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. Jim

    For those of us who care about economic growth and taxes first, it might be easier to bring the Democrats around rather than to continue pretending that the Republicans are going to do anything about our agenda. Both parties are big deficit running over-spenders. At least the Democrats come down on the side of individual liberty.

    May 2, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. charles

    The story points out some of the deepest holes the Republican party now finds itself thrashing about in because of people like Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, Rice, Mitch McConnell, Limbaugh, and various others.

    Short-sightedness. Hatefulness. Warmongering. Liars and deceivers. Granted, there are those in the Democrat Party that fit the same bills, but nowhere has this country ever seen the likes of what we endured for the past eight years. And Rove is still allowed to fart in the wind and pretend he's talking intelligently. And Cheney is still allowed to breath oxygen that could go to some really good use. And McConnell is still allowed to spout his vehement rhetoric and act out his "I hold the keys" issues with psychoticism.

    Not many years ago, the Republicans were a respectable bunch of people both in and out of Washington. Then, Bush happened and look we this country is today. Obama is not, was not, and will not be my personal choice for president, but he is a far cry better than any of the Republican offerings.

    I have no pity for Republicans. They gave birth to Bush and Company and now they want to blame everyone else for even that fiasco!! I wish Obama well despite the fact I do not easily agree with much that he has to say.

    Democrats will have to work very hard to beat Republicans in spending... warmongering... and so on. I am not sure it can be done in just eight years!!

    No pity on the Republicans. They deserve what they get today because of what they gave over the last eight years.

    May 2, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. Beverly in NC

    So, what image do they have to improve? Who can trust anything they say or do? We all know all they care about is themselves and grabbing power. They have proven they care nothing about Americans, nothing about the state of our nation, nothing about our standing in the world and their supposed leaders have been caught repeatedly lying and slandering anyone who disgrees with them.

    They have no integrity, no believeable leadership, and anything they do will be judged with great skepticism. They cannot be trusted and when no one trusts you – you have nothing to build upon. The Republican Party has ulitmately destroyed themselves with their own tactics of negativism, hate, exclusionary policies, and constant slander of anyone and anything who dares to disagree with them. Who would possibly want to associate with people like that?

    We will stay aligned with our President who has proved himself to be an intelligent, capable, and solution-delivering leader. America is recovering and moving forward. We will have reformed healthcare, improved education and finally be disconnected from our dependence on oil. Sounds like a great new America to me under a great honorable and capable President. That's the America I want.

    Republicans have NOTHING to offer and no credibility left to do anything America will trust anymore. I want nothing to do with any America they propose.

    May 2, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. yagottawonda leaves GOP to become libertarian and run for presidency- well...that hightened his chances of becoming president. Look, in my life time I have witnessed the 'death' and 'resurgence' of both parties. These are rehashed stories from when the REPubs won under Newt and the dems were never going to recover. As I've said, the best thing for a party is for the other party to win and be the majority. We, as citizens' will never be happy and we will always throw out whoever is in power at some point. So...sometimes you just have to sit tight and hold a breathe or two. It always comes around.

    May 2, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. High school valedictorian

    WELCOME BACK to the Democratic Party, Sen. Specter!

    Don't worry about the 2010 elections, which you'll win. I recall what the good Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz (representing suburban Philadelphia) said after the last national election: "Many of the suburban voters I represent see the Democrats as more open to ideas, more centrist, more pragmatic, and not so rigidly ideological as the Republicans have become." This sentiment is shared nationwide, I'm sure.

    Also, as long as the Republican Party is anti-intellectual, it will stay in the minority. The bleeding will not end. The Republicans have adored the unreflective, inarticulate, not-even-mediocre George W. Bush, while they hurl vitriol at the brilliant, forward-thinking, capable Barack Obama. I'll take a magna cum laude Harvard Law graduate for my president over a hardly passing "gentleman C" graduate anytime!

    People said they voted for Bush because he was just like them, and perceived him as someone with whom they could go out and have a beer ...and talked like them, too. Heck, I don't want my president to be like me...I want one who's even smarter and more eloquent than I am. Besides, with the way Bush ran the economy aground, who has money to buy beer ?

    It's no wonder that the states on both coasts (those with the highest percentages of college graduates) are solid blue states. Why? Because the more college graduations happen, the smaller the Republican Party becomes. Guaranteed.

    Go, Arlen! Go, Blue!

    With best wishes,
    A fan/college graduate from the great blue state of Maryland

    May 2, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  6. Ray_R

    Republicans are enemies of the United States.

    May 2, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    But they have no trouble wasting their precious time in branding Obama a socialist and stuff. They are buried in their past glories in an ever changing world.

    May 2, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. Maria from Florida

    The issue is not Specter or is the hateful ideology of the Republican party. They have been hijacked by the extreme right that cater to a fringe of southern and midwestern states and any uninformed citizen who will listen,.....and they insist on blaming others for their plight. I am amazed at their xenophoic rhetoric and absolutely crazy assertions. How folks like Bachman and Broun are elected is astounding. Quite frankly, am tired of hearing how they are "reforming". They would be much better off with demonstrating some level of collaboration with the President and getting control of their extreme members of congress/senate. But when your leader is a wingnut drug addicted talk show host who makes 40 million a it any wonder the party is in a big Time Out!

    May 2, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. Diane

    Don't be too smug Democrats... I voted for Obama but he has shown himself to be a pawn in the pockets of the bankers/corporate pimps. The "middle" in this country has been pulled so far to the right that the Democratic party, leadership has become DINO by acquiescing to the so called "moderates"....In truth, the power centers of the party as it stands, are the same as the Republican party minus the fundamentalist Christian extremists. They are warmongering corporate shills.

    "If you can get people to believe can get them to commit atrocities." Voltaire Google: Niels Harrit.

    May 2, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. Zivo24

    A prominent republican was predicting back 2006 that the GOP was headed for extinction due to their inability to understand or adapt to the fact that young voters and up and coming generations are not as easily swayed by the social wedge issues (gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, etc.) that the republican party has come to depend on upon to influence elections.

    People know that there really isn't that much difference between democratic and republican financial policies – so it really comes down to their social stands, and the GOP becomes the party of "NO!".

    I don't really trust, Bob Barr. He has done such a rapid 180 on his views since defecting to the Libertarians that I'm shocked he doesn't have whiplash.

    For Barr to be questioning the integrity of Specter's motives for his decision is ironic. Specter hasn't changes his views, just his party affiliation. Barr changed his views along with party affiliation.

    May 2, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. Repugnants Party

    That's what they get for being divisive running dirty campaigns filled with lies, and trying to manipulate people into voting, first with Sarah Palin and then with Michael Steel. Sarah Palin did not get the Hillary voters and Michael Steele will not persuade the african american community
    at least he is not doing a good job in reaching out to them, perhaps Mitt Romney will, and where did this fat piece of meat Rush Limbaugh take it….up the creek without a paddle!
    it's ashame that the party of Lincoln is like Nancy Polosi said, not the grand ole party anymore. COME ON GET REAL!

    May 2, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Ed

    I thought Rush Limbaugh and Fox News were leading the G.O.P.

    May 2, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  13. Jason in Columbus

    Karma is a killer and what the Republicans sent out over the past 8 years is returning to bite them in the butt. Moreover, this meltdown in the GOP will not end until they purge the fanatics and all the fiscally irresponsible people from the party.

    May 2, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. numi

    You folks kill me. The Republicanites didn't accidentally run our country into a ditch because they laid aside their principles. They have no principles. It was the corporatist plan all along and has been such for a century. There's a reason the Republicanites have generated three economic disasters in a century. It's always about feathering their own nests at everyone else's expense. There's a reason that corporations have become, in effect, super-citizens; they buy more political 'free speech' year after year via their 'campaign' contributions. It's legalaized bribery. If you ask me, a few liquidations are in order.

    May 2, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  15. TomB

    All of this has already happened, in California. The state that made Regan slowly became more and more democrat, as republicans drifted to the fringes. Nowdays a republican can't win nomination unless he/she is way way right of what could win any statewide election. Arnold is hated more by the state republican party than by the democrats.... the republicans have voted themselves out of office... and put themselves in a place where they cannot generate any leader that can win statewide. This is what is now happening nationwide.

    They are doomed.... Bush was the final nail in the coffin. That is the real funny thing... Bush did a lot of damage, but the most was to his own party.... and like an abused spouse the republicans can't bring themselves to blame him. "He loves me!" Lord...... well at least they deserve what their getting, and what's coming......

    May 2, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. Melissa

    Wow. He just slapped the Republican Party in the face. How amusing. And he's right.

    May 2, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  17. joel

    There are a lot of reasons Americans don't like Texas. First of all it gives people a sick feeling in there stomach to hear the state that wants to secede is the same that provided the man who created this entire mess. Texans need to sit back, shut up and let other people fix the mess that they are mostly responsible for creating.

    May 2, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  18. Thomas B. Yellich

    Specter will be beat in the Democratic primaries by another "true" Democrat. Most Politicians are spineless and self serving, Specter fits the mold to a tee!

    May 2, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  19. Dan

    I am a Democrat and I have been voting for Specter for as long as I can remember. Being a moderate, I find Specter (who also seems to be quite moderate and sensible) to be a solid representative of our state and a person who genuinely cares about the issues that are important to "ALL" Pennsylvanians.

    May 2, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. Perusing-through

    Sen. Arlen Specter (a maverick like Sen. McCain) was pushed out by the GOP because he voted for the $787-Billion "Economic Stimulus Recovery" in support of unemployed Pennsylvanians who are without healthcare. The GOP had a noose around Specter's neck for that vote and were about to give him a political lynching. So Sen. Specter did the "wise" thing and switched Party's so he can live to fight for Pennsylvania on another day.

    May 2, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. larry

    I remember a quote, from many years ago, something too the effect (I don't remember the exact quote) that we don't always get the president we want, but we use usually get the one we need. In my humble opinion we hit the jackpot with this one: He is not only an intellectual, but a pragmatist, as well and a humanist as well.

    May 2, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. Tom in San Jose

    "Specter, who announced Tuesday he’s switching from a Republican to a Democrat, is making the move for political reasons, Barr said."

    Wrong! Specter is moving for reasons of employment. When you see that the "company" you work for, i.e. the Republican Party, is about to go out of business you move to another company.

    May 2, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  23. Sally

    The Republicans have been marching in lockstep against Obama. They look irresponsible and pig-headed...which they are!!! The American people want them to moderate and they refuse!

    May 2, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  24. McLovin

    This party was done for when they nominated Bush as president. If that was their best they are in for a long road to recovery. They sacrifice everything they supposedly believe in just to get reelected. Specter is a prime example on how the GOP thinks. He switched only because he knew he could win reelection as a republicon–although I hope he doesn't win as a democrat now–come on PA, please throw him out. You deserve better than that. Also, when a republicon has to publicly apologize to blowhard limbaugh (if that isn't humiliating enough) it's evident they don't have what it takes to stand on their own two feet and do what's right for the nation. I just hope that the 2010 elections see a further decline in this party that hates American.

    May 2, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  25. JonDie

    The Democrats try to get it right, but sometimes get it wrong.

    The Republicans always try to it wrong...and usually exactly what they're aiming for...wrong.

    May 2, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
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