Haley Barbour Round-up – Immigration, Veepstakes, campaign finance and ‘Perot-ism’
Haley Barbour is a free man.
The veteran Republican politician’s final term as Mississippi governor ended in January, and he is not running for president—or for any other office. Barbour is instead “volunteering” (as he puts it) for American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove; serving on the board of Resurgent Republic, a conservative polling firm founded by Mitt Romney adviser Ed Gillespie; and working as a tax lobbyist. In his new freelancer role, Barbour spends a lot more time in Washington, D.C., than when he was governor.
On a trip to the nation’s capital this week, Barbour had breakfast with reporters in the basement of the swanky St. Regis Hotel, where he opened up about why Romney is not as conservative as he claims, the sort of running mate Romney should choose and why the current campaign finance system should be dismantled.
Haley Barbour gave one of his patented political breakdowns at the Ripon Society earlier this week, a nearly 45-minute speech and Q & A session about the state of play in the 2012 race – he still has not endorsed Mitt Romney formally but he spoke in detail about his desire to see President Obama defeated – and talked about the “purity” test of the tea party movement.
The movement was generally a positive in 2010, he said, and is overall a net gain for the GOP because the base enthusiasm surrounding it – but tea partiers need to recognize the need for a big tent, he said:
“There is a strain of Perot-ism in it…there are some of the same people, [but] it is very differently organized. The Perot organization actually attempted to have a national organization, with a modicum of success. There is no attempt in the Tea Party movement. …And there is no Tea Party per se. There are a bunch of little deals, and some pretty good-sized deals. They are middle-aged and older. They don’t tend to be very young. There are some young people, but generally tend to be middle-aged and older. These are people who got scared enough to get off the sofa and do something about it. Obama scared them to death over the size of government, over spending, deficit, debts, taxes, Obamacare, energy policy…
Powerhouse Republican fundraiser Haley Barbour today described the current campaign finance laws as a “bad system.”
The former Mississippi governor who now raises money for the American Crossroads super PAC and in the 1990s built the Republican National Committee into a fundraising juggernaut conceded that the system could operate better, and he discussed potential improvements. One of Barbour’s solutions: outlaw campaign contributions from corporations and labor unions.
“The system ought to allow unlimited giving by any person and then let the labor unions and corporations not give,” he told reporters during a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “The two organizations that you are limited in giving money to are the campaign itself and the candidates’ party. Those ought to be the two organizations that we encourage you to give money to.”
The law forces individuals to give “under the table” to political action committees instead of directly and transparently to candidates themselves, Barbour said. Still, he maintained that PACs have a legitimate role in the current system because they allow individuals to contribute unlimited funds to support a cause or a candidate.
ormer Mississippi governor Haley Barbour this morning pointedly disagreed with the immigration positions Mitt Romney has taken and said the Republican Party needs to come up with a better policy on the issue.
Barbour is the second senior Republican this week to express concern over Romney’s immigration stance and how it might be seen by the critical Hispanic electorate this fall.
“I would just have a different policy than what he has espoused,” Barbour told reporters during a breakfast sponsored by TheChristian Science Monitor. “I think the Democrats on the left will try to make him sound like he’s anti-immigrant, which he is not.”