Barbour fundraising takes off

As Haley Barbour continues brushing aside speculation about his presidential prospects, the Mississippi governor is discreetly building a complex political operation rivaling those of any other 2012 GOP presidential prospects.

His apparatus, which has socked away hundreds of thousands of dollars this year alone, will get a major boost — as will the Barbour 2012 buzz — when the governor takes some time away from the Gulf oil spill threatening his home region’s shorelines to attend a big fundraiser Thursday for one of his three political action committees.

The fundraiser, set for adjoining hot spots in Washington’s trendy Glover Park neighborhood, has been the talk of Washington GOP circles, boasting a host committee that reads like a next-generation GOP bundling and campaign dream team.

Ascendant lobbyists for the health insurance, tobacco, liquor, defense and pharmaceutical industries are jockeying for space on the host committee with hotshot, young finance professionals and accomplished political operatives such as media strategist Phil Musser and election lawyer Michael Toner — both of whom were coveted early signings by another prospective GOP 2012 candidate, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty — robocall maestro Tony Feather and Phil Cox, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s campaign manager.

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