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. M Frost

    Of course a defeated Liberatarian is going to say the "GOP" is in deep trouble. Might as well ask a liberal Democrat. They're much more enthused about the disarray in the GOP Party.

    May 2, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. white woman in Hawaii

    The GOP is in trouble, ya think? The GOP has imploded, couldn't happen to a nicer bunch! Now they are doing a road show, now that should be interesting to watch....GOP has-beens, what a joke the party has become.

    May 2, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  3. Darrell Lee Barker

    At the core of the Republican disolution is Religion.

    Many in GOP leaders positions now see this too. Did not our founding fathers warn us about mixing religion and politics for a reason? They did.

    Christopher Hitchens best seller book, god is not GREAT, says it all right there in the book's subtitle: Religion poisons everything.

    May 2, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. JoeCool

    Who cares what some irrelevent old white guy thinks?

    May 2, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. Wilber

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

    Hmmm....could be describing the Democrats in 1980 vis a vis the Republicans.

    May 2, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  6. Abraham

    Barr is dead on right. It appears that the republicons think all they need is to "re-brand," like sticking a different label on a cow pie will convince anyone it is quiche.

    It is good for America for them to go away permanently. Three times in a century time span the very same republicon ideology crashed America.

    May 2, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  7. Jason

    Well Barr fails to mention is that during the last election 200,000 registered Republicans in PA voted Democratic, so there is a good chance the people of PA will appreciate his switch to the democratic party.

    May 2, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. DEM in HI

    First time I agree with Barr. The GOP is on the ropes, but it will not fade away. It will morph into something hopefully that has a plan, instead of living in the past. As for the Democrats, Obama is too far to the left for me. Socialism is not the answer either. I just wish there was more concern for the moderates instead of the wackos on the left and the right.

    May 2, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. DNA

    I actually think the Republican's philosphies have been rather clear, which is why it was so easy to reject them in the last election.

    May 2, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. Big John

    It seems even the republicans are opening their eyes (as Arlen Specter did) to the "Greedy Old Party"

    May 2, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  11. Balor's Boy

    I am an old Reaganite, but I tossed the GOP in the trash can when they abandoned our borders. I put the lid on when they nominated McCain, and walked away dusting my hands when he picked Palin. This was the best the GOP could serve up? Pathetic.

    May 2, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. Clark

    I am a liberal Democrat, but I believe in a multi-party system.

    Republicans have been running on the same platform and trying to hold the same coalition together that was formed in 1980. Times have changed...they haven't.

    Republicans should be much more concerned that the old-guard is in charge of the rebranding and redesigning of the party: Haley Barbour (the former RNC chairman who presided over the last two election losses), Jeb Bush (former Florida governor with an obvious right-wing religious agenda), Mitt Romney (the loser in the battle for the last nomination), John McCain (the loser in the last presidential election), and Bobby Jindal (the disappointingly cold and wonkish governor of Louisiana).

    They seem to believe that they didn't get their message out in the last election. Actually, they did. The voters rejected it. They need a new message. Even though I did not agree with him, I think Reagan was probably the last innovative Republican leader.

    May 2, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  13. DNA

    I see Republicans saying Specter is old and senile, but you were ready to elect the ancient McCain???

    May 2, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. republicans hate america

    The Rush Limbaugh Party is one of fascism, intolerance, war, appeal to the lowest common denominator, and an over all general childish behavior.

    May 2, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. dittohead using forty names

    Bob Barr is right,but he should try to smile a little more.It looks like he lacks any personality.When will Shaun Hannity accept the challange to get waterboarded for charity?Hes a loser and a liar.

    May 2, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  16. Ken

    It is always ironic to me that the liberal idea of tolerance of everyone who applies to this who actually agree with them. Outside of that? Not so much. Liberals are hypocrites.

    May 2, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. JR

    "inflicted on the Republican Party", don't you mean inflicted by the Republican Party on itself"?

    What's going on with the GOP is well deserved and hopefully will continue.

    May 2, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. Larry

    I am finding it harder and harder to find anyone who openly admits to being a republican – seems that they are suffering from amnesia when it comes to remembering all the good that the previous administration did for them – Time to put the GOP to rest along with there previous party The Whigs.

    May 2, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  19. white plains mark

    the Republican attitude has always been, "F#@%k 'em, I got mine." Now they're seeing how little they share with most American people. Payback is a....

    May 2, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  20. Chuck in Texas

    The GOP does have a philosophy: "NO!"

    So he's wrong about that.

    May 2, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  21. sensible Cape Coral FL

    If Texas is really threatening to seceed, please send me an address so I can make a donation to the cause.

    May 2, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  22. CB

    As a Republican I'm extremely sadden and disappointed by the direction the party has taken. Please: STOP LISTENING TO RUSH LINBOUGH AND HANNITY!!!!

    May 2, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  23. Zaphod in Michigan

    Republicans are a one-trick pony – tax cuts – and since I make less than $250,000/yr, I'm getting more back under Obama anyway, which makes that republican one-trick pony a dead horse.

    Here's news for you Repubs: you are conceptually bankrupt. We don't feel like paying you hundreds of thousands of dollars each every year just for you sit there in Washington and come up with absolutely zero useful ideas to forward our nation in the midst of a changing world, in which we are increasingly having to compete in.
    You are going to have to change, or be relegated to the dustbin of history.

    May 2, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  24. Republicans are Un-American

    Republican have screwed every member of their base by outsourcing all good paying American jobs in the middle of a war, importing illegals to steal good paying construction jobs, grinding down military families with a pointless unwinable war in Iraq, robbing retirees of 401K saving in an unregulated stock market, and have made no progress whatsoever in the religious issues like abortion, school prayer, and are rapidly losing on gay marrage.

    May 2, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. Patricio

    People like Bob Barr are one of the reasons why the GOP is down for the count in the first place. Imagine, a guy who sponsors the Federal Defense of Marriage Act...and who has been married three times, along with allegations of infidelity, and who has also been photographed licking whipped cream off of women at fundraisers (just wiki it). Gee Bob, real class act you are, great example for the kids. The chickens have finally come home to roost for the GOP. Good riddance.

    May 2, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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