Washington (CNN) – Haley Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association and one of the most powerful Republicans said to be considering a run for president, is making the case that his southern accent and lobbying career might make him exactly the kind of candidate who can mount a successful campaign against President Obama.
In an interview with Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution, the current governor of Mississippi says he won't decide whether to run until after the November midterm elections.
But when asked if his southern accent might be a hindrance to a candidate running a national race dependent on support from the northeast and coasts, Barbour cited the examples of former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
"I will give it some thought after November, and I'm sure Jimmy Carter from Georgia and Bill Clinton from Arkansas had to ask that same question, and I can tell you, I suspect, they didn't know what the answer was when they decided to run for president," Barbour said.
And might the southern accent even be a benefit?
"As far as southern accents and Mississippi, this country may be looking for the anti-Obama in 2012. Don't know. Could be," Barbour continued.
In another sign of Barbour's intentions, the Mississippi governor is booked as the keynote speaker for the Florida GOP's "Victory Dinner" on September 10 in Orlando.
Barbour travels extensively in his capacity as chairman of the RGA, but scheduling a high-profile trip to a state as politically consequential as Florida signals that Barbour is serious about keeping his name in the mix for 2012.
Barbour also makes the case during his sit down with Robinson that his experience as a lobbyist - something that his political opponents will surely criticize him for - is actually beneficial for a president.
"I will tell you this - the next president of the United States on January 21, 2013 - is going to start lobbying. He's going to be lobbying Congress, he's going to be lobbying other countries. He's going to be lobbying the business community. He's going to be lobbying the labor unions, and the governors, because that's what presidents do, and I feel like it's an advantage for me to have the chance to do that," Barbour said.
In the course of the interview, which was posted online Monday but recorded August 20, Barbour departs from conservative elements of his party on the contentious issue of immigration. Noting that the first priority is to secure the borders, Barbour lays out what he calls a "common sense" immigration policy.
"A lot of it is just common sense. And common sense tell us we're not going to take 10 or 12 or 14 million people and put them in jail or deport them. We're not going to do it, and we need to quit – some people need to quit acting like we are and let's talk about real solutions," Barbour said.
-CNN's Peter Hamby contributed to this report.