September 2nd, 2010
09:38 AM ET
12 years ago

2012 Watch: Is Barbour the anti-Obama?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption = "Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says he won't decide about a presidential run until after the midterm elections."]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.

Filed under: 2012 • Haley Barbour
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Dave

    I'm a Mississippian, and I can't wait for Haley Barbour's term to be up as governor. No way in hell would I ever vote for this crook as president! He stole Katrina money from our citizens and funnelled it to his brother Jeppie, and sold us out to his lobbyist buddies. Flat-out FRAUD. He's left this state in far worse shape than it was when he took office. He's been an embarrassing representative of our great state.

    He can run for president if he wants, but he has no record to run on. What's he going to do, say "I can do for the rest of the country what I've done for Mississippi?" Ha! Examine the red states and see what their decades of voting Republican has gotten them. Higher unemployment, higher infant mortality, worse education, worse infastructure, worse healthcare, higher crime, higher poverty. People in the South need to wake up and see the scam that people like Barbour have pulled on them.

    I hope he does run... he deserves to have the whole country take a look at his track record and his corruption.

    September 2, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. The Bodacious

    That is exactly what will fix this country, a President with a Mississippi accent...oh geez.

    September 2, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. William Johnson

    Too much emphasis on his accent and being the "anti-Obama" and not enough information on what lobbying is for the general public, but being someone who voted for Obama in the last elections, I'm happy that he's looking away from what most Republicans tend to do. We'll see what happens in 2012.

    September 2, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  4. sim

    Here is a man so crooked he has to screw on his socks.

    September 2, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. Right Leaning Independent

    Anyone with common sense is the Anti Obama!!!

    September 2, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  6. richard in Montana

    keep you cracker butt below the Mason-Dixon line!

    September 2, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. michael

    yea well carter and clinton didn't buy into the racist tactics so common in mississippi governor, presidential material, i don't think so!

    September 2, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. jeannie

    Just what need, another old white man to sink us deeper in to dispare. This country needs someone youthful with fresh ideas, not the same old status quo.

    September 2, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  9. BlackBarbie

    Please Please Please run for president I dare you!, have you seen the make-up of the population of this country, you don't have enough anti-Obama support!

    September 2, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  10. Dennis

    If ever the epitome of a republican politician it is barbour; fat rich white man who presides over the fattest and least educated state in america. That says a lot about the republican platform. I never have and never will vote for a repugnant republican of any state for any office I have too much self respect for myself and most of all for my country.

    September 2, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  11. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Governor Barbour appears to be no more than moderately nutty compared to the flaming self-righteous, paranoiac, bible-thumping, neo-cons like Palin and Huckabee.

    September 2, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  12. rdepontb

    Gods help us!!

    September 2, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  13. Flagship, NC

    Its "BOSS HOG" in the making.

    September 2, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  14. Don Clarke

    Haley Barbour would do well in the old America dominated by a white electorate, but times have changed and minorities are quickly making up a majority of the votes. I am not sure Hispancis and Blacks would pick this guy over Barack Obama

    September 2, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  15. jay

    The whole sick Republican Party is anti-Obama, that's why they want him to fail, it's all politics with them.

    September 2, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  16. Jay from New York

    It saddens me if my beloved country elects him for president. Should we do that, then we deserve the title 'idiots of the world.'

    September 2, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  17. tedy roosevelt kenedy

    I am a democrat who would vote for barbour. if it means voting obama out

    September 2, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  18. BestProfitBusiness = WAR

    "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"

    Uh oh, the crazy right-wing is not going to like that. Looks like barbour just lost all the votes from the crazy teabaggers, 10k votes.

    September 2, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Furthermore, Barbour, if the only qualifications that you'd be bringing to the Presidency are your southern accent and the lobbying abilities that you so proudly tout, then you can save yourself the trip up north.

    You are the postcard boy for the good 'ole boy southern network. And we all know what that's about. Your choice of words: anti-Obama denote the fact that you're against the MAN currently sitting in the White House. I am sure not in your wildest dreams did you think the day would come when America would stand united and say ENOUGH to what's been going on ad infinitum in your state, and elect a Black man to be President of our country based on his qualifications, and the content of his character. No longer do people that think like you hold a monopoly on that front. Amen.

    In regrads to your "lobbying expertise", all that is telling me is that you'd use the office of the President to continue to accumulate wealth for the few (you included and primarily) at the expense of the rest of the country. Thanks, but no thanks.

    September 2, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  20. Marcus

    "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.

    Because do that would cost billions, demand a lot of manpower and in the end would deprive the economy of a lot of WORKERS, extinct a good part of the reputation of the country and, just imagine, if among the deported are a bunch of American Citizens that just doesn't 'look American enough'...
    He might just be playing politicis, and in this case he's not pandering to the far-right, but THAT is common sense.

    September 2, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  21. bill

    if the repubs dont have anything to say.they quote the dema.barbour.says look at carter and clinton.i want to know what is the repub platform.pretty soon they are going to have to do something.come on repubs tell us something but no

    September 2, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  22. brian amon

    Obama will get a second term so it hardly matters if he runs or not. Liked what he said about immigration. However, for some people, anything less than removing the illegals from this country is not really a solution. So its an issue locked by stubbornly opposed views with no resolution, sorta like the abortion issue.

    September 2, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  23. kenneth fusiliet

    I am a southerner an my opionion is that he will never win the nomination over romney because he has too much money

    September 2, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. TheTraveler

    "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.

    Well, you lost any potential vote I may have cast for you should you decide to run. No, it's not impractical. It just needs to be done. It's simply that there isn't a single politician out there that would have the backbone to do it. The Hispanic vote is too important to lose.

    We spend trillions of dollars on impractical things every year in this country, a program to deport illegal aliens isn't on that list.

    September 2, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
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