9:40 a.m.: Barbour delivers reliable laugh lines, steers clear of foreign policy
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who is considering a presidential run, touted the work of Republican state leaders (himself included) in his CPAC speech Saturday morning.
He repeatedly mentioned his “old boss” Ronald Reagan, but he also praised governors around the country – even “some Democrat governors like Phil Bredesen in Tennessee” for cutting spending.
There were some reliable CPAC laugh-lines – about Democrats’ love of taxes, about the media, about Obama trying to be like Reagan. But there was also a detailed explanation of how Barbour cut Medicaid rolls in Mississippi and a long criticism of Obama’s energy policy. (Barbour thanked former House speaker Newt Gingrich for focusing on the same issue in his CPAC speech).
While his remarks were almost entirely focused on economic issues, Barbour got some of the most enthusiastic applause for when he said that under his leadership, Mississippi had become “the safest state in America for an unborn child.”
Unlike many other presidential hopefuls, Barbour ignored foreign policy completely. There was no mention of ‘American exceptionalism’ or President Obama’s approach to outside threats.
Barbour, who came under fire recently for saying he did not remember the Civil Rights Era as “that bad” – closed by invoking Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War: “Lincoln saved our country -one nation, indivisible- and he established our Party as the Party of freedom.”
Barbour’s delivery was low-key. He never raised his voice or used incendiary language, and he barely deviated from his prepared remarks.
Voting in the CPAC presidential straw poll ended before Barbour spoke, so his showing there won’t reflect on this speech. Regardless, the not-quite-full ballroom (it is Saturday morning) gave him an enthusiastic reception if not the sort of adoration that Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) inspired yesterday.