SALTER – More said by non-speakers at Neshoba

Gov. Haley Barbour spent the majority of his speech making the Republican case against the Obama health care reform package and against the Markey-Waxman cap and trade legislation. The two-term governor didn’t break any new ground.

But in his sixth speech at Neshoba as governor and his eighth overall, Barbour served notice that he maintains sufficient strength to move a Mississippi crowd that he’s nobody’s lame duck.

On the Democratic side, Attorney General Jim Hood delivered a low-key, workmanlike speech that, like Barbour’s, centered on Hood’s public policy initiatives like cyber security and protecting the elderly from abuse. Like Barbour, Hood didn’t toss any political grenades and didn’t talk about his own political future.

Hood remains a potential Democratic frontrunner for governor in the 2011 general election should he choose that path by most of the state’s political prognosticators, but did nothing to tip his hand in that direction.

Likewise, Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant used his time at Neshoba to talk about policy and spread the wealth among state Senate colleagues and Barbour in terms of sharing credit for successes. But no bombshells, revelations, preemptive political strikes or launches for his next political race.

Bryant remains the presumptive Republican front-runner in the 2011 bid to choose a successor for the term-limited Barbour. But it appears clear at this juncture that Bryant will not have an uncontested GOP primary for the state’s top job.

Clarion-Ledger
8/2/9