In an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour was diplomatic when asked about Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.
“I expect him to be head of the party for the rest of his term,” Barbour, himself a former RNC chair, told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
For the past two weeks, Steele has been embroiled in a controversy over the RNC’s spending and his stewardship of the national party committee. In a recent interview, Steele, who is the RNC’s first African-American chairman, likened himself to President Obama and suggested that both he and the president have “a slimmer margin” for error because of their race.
Asked about Steele’s remark, Barbour said he did not believe Steele was being held to a higher standard because of the color of his skin.
“That's like me saying I think I'm held to the higher standard because I'm a fat redneck with an accent like this,” Barbour said, making a joking reference to his stereotypical Southern drawl. “The fact of the matter is in that job, people are judged by results and that's just the way it is. It's the way it was for me, it's the way it was for everybody since then.”
Barbour added that he does not believe it is right for any former GOP chair to criticize the current chairman.
And the Mississippi governor was equally diplomatic about former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
“Do you think she's qualified to be president right now?,” asked Crowley. “Do you think she’s had the background and the experience if she does run to be qualified for the job?”
“Well, of course, I didn't think President Obama had the background experience to be qualified, so the fact of the matter is, she is legally qualified, and after that it's up to the American people,” Barbour said. “Just like it was for Senator Obama, now President Obama.”