The ejection of social conservatives from the GOP's base would mark the end of the Republican Party, potential presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) warned Thursday.

"Throw the social conservatives the pro-life, pro-family people overboard and the Republican party will be as irrelevant as the Whigs," Huckabee told the Visalia Times-Delta.

"They'll basically be a party of gray-haired old men sitting around the country club puffing cigars, sipping brandy and wondering whatever happened to the country," Huckabee said. "That will be the end of the party."

The 2008 presidential candidate said that the "energy" in the party came from voters motivated by issues like gay marriage and abortion, and argued these same voters often support limited government and a strong national defense -- two other core GOP issues.

Hat tip: the invaluable GOP12.