is his opinion really this important?

    May 2, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  10. Simon in BC

    Let the GOP die a well deserved death. The current Democratic party will more than suffice as the new corporate center right party. Then let us begin a new slightly center left party called how about "The Liberal Party" and regain the high ground and force the Democrats to come back to the center.

    May 2, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  11. John from California

    Former representative Bob Barr talks about the republican Party being in real trouble and takes on Senator Specters defection as one of the symptoms but, a look at the statements of Kansas Rep. Lynn Jenkins who is trying to blame the Democrats for the economic mess would be a much better example of the republican demise.

    The Republican Party once the champion of individual rights has become the party of greed and corruption and until that changes, they will continue to become more obscure.

    May 2, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  12. Eugene FRANK MD

    The idea that the Republican party needs a 'make-over', needs to 'change its image', using P.R. to cover a small group of disorganized, self-centered, money oriented, short-sighted men with materialistic goals that have hijacked the party is the issue.

    As with Palin's make-over and shopping spree, the Republican party will change when it realizes it is wearing the King's New Clothes.

    May 2, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. Schax Maefer

    Way to go, GOP!!!

    May 2, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. Skeetz

    The Republican party is a bad movie made years ago, now that the Democratic party is bringing the high definition view to the American political scene, a rerun of the Republican movie on high definition, is still a bad movie.

    May 2, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  15. givemeabreakinCA

    The GOP is already finished. Constant talk of "possible demise of the republican party" etc are moot points. They are already dead men walking. They sold their souls to Rush and the religious boys. They have not even tried to work with the (elected!) president to get any thing accomplished for the American people. They have cried wolf one time too many on the scare they make us laugh. GOP take your social issues and go away, we no longer care what you say about anything.

    May 2, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. Neva

    Everyone is praising the Democrats! I for one do not see any difference in the Republicans and the Democrats. All of them are out to support their agenda anyway they can. Neither party really cares about this nation. They only care how much money they can scam the American taxpayer out of their money. Democrats are as corrupt as the Republicans. Get rid of both parties and get America back on track for what it once stood for.

    May 2, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  17. steve

    Thank goodness the old Republican Party is gone. The new one will pick up the pieces after the dems and Obama destroy the country. Sadly.

    May 2, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. vb

    Well done Chrysler, another 8 billion dollar write off !!

    May God have mercy on each one of us!!

    May 2, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. JonDie

    '...lack of any coherent philosophy, vision or leadership.'

    Boy, Barr got that right. The "modern" GOP philosophy is to try to drag the country kicking and screaming back to the Dark Ages, a time when a handful of white popes and kings lived high on the hog (but their children still died of easily curable diseases because of their ignorance and religious bigotry)...and when everyone lived like serfs or slaves or was burned at the stake.

    But such dark beliefs are hard to get rid of, we can only hope that some day, after more than 2,000 years, our gods will finally actually become light in whom there will be no darkness.

    May 2, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. Mike

    Republicans have finally become aware that their party has abandoned them. Let's pray the democrats become aware they too have been abandoned by theirs before it's too late. These parties do not resemble at all what the were just 20 years ago.Throughout the 20th century, and now the 21st, they both have pushed us farther and farther toward total government control. I realize some want that. But I still believe that is a small minority.

    May 2, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. Great sight

    It is absurd to suggest that the republicans get raid of the religious right. Only people with no guts or backbone abandon their principles to gain acceptability. Dems oppose enhanced interogation but embrace and condone the murdur of innocent babies. What a people with values.... They claim to be smart but think that marriage between a man and woman is the same as that between a man and a man. Even the muslims and Arabs they're pandering to seem to know better and hate the west mainly because of those so-called values of the Dems. Americans were called infidels long before Bush and that's not going to change even if you bow down to the Arabian King while you dissed ur own country. The religious are Americans who have right to their beliefs and the right to express them. That's not hate nor bigotry.

    May 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. Flander Annapollis

    The GOP has always resorted to name calling and racism. It is hard to take them seriously. As long as Beck, Rush, Hannity, and the likes are their mouthpiece, this will continue.

    May 2, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. Kris

    Of course the Pennsylvania voters will appreciate what Specter is doing - remember Rick Santorum? Too much extreme politics over the years has driven PA Republicans away. And why should the rump of the old party deprive all the voters (rep., dem. & ind.) of a senator who has effectively represented them for 30 years? PA now has a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators - a 100% flip from when George Jr. ascended to the oval office! Learn republicans, learn.

    May 2, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  24. jared

    persons of your ilk are frightening. i get flashbacks thinking about republican admin's, and what they have meant and done down thur history. which history will note you people are the party of war mongers, money skimmers, and down right low down people. start wars and then you discard the veterans history proves it. remember walter reed ? you people speak of "activist" judges and in my time i have seen and been in front of many "confederate" judges. the kind who puts the juris robe on, only to leave the HOOD in the closet. what i speak is gods truth. look how you attack this president w/ the code words like socialism its a bunch of crap. in your repub admin nothing has trickled down to the have-nots in my lifetime, just to you republicans "the greedy few". you people are an anti-social group of folks to others not of your kind . us GOB'S come first. i don't ever want to be part of your new world.

    May 2, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  25. Joseph Kaufman

    Nearly every comment is against the Republican Party , clearly their propaganda is not working any more. America makes mistakes, but more than any other country in the world we show the capability of correcting them. Long live America. At least the wise and thoughtful one.

    May 2, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
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