Mississippi governor talks Katrina on his reelection bid

This down-home mantra is Barbour’s attempt to instill a unifying sense of pride in this perennial underdog of a state. It’s a message he hopes will resonate across lines of race and class.

To voters like Patrick Bass, a 38-year-old black Democrat, it is the language of leadership, the kind he has come to expect from Barbour. Next door in Louisiana, Bass said, Democratic Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco’s post-storm governance seemed “somewhat shaky. Here, we knew [Barbour] had a vision.”

Barbour, a former lobbyist and chairman of the Republican National Committee, is riding high in Mississippi, where he is widely considered to be the front-runner in Tuesday’s election. Campaign finance reports from October showed him with nearly $6 million in cash on hand, compared with $23,000 for his Democratic rival, John Eaves.

Fans of Barbour see him the way many saw former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani after the Sept. 11 attacks: as a leader who proved his mettle at a trying hour. The point was underscored by Giuliani, a GOP presidential candidate, when he visited Mississippi in September and said the governor would make a good running mate. (It’s a scenario Barbour appears to dismiss: “I’m on hurricane duty now,” he said.)

LA Times