GULFPORT, Miss. — “Get a picture of that beach!” Gov. Haley Barbour ordered a group of television photographers standing along an oil-less stretch of sand Monday.
“They are gorgeous, pristine,” the governor gushed on Tuesday about Mississippi’s shores.
“Beautiful,” he reiterated Wednesday at a La-Z-Boy plant in Newton. “The coast is clear, and come on down.”
He is a former lobbyist, Republican National Committee chairman, White House political director and a familiar enough piece of the national political furniture to be known simply as “Haley” within certain Washington circles.
Now, for the second time in five years, Mr. Barbour finds himself in a highly visible role during a Gulf Coast catastrophe. As he nears the end of his eight-year stint as governor, Mr. Barbour’s performance could help shift his political image from that of an insider party boss to an out-front crisis manager — and possible presidential candidate in 2012.