It’s easy to get a little giddy contemplating the possibility that Mississippi has a legitimate presidential candidate in Haley Barbour.
For months now, the two-term governor has been talked about as a potential candidate for the Republican nomination in 2012.
Barbour has a lot of assets in his corner. He is a gifted campaigner, able to shift comfortably between blue-collar voters and corporate CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. He is deeply connected within his party, having served effectively during the mid-1990s as chairman of the Republican National Committee and helping the GOP take control of both houses of Congress for the first time in four decades. He is a prolific fund-raiser. He has demonstrated in Mississippi an ability to govern in ways that his predecessors never could — putting the executive branch on equal footing with the legislative. He received a lot of favorable national publicity for his take-charge, get-it-done leadership following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and he has upped his national profile in recent months by taking over early as chairman of the National Republican Governors Association.
All that said, Stu Rothenberg, an astute Washington political analyst who spoke at the annual Delta Council meeting Friday, seems to have it pegged correctly when he says:
1. He doubts Barbour is going to run for president; and
2. Even if Barbour did, he’d be a longshot to win the nomination, much less unseat Barack Obama