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

2012 Watch: Is Barbour the anti-Obama?

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says he won't decide about a presidential run until after the midterm elections.

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. Nick

    "his southern accent and lobbying career might make him exactly the kind of candidate who can mount a successful "

    Is that how low our bar for a president? Hey, why not add your "anti-nonwhite and anti-non-christian" agenda to the mix?

    September 2, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  2. CR

    So now the Republicans think a lobbying career and a southern accent are presidential credentials? Just when you think the GOP can't get any nuttier.

    September 2, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  3. Marc

    After Hurricane Katrina, Barbour's first act was to sign legislation to allow casinos to operate on land.

    He took money earmarked for housing relief and used it to further business interests, which has not shown any return on that investment.

    My question is, if the prevelant GOP/TEA party mood is anti-establishment, how will he ever win as he is the ultimate Beltway insider?

    September 2, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  4. gt

    haley will not run,,,,next,,,,

    September 2, 2010 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  5. Sgt. USMC

    You know you are not destined for the Presidency when people question if your southern accent will be a factor... obviously you don't have enough talents.

    September 2, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  6. Steph

    Are you serious? This man has a large portrait of the University Greys, the Confederate rifle company that fought the Union and all died at Gettysburg, hanging in his office! He defended the lame Confederate History Monthy in Virginia that seems to have mistakenly left out the part about slavery. The guy hangs the conferate flag in his office and is best friends with the Sons of Confederate Vetrans.

    September 2, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  7. get real

    Yes, Boss Hogg actually is the Anti-Obama.

    September 2, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. doug

    Ha ha, imagine if you could find just one person in all of America who has made equally racist comments about Obama as a majority of the liberal Democrats make everyday about Haley Barbour.

    Almost every Democrat in the country would want that person in the electric chair.

    Thank god there is not a single republican in all of America who is even capable of hating someone in the way that a majority of Democrats hate anyone in America right of center.

    September 2, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  9. Adalbert

    This perpetual liar Barbour is constantly promoting the misleading party line. He acts like he cares about the struggling middle class families, but he is not. He is only interested in power. Any one who is still believing the Barbour lies regardless of party affiliation is totally incompetent.

    September 2, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  10. Nelson

    I bet he does not run but he is right being the anti-Obama is a good thing. I know any GOP candidate will do well that distinguishes hinself apart from Obama's goal to mold America into the European style social democracy.

    September 2, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  11. Granny Griper

    Oh my gosh, he thinks he can be president lol.
    Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton had one thing going for them they were democrats. It never ceases to amaze me the gaul of these republicans

    September 2, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  12. John

    No that what we need another racist too run,the republican party only worry wall street, big business and the very rich.The republican are the one that this county in debt. That what American people got too reminder not the color of Obama skin. If the republican would stop saying NO too every thing Obama try too do,you people in D.C. may get something done for the American people.

    September 2, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Anti-Obama? Meaning just the opposite of Obama, correct?

    Let's examine that phrase then: Obama is extremely smart, well-spoken, classy, and based on his election results appeals to people from the entire color spectrum. Ergo, if you're Anti-Obama it stands to reason that you would be just the OPPOSITE.

    In regards to the whole southern accent thing, as much as I love to hear a "southern twang" the fact of the matter is that a lot of folks draw a correlation between that and a person's intelligence level. Whether that perception is right or wrong,the perception still exists. So as far as I can see the southern accent thing would just guarantee that Barbour wouldn't be asked for his passport or birth certificate, unlike Obama.

    And by the way, with the new predeliction from the Right with matters relating to the Church, Anit-Obama sounds uncomfortably close to Anti-Christ.

    Give me strength Lord!

    September 2, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  14. Buster Bloodvessel

    Only in physique and intellect is he the anti-Obama. Last I checked Obama was thin and smart.

    September 2, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  15. Sgt Joe

    Is it even possible that the GOP can come up with someone who is not such a wedge? If the objective is to get both parties to start working together rather than against each other, there needs to be a moderate in the bullpen. Our country is so polarized at this point and getting worse, that these people are no help whatsoever. The neocons are not going to win over most of America even though the ridiculous polls pump them up. Those same polls has McCain and Obama "neck & neck", so how valid are they. Who takes them? Random, my butt. The fact that they are only phone calls is not a random demographic these days.

    September 2, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  16. Mitch

    Why not! The GOP is the official party of the white south and that's about all they have.

    September 2, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  17. norma

    How about you report more on the 2010 elections first.

    I'm already tired of the endless stream of idiots possibly running in 2012. I will not be subject to this "reporting" for the next two years.

    September 2, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  18. Clwyd

    I wouldn't put anything or anyone out of the race for the Party of No run for the president. Sarah pathetic, Mitch McConnell, Barbour or even the Devil himself! They all come close tot he same thing!

    September 2, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  19. Chris

    Im a "rino" but I would vote for Haley. He comes across as a Teddy Bear. He has experience and genuinely seems like a nice man. As long as the social issue debate isn't brought up again.

    September 2, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  20. Scott in Atlanta

    Hey why even vote? I mean, the pundits have already decided all of the elections for us. So what's the point.

    September 2, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  21. Tom-Vermillion Ohio

    Lets see, time for a little 'googling'... Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors Association. In 1998, Fortune said Barbour Griffith & Rogers the second-most-powerful lobbying firm in America. In 2001, after the inauguration of George W. Bush, Fortune named it the most powerful. I wonder if he knows the Koch Brothers. I understand that they are powerful as well in terms of lobbying. In other words, those who support lobbyists, realize that the people they vote for, do not represent them, but those who put these politicians into power. It's all about the money these wealthy folks make. In fact, during economic downturns these wealthy have a way of getting even wealthier. Haley Barbour...powerful? He's nothing but a weak-puke puppet whose strings are jerked by billionaire conservative puppet masters. Bottom line, READ all you can BEFORE you support these vultures.

    September 2, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  22. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    Hayley has got the right ideas and spirit, but is not pretty enough. He will be a great advisor to whoever the Republican president is.

    September 2, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  23. Tom

    Wouldn't he make a great leader? The governor of a state that is 50th in just about everything.

    September 2, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  24. slkwly

    Are we sure this isn't "Boss Hog" from the Dukes of Hazzard? That comparison alone will cause him to get ruled out....

    September 2, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  25. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Neither Carter or Clinton talk if they have a mouth full of chewing tabacco or mush. I can't imagine Barbour talking to foreign leaders, he would be a total turn off.

    September 2, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
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