June 22nd, 2009
01:04 PM ET
14 years ago

Haley Barbour's big week sparks 2012 chatter

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/16/art.barbourhand0416.gi.jpg caption="Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's term expires in 2011."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has a busy week of political travel ahead of him, sparking chatter that he's collecting chits for 2012 presidential run.

Barbour - a widely-respected figure among party insiders who will wrap up his second term, conveniently, in 2011 - is visiting a trio of important states this week, beginning on Monday in Virginia, where he's campaigning for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell.

On Wednesday, he'll work his southern charm up north in Bedford, New Hampshire at a fundraising reception for the state GOP. And on Thursday, he's speaking at another state party fundraiser in the pivotal caucus state of Iowa.

Matt Strawn, the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, said Barbour was invited to speak at their "Night of the Rising Stars" in Des Moines, in part, because Barbour knocked off a Democratic incumbent to claim the governorship in 2003. Iowa Republicans are trying hoping for a similar result against Democrat Chet Culver next year.

"Haley has a message that will resonate with Iowa Republicans, capturing a governorship and providing competent and common sense conservative leadership," Strawn said.

Barbour, a 61-year old native of Yazoo City, Mississippi, is a former lobbyist and Republican National Committee chairman who won the governorship in 2003 and was easily re-elected in 2007. Even with a Democratic legislature, he has governed as a strong fiscal and social conservative, although he did sign into law a cigarette tax increase in May.

He won praise earlier this year from many conservatives for opposing millions in federal stimulus cash devoted to unemployment benefits, which he said would force states to raise taxes when the money runs out. That stance is shared by McDonnell, the man he is campaigning with in Virginia today.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said Barbour can speak about his "great record" on job creation, energy development, and education reform - three pressing issues in the Virginia race. "So as Bob talks about how he will lead in Virginia, certainly Governor Barbour's model is one to look to," Martin said.

Jared Leopold, a spokesman for McDonnell's Democratic rival Creigh Deeds, countered that Barbour is an "old-style" cheerleader for the policies of George W. Bush.

Barbour helped raise $250,000 for McDonnell's campaign on Monday.

The official line on Barbour's travel is that his trips are in his role as a prominent GOP leader and as the Vice Chairman of the Republican Governors Association. The Virginia's governor's mansion is the big political prize of 2009, and Iowa and New Hampshire both have gubernatorial races next year.

But politicians - especially sitting governors - rarely end up in Iowa and New Hampshire by coincidence, and Barbour is considered one of savviest political minds in his party. He has already lent his voice to the National Council for a New America, a Republican effort help re-brand the national party. The group includes other possible candidates like Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal and John Thune.

According to one of Barbour's longtime political confidantes, a 2012 run could be in the cards. But the adviser noted that Barbour is also a political junkie: as a former party chairman, he enjoys meeting with state parties and new candidates around the country to talk about upcoming elections.

"I think Haley is probably like a lot of other governors and senators who think, 'I could be that guy or gal who could lead the party,' and it may be that Haley is the person," said the confidante, who requested anonymity to speak freely about Barbour's ambitions. "But first-things-first. This year, and 2010, is first-things. Let's tend to those and then we'll see about 2012."

Filed under: Bob McDonnell • Haley Barbour • Iowa • New Hampshire • Virginia
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Peter E

    And don't forget he's also a fiscal hypocrite. He grandstands against the stimulus package, but still takes over 90% of the money from it for his state.

    June 22, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. Phat Elvis

    Yeah, except that he's from the south. We've had enough of those for a while

    June 22, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  3. the old sage

    please let limpbaughs/coltier/and the real republicans keep obama in office. after all, we are in this mess because of the last 8 years and i personally don't think illegal wars accomplish anything.

    June 22, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  4. Limbaugh is a liberal

    'his "great record" on job creation, energy development, and education reform'
    Education reform? Does that mean Mississippi finally moved up from being 50th in education to 49th? Such great progress!

    June 22, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. Sarge in Florida

    Oh God help us all if this guys runs for President..Mississippi is such a backwoods state of IDIOTS. And this man was Bushes cheerleader....Look out America another wannabe George Bush..Wait did I hear the Jeb wants to run in 2012...This man ruined Florida already..Tell him to eat more pigs for the swine that he is.

    June 22, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. No Hillary = No Obama

    Just what California needs to run the state – a Cassanova. He's the last person I would vote for.

    June 22, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Steph

    Isn't he connected to the Council of Conservative Citizens?

    June 22, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. BudInTexas

    At leat this guy does not say some of the stupid things the other Repugs say.

    He seems like a smart guy.

    He may be a good candidate in 2016 .

    Barack will not be seriuosly challanged in 2012, so a nutjob ticket of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman makes alot of sense for the nutjob right.

    June 22, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  9. Peoples Voice

    Hahahaha Heeheehee. The GOP is funny. Is this guy really one of their best?

    June 22, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. Dave

    I am a Mississippian, and I dread the day that the entire United States will be subjected to the corruption and incompetence that has plagued our state under this clown. I know the Republican party is desperate, but they can't be desperate enough to take on Haley Barbour, who has run our state into the ground, set up phoney businesses with his brother Jeppie to funnel Katrina money into, and generally wrecked our education and health care system. The Gulf Coast *still* isn't rebuilt yet because this fool has been skimming the funds. Even most of the Republicans down here are off Haley's bandwagon, so I hope the rest of the country isn't foolish enough to even think of giving this crook a chance. He's been a disaster for us.

    June 22, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. the folly of the gop continues. . .

    "I think Haley is probably like a lot of other governors and senators who think, 'I could be that guy or gal who could lead the party,' and it may be that Haley is the person," said the confidante

    Well, in a way, yes, one could say Barbour might become a leader of sorts for the GOP. However, getting beyond the bias of this article, one could also agrue that Haley 's biggest accomplishment as leader of the GOP would, in fact, be nothing less than leading the GOP into complete oblivion.

    June 22, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. Susan, Macedon New York

    OMG! They're starting already! As if the last election coverage wasn't long enough!!! It's only been six months since Obama took office. I thought we might get one year off, anyway!

    We should do what other countries have done and limit the campaign season to just a couple of months. That would enable our legislators to concentrate on getting THEIR JOBS DONE! instead of raising money and campaigning during their term.

    June 22, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. Peter

    I like Barbour, he isn't too right wing..

    June 22, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  14. CNN = Jerry Springer of News

    Old – check
    White – check
    Gray hair – check
    Southerner – check

    Yes, you are qualified to run as a Republican for the Office of President of the United States.

    June 22, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  15. carlo

    I will never, and I repeat, NEVER, vote for a white man from Mississippi to run this country. After the way they treated my grandfather and his family? After the thing I've heard said when I visited? Never.

    June 22, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. Peter E

    Yeah, rejected millions in stimulus therefore he's a fiscal conservative? How about the BILLIONS he accepted? He's all talk, no substance!

    June 22, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  17. Todd

    Just what the GOP needs , a conservative Southerner who knows very little outside the South. A true proven leader who has kept Mississippi in the bottom 5 of all states in all categories.

    Wow! He may be even be a true Rush fan...........barf all around please.!

    Haley...go fly a comet!!!!!

    June 22, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  18. mary

    Why would Americans vote for him? Presidents need to be fit to deal with the stress of running for election and then the vastly increased stress of running the nation.

    In this day and age, the idea that an obese, out of shape man could represent our nation is simply wishful thinking. That is not the image we want to project to the world. McCain and Obama understood that.

    June 22, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. rand

    Just what we need, a good ol' southern white boy. NOT

    June 22, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. Fla.

    ANOTHER presidential speculation 3 1/2 YEARS out from the election?! C'mon...

    Although he might be a prime candidate for the regional party, could these Republicans and their corporate media possibly focus on addressing our issues now for this country, instead of a constant quest for power?

    June 22, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |

    Has anyone seen Mississipi's economy, education numbers, or anything else even remotely important? If you can barely run a small state, what makes you fit to be president.... your cuff links and your toupee?


    June 22, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. GI Joe

    Big, fat, old, white, male.

    Looks republican.

    June 22, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  23. Sean

    That guy? hahaha yeah and im running for queen of england.

    June 22, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  24. Lauren

    His appeal is limited to southern states only. I don't think he can win the presidency with Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and possibly Texas.

    As an independent, he does not appeal to me because he is too narrow minded. Plus there is something about that southern accent that reminds me of the "good ole boys club."

    June 22, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  25. jt

    Haley Barbour a 'GOP rising star' ?

    Just about as laughable as the GOP promoting Mitt Romney, Mark Sanford, Lindsey Graham, Sessions, Newt, Rush, Palin, Jim DeMint, Boehner, and Cantor. Incredibly weak. The GOP is a forgotten, rotten, obsolete product whose shelf life came and went at least 3 or 4 decades ago.

    June 22, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
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