If the Republican Party is in danger of being marginalized as a conservative, white male Southern enclave, is Haley Barbour — the longtime Washington power broker and current Mississippi governor — the best person to turn things around?
Many rank-and-file Republicans and party leaders say yes, as the 61-year-old Barbour prepares to ramp up his national profile this month with back-to-back trips to the early presidential voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Barbour will headline fundraisers in both states, but says the visits are part of his duties as incoming chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Both states have governors’ races next year.
“I’ve told everyone I know that every Republican ought to be focused on governors’ races in 2009 and the 2010 elections,” Barbour said in an interview with The Associated Press.