Barbour to 2012ers: Purity is a loser

Haley Barbour, President Ronald Reagan’s former White House political director, honored the president’s 101st birthday on Monday with a message to the 2012 Republican candidates: Choose unity over purity.

“In the 2012 campaign, every candidate for the Republican nomination has invoked Reagan and compared him or herself to Reagan. I don’t blame them a bit,” Barbour said to laughter, as he delivered his keynote remarks in a graveside tribute. “But let me make sure that one thing is clear about Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party: Reagan did not demand or expect everybody to agree with him on every issue. He wasn’t a purist.”

The former Mississippi governor celebrated Reagan’s legacy in Simi Valley, Calif., by referring to him as the most conservative and successful president of our lifetime, and invoked what he said was his favorite “Reaganism” from his days at the White House: “Remember, a fellow who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is your friend and ally, the president used to say. He’s not some 20 percent traitor.”