CQ Politics – Barbour Makes Dry Run Into 2012 Proving Grounds

If anyone knows how to win the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, it’s Haley Barbour.

Whether the 61-year-old Mississippi governor can successfully apply that know-how in 2012 — and whether he wants to — are questions that will begin to be answered this week as he launches what many political observers see as an exploratory venture into presidential primary proving grounds.

“Haley takes a very inclusive approach,” said Maine Sen. Susan M. Collins, one of a only a handful of northeastern Republicans left in Congress. “I think he’d be a strong candidate.”

The Inside Track

“The ultimate insider” is no political slogan, but Barbour’s long years toiling in party politics at the state and national levels, in Washington’s power corridors and within the Republican Governors Association give him an inside track to winning support among party leaders.

No other Republican elected official can match Barbour’s party-building pedigree, and few have a network as broad or deep among state-level party officials. In the case of other governors, that might mean the assistance of statewide political machinery in a primary.