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. Kara

    Now, people may think i know nothing about politics because of my age but i have to say this article really reins true, the GOP has no vision or any leadership. and no Barr is not wrong, the people in PA should be very disappointed in what Specter has done, i know i would be. i also agree that they need a new platform and the HAVE to stick to it. Sure, were all human, we mess up but, they is no reason for this!!!

    May 2, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  2. Ani McMurphy

    As a conservative, I'm sitting here thinking what would an "Ex-Republican" know about the Republican party now? Who cares what Bob Barr thinks. Why is this even a story?

    May 2, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. Peter E

    The republican party needs to get back to its actual conservative values, not this 'spend when we are in power, but hypocritically criticize others when they are' BS. They need to stop re-interpreting the Constitution when it suits them, they need to stop this scare-mongering, interventionist nonsense, and they really need to stop labeling everyone who disagrees with them a 'terrorist' or 'socialist.' Did you know that Reagan managed to overcome the Soviets without firing a single bullet? And he was working with a democratic congress too, he was able to overcome partisan bickering. He was called the 'Great Communicator' for a reason. He was not called 'the great hypocritic partisan whiner' as the current GOP should be called.

    May 2, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. Independent_me

    The GOP is in a big mess because they grew arrogant and tried to divide the nation with their politics of hate. They used religion as a tool to divide and conquer. God will not be mocked. The Party has been hijacked by extremists such as Coulter, Limbaugh, Hannity, Glenn Bevk and others who portray themselves as Christians while spouting hate and divisiveness.

    The Party needs people such as Meghan McCain. I left the Party when Gringrich, Rove and their ilk hijacked it and embarked on their culture war. If I were to see people of reason and commonsense such as Meghan McCain dominate the Party, I may very well return. Until then – the GOP is so repulsive to me!

    May 2, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. Rob

    And why was Specter facing a GOP primary challenger for his next election bid? The GOP was going to punish him for supporting various Democrat projects and programs. As a moderate he is simply too "liberal" for the modern day Republican party and he is not willing to just duck his head and do what the RNC says.

    The RNC was threatening to withdraw support from, and run challengers against Senator Specter because he wasn't a rubber stamp for the far right. He voted how he thought best instead of falling in lockstep. The New Republican party does not allow any original thought. You follow the party line or else.

    I do disagree with Barr when he said he didn't think that Pennsylvania will appreciate his switch. The people of a state do not re elect someone for 28 years if he does not have wide support. Most moderates do not care about the party they care more about the candidate specifically.

    May 2, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  6. P. D.

    The last several months have been a disaster for the GOP. No message, Party of No, Rush Limbaugh, all of this is making the GOP sink like a stone. But lets face it, These are all self-inflicted.

    May 2, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  7. Tom

    Just for the record, the Republican wacko extremist Rush Limbaugh is a talk show host, and does not hold office; on the other side the Dems wacko extremists are Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader.

    Finally, the only people claiming Limbaugh speaks for the Republicans are the Dems, take it from a Republican, he doesn't speak for me.

    May 2, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. Randall in Torrance - Qualifications to be a Democrat: critical thinking skills, ability and willingness to listen to alternative viewpoints, higher education (desired); Qualifications to be a Republican: No education, no mind of your own, & zero crit

    The GOP is a tumor that is being excised out of existence. They are shriviling up as the law of natural political science would have it. We have been mainly a two party nation throughout our history. However, Republicans constantly show the world that they are not for liberal democratic ideas and institutions. But we live in a pluralistic society and they can't stand that fact nor know how to deal with it. The Democratic party has and will always respect the views of others and listen to them to see what can be brought to the table to better the lives and conditions for all Americans, not just the few, the powerful, the mighty, the well connected old boys club that they have catered to since day one. Good riddance for all eternity GOP. Pray to God you don't get what you really deserve. America is now your judge and you have been found guilty of neglecting this great country and its citizens every time you are in power. Being American means more than being able to exert your will over other countries by force regardless of the cost or consequence. George Bush tried to be the Emperor of the World and probably still believes he actually was. What a waste of 8 years, lost capital, and lost opportunties you dumb ass republicans have caused. God Bless the Obama/Biden administration. History will show this is the turning point in America that made it possible for all Americans to have a chance at equality of opportunity.

    May 2, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Luqman

    They deserve what they are getting. So much for the war thirsty hate mongers. They should quit listening to Rush pill popping limpbals!

    May 2, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. mark

    if the GOP let the conservatism take over the party, their candidates will loose badly in 20210.

    May 2, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. JC In Michigan

    Doesn't everyone know that Rush is leading the way for the GOP. He is, whether they like it or not. The clown.

    Of course, any organization with a lunatic in charge is on it's way out. Maybe the Republican's should re-think all the damage they have done to this country at home and abroad, and get their act together. Accept the blame and move on. Vote the other side once in a while. Get things done.

    May 2, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. D

    The GOP doesn't need to find a leader it needs to find a follower!

    May 2, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Jakester

    the GOP let the crackpots, fundamentalists and talk show big mouths run their party. They got what they deserved.

    May 2, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  14. ian

    i dont think he should be predicting what we Pennsylvanians will do seeing as hes not one of us and hes crazy enough to be libertarian and not independent of democrat. i also believe that while specter did in switch in part to help his reelection he also did it because he finally truly realized that the republican philosophy is truly stupid and that the democrats one actaully works.

    May 2, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  15. rexx

    Its funny to watch all these left wingers and fake republicans on here give advise to Republicans. Just like 1994 we will come back. Keep drinking the Obama kool-aid though it will help you idiots pass the time ...

    May 2, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. Little Miss Sunshine

    One of the problems with the GOP is that they like to sit there and tell people that they are for smaller government and less involvement in people's life's. However, they are don't mind telling people what to do with their personal life's and how they live their personal lives. When you become involved in an individual's personal life and try to tell them how to run it and how to live it, then you're actually for bigger government and more involvement in individuals life's. GOP, sorry, but you can't have it both ways. Stay out of my personal life! If I wanted your opinion and your approval I'd ask for it.

    May 2, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  17. Gilby HI

    Watching the GOP march off the pier while Al Gore playing the global warming tune on his flute tells me that there " need to follow " is not what a two party system is all about.
    Today I am hearing that we are going to restart of oil drilling plans, What comes around goes around...

    May 2, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. arivera

    The republicans continue with their hate rhetoric concerning this flu outbreak making it a racial thing. They just don't seem to grasp the damage they are doing with this kind of talk. I personally believe it is the for the better. We as a nation must undo the incredible damage that has been done over the last 30 years in this country.

    May 2, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. Jim

    Bar is a libertarian, which is a Republican who does not worry about the agenda of the religious right. He is for small government which will frankly be no help in the next Katrina, allow companies to pollute at will and let the financial con men on Wall Street do whatever they want. Barr came from the same wing of the Republican Party that drove out Specter.

    May 2, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. Scott

    I can respect Bob Barr, sure we need less spending, less goverment.
    There is nothing wrong with being financially responsable, and sure we could have less intervention in our lives as well. The only time goverment should really intervene with peoples lives if there are things over looked, sure the last major civil rights was the dissabilities act. The GOP hasn't been progressive for a long time, they are too involved with special interests, then again what lifetime elected official hasn't lobbied for his constituants right?

    May 2, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. Tom

    The GOP problem is that it has been taken over by the right-wing – no tolerance for moderates. But they'll never be a majority party without the middle.

    Their solution? Try to convince the middle that we're WRONG. That won't win elections either.

    May 2, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. Dave Jacksonville, Florida

    The GOP has Slush Slimebaugh as their Defacto leader. What does he bring to the equation?


    I never agreed with the policies of President Bush, but I would never hope the President FAILS. If he fails our country Fails.
    The Republicans put their party before the country.

    They ran the country into the ground the past 8 yrs, and try to block everything that President Obama has try to do to dig us out of the mess.

    President Obama has had a little over 100 days to right the ship they put us in.

    May 2, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. Emmanuel A. Smart

    All I hear is kick the rush, hannity, palin, and the rest group out of the GOP. Sorry to say. Who is going to kick them out? Aren't they the real GOP of today?

    May 2, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. gallon

    The blackshirts are definitely running around disorganised right now.

    May 2, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  25. Todd

    All you need to know about the unraveling and continued irrelevance of of the GOP can be discrened by looking at some of the names of their "leadership" for their recently convened "National Council for a New America" : Arizona Sen. John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney;

    I get a shudder of disgust just seeing those names in print. Never in the history of our democracy has there been a party so committed to lining the pockets of corporate America while using fear mongering and hate to govern. Thank God the miasma of the Bush administration is over. Palin, McSame, Romey and anybody named Bush or Rove or Cheney just needs to go far, far away and to never be heard from again...except to be brought before an international war crimes tribunal, in the cases of Bush, Rove, Rumsfeld, Rice and Cheney.

    May 2, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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