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. Chris ~ Albany, NY

    "Night of the Rising Stars" – rising stars – a 61 year old man a rising star??? Good luck GOP, hahaha!

    June 22, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    A Mississippi Republican..............for President................yeah, right!

    Tell me, does he have Trent Lott's endorsement?!

    June 22, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. abcya

    oooohhhh yeahhhh....can't wait to see this dude debate Barack...

    June 22, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. ThinkAboutIt

    Shouldn't all these GOPers be doing something other than trying to further their own political careers? Our country is facing huge challenges and all they care about is their political hides!

    June 22, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    He seems to oppose the federal government when it comes to help his state. Would he plan on cutting off funds to the state if he were to become president? Or would he just close down everything short of the Department of Defense?

    June 22, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. sarah

    seriously? never in a million years... i mean really? oh come on now!

    June 22, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. Biff

    Ok, all the libs can start bashing this guy even though they've never heard of him.

    I met him in Philidelphia, MS. He is very nice and humble.

    I guess everyone can start trashing Mississippi too. I've lived here all my life and I love it. I'm not a racist, I obtained a great education, and I'm even typing this message so it proves we have electricity.

    June 22, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. A Kickin' Donkey

    So let me get this straight .... you actually think a member of the GOP .... from the deep, deep south .... who is lauded as ultra conservative .... from a state that still flys the confederate flag .... can win in a general election for President?

    Did you see the electoral map back in November? Barbour would do great in the states that were red last time ... except for Missouri. He would get creamed everywhere else.

    June 22, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. GOP = 21st century dodo

    Meet the new face of the GOP: another old white southern reactionary.

    June 22, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. S Callahan

    Good going Repubs...putting a 'former' lobbyist out for the cat call....
    not a wise move....get some fresh blood....your not just trying to recapture the old party but infusing something new......so discouraging to see the 'settling'.

    June 22, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. HSNP

    He'll make the perfect doormat for President Barack Obama to walk all over!!

    June 22, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  12. Janice in Mississippi

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

    He has a message that will resonate all right: "I am being investigated by a Federal Congressional concerning 30 million dollars in the state I am supposed to be governing Mississippi!"

    Competence and common sense conservative leadership, aha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

    June 22, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. R in Maine

    Too old, too fat, too stupid. Unamerican. I hope he gets nominated. Victory in 2012 will come easily.

    June 22, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Candy West Virginia

    We don't need anymore republicans running for President for atleast the next thirty years. They ruined this country enough!

    June 22, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. Chester Drawers

    So if you can successfully run a dump, that is, the state of Mississippi, you are qualified to be president?

    June 22, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. Kevin

    Why would anyone want the governor of a state that is virtually last in everything to be our President?

    June 22, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. Lynn

    No way.

    June 22, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. Adam from Ohio

    Haley Barbour wants to run for president? Oh, come ON. Does this clown–the prototypical fat, dumb, corrupt Southern governor–think he stands even the most remote chance nationally?

    June 22, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. jds

    Another chubby old white man with gray hair?! Seriously?!

    June 22, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. Alan

    Yeah! Just what this country needs...another old white southern guy running the country.

    June 22, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. Dean

    A former lobbyist.... that right there should dis-qualify him

    June 22, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. Jeremy, PA

    I can't believe a Republican would actually want to be put through the pain of a campaign for 2012 when they don't stand a chance... period

    June 22, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  23. Susan

    This would be so great! I love him.

    June 22, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  24. I can see Canada from my house!

    Barbour is an appealing person and a great practitioner of the inside game, both in his state and in DC. He would have made a great VP pick for McCain, and his knowledge of the local leaders would be key in pushing legislation through for anyone. Unfortunately, he cannot point to any real accomplishments outside of rejecting stimulus money( are people flooding to Mississippi for a quality eduacation?), and he will not broaden the base of the party and draw in the Independents everyone agrees are key to winning. His lobbying ties could be a problem as well, so I think he will be the next Mike Huckabee: personally appealing, too narrow on the issues, and did not swim in a large enough pond before running for POTUS.

    June 22, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |

    Add another racist, biased, hatemonger to the list of Rethuglicans who want to finish destroying our Democracy. These guys are no better than the thugs who are beating the people of Iran for wanting equality. All I ever hear from them is racism, make the rich richer the poor poorer, "let them eat cake", gay bashing , hispanic bashing or bashing anyone not like them club. Mississippi remains the Southern hatefilled state that it's always been and they can keep him there, we don't want him.

    CNN if you can post the evil , vile rhetoric the republicans write on here then post mine, din't be biased.

    June 22, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
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